The Otsego County Board of Representatives unanimously approved a $600,000 interest-free loan to Otsego County’s industrial development agency at its regular meeting Wednesday, June 2, for the development of an eco-business park in Richfield Springs.
The 22-acre site, owned by the IDA, is tentatively expected to house an expansion of Andela Products, a Richfield Springs-based machinery producer, and its Utica-based partner, Ruby Lake Glass, according to Otsego Now Executive Director Jody Zakrevsky.
“They have shown extreme interest in building there,” Zakrevsky said, noting that the company is planning a 50,000- to 60,000-square-foot facility.
The funds will be used to extend municipal water, sewer and natural gas services from the village of Richfield Springs to the proposed building site, about half a mile south of the village on state Route 28, according to Zakrevsky.
“In the 15 years I’ve been on this board, I realized quick how important tourism is to this county, and farming,” said Rep. Keith McCarty, R-Richfield, Springfield. “In a year and a half, we took a hit, and I get the feeling now that the more business we can help get into this county, the better off we’re going to be.”
“It’s an opportunity,” he continued. “We’ve got to lend a little money, and it’s not really going to cost the taxpayers any money to get hopefully four or five businesses into that location. Route 20 is a main corridor — I’ve lived there all my life — and if you take a ride east or west, you don’t see too many businesses until you get out of Otsego County.”
Chairman Dave Bliss, R-Cherry Valley, Middlefield, Roseboom, said he was enthusiastic about supporting the expansion of existing business.
“The grants we make to new businesses are a little more questionable, but this is a strong existing business that’s looking to relocate and expand in our county,” he said. “It’s kind of a win-win for everybody.”
The project is also supported by village of Richfield Springs officials, who have joined with town officials to assemble a committee for the creation of a water and sewer district, Zakrevsky said, as well as offered to supervise construction of the utilities.
In addition to the $600,000 county loan, the project will be funded by $300,000 each from Otsego Now and its sister organization, the Otsego County Capital Resource Corp., Zakrevsky said, as well as $1.2 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Upon completion of the utilities installation, the IDA will be reimbursed $325,000 by Empire State Development, which it would immediately put toward repaying the county, Zakrevsky said. The funds are expected to be repaid in full by Dec. 15, 2022.
Andela signaled its intent to purchase part of the business for around $360,000, Zakrevsky said, $275,000 of which would also be paid back to the county.
The IDA is anticipating the collection of more than $200,000 in fees as it closes on a $15 million payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Corning for its latest expansion later this month and negotiates a similar agreement with the Springbrook Foundation for its proposed development of Oneonta’s Ford Block into middle-income housing, Zakrevsky said.
In addition, IDA officials are entertaining the sale of a 22-acre site in the Oneonta Business Park, formerly known as the Pony Farm Industrial Park, in the town of Oneonta, that would bring in $850,000 in income, Zakrevsky said, and will show a property in the Oneonta Railyard Business Park to a Connecticut investment firm specializing in opportunities-owned investments that could bring in additional revenues.
“I’m all for and support the project, but in the future, if we’re considering a loan application of a loan of that size, it would be worth having more information earlier,” said Rep. Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, requesting earlier availability of a project site map, supporting planning documents, an overview of environmental constraints and support from the municipal support.
“To go into an Intergovernmental Affairs meeting with no materials ahead of time and then be asked to make a decision on $600,000 is significant, and I would much rather be prepared and know in advance and be able to formulate questions,” said Vice Chair Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, Milford, New Lisbon. “I think that’s something a county administrator can only help with, so that’s something to look forward to.”
Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.