October 18, 2021

Cortland area gets $4.8M in REDC grants

Joe McIntyre/file photo

Parker Elementary School in Cortland. File photo.

The greater Cortland area received nearly $4.8 million in state aid Thursday, ranging from $870,000 to renovate the manufacturing facility of the Marathon Boat Group and eventually add dozens of jobs to money to help a cultural organization increase its director to full-time from part-time.

The money from the Regional Economic Development Councils — a competitive grand and aid process — totaled $761 million for the entire state. At $86.2 million, the Central New York region, which includes Cortland, was named a top performer, as was the Southern Tier, which includes Tompkins County, at $88.9 million.

The Central New York region has been named a top performer for seven of the past nine years, said Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Industrial Development Agency, and a member of the regional council. The difference between a top performer and other regions typically tops $20 million in aid.

“Every one of our top economic development projects was awarded,” VanGorder said.
Among the award recipients:

Marathon Boat Group
Marathon Boat Group Inc. is getting two grants totaling $870,000, allowing the company to expand its business and add an additional 20 to 40 jobs in two to three years, said chief financial officer Kevin Thompson.

The company, which has been around 75 years, is known for making Grumman aluminum boats and is looking to launch a new pontoon line in the first quarter of next year.

To do so, Thompson said it will need to add an additional 50,000 square feet to its operation, either on its existing building at 1 Grumman Way, Marathon, or at another building of that size.

“As we launch a new pontoon line we’re going to rapidly outgrow our space,” he said.

The company will also use the money to get new computerized equipment.

The company has more than doubled its work force this year from about nine or 10 employees to around 25.

“These grants are based on increasing employment,” Thompson said.

He said the company is looking to work with area agencies like Board of Cooperative Educational Services to find skilled workers, such as welders and people who can do auto body work.

“We’re really looking at some great opportunities to grow our business here,” he said.

The company has talked about working with the Homer Central School District on some projects — although details of what that may be were not provided.

It also seeks to expand its Northeast market and sell more in the Southeast and Midwest.

“There’s a lot of exciting things going on,” Thompson said.

J.M. Murray Center
J.M. Murray Center Inc. received $800,000 to consolidate and move services offered at the company’s West Road location to the old Cortland Pump building on Bennie Road in Cortlandville, said Matt Toner, the company’s public relations coordinator.

“It’s going to be a new more modern facility,” he said Tuesday. “It will allow us to provide better services to the people with disabilities that we are working with.”

It will also help the company start a new line for liquid compounding, tube filling, packaging, warehousing and distribution, the REDC announced.

The organization offers vocational rehabilitation, habilitation, employment and self-directed services.

The move is expected next summer and the company will look to sell its West Road location. Toner said starting about 2021 the company will also look to expand its for-profit services in 2021.

The company will add 15,000 square feet to its 823 Route 13 operation.

“That will be an opportunity for increased employment,” Toner said, but did not say how many new jobs would be created.

The company now employs around 240 people.

Parker school
The $500,000 awarded to the city of Cortland will help renovate the former Parker school, which the city is considering purchasing from the Cortland Enlarged Area School District for a child care facility run by the YWCA Cortland and the Cortland County Community Action Program, as well as ad- ministrative offices for the city.

“Child care is a real crisis in this state,” VanGorder said. “And we were there with a plan.”

The city Common Council indicated a willingness Tuesday to buy the building, following assurance from the New York State Dormitory Authority regarding bond restrictions connected with the school.

The council is expected to vote on the purchase Jan. 7. If this occurs, the school board could vote Jan. 14 to sell the school, putting the matter up to public referendum.

The building is still expected to require $2 million in capital expenses over 10 years, $460,000 in start-up expenses and $166,000 in annual operating expenses. Because of bond restrictions, any fees charged to the YWCA and CAPCO would only cover operational expenses.

Mayor Brian Tobin said the grant was “exciting” because it would help pay for improvements to the heating and air conditioning systems, as well as repurposing classrooms.

“This would be one piece of several pieces of funding that we’re interested in,” he said.

Tobin said a Parker school task force helped bring this project closer to reality, and credited Lindy Glennon of CAPCO and his wife, Kelly Tobin, of the YWCA for working together.

“They’ve found a way to collaborate and when this project comes to fruition it will be a great resource for our community,” he said.

Firehouse windows
The city firehouse, which has received $473,000 for renovations since 2015, got another $443,445 Thursday.

Of the earlier grant money, $235,400 went toward repairing the clay tile roof while retaining the building’s historic elements, while $237,740 was to be used to replace the building’s windows. But the bids to do that project came back higher than the amount awarded, said Tobin, so the city applied for more money, and Thursday it received it.

“This is the second phase, which is to replace the windows,” said Mack Cook, the city’s director of administration and finance. “So we’re going to put a little shy of $1 million into the firehouse.”

Water grant
Cortland was also awarded $25,000 to complete a study on connecting its water system with that of Cortlandville as part of emergency system that would enable either municipality to draw water from the other.

The awards for the city were smaller than in recent past years, but that was deliberate, Cook said.

“We didn’t go into it heavy this year because we have a lot of projects we’re undergoing right now,” he said. The city needs to finish its current slate of major capital improvement projects before starting new ones.

“You can only put so many irons in the fire at one time,” he said.

Dryden streambank stabilization
The Town of Dryden received a $705,635 grant for streambank stabilization and riparian buffers along Lower Fall Creek, a major tributary to Cayuga Lake.

“We weren’t even sure we’d get it,” said town Supervisor Jason Leifer.

Grant writer Jennifer Karius, who wrote the grant for the town’s highway department, said the grant would provide “a model for all towns around the lake … to control flooding and nutrients.”

By reducing erosion and sediment flow, the program would help prevent harmful algal blooms in Cayuga Lake, she said.

Gutchess Lumber Sports Park
Cortlandville’s Gutchess Lumber Sports Park got $200,000 to be put toward the second phase of the 100-acre park on Route 13 in South Cortland.

The $16 million to $18 million park — to be developed over the next 15 years or so — would get money to help with a central restroom and concession building, a playground, walking trails and landscaping.

The first phase of the multi-field sports park, including leveling, a pair of ball fields and parking, cost $4.3 million.

The completed sports complex, will have four baseball diamonds, eight soccer fields and three sand volleyball courts.

“We’ll strategize with the new leadership on how to leverage that $200,000,” VanGorder said, perhaps gaining other grants for more work.

Managing Editor Todd R. McAdam contributed to this report.