The Impact of COVID-19 in Tioga County

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From the Tioga County Dept. of Economic Development & Planning:

The impact of COVID-19 to our business community has been devastating. When looking around
our towns and villages, one can see the effect the pandemic has had on our local shops and
business owners. TEAM Tioga continues to do all we can to support the community. Thankfully,
due to several Tioga County employers being deemed essential, some of our small businesses
have not been as severely impacted as others throughout the State.

Over the last decade there have been significant additions to the business community which have
helped to insulate Tioga County from severe economic downturns. TEAM Tioga has worked
diligently to entice and support new businesses to the area. One of the most effective ways to
strengthen the business community is by building relationships. TEAM Tioga has done so with
many different local, State, and regional agencies; and in doing so has facilitated connections,
raised awareness of grant or loan programs, offered guidance for funding opportunities, as well
as, provided assistance with local approval processes and permitting.

TEAM Tioga has found developing relationships which promote communication with local
municipalities and agencies to be the most effective pathway to initiate, explore, and expand
economic development. The Tioga County Industrial Development Agency (TCIDA) is one of the
tools used to encourage potential businesses to locate in Tioga County. Once the TCIDA receives
a referral, a cost benefit analysis is prepared to assess the financial economic impact the project
will have on the community.

Projections are based on the anticipated new job opportunities the business will bring. Forecasts are calculated on anticipated spending by the new employees, the potential impact to housing, the real property tax base, as well as the increase in gas and grocery sales, etc. All are taken into consideration when attempting to predict the impact to the local economy. Although it is well understood that an economic spin off is expected with the addition of a new business, the true impact is sometimes difficult to measure. Never has the direct influence of economic development projects been more evident than in

As an example, Beth Johnson, owner of The Parkview shared, “If it wasn’t for V&S and
Crown Cork and Seal, I would not have made it through the shut down.” The continued revenue received from room rentals to the essential employees of V&S and Crown Cork and Seal made up for lost revenue associated with the restaurant.

Bob Messler, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Voigt and Schweitzer Galvanizing,
offered the following, “When V&S Galvanizing makes the decision to locate to an area, along with
that decision comes a commitment to the local economy.” In this case, that commitment equates
to roughly $50,000 spent since the start of the year for housing and meals alone. Messler could
have easily passed these expenses along to chain hotels or restaurants. Instead he connected
with a locally owned business to do their part in supporting Tioga County. “We were introduced
to Beth on our first visit to Tioga County, when scoping out potential sites to locate the new plant.

It was a no-brainer for us to continue that relationship when we needed housing for a relocated
manager and for those traveling to the area during construction and start-up.” The relocated
manager referenced has since purchased a home in Tioga County.

Similarly, Crown Cork and Seal has been mindful of keeping it local. Human Resources Manager,
Krystal Strickland, commented, “Thankfully our business has remained strong throughout this
period. Over the past few months we’ve hired several new employees to staff our new
production line, nearly 50 in total. In trying to keep morale up during these trying times, Crown
has partnered with local small businesses such as The Owego Kitchen, Bread of Life Food Pantry,
CHOP, Rossi’s, Mario’s and The Parkview.”

Pat Walp, Bread of Life Pantry Coordinator located in Candor, shared that the week the food
pantry stopped allowing patron’s into the building they realized they would need a large number
of boxes to get the much needed food items to patrons. Crown Cork and Seal employee, Beth
Blinn, twice arranged for Crown to donate large quantities of boxes and delivered them to the
pantry. Pat stated, “I really don’t know what we would have done without these generous gifts.”
Ike and Julie Lovelass, owners of The Owego Kitchen, have seen a steady stream of both Crown
and Lockheed Martin employees at their establishment since the beginning of the pandemic. It
has been necessary for many to adapt to a new way of doing business.

The Lovelass’ found it necessary to modify their way of providing catering services. In the past, The Owego Kitchen would provide large serving trays of food items, they now deliver individual lunchboxes, thus eliminating the fear related to COVID-19 multiple touch points. Ike went on to say that many business community employees have continued to support local business. “We have found that we are delivering to numerous Lockheed Martin employees directly to their homes even as they work remotely. All of these adaptations during the pandemic have allowed us to maintain
revenue similar to last year,” Lovelass stated.

COVID-19 has brought our business community together much like the past floods did. Whether
new comers to the area or home grown, these connections cause a ripple effect that have an
impact on all aspects of local life. And while numerical projections and statistics are used to
provide an estimated measure of economic benefit, personal connections such as these are
immeasurable. This is what makes Tioga County a great place to live and do business

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