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CHAUTAUQUA PANEL BACKS INDUSTRIAL PARKS PROJECT

A proposal to borrow $9.5 million for infrastructure improvements to Chautauqua County's five industrial parks received a bipartisan nod in committee Monday.

The Legislature's Planning and Economic Development Committee unanimously approved the $13.1 million Business and Industrial Parks Infrastructure Development Plan.

Majority Leader Nancy G. Bargar, D-Lakewood, praised the support, which came in the wake of questions raised by Legislature Republicans.

"We were able to, I think, very substantially address them this morning. We had our economic development director (Richard Alexander) there, . . . as well as the county executive," Ms. Bargar said.

County Executive Mark W. Thomas and officials with the Industrial Development Agency made a full presentation to lawmakers on the ambitious project during a recent workshop.

The committee's bipartisan support is considered significant. For the 20-year bonding measure to be approved, bipartisan support of the full Legislature will be required, with 17 votes needed. Democrats have a 13-12 majority in the Legislature.

One big question -- scheduling of finances -- was resolved Monday with the addition of an amendment, Ms. Bargar said.

"In the amended resolution . . . we have added the proposed bonding schedule so it shows how much money (and) the target dates for those bonds," she said.

The amendment also requires that for the borrowing to continue, there must be "suitable progress" made on the infrastructure improvements.

"We are just as concerned as you can be over how these projects go and that they do produce businesses coming into 'shovel-ready' sites," Ms. Bargar said. Also Monday, members of the Greater Jamestown Economic Development Zone board of directors announced they have unanimously endorsed the proposal.

Mayor Richard A. Kimball of Jamestown, who is chairman of the board, said good-paying jobs "form the backbone of our future successes. All county economic development agencies must take the necessary steps to further the county's economic environment."

The Manufacturers Association of the Jamestown Area made a similar announcement.

The County Legislature will consider the proposal during its Sept. 29 meeting.

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