Ripley, N.Y.: – County Executive candidate, George Borrello, is excited to announce his plans to seek support and funding to design and construct the “Best of Western New York” Commerce Center at the Shortman Road Exit off of the New York State Thruway in the Town of Ripley, NY. The proposed facility would not only offer information about the foremost tourism destinations located throughout New York State, it would feature the state’s distinctive products and agricultural offerings. “I envision a facility that offers travelers a considerable selection of locally grown and produced goods vended by a large farmers’ market; agricultural value-added products such as juices, jams and jellies; and unique culinary experiences such as restaurants that serve local cuisine,” explained Mr. Borrello. “I also picture a Center that offers original and hand-made artisan goods as well as other products made in Western New York and the Southern Tier. I could see it being a campus with unique architecture in a park-like setting modeled after the Tamarack Tourism Center, located on Route 64 in West Virginia, which attracts more than a half a million visitors annually,” he stated. “Like Tamarack, this will not just be a rest area. It will be a destination for travelers along their journey to and from Upstate New York, Ontario and the New England states.”
Understanding that this facility must ultimately be self-sustaining, Mr. Borrello goes on to say “we need to carefully consider what form this project will take so it is not only profitable but fulfills the needs and mission of stakeholders at the local, County and State levels. That being said, it will most assuredly entail an economic feasibility assessment as an initial step in determining the appropriate programming and configuration for the facility.” Specifically, he envisions a unique commerce center that creates an unforgettable western portal to the State of New York and Chautauqua County. A portion of the center would be devoted to informing travelers entering New York State of the countless tourism and entertainment resources available along Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Buffalo, the Southern Tier, the Niagara Frontier, the Finger Lakes and beyond with a particular focus on Chautauqua County and its many unique tourism destinations. It will communicate, in a unique way, the location of the local, regional and state’s assets in terms of its many agricultural, natural and man-made amenities, while enabling travelers to purchase trip and tour packages. “A portion of the Center would provide an opportunity for travelers to sample and purchase foods and products that are available throughout Western New York State, including locally grown produce, adult beverages, and hand-made goods, thereby “wetting their appetite” to visit the real thing. The proposed facility would also provide the typical amenities such as gas, restrooms, and snacks to travelers,” explained Mr. Borrello.
Mr. Borrello is emphatic that this project needs to be a tourism destination in and of itself; however, he points out that it also needs to direct travelers to the many other extraordinary tourism destinations located throughout New York State. He envisions a $15 – $20 Million venture, which has the potential to not only create significant direct and indirect jobs, but would also encourage economic investment in the region and throughout the state by providing information about the multitude of business and economic development programs and incentives available locally, regionally, and State-wide. Assuming that this project moves forward, it is anticipated that the project team will likely seek to fund from the “Buffalo Billion” allocation to the region via the WNY Regional Economic Development Council while taking advantage of the “Taste-of-NY” Program. The project team will, at a minimum, seek a partnership with the NYS Thruway Authority, private developers (i.e., Delaware North and others), vendors, and popular restaurants, as well as seek corporate sponsorships, with the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) and Chautauqua County Department of Planning & Economic Development likely overseeing the process and controlling the land. “It is my vision that the “Best of WNY” Commerce Center would be a state-of- the-art signature facility, situated in a park-like setting, utilizing LEED Design Features wherever practicable,” Mr. Borrello stated. He believes that this project could act as a catalyst for local, regional and state economic development to flourish while making an exceedingly favorable first impression for tens of thousands of visitors entering and exiting New York State daily by way of the Thruway. “This will not just be a place to pick up maps and use restrooms, it will be a destination,” he concluded.