By Todd Tranum
President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement that the Dunkirk NRG plant will be repowered to generate electricity with natural gas was truly an early Christmas gift for Chautauqua County. The project will maintain the county's tax base, retain jobs at the plant, and will allow for the generation of much-needed electric power right here in Chautauqua County for years to come.
New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes the announcement to repower the NRG Energy Inc. facility on Sunday in Dunkirk.
We can't express our gratitude enough to the many, many people and organizations that made their voices heard and stood up for something truly meaningful in our county. The list includes our state lawmakers, State Senator Catharine Young and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell. Their leadership and support every step of the way proved to be invaluable in the process. Former County Executive Greg Edwards, incoming County Executive Vince Horrigan, Bill Daly and the staff at the Industrial Development Agency, Sam Hoyt and his team at Empire State Development and the Chautauqua County Legislature all played substantive roles. The Southwestern New York Building Trades, Buffalo Building Trades, Dunkirk Labor Council and the Jamestown Labor Council provided critical structure and energy around this advocacy issues. Support from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Tom Reed provided important visibility and clout. In addition, we congratulate Dunkirk's Mayor Anthony J. Dolce, the Dunkirk Common Council, and all of the personnel from the Dunkirk School District for making their voices heard loud and clear. And our local media help carry our voices through print and the airwaves. It is impossible to thank each individual who stood up to support this project. Countless senior citizens, students, employees and business people signed petitions, turned out for rallies, and sent messages, letters, and emails to Governor Cuomo and the state Public Service Commission. Each of them made a significant difference. This truly is a show of democracy at work.
As part of our five point focus, the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier take pride in promoting economic and workforce development, and providing representation where it matters. Our role as an advocacy organization has grown and we are proud to work with many partners in both the business and political arenas to keep positive economic growth at the forefront in our county. This project is the largest single economic development project in Chautauqua County in many years. We sincerely thank NRG for their investment in Chautauqua County. It is meaningful to every institution and individual in our county.
Under the $150 million agreement, the NRG plant in Dunkirk will be repowered and expanded. Currently one 75 megawatt unit is operating on coal. The project will convert three coal units to natural gas for a capacity of 435 megawatts. The project provides important local system reliability benefits for National Grid customers and will help to relieve transmission bottlenecks in the region and reduce electricity supply costs to consumers. The plan will preserve the existing 68 permanent jobs at the site at least through mid-2015, and will create approximately 50 construction jobs.
We extend our sincere thanks and congratulations to all who played a role in negotiating an agreement to keep the NRG plant operating and to Governor Cuomo for the wisdom to recognize its importance to all of Western New York.
Chamber can assist with the State Health Insurance Exchange
2013 has been a year of tremendous change in the health insurance industry nationwide. Your business may still have opportunities to make substantive changes in health insurance benefits that could have important financial implications. As you weigh your options, we encourage you to consult with our professional staff.
Many questions remain for businesses around the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the Chamber continues to enroll businesses and employees into the New York State of Health exchange. If you have questions about remaining with an existing insurance plan, the economic implications of entering the new exchange, or how the ACA will affect your business or employees, please contact the Chamber. Each scenario is different, based on employee and business structures. We would be happy to work with you to identify the health insurance plan that best meets your needs. If you have questions give us a call at 366-6200 or 484-1101 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reduced Jamestown-Cleveland air fares make economic sense
United Airlines is now offering $49 nonstop flights between Jamestown and Cleveland. Ideal for business travelers, the reduced fares are one-way and require a 21-day advance purchase. They are good until Feb. 15 and can be booked through United.com.
County Airport Manager Sam Arcadipane calls the move a tremendous boost for the local airport.
"This price makes our local airport very competitive. You can't drive to Cleveland and park your car at the airport there for the price of this fare," Arcadipane said.
This move is a positive demonstration that the Chautauqua County Airport is working hard to improve service, provide important changes that make the facility more viable for business and tourism travel and maintain an important economic asset in our region.