By TODD TRANUM
President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
The repowering of the NRG power plant in Dunkirk represents the single largest economic development opportunity in Chautauqua County in a long time. Not only would NRG invest $700 million to convert its aging coal-fired plant into a natural gas powered facility, but the project would also create construction jobs, long-term jobs, and preserve NRG as the single largest taxpayer in this county. In addition, the change would improve the environment and continue to provide electric power generation that is needed throughout New York state.
We strongly urge all local residents and stakeholders to speak out in favor of this project during the state Public Service Commission public hearing to be held Monday, July 15 at SUNY Fredonia. The event will begin at 6 p.m. with presentations, followed by testimony before an administrative law judge starting at 7 p.m. It will be held at the Williams Center on the Fredonia campus, where there is plenty of room for hundreds of people to attend.
State Senator Cathy Young, who chairs the Power UP WNY Coalition, is working hard to get people to turn out for this critically important event. She has talked with business leaders, education leaders, government leaders, organized labor, and senior citizens groups. She fought to bring the PSC here for this hearing and now is working hard to get a huge turnout. Testimony is certainly important, but so are sheer numbers of people in the room. If you plan to speak during the hearing that's great; and if you just want to show up to support the project that is welcome as well.
In addition, comments are welcome in writing or through the PSC's website. You can find the link to the NRG project comment page through the Chamber's website at www.chautauquachamber.org. The public comment period closes July 26 and the agency is expected to make a final decision on the project in August or September.
We hope to see you at the public hearing Monday, July 15!
Governor Cuomo on StartUP NY
Governor Andrew Cuomo says StartUP NY represents the "sweet spot" where education and economic development meet. Speaking at Jamestown Community College this past week, he said the plan to offer a tax-free environment for start-up businesses at or near college campuses will help to grow the upstate New York economy. The governor pointed out cutting taxes by even one percentage point would be extremely costly for the state, and it would still not be enough for New York to compete with the business climate in Florida, Texas or the Carolinas, where there is no income tax.
The plan was originally called Tax-Free NY when Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy came to Jamestown last month to talk about it. Gov. Cuomo was careful to note that the plan targets start-up businesses that are specifically connected to a program or project that the college may offer.
We are appreciative of the focus Gov. Cuomo has placed on economic development in our region. The Start-Up NY initiative is an example of the Governor's commitment to building a business environment in New York that encourages private investment. The Start-Up NY initiative links the state's educational and research infrastructure with private business investment and a package of compelling tax incentives to create an incentive for existing businesses to grow and new businesses to open.
Special County Fair Preview Night for Chamber Members
Once again this year the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce will provide its members with a special preview evening and networking event at the Chautauqua County Fair. This special Chamber event is scheduled for Thursday, July 18 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. You can enjoy fair food, stroll along the midway, and have a great evening with other Chamber members and friends!
This event is sponsored by DFT Communications, Fredonia Place, GPI Greenman-Pederson, Jamestown Jammers Baseball, Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York, Nestle Purina PetCare, OBSERVER and The Post-Journal.
The cost is just $10 for pre-registered guests, or $12 for walk-ins. You can register online at www.chautauquachamber.org, or call the Chamber at 484-1101 or 366-6200.
Chamber Golf Tournament Aug. 15
The 2013 Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament will be held Thursday, Aug. 15 at Peek'n Peak. This year's event offers golfers a chance to play on the Peek's Upper Course - a championship caliber course which offers optimum playing conditions in a spectacular setting. In addition, each team can choose whether they want to play a scramble or a two best ball format this year.
The Chamber Golf Tournament is being sponsored this year by DFT Communications, Community Bank NA, Cummins, Inc., Fredonia Place, GHD Consulting Engineers, Greater Woodlawn FCU, Lake Shore Savings Bank, Lawley-Tradition LLC, National Fuel Gas, Ed Shults Chevrolet, Inc., the OBSERVER and The Post-Journal. For more information or to register, visit the Chamber website at www.chautauquachamber.org, or call 484-1101 or 366-6200.