“It was a great opportunity to do something for the home team.”
That’s how Seneca County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Bob Aronson views his role in driving economic development. The IDA serves as an arm of government, which organizes and establishes deals to foster economic development.
His roots run deep in Seneca County, as his grandfather’s business in downtown Seneca Falls was as much a part of his family as anything.
“Look at the IDA as a delivery mechanism for incentives that the state has authorized to attract businesses to come to our community or grow in our community,” Aronson explained — giving listeners an insight into the organization’s function.
“There were some obstacles,” Aronson explained referring to the IDA’s plan to sell the former Seneca Army Depot. He responded to concerns about the process, or result noting that the heavily criticized lease agreement served as the best vehicle to getting the deal done.
By the IDA staying on the title of the property it means that valuable tax benefits can be realized before a complex sale is completed.
Last Thursday, the IDA held a public hearing on the proposed PILOT agreement, which would be active for one- or two-years. The exact length of time would depend on when ownership officially hands off to Earl Martin, who was selected as the winning bid for the 7,000 acre property last year.
Aronson expressed concern over the presence of the outdated assessment value of the property. It currently is assessed at around $25 million, which is about twenty times greater than what the highest bid was for the property.
When addressing the concern that some bidders were left out – Aronson said that they were looking for a ‘complete deal’, which would benefit the entire county – and would have an economic benefit.
Protecting the white deer herd, creating jobs, and creating a stronger tax base to benefit the community were the biggest priority.
One of the challenges that the IDA ran into along the way had to do with the sites around the property being rehabbed. Those portions of the property cannot be transferred to any private body at this time — and some never will.
“At the time we didn’t know a lease would be the mechanism to move the entire process forward,” Aronson continued. He noted that while some people have expressed disappointment — there simply were not enough individual bids to warrant several smaller deals.
“The lease provides an acceleration to the process,” he explained. “It’s an attractive alternative.”
Aronson said that getting the Depot property back into the private sector has been a major goal of his since coming to the IDA nearly a decade ago.
On Tuesday, the Seneca County Board of Supervisors will vote on a resolution, which will call for the process — and bid winner — to be stripped of the Depot property. However, the IDA will not be forced to take any action based on the board’s decision.
FingerLakes1.com will have complete coverage of Tuesday’s meeting. Listen to the entire interview with Seneca County IDA Executive Director Bob Aronson in the video window above.