The Cattaraugus County Legislature voted Wednesday to authorize use of $100,000 of its 2005 Seneca Allegany Casino revenues to aid Philadelphia Furniture in Salamanca.
The plant, located at 100 Rochester St. in the former Fancher Furniture manufacturing complex, was saved from closing recently by a team of Western New York businessmen with experience in the industry.
Philadelphia Furniture President Doug Kirchner recently approached County Economic Development Director Tom Livak with an urgent request for help to upgrade the plant's infrastructure. Livak toured the plant and presented the request to the Legislature's Agriculture and Development Committee on Nov. 7, describing it as a "fast-breaking issue" to save 88 jobs and create additional positions. He offered to provide more details in an executive session, and the matter was again discussed Nov. 20 by the committee.
The firm asked for $35,000 to update the plant's finishing room, $25,000 to replace its heating system and additional funds to repair and update lighting and other items. The funding would supplement Salamanca Industrial Development Agency loans, and the project would improve working conditions and increase efficiency.
Committee Chairman Jerry E. Burrell, R-Franklinville, described the problem and said a deal might be fashioned to pass the money through an existing local development corporation in the form of a grant. It would resemble the recent arrangement which provided some of its 2005 casino funds to the Cattaraugus County Business Development Corp. for a loan to Pioneer Credit Recovery.
That money is being used to pay for phone-line expansions at the Ashford Office Complex, and lawmakers have outlined a strategy for the future use of earmarked casino funds as an incentive to economic development. Approximately $15,000 remains of the 2005 casino money set aside to boost business development and a 2006 pot of revenue soon will be allocated to the county for that purpose.
The five-year contract approved by Legislators on Wednesday is an incentive grant that hinges on the company's addition of 44 jobs and expansion in Salamanca over a five-year period. The funds will be provided as a grant to the Cattaraugus Empire Zone Corporation for services ending May 28.