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Funding sought for projects in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany counties

SALAMANCA – A new round of projects has been presented to members of Southern Tier West, the economic development board that oversees the Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany County region.

This year, six projects are eligible to apply for the final round of funding. It is expected that the three-county region is going to see about $450,000 for all of the projects, which this year include dealing with horses, food sustainability, education, health care and the arts that have made the cut.

One of the biggest challenges in the region is the viability of small businesses, those that employ 250 or less. In an effort to find new ways help small businesses, the Southern Tier West board will apply for a $100,000 grant to improve economic viability, productivity and competitiveness, according to the preliminary application. If successful, the funds would pass through local industrial development agencies to the businesses.

One of the things that makes the region such a draw is its natural beauty. Looking to add to that attraction, Phase IV of the Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail is seeking funding through the Appalachian Regional Commission. The trail is seeking to expand to help increase entrepreneurial activity and jobs. The project of trail creation would cost $93,499.

To add to the agriculturally related projects, a joint proposal between Southern Tier West and the Belfast Central School, in Allegany County, seeks $28,737 to increase their food sustainability and aquaponics program. The school participates in the sustainability program that has been part of Southern Tier West for some time.

As a part of that program, students learn about aquaponics, a sustainable process of producing hydroponically grown plants that are sustained through the natural life processes of aquatic animals like snails, crayfish and prawn. The method can aid in food production. The school system currently has a small capability and would like to use the funds to expand, making the process higher-yielding.

The Southern Tier West Board is also looking at a project that would use $25,000 to help regional doctors streamline their offices and create mandated electronic medical records. The project is expected to improve the quality of health care throughout the region.

Arts would also see a boost, if funded. A program submitted by Fredonia State College would create an incubator for businesses in the arts, as well as teaching artists how to conduct more efficient businesses to create new enterprise. The incubator project is seeking funding of $486,166.

Finally, Jamestown Community College seeks funding for a new criminal justice lab that would give students a better, more hands-on, learning environment for forensics. The lab would create lifelike situations for the students to work though and garner real-world experience. The lab project is seeking $125,516.

The projects that have made the priority list will have to submit final round applications to Southern Tier West for submission to state agencies and then to the Regional Commission for decisions.