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Victor Post
  • Makeover for Victor LDC?

  • What started out as a rudimentary update by Victor Local Development Corporation Director Kathy Rayburn to Victor town and village officials could end up triggering a major retool of her job description, and of the non-profit she leads.

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  • What started out as a rudimentary update by Victor Local Development Corporation Director Kathy Rayburn to Victor town and village officials could end up triggering a major retool of her job description, and of the non-profit she leads.
    It could also drive Victor’s strategy for courting new business and industry across town lines, and retaining valuable tax-paying businesses already in the fold.
    The Victor LDC, Town Board, Village Board, and interested residents gathered this past month at the Town Hall to take a look back and a look ahead. And then they went deeper.
    Town benefits
    According to Supervisor Jack Marren, the joint meeting is an annual exercise meant to recap the previous year and hear comments and suggestions about the future.
    “What came to light this year was the feeling from some of the Town Board members that maybe we could be doing more,” Marren said. The supervisor added that the town business owners have voiced frustration when they see that village businesses are able to avail themselves of facade committee and Main Street grants. The town is seeking the same opportunity, Marren said.
    The LDC, which was established in 1999, receives a combined total of $84,460 annually from the town and village to cover operating expenses. It’s an amount they split evenly down the middle. But town officials wonder whether or not both municipalities are seeing an equal payoff on their $42,230.
    “We understand that the village needs to be a vibrant business center,” Marren said, “but by the same token, Town Board members are questioning whether or not they’re getting their money’s worth. Is Kathy out there recruiting businesses to the town?”
    The focus
    Since the LDC’s launch, Rayburn said, she has only been able to secure grants that benefit village businesses. Marren said that’s not Rayburn’s fault, rather, it’s a function of the grant process.
    According to Rayburn, the LDC was initially formed specifically as resource for village revitalization.
    “This has been its focus and mission,” she said. “LDC expanded its outreach a number of years ago to include business outreach to the town.
    “All businesses, no matter where they reside in Victor, need support,” Rayburn added. “Economic development initiatives in the town do need to be expanded. What I want to see is all three boards taking a good look at what we are doing well and what we need to do to expand our outreach.”
    Village revitalization
    Village Mayor John Holden said he is pleased with the benefits brought about by the efforts of Rayburn and the LDC.
    “What’s happened is that the village revitalization has gone well,” Holden said. “Occupancy is about 90 to 95 percent. In central downtown, every space has something in it. Overall, we’re in very, very good shape. That doesn’t mean we don’t stop recruiting, but we’re doing very well with revitalization — mainly due to the efforts of the LDC and the collaboration with the village and the town.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Room for improvement
    Kevin Bruckner, owner of The Place in Victor Village and Mead Square Commons, said he has five retail or office spaces available for rent right now in his multi-unit building at the corner of Maple Avenue and Route 96. Retail space at the new Commons is fully rented.
    “We’ve lost a lot of tenants over the last year,” Bruckner said. “We’ve gotten a few new ones in, but we’ve got a significant amount of space available.”
    Bruckner cited other available space in the village that’s been empty for some time, including the Dryer House at 72 W. Main St., and an office/retail building at 62 W. Main St., as well as a storefront in the Dunkin’ Donuts building on West Main.
    “If I had storefront retail space, I could rent that all day long,” said Bruckner, “but office space is kind of tough. There’s so much of it available in downtown Victor.”
    Best use of time?
    Town councilmen affirmed Rayburn’s abilities and hard work, but questioned the LDC’s overall focus currently.
    “When our director is asked to spend a significant amount of time organizing and conducting fundraisers to finance programs designed to stimulate economic development in the town, then we have a problem,” said Councilman Jack Dianetti at the Jan. 14 joint meeting. “Our director should be spending time headhunting for businesses that we want in Victor and then determining what these businesses need from us in order to locate here.”
    Councilman Jeff Cody concurred at the Jan. 28 Town Board meeting.
    “I think we need to get back on task,” he said. “If you’ve got somebody who’s supposed to be recruiting, flowers and benches on the streets just aren’t going to do it. I feel for Kathy — I think she’s caught between a rock and a hard place. She’s doing her best.”
    Councilman Silvio Palermo agreed there is what he called “an obvious problem.”
    “Let’s not sit on this,” Palermo said. “Let’s get together and come up with a plan and move this forward."
    Joining forces
    “I would like to propose a discussion on the establishment of a joint task force between the town and the village to expand the role of the LDC,” said Dianetti at the joint meeting, “to revise and expand the role of the director and to provide the additional staff and funding necessary to create and promote a sustainable economic development plan for the town and village. These are legitimate, vital services that we should be funding with our tax dollars, not fundraisers.”
    Marren re-affirmed the task force concept at the Jan. 28 Town Board meeting, and suggested bringing more diversity to the table. He suggested that an assortment of stake holders from various sectors — including commercial, manufacturing and sales —could bring “fresh eyes” to the situation.
    Page 3 of 3 - Councilman David Tantillo said a number of groups exist but questioned the efficiency of them operating separately.
    “We’re all helping pay for growth,” said Tantillo, “but we have all these groups — the Local Development Corporation, the Merchants Group, the Chamber of Commerce, the Round Table — it seems they’re not cohesive. They’re not working as a team. It’s time where we need to get together. Standing still is not an option. We’re not separate groups, we’re all Victor.”
     
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