Just over five years ago, the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency was running out of money, according to AIDA Director Jody Zakrevsky. Today, the agency boasts a strong fund balance and is involved with more job-creating projects than ever.
Zakrevsky, along with AIDA Board Chairman Pat Baia and several other board members, attended a common council committee meeting on Tuesday to report on the agency’s progress.
“From 1985 to 2010, the agency basically depleted its assets,” said Zakrevsky. “If the trend continued, in 2015 we would have been out of business.”
Zakrevsky said that starting in 2010, he and the board began to look for ways to cut costs and raise revenues. They raised some leases that they found to be below market rates, and cut out some of the benefits and services they provided to the city such as funding demolition and equipment purchases, grant writing services, lobbying, and anything else that wasn’t directly related to the agency’s own projects.
Getting involved with downtown revitalization was was a major step in the evolution of the agency.
“We had to expand out, or we wouldn’t be in business,” said Zakrevsky. “At [former mayor Ann Thane’s] request, we looked at purchasing 44-46 Main Street…She asked us to get involved in the project with downtown revitalization.”
“We had a lot of soul-searching on whether AIDA should get involved with retail and housing because traditionally it hasn’t been our mandate,” said Zakrevsky. “But we went ahead with that, primarily for two reasons. One was that we do have interest in seeing the downtown grow again. And two, we saw it as a revenue source if we could pull it off. And we’re happy to say we’ve received up to $40,000 per year in rental [income].”
He reported that five of the six units at the Main Street location are rented, with The Geek Pantology, a computer repair shop, occupying one of the two ground-floor commercial spaces. The other commercial space remains vacant.
“We’re not a typical IDA because we have residential property that we now own,” said Baia.
He added that board members often have to handle property management issues for both commercial and residential tenants. In addition to regular monthly meetings, Baia said that board members also meet in various committees on a weekly basis.
“We’ve turned AIDA around,” said Baia. “We have a reserve of $400,000…we were in the red when I joined the board.”
Zakrevsy outlined recent projects that the agency has been involved in providing either payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements, loans, or grants:
- Mohawk Fabric
- 10 Market Street LLC, which is the company converting the former hotel into an assisted living facility. The business is projected to create 80-85 jobs.
- Noteworthy Industries, a long-time city business that has reported adding approximately 40 jobs over the past year.
- AGT Services which is in the process of expanding and plans to add 25 jobs.
- Beckmann Converting
- Giant Solutions
- Memory Lane Daycare (which plans to expand with a new facility in the city)
- Shorty’s Southside Tavern
- Breton Industries
Looking forward, Zakrevsky identified several projects that they are working on:
- Working with Cranesville Properties in developing the former Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame building.
- Applying for a grant to upgrade electrical service to the industrial park.
- Discussing the possibility of working with Hand Giene Corporation to build a distribution facility in the city.
- Working with North East Riggers to build a new administration building in the industrial park.
- Early stage discussions with a North Carolina developer interested in purchasing and renovating the former FGI building into a residential facility.