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The communities in the Chadwick Bay group have been designated a champion community by the New York rural-development section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The documents were signed Thursday evening during a ceremony at the North Campus of Jamestown Community College.

The designation will give projects submitted by the Chadwick Bay group additional points toward priority status for Agriculture Department funding. Those include technical assistance, "one-stop" federal agency access, special set-aside programs, community-development training and development-related online information systems.

James B. Bays, state director for the program, told the group that strategic planning is the key to the applications for funding. He praised the group for its work.

The funding involves such items as federal guarantees, loans and grants. Businesses can get funding of up to $50,000 for certain projects, with funding limits at $10,000 for utility services and housing. Funds can also be used to leverage other resources, Bays added.

"This is a good thing for us," said Chautauqua County Executive Mark Thomas, who was the supervisor of the Town of Pomfret when the Chadwick Bay group was formed.

He also mentioned the Millennium Parkway project that would link Route 60 with South Roberts Road for truck traffic. The project has been discussed, and environmental studies are in progress.

"This is targeted as a key initiative," Thomas said.

Roberta Keller, executive director of Chautauqua Opportunities, also was involved in the designation. The local economic-development zone is under the umbrella of that agency.

The communities involved in the Chadwick Bay region are the City of Dunkirk, the Villages of Fredonia and Silver Creek, and the Towns of Dunkirk, Portland, Sheridan and Pomfret.

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