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IDA sees slow growth for now


HUDSON–If this week’s board meetings of the Columbia County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and the Columbia County Capital Resource Corporation (CRC) are economic indicators, the slow economy is getting slower and taking a toll on local development projects.

Administrative costs are down for both boards due to less activity, reported Ken Flood, commissioner of planning and economic development for Columbia County and executive director of the IDA and CRC.

“This year we need to be very conservative,” he said.

One bright spot is the travel plaza or truck stop planned for Canaan. Projected fuel sales could raise county sales tax by 5%. The owner has promised to hire several full-time attendants and a fast food franchise will provide more jobs.

Catamount plans to build a new hotel, base lodge and condos. The year-round recreational center hopes to start by installing a sewer system next spring so that the buildings can be erected. Catamount was named as a priority in this year’s round of New York Regional Economic Development Council grant contest but is looking elsewhere for funds as well. It might end up an IDA project, said Mr. Flood, who is confident that funding will materialize by spring. The project is expected to produce significant revenue and jobs, he said.

Governor Cuomo’s new Regional Economic Development Council grant awards aroused hope last year but didn’t lead to economic activity in the county. The hitch was the need for local participation in the form of matching grants. One of the state grants was for a proposal to build a train/truck loading facility near the ADM plant in Greenport. A plan to use land purchased for extra tracks valued at $1.1 million as part of the in-kind contribution was disallowed by the state, which valued the land at $900,000. Now instead of having to raise $250,000, the County will have to come up with $450,000 cash said Mr. Flood. The county will only receive the state money upon completion of the project.

“I am not optimistic at all, but I still think it’s a great project” he said.

Attempts have been made to raise the money but one member of the IDA present at the Tuesday meeting concluded, “It sounds like it’s going nowhere in a hurry.”

Also this week, Local Ocean, the Greenport fish farm, failed to make its PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, and has been placed back on the regular tax rolls at a higher rate. In June the company lost an intellectual property infringement law suit with an Israeli firm. Mr. Flood said Local Ocean is reorganizing and looking for new investors.

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