Good economic news can be hard to come by in Chautauqua County.
County residents should be excited, then, when plans are announced that a new company may locate in the area. On Tuesday, a German company told county Industrial Development Agencies that the former AFA Foods building in Ashville is one of two potential sites in North America for a pet care products manufacturing facility. German company saturn petcare inc. plans to spend more than $20 million on building upgrades and other startup costs while hiring 25 employees at the beginning. Plans are to expand to more than 100 jobs within five years. Even better is the news that saturn petcare inc. wants to hire former employees of AFA Foods because they won't need much training.
Saturn petcare inc. officials will choose between Ashville and a site in Michigan based on the quality of tax breaks and aid they receive from New York state and Michigan.
Needless to say, there is a lot riding on Empire State Development's response to saturn petcare's request. Even it if takes time for saturn petcare inc. to reach full taxable value, it is important both to Chautauqua County and to taxpayers in North Harmony. Millions of dollars will be spent, hopefully on local tradesmen and workers, to upgrade the facility. We have more than enough unemployed workers who could use a job. More jobs means more disposable income, more spending at area restaurants and stores and more sales tax revenue. It will help Panama Central School expand its tax base, an important thing for a small school district.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is fond of saying New York state is open for business. If that's really true, the state will come through with a good enough incentive package to convince saturn petcare inc. to choose Ashville. Now is an opportunity for Cuomo - through the auspices of the Empire State Development Corp. - to put his money where his mouth is.