BATAVIA — The local economy and jobs took a hit after the COVID-19 pandemic began, but some of the jobs have came back since then, the Genesee County Economic Development Center’s president and CEO told the county last week.
“Things, economically, had been booming and then we went from the best of times to the worst of times in about 90 days,” Steve Hyde told the county Ways and Means Committee Wednesday. “Our residents lost 3,000 jobs in the period from the end of February to the end of April,” he said. “The beauty is, recovery is occurring. Some of these things are taking hold — federal stimulus, things states have been doing, a lot of the local stuff, too.
“We’ve recovered more than half of those jobs, come the end of July. Over 1,700 people out of the 3,000 who lost jobs have gone back to work as of the end of July,” Hyde said.
An economic recovery group of the GCEDC’s community partners has been meeting weekly and bi-weekly to help businesses keep their doors open, he said.
“(There was) a lot of effort on Main Street, a lot of effort on our manufacturers, a lot of effort on our ag businesses. Our unemployment rate in July was 10.6 percent. That happens to be in the top 10 in the state for lowest unemployment rate,” he said. “You can see the strength of the ag community. You can see the strength of our manufacturing community, which worked a lot to get qualified as essential businesses. They continued to hang in there and put out product and keep people employed.”
The president and CEO said every recovery he’s ever seen on his watch has come from the local level. Hyde said the GCEDC, Batavia Development Corporation, the Business Improvement District, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce the county and the city have been working together on this.
“There is still an amazing amount of things going on. Things like site development, which is our R and D (research and development) and continued efforts at STAMP (Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in Alabama) and at the ag park and in Le Roy (at the Food & Tech Park) to get those sites ready — that’s really our R and D work — building capacity for more investment and more job creation in this community in the future,” Hyde said.
Hyde said the GCEDC has a workforce training center it’s trying to get started here. It has partnerships with O-AT-KA Milk Products, HP Hood and Upstate Niagara Cooperative, and the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).
“One of the big things we’re really trying to dive into is push the bubble on housing — market rate stuff, more than anything. To try to create more housing for people,” Hyde said.
Hyde said Wednesday’s presentation was “report card time.”
“This is really looking at, ‘What’s going on with the tax base?’” The good news is, the tax base is really continuing to grow at a pretty helpful pace ...” he said.
According to the GCEDC’s 2019 tax base analysis, developers with payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program projects invested about $531 million, down from $608 million the year before. The average capital investment per project last year was $7.5 million, compared to $3.9 million per project in 2010. In 2019, projects with an active PILOT agreement with the GCEDC generated $1.5 million in PILOT revenue, with school districts getting a total of $1 million, the county about $300,000 and municipalities about $200,000 total.
Other 2019 statistics GCEDC Chief Financial Officer Lezlie Farrell went through with the Ways and Means Committee included:
• $5 million total in property tax-type revenue for the area from projects with active or completed PILOT agreements, with school districts getting about $3.2 million, the county $1.2 million and municipalities about $600,000; and
• within the $5 million, $3.5 million in property taxes paid by projects whose PILOT agreements were completed.
Looking to the future, the analysis says projects with active PILOTs in 2019 will provide the area about $4.9 million in total tax revenue. School districts would get about $3.1 million, the county about $1.3 million and municipalities about $500,000. PILOT projects from 2006 through 2019 would bring in about $8.4 million, with school districts $5.2 million, the county $2.3 million and municipalities $900,000,
The GCEDC reported $809 million in economic output from its business parks in 2019.