STW Looks To Play Major Role In Area

SALAMANCA – Welcoming a new member to the fold, the board of Southern Tier West embarked on 2014 Thursday. With a new vigor and with sights set on becoming a larger partner in the region, the board looked for ways to build more opportunities to help those with needs at their first meeting of the year.

In many previous months, members of the Southern Tier West board have met prior to the regular meeting to discuss the future of the organization and how to steer it in a way to be a major regional player for businesses and other development partners, board chairman, Robert Keis said.

In looking to reconnect with serving some of the people of the area, Southern Tier West Executive Director Richard Zink said he would like to see some changes happen in the way the Southern Tier Enterprise Development Organization (STEDO) conducts business. The primary purpose of STEDO is to create and/or retain jobs and stimulate development of small to mid-sized businesses within the region. STEDO has a strong history of working closely with businesses and lenders to assemble financial packages flexible enough to accommodate the needs of most small business owners.

The development organization exists to help small businesses in receiving funding under a specific set of circumstances. As the organization exists now, enterprise in the three-county area represented by Southern Tier West can get loans at low interest rates, in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $150,000. To be able to qualify, for every $5,000 in loan value, a business must commit to retaining or creating one job. The loan program is considered a gap financier, to help bridge the amount traditional lenders offer.

According to Zink, there has been a decline in activity lately, in that businesses have not been coming to STEDO for funding because of banks and other lenders going with an all or nothing mentality with businesses. Another problem facing STEDO is that too many business owners don’t know what the development organization can do. In the coming months, STEDO and Southern Tier West will be looking for ways to help businesses in a better capacity, Zink said.

“If we can fill just a part of the need, it’s something we should consider,” he said.

“We are rapidly seeing a greater and greater need for businesses,” Kier Dirlam, board member and part of the Allegany County Planning Board, said.

The board welcomed new Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan to the board to replace outgoing member from Chautauqua County, Greg Edwards, who stepped down after leaving the County Executive seat.

“This is a great organization, doing good things,” Horrigan said. “I am proud to be able to serve.”

The next meeting regarding the steering of Southern Tier West will take place prior to the next full board meeting on March 20. Steering and future considerations will be discussed at 11:30 a.m. with the regular meeting to start at 1 p.m. at the Center for Regional Excellence, 4039 Route 219, Suite 200, Salamanca.