Officials Resurrect Economic Development Fund

Local officials are trying to resurrect a small business funding program that coincided with the former Greater Jamestown Empire Zone.

On Wednesday, the Greater Jamestown Zone Capital Corporation met to take the first steps to restart a loan program that was used with the former state Empire Zone.

”(Wednesday) we got the board up again and filled some board vacancies,” said Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi. ”We’re taking steps to reactivate the loan program, but first we have to reorganize to get the board of directors up and running again.”

Teresi said the Greater Jamestown Zone Capital Corporation was first created in the mid-1990s when Empire Zones were created by the state. An Empire Zone was a territory that provided tax breaks to businesses investing in development projects.

”If you built or expanded in the Empire Zone, you could get tax credits,” Teresi said. ”There were a total of 60 zones throughout the state. One was created in the greater Jamestown area in the city, the village of Falconer, in West Ellicott and Lakewood.”

To go along with the Empire Zone, Teresi said local officials decided to create the Capital Corporation to be a lending agency for businesses in the Empire Zone.

”We started a sister, nonprofit group to give low-interest loans, and we, on our own, created another local development corporation,” he said. ”It was a lending program, a lending arm. It operated for well over a decade and had numerous loans in the area.”

Teresi said then the state did away with the Empire Zone program, so the Capital Corporation no longer had a purpose. However, past loans given to businesses through the program, when it was still operating, have been paid back. Teresi said the organization now has $475,000.

”There is enough of a pool to relaunch again, to entertain applications,” he said. ”It is a significant amount to get the organization running again.”

Teresi said the loans could be used by small business to fill funding gaps for a project or to purchase equipment. He said the eligible target area for the program will be the boundary of the old Empire Zone, which is the east side of Jamestown, the village of Falconer, the downtown Jamestown area, portions of the town of Ellicott and the Stoneman Industrial Park in Busti. He said the group could start to entertain applications for loans in about three months.