A local economic development organization continues to make strides toward the goal of making Broome County a better place for the community and businesses alike.
The Broome County Industrial Development Agency and Local Development Corporation, also known as The Agency, is an economic development organization that supports businesses locally in an effort to drive the Broome County economy upward. The organization does this through development assistance programs, including tax abatement for expansion and renovation projects, loan and bond issuing and consolidating information of federal and state business financing resources. Several local businesses and projects have received assistance or funding from The Agency, including 20 Hawley Street student apartments in Downtown Binghamton, the Century Sunrise Residences across from the Binghamton University Health Sciences Campus in Johnson City and Lupo’s Char-Pit in Endicott.
In an effort to better consolidate economic development resources, The Agency started a collaboration with the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce called the Leadership Alliance in November 2019. Working alongside Visit Binghamton and the Greater Binghamton Education Outreach Program (GBEOP), the informal merger allowed the two separate boards of directors to communicate and pool resources on shared projects more efficiently while still being able to pursuit each organization’s respective missions.
Stacy Duncan, executive director of The Agency and chief executive officer of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, was able to facilitate the merger with her roles in both of the organizations.
Amy Williamson, communications and marketing director at The Agency, said this connection between the two organizations strengthened their relationship and allowed them to better allocate resources more effectively to stimulate economic growth.
“Historically, the two organizations have always worked closely together, however, with this new administrative link and the subsequent creation of the Leadership Alliance, The Agency and the [Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce] will be better equipped to identify synergies between the two organizations and implement effective change for both the business community and [Broome County] at large,” Williamson wrote in an email. “The vision of the Leadership Alliance is to be recognized as the single voice for economic development and driver of collaborative efforts to strengthen the area’s long-term sustainability.”
One of these single-voice collaborative efforts was a recent series of public forums hosted by the Leadership Alliance called the Economic Development Blueprint Community Lab. Started on March 8 over Zoom, the six-week program allowed community members to discuss obstacles of economic development within Broome County and the possible solutions to address and continue to create more well-supported communities. Each forum focused on a single topic ranging from neighborhood infrastructural and cultural development to economic inclusivity. The final meeting, held on April 14, focused on the idea of the health community, looking ahead on what the ideal Broome County would look like and how to get there.
Duncan viewed the community labs as beneficial, allowing the Leadership Alliance to form a blueprint better tailored to the areas of the local communities that need the most help.
“At that time, the two boards created a list of strategic priorities that will culminate in the development of a collaborative and comprehensive economic development blueprint for Broome County,” Duncan wrote in an email. “The Leadership Alliance believes that it is community development that truly drives economic development. The [Economic Development Blueprint] Community Labs were created to ensure a holistic and inclusive planning process. By meeting with Broome County residents twice a week for six weeks, the Leadership Alliance was able to better understand obstacles to growth within the community and focus our strategic priorities to address these gaps as we develop the economic development blueprint for a better Broome County.”
Along with information from community members, The Agency gathers data and creates a Broome County Dashboard, which monitors the economic health of Broome County. The dashboard pinpoints weakened parts of the local economy by tracking changes in unemployment, annual earnings by occupation, net county migration and education attainment. The dashboard also includes a COVID-19 impact and recovery section, measuring the impact of the pandemic through graphs of small business closings and revenue while also measuring Broome County’s real estate and labor market. The data is gathered from the annual American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
From the data gathered on the overall effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, The Agency created an Emergency Loan Fund for small businesses affected by the pandemic in order to provide immediate capital. Duncan stressed that small business is what creates a local economy and making it easier to receive funding is paramount even as the economic impact of the pandemic lessens.
“To make the process easier and more affordable for businesses, principal and interest payments were waived for 12 months, there were no application or closing fees and the review and closing process was expedited,” Duncan wrote in an email. “In the year of its existence, The Agency provided over $1 million in loans to local businesses. Small businesses are the backbone to our economy and for this reason, The Agency has extended the Emergency Loan Fund program for an additional six months.”
You can find The Agency Broome County Dashboard here .