MAYVILLE – In just over 100 days in office, Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan told members of the Planning and Economic Development Committee that he is now on the “offense” when it comes to creating new jobs. The group met Wednesday in the Gerace Office Building.
Horrigan expressed frustration at large, out-of-state corporations that own businesses in the county. “I am convinced their loyalty is to their shareholders,” he said.
He said he believes the future for growth in the county will be in small locally owned businesses as well as new businesses that can be lured to the area through the Start Up New York campaign.
He revealed that ConAgra will take a limited number of county representatives on a tour of the Fredonia Carriage House facility that is scheduled to be closed within one year.
Horrigan said he has not seen the facility or buildings but he knows that there is a business interested in the site. He said he thinks the future of the site may be for several businesses relating to the agriculture industry.
When the closings of the facilities are complete, about 425 employees will lose their jobs.
Horrigan also told the group that he thinks that supporting and improving infrastructure, especially water distribution in the northern areas of Chautauqua County, will help to attract businesses.
He also said that he thinks there is room for growth in the tourism industry.
Horrigan’s address to the group followed a report from Andrew Nixon of the Chautauqua County Visitor’s Bureau. He told members that the tourism industry in the county was valued at $175 million in 2012.
He said the county also has a substantial income of about $39 million from people who own a vacation home in the area.
Nixon estimated that vacation homes account for about 20 percent of property tax dollars.
Nixon said the visitors bureau is targeting tourists from Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Southern Ontario.
He provided information about the group’s website improvements and said that the group will begin hosting customer service training programs on May 1 for area businesses.
Legislator Fred Larson (D-Jamestown) asked that the magazine by the group be reviewed to be sure that all businesses that cater to tourists were listed.
George Borrello (R-Silver Creek), chairman of the group, agreed with Larson and suggested that each legislator should review the bureau’s printed materials and website to be sure their area was accurately listed.
The group approved of the appointments of Legislators Shaun Heenan (D-Dunkirk) and Keith Ahlstrom (D-Dunkirk), to the visitor’s bureau board of directors.