Cayuga County is celebrating Economic Development Week from May 8 through May 14. Economic Development Week was created by the International Economic Development Council in commemoration of its 90-year anniversary as the largest professional membership organization for economic developers.

Economic developers are charged with generating economic growth, creating better jobs for residents and facilitating an improved quality of life. The industry remains as complex, challenging and rewarding as ever. Members of Congress are also highlighting the work of our nation’s economic developers through special resolutions that are appearing in the Congressional Record.

Your local economic developers at the Cayuga Economic Development Agency are celebrating Economic Development Week with the launch of a new website, The new format makes it easier to find information about starting, growing or locating a business in Cayuga County. Some highlights include the News and Projects pages. In the past, projects were reported annually, but now they will be posted as they become available to the public. It’s important for the community to know what CEDA does to create jobs, grow our economy and create a sustainable quality of life. For example, in 2015, CEDA’s services resulted in the creation of 118 new jobs, the retention of 115 jobs and capital investments of $28.8 million.

The Featured Sites portion of the website has been simplified to focus on key (large) properties for business attraction. CEDA works with businesses of all sizes, so while the smaller manufacturing, office or retail spaces may not be listed online, they are still tracked within an internal database and shared with those looking to start or relocate a business. If you have a space available, make sure it’s listed with CEDA. The website now has a contact form with the goal of engaging individuals and businesses to provide direct personal assistance.

In honor of Economic Development Week, here’s a little of what we’ve been up to:

As CEDA’s Business Development Specialist, I work on business attraction, which means bringing in new businesses that are opening a new location or relocating. At the moment, the most noticeable attraction project is Grober Nutrition. This 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is being built to the east of Cayuga Milk Ingredients within the Cayuga County Industrial Park. Grober will be taking the milk permeate byproduct from CMI, blending it with other fats and further processing it to make milk replacer for small animals, predominantly dairy calves. Their first phase of operations is expected to begin in September with the second phase ramping up in early 2017, creating 34 new jobs over the first three years.

While the multimillion-dollar attraction projects take several months or even years to materialize, I also work with local entrepreneurs who are interested in starting their own business. CEDA works closely with SCORE, a resource partner of the Small Business Administration, which provides free and confidential counseling services to small businesses. This collaboration has resulted in several new business startups. Most recently: Alter Image Salon, the Growing Tree Boutique, Penird’s Snowplowing and Lawn Service, Handy Skills by Mr. Mills and LIFT: Live It Fitness & Training. Entrepreneurs and business owners typically seek mentoring for business planning, financial projections, marketing strategy, licensing information and access to other resources. These services are free and confidential.

Bruce Sherman, CEDA’s economic development specialist, has been busy working with the existing businesses in Cayuga County on retention and expansion. A large part of Sherman’s job is to connect our county’s industries with resources and other organizations that offer supportive services. In the world of economic development, business assistance is more than just providing a business with a grant or tax exemption. Introducing various tools to businesses to help expand their sales is just as, if not more, important than providing traditional incentives. Some of those assisting agencies are the local Workforce Investment Board, the CNY Technology Development Organization and the Central New York International Business Alliance. Many companies have expanded recently: Inns of Aurora, Owasco Marine, Aurora Shoes, Stonewell Bodies, Repair Plus, the Springside Inn, Johnston Paper, D&W Diesel and Currier Plastics, to name a few.

CEDA is a private sector, 501(c)(3) local development corporation established to implement a comprehensive economic development strategy for all of Cayuga County. CEDA’s mission is “To foster a sustainable quality of life in Cayuga County through job retention, expansion and attraction.” Working as a one-stop business development service provider, CEDA provides easy access to all of the information, incentives and resources needed to develop, innovate and succeed. To learn more, visit

A special thanks to local photographers Bill Hecht, Chris Molloy, Michael Bruton and Benjamin Walter, who provided the beautiful imagery of Cayuga County, and the web development expertise of Totum Design Co. Along with the new website, users can stay apprised of CEDA’s work by following it on Facebook and Twitter @Cayuga_EDA.

Maureen Riester is a SCORE mentor and the Cayuga Economic Development Agency’s business development specialist, focusing on bringing new business to Auburn and Cayuga County. She can be contacted at or (315) 252-3500.

Originally published as a special to The Citizen.