The Office of Economic Development (OED) is a client facing business and project development activity responsible for the development of business sites that provide the opportunity to improve the Erie County tax base through business retention, attraction, and expansion. These responsibilities are delivered through the following services provided by the OED:
Initiatives for a Smart Economy
Commercial Center Improvement Program
The Commercial Center Improvement Program (CCIP) is a 50/50 matching grant program for owners of businesses for the costs of exterior repairs made to their buildings. The objective of the program is to financially assist property owners of commercial businesses within Village and Hamlet areas of Countywide significance. The program aims to improve the physical appearance of older commercial centers by providing a consistent treatment of exterior building improvements and to improve the quality of life for surrounding low/moderate income residential neighborhoods by enhancing the appearance of frequently visited retail structures.
The funding for the program is through the Erie County Community Development Consortium from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and therefore program regulations apply. The business district serviced must be in an income eligible area as defined by HUD. The service area is relegated to one specific hamlet or village center at a time. When work in one area is complete, the program will then move on to another CDBG-eligible business district.
Please contact Paul D’Orlando at (716) 858-2194 for questions about this program.
Microenterprise Loan Funding
The Microenterprise Loan Fund provides low-interest loans to assist small businesses with start-up costs or the purchase of equipment. A microenterprise is a commercial business that has five or fewer full-time equivalent employees, one or more of which is the business owner. Business owners are subject to federal income eligibility requirements.
Business Liaison & Technical Assistance
The OED is a resource for individuals and businesses of any size for questions and for direction to the appropriate agency or agencies that can assist with their needs and opportunities. In addition, the OED has developed online resources that provide information to the business community, and promote and encourage business expansion for manufacturers located in Erie County. The Erie County Business Assistance Directory provides contact information for local business resources.
Business Retention & Expansion Program
The Office of Economic Development and the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA) Business Development team actively reach out to small and medium-size businesses in Erie County to understand their needs and provide tangible public sector programs that can positively affect their bottom line. All federal, state, and local agencies are resource partners in the effort so that a single contact can uncover all relevant economic development programs. The outreach effort is aligned with the target industry strategies developed by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and Buffalo Niagara Enterprise. A common database maintained by the ECIDA ensures that business needs are fulfilled, and provides trend information useful for setting economic development policy.
Land Development & Economic Development Planning Studies
Agribusiness Park Feasibility Study
The Office of Economic Development is currently undertaking an Agribusiness Park Feasibility Study. The County retained Clark Patterson Lee Design Professionals as the consultant on the project. The purpose of the Study is to define sub sectors within the food processing sector to focus economic development attraction efforts. As part of the study, industrial sites throughout the County will be assessed for the attributes (utilities, transportation, workforce, etc.) necessary to attract new companies within the designated industry sectors. This effort carries out initiative 3.41 “Agribusiness Park” included in the County Executive’s Initiatives for a Smart Economy. The Study will be completed by July, 2016.
Broadband Internet Feasibility Study
The Office of Economic Development has solicited proposals from qualified consulting firms to undertake a Broadband Internet Feasibility Analysis. The Analysis will assess existing infrastructure and examine potential methods of expanding broadband internet access to underserved markets within the County. A consultant is expected to initiate work on this effort in March, 2016. This effort is initiative 4.10 “Pursue the Expansion of Broadband Internet Access” in the Initiatives for a Stronger Community report.
Brownfield & Urban Redevelopment
The urban center and first ring suburbs are now victims of their earlier success in attracting industry and commerce to the Western New York area. Often these lands are dotted with urban blight or are considered brownfields, which means they may have some level of contamination. Brownfield sites range from abandoned gas stations to rail yards and former heavy industrial manufacturing plants. The OED brownfield services offers technical assistance and financing tools to encourage redevelopment of these sites. The OED will provide facilitation services among environmental agencies and the project's redevelopment team.