The impact of COVID-19 to our business community has been devastating. When looking around our towns and villages, one can see the effect the pandemic has had on our local shops and business owners. TEAM Tioga continues to do all we can to support the community. Thankfully, due to several Tioga County employers being deemed essential, some of our small businesses have not been as severely impacted as others throughout the State.
Over the last decade there have been significant additions to the business community, which have helped to insulate Tioga County from severe economic downturns. TEAM Tioga has worked diligently to entice and support new businesses to the area. One of the most effective ways to strengthen the business community is by building relationships. TEAM Tioga has done so with many different local, State, and regional agencies; and in doing so has facilitated connections, raised awareness of grant or loan programs, offered guidance for funding opportunities, as well as, provided assistance with local approval processes and permitting.
TEAM Tioga has found developing relationships that promote communication with local municipalities and agencies to be the most effective pathway to initiate, explore, and expand economic development. The Tioga County Industrial Development Agency (TCIDA) is one of the tools used to encourage potential businesses to locate in Tioga County.
Once the TCIDA receives a referral, a cost benefit analysis is prepared to assess the financial economic impact the project will have on the community. Projections are based on the anticipated new job opportunities the business will bring. Forecasts are calculated on anticipated spending by the new employees, the potential impact to housing, the real property tax base, as well as the increase in gas and grocery sales, etc. All are taken into consideration when attempting to predict the impact to the local economy. Although it is well understood that an economic spin off is expected with the addition of a new business, the true impact is sometimes difficult to measure.
Never has the direct influence of economic development projects been more evident than in 2020. As an example, Beth Johnson, owner of The Parkview, shared, “If it wasn’t for V&S and Crown Cork and Seal, I would not have made it through the shut down.”
The continued revenue received from room rentals to the essential employees of V&S and Crown Cork and Seal made up for lost revenue associated with the restaurant.
Bob Messler, senior vice president and general manager of Voigt and Schweitzer Galvanizing, offered the following, “When V&S Galvanizing makes the decision to locate to an area, along with that decision comes a commitment to the local economy.”
In this case, that commitment equates to roughly $50,000 spent since the start of the year for housing and meals alone. Messler could have easily passed these expenses along to chain hotels or restaurants. Instead he connected with a locally owned business to do their part in supporting Tioga County.
“We were introduced to Beth on our first visit to Tioga County, when scoping out potential sites to locate the new plant. It was a no-brainer for us to continue that relationship when we needed housing for a relocated manager and for those traveling to the area during construction and start-up.” The relocated manager referenced has since purchased a home in Tioga County.
Similarly, Crown Cork and Seal has been mindful of keeping it local. Human Resources Manager Krystal Strickland commented, “Thankfully our business has remained strong throughout this period. Over the past few months we’ve hired several new employees to staff our new production line, nearly 50 in total.
In trying to keep morale up during these trying times, Crown has partnered with local small businesses such as The Owego Kitchen, Bread of Life Food Pantry, CHOP, Rossi’s, Mario’s, and The Parkview.”
Pat Walp, Bread of Life Pantry coordinator located in Candor, shared that the week the food pantry stopped allowing patron’s into the building they realized they would need a large number of boxes to get the much needed food items to patrons. Crown Cork and Seal employee Beth Blinn twice arranged for Crown to donate large quantities of boxes and delivered them to the pantry.
Pat stated, “I really don’t know what we would have done without these generous gifts.”
Ike and Julie Lovelass, owners of The Owego Kitchen, have seen a steady stream of both Crown and Lockheed Martin employees at their establishment since the beginning of the pandemic. It has been necessary for many to adapt to a new way of doing business.
The Lovelass’ found it necessary to modify their way of providing catering services. In the past, The Owego Kitchen would provide large serving trays of food items, they now deliver individual lunchboxes, thus eliminating the fear related to COVID-19 multiple touch points. Ike went on to say that many business community employees have continued to support local business.
“We have found that we are delivering to numerous Lockheed Martin employees directly to their homes even as they work remotely. All of these adaptations during the pandemic have allowed us to maintain revenue similar to last year,” Lovelass stated.
COVID-19 has brought our business community together much like the past floods did. Whether newcomers to the area or homegrown, these connections cause a ripple effect that have an impact on all aspects of local life. And while numerical projections and statistics are used to provide an estimated measure of economic benefit, personal connections such as these are immeasurable.
This is what makes Tioga County a great place to live and do business.