Organizations face challenges daily, and the Cayuga Economic Development Agency is no exception. Recent challenges have impacted the community’s confidence in the organization’s capacity to be an effective economic development partner. The board hopes to restore the community’s confidence by sharing data that demonstrates why CEDA is an effective economic development partner in Cayuga County.

In 2010, with input from the business community, city and county agencies, and other partners, CEDA was founded to spearhead economic development for all of Cayuga County. CEDA operates as a one-stop resource; whether you own a business in Cayuga County or are considering starting one, the agency is here to provide advice and resources.

The agency provides monthly reports to the Cayuga County Legislature and publishes an annual report. Over the last 13 years, CEDA has received $5 million in funding; 96% of that funding came from county taxpayers. Today, I am reporting directly to you, the taxpayer, to explain what your investment in CEDA has bought.

The $5 million in funding allocated to CEDA has played a pivotal role in generating $675.7 million in total project investment and secured $87.2 million of tax incentives and state and federal grant dollars. The projects that CEDA assisted have helped to retain 2,248 existing jobs and create 1,387 new jobs. Additionally, the agency is involved in roughly $500 million of projects currently in the planning phase, including the Cayuga Milk Ingredients expansion that is projected to create over 100 new high-paying jobs. With respect to the funding you provided, CEDA’s impact looks like this:

  • Every dollar in CEDA funding has returned $135 in total project investment.
  • Every dollar in CEDA funding has returned $16 in public incentives and grants.
  • 2,248 retained jobs at a cost of $2,224 per job.
  • 1,387 new jobs created at a cost of $3,604 per job.

To arrive at these impact figures, CEDA staff reviewed the last 13 years and totaled all the projects the agency was involved in that could be easily quantified — 113 individual projects and four COVID-19 programs. It wasn’t possible to count everything — some of CEDA’s projects are easily measured, like its work with the Cayuga County Industrial Development Agency and the Auburn Industrial Development Authority. Other activities are far more difficult to measure — like advising an aspiring entrepreneur who may ultimately decide not to start a business.

What is the economic impact of a 401(k) that doesn’t get drained to fund a bad business idea? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that CEDA has helped save a lot of retirements.

The agency works with 150-200 businesses, prospective entrepreneurs and attraction prospects (companies that we try to bring into Cayuga County) every year. In addition, the agency staffs both the Cayuga County Industrial Development Agency and Auburn Industrial Development Authority, and helps administer county, city and state economic development programs. Another major focus of the agency is helping the county and local businesses profit from Micron and its extensive network of suppliers over the next decade.

CEDA staff are bound by a strict confidentiality agreement. The agency’s advice is not only free, but also confidential. It meets with small businesses to help them achieve their goals. It helps manage large, complex projects with multiple stakeholders worth millions of dollars. CEDA connects local firms with high quality advice from partner agencies like the Onondaga Small Business Development Center. While our most prominent projects almost always involve AIDA or CCIDA, ultimately CEDA spends most of its time advising businesses that are not yet large enough to qualify as an IDA project.

The impact data produced by CEDA staff has inspired the board to work with county leaders to continue CEDA’s good work. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our dedicated staff. Their experience, passion and institutional knowledge are vital to economic development in Cayuga County. I implore our business community, city and county leaders to join in preserving CEDA as a critical force for economic development in Cayuga County for years to come.

Ryan Pine is chairman of the board of directors of the Cayuga Economic Development Agency. For more information, call (315) 252-3500 or visit
Published in the October 19, 2023 edition of The Citizen.