An economic development and service agency has continued to make progress in improving business throughout Broome County.
The Broome County Industrial Development Agency and Local Development Corporation, more commonly referred to as The Agency, works to develop small businesses. According to its website, the group is involved in forming loan programs and providing economic assistance for local renovation or expansion projects. The Agency also deals with manufacturing ventures and works closely with nonprofits.
Stacey Duncan, executive director at The Agency, gave an overview of the group’s work over the past year. She described how it was a very busy year from an economic development perspective and how, in light of COVID-19, The Agency was unsure about what the market would look like.
“We actually found that a lot of projects that we had gotten into the pipeline prior to the pandemic have been able to weather the storm,” Duncan said. “We have a lot of exciting things going on right now. One of [the] things that we will soon be ready for is the completion of the Victory Lofts, which is a large, old industrial building in the village of Johnson City. It has been transformed into loft-style market-rate apartments. That was truly a phenomenal project because that was one of the most visible vacant buildings that we have here in the community, and [will be] actively leasing.”
Another major project currently in progress, according to Duncan, is the completion of the Oakdale Commons — formerly known as the Oakdale Mall. She explained that the mall was always an anchor for the community, but it recently lost some of its “vibrancy.” The Agency is working on putting in what will be the nation’s largest Dick’s Sporting Goods, which is expected to be completed by the end of summer.
The Emergency Loan Fund, intended to loan money to small businesses throughout the community — as well as a handful outside of the region — has been successful, Duncan emphasized. Her agency was able to work with the county government and received about $1 million in funds through community development block grant money to provide grants to local businesses.
Duncan went on to describe The Agency’s work in establishing the Binghamton Film Office, which is currently developing its first feature film, “Stationed at Home,” under the direction of Louis Newman. The Agency is doing its first collaboration between film and placemaking on April 29 in Binghamton, Duncan said. The event will be through Better Cities Film Festival — a nationwide group that hosts screenings of films that are focused on building better, more walkable cities.
Duncan outlined the next steps for The Agency as they move forward this year.
“I want to encourage people to gather,” Duncan said. “I think this is an important magnet for attracting people. We want people to come and live here so we want to create that climate, that kind of environment that people are drawn to.”
In addition, Duncan expressed her hope to address how to rehab existing housing and build new inventory to make sure the county has the housing to sustain growing populations.
Shamoy Dixon, an intern at The Agency and a freshman majoring in Africana studies, currently works alongside the marketing and communications manager. She described the different ways working with The Agency has impacted her life.
“I have learned more about my community, the people and the hidden opportunities/gems here,” Dixon wrote in an email. “I have learned about the fundamentals and importance of economic development — it’s not a government or organizational issue, but something that involves everyone living in an area. Being here has highlighted my strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. I have learned a lot about myself and that will be one of the biggest takeaways and it will be very helpful in my future endeavors.”
Vanessa Deleg, a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said she supports The Agency because of the assistance it gives local businesses.
“By supporting local businesses, we help create a more competitive economy that would benefit consumers,” Deleg said. “In addition, there is money that would come back to our communities through local businesses. Local businesses are often more personal, allowing for a more awesome experience.”