New IDA Director Has Personal Connection To Position

As fate had it, the new chief executive officer was already connected to the county Industrial Development Agency before even accepting the job.

In May, Kevin Sanvidge was appointed by County Executive Vince Horrigan as the head of the IDA, replacing the retiring Bill Daly. On Wednesday, Greg Peterson, board member and co-founder of the Jackson Center, interviewed Sanvidge at the Robert H. Jackson Center, located 305 E. Fourth St., Jamestown, during a Meeting of the Minds reception hosted by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.

When appointed to the new role, Sanvidge was semiretired, serving as a board of directors member for Lake Shore Savings Bank, chairman of the bank’s Compensation Committee and also a member of its Corporate Governance Committee. Prior to his retirement, Sanvidge served as executive vice president of administration for Cliffstar Corporation from 1999-2011. Before that, he worked at Al Tech Specialty Steel Corporation for 21 years where he served in various management positions including vice president of administration.

Since 2006, the IDA has been the administer of the Al Tech Revolving Loan Fund, which is used to help county businesses create and retain jobs. The origins of the loan fund came from a federal grant to facilitate the buyout of the former Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation facilities in Dunkirk and Colonie. The original loan/grant for $10 million was made in 1976. As the loan was paid back by the company, the proceeds were fed into a revolving loan fund to be used to create additional job growth and retention in Chautauqua and Albany counties.

So even before becoming the director of the IDA, Sanvidge already had a connection to one of the most powerful economic development tools the IDA uses.

“It feels serendipitous managing the Al Tech Loan now,” Sanvidge said.

He added it was one of the main reasons he decided to take the job with the IDA.

“It is something to be proud of,” he said about the revolving loan fund.

Sanvidge originally came from Troy, where his father ran a funeral home. He said early in his teenage years he knew he didn’t want to follow his father’s footsteps by going into the mortuary business. He told a story about how he drove the limousine with the mourning family members a couple of times, but it depressed him so much he told his dad he wouldn’t do that job anymore. He said he would rather drive the casket or the flowers.

“There was nothing I liked about it at all,” he said.

After graduating college with a political science and economics degrees, Sanvidge said his first job was working for the Social Services Department going undercover to help catch people cheating the system. However, he said his father didn’t think it was a good enough profession for his son and asked a friend to get him a job interview with Al Tech. After being hired by the company, Sanvidge eventually moved to Dunkirk with his wife, Marilyn, where they lived for many years raising their family.

Earlier this year, he was approached about the IDA job. He said he didn’t know if he wanted to take it at first. However, after meeting with Horrigan, Sanvidge said he had a really good feeling about the job and working with the county executive.

“The next thing I knew, it was May 27, and Vince said ‘Lets go,'” Sanvidge said. “I started work following Memorial Day.”