ELLICOTTVILLE — Despite a challenging year, the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency provided tax breaks for $18.8 million in projects in 2019 designed to retain jobs as well as create new ones.

IDA tax breaks can include exemptions to sales taxes, property taxes and mortgage recording taxes.

Nine projects were approved this year by the IDA board of directors.

The biggest, Portville Solar 1 LLC, represents $8.6 million in investment, but no full-time jobs after construction, since solar farms require little maintenance. The school, town and county will split a payment in lieu of taxes (P.I.L.O.T.) based on $5,000 per megawatt.

The IDA has given tax breaks to five solar farms valued at $42 million since 2017. Four more solar projects are expected over the next two years.

The IDA has initiated a new P.I.L.O.T. of $15,000 for solar project applications after Dec. 10, or $10,000 if an approved host community benefit or agreement is involved. The new P.I.L.O.T.s will be for 25 years instead of 15 years and will include 2% annual increases.

The other 2019 project are:

Win-Sum Ski Corp. (Holiday Valley) — $2.7 million.

Sunny Olean LLC — $800,000.

Holimont — $948,000.

House of Steel — $100,000.

Olean Manor (Field of Dreams) — $4.5 million.

Four Mile Brewing — $850,000.

Lumber Jake’s — $75,000.

Yippity Skippity Realty LLC. — $300,000.

Corey Wiktor, IDA executive director, said projects for Holiday Valley and HoliMont in Ellicottville add up to more than $3.5 million and are geared toward maintaining jobs as well as generating increased sales and bed taxes for the county.

Many of the projects, he said, are phase two projects.

The IDA also keeps in mind the local companies and tradesmen who will be working on projects, Wiktor said. Other tax benefits are designed to assist developers in the adaptive reuse of older, vacant properties. There are also manufacturing P.I.L.O.T.s.

“Each project is looked at in a spectrum,” Wiktor said in an interview Friday. “New jobs are the optimum, but we also look at job retention.” Four criteria the IDA looks at in every application are retained employees, new employees, retained tax base and new tax base.

“In the last three years, we’ve averaged around $20 million a year in investments,” Wiktor said. “It’s been slow and steady.”

For example, Wiktor said the Field of Dreams assisted living facility represents a $20 million investment that will provide more than 100 new jobs and needed housing for a large number of area residents.

Wiktor said he is encouraged by signs of economic activity in the coming year. “We’ve got projects in the pipeline,” he said. “There are two manufacturing projects that have a good shot for next year.”

The IDA has started assisting small manufacturers with a SNAP lease, often sales tax abatement on small business purchases, Wiktor said.

“This allows a nice savings at a minimal cost associated with this program,” Wiktor said. “We continue to market this to al small manufacturers in the county.”

Since 2013, the IDA has assisted companies in creating 627 new jobs and retaining 3,997 jobs, Wiktor said.

The IDA is not alone in development activities in Cattaraugus County. There is a collaboration between several agencies called the Cattaraugus County Economic Development Team, Wiktor said, including: Cattaraugus County Business Development Council, Southern Tier West, Cattaraugus County, City of Olean Community Development, Cattaraugus Local Development Corporation, PTAC, WIB, Industrial Development Agency, State Department of Labor, Empire State Development and the Small Business Administration.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)