Empire State Development announced applications are now open for interested parties in Niagara County to apply for incentives through the Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County. The fund, administered by ESD, will consider proposals that advance one or more of the three core enablers - implement smart growth, foster a culture of entrepreneurship and prepare our workforce and/or support any of the region's target industry sectors - as outlined in the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council's strategic plan, "A Strategy for Prosperity." Applications, due at 3 p.m. April 25, are availableHERE.
"After creating dozens of jobs, Yahoo's East Coast data center is giving back further to Niagara County by launching a community fund," said ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky. "With the Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County, ESD will partner with Yahoo to distribute resources to community organizations that will advance the WNYREDC's economic development strategies in the region."
The Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County was created in 2015 as part of Yahoo's agreement with ESD to establish a customer care and data center in Niagara County. The purpose of the agreement is to further connect Yahoo to the community as part of Yahoo's receipt of New York state's Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits, as well as an allocation of low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority. There is $250,000 available annually though the fund (up to $500,000 available in 2016) with priority given to projects that have matching funds from sources other than other public funds.
Projects must be located in or provide services to Niagara County, but excludes the Town and City of Lockport, because the Yahoo Community Benefit Fund gives preference to the Town and City of Lockport. Decisions for this fund are made by a resident advisory council, which consists of seven citizens that live or work in Lockport. Funds must support a charitable organization or be used for a charitable purpose, which may include programmatic expenses related to a new program or project or a combination of capital and programmatic costs. Not-for-profit corporations with Section 501(c)(3) status as determined by the Internal Revenue Service are eligible to apply for funding.
Funds cannot be used for an organization's general operating expenses or working capital related to a capital project; recapitalization/refinancing; endowments; religious purposes or improvements to structures owned by religious or private membership-based organizations; fundraising; political or lobbying activities; or activities that have occurred prior to the start of the grant period.
ESD is New York's chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). Its mission is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the state and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York.
ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of "I Love NY," the state's iconic tourism brand.