Niagara Gazette

December 12, 2013

Isaiah 61 nets $132K grant from Regional Economic Development Council

By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The good news keeps rolling in for the Isaiah 61 Project.

The faith-based nonprofit will get a new jobs training facility with the city winning a $132,000 grant from the state’s Regional Economic Development Council, which announced more than $715 million in grants and tax breaks on Wednesday in its third year of awards.

The city plans to renovate a vacant fire hall on Highland Avenue to include office space, training facilities and warehouse space for the nonprofit.

Seth Piccirillo, the director of the city’s Community Development department, said the project will take a rotting, city-owned building and put it back on the tax rolls.

“The building would need to be demolished in the next couple of years,” he added.

The city has allocated an additional $150,000 in funding through the Community Development budget and will use casino revenues to help pay for the project.

Piccirillo’s department has been working on the project since applying for the grant and is prepared to move forward in the coming months.

“We have real funding sources,” he said. “We will be ready at the beginning of the year to put this out to bid.”

The Isaiah 61 Project plans to use the warehouse space, which will go on the first floor, as a reuse retail space run buy graduates of the program, buying and selling housing materials salvaged from abandoned buildings.

The organization, which trains unemployed and underemployed residents in the trades while renovating vacant houses, has plans to begin deconstructing houses, salvaging as much useful material as possible before contractors tear the buildings down and haul the waste to a landfill.

Jim Haid, the project coordinator for the Isaiah 61 Project, said that the program is beginning to outgrow the basement of the 22nd Street church where the nonprofit holds its classroom training.

“Working with 25 to 30 guys, it’s kind of cramped, which is a blessing,” Haid said.

Haid said everyone involved with his organization is really excited by the possibility that they could be in the building this year.

“We’d love to be in there and kick off by the Fourth of July,” Haid said.

The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council was awarded more than $60 million including several other Niagara region projects;

• TAM Ceramics was awarded a $250,000 grant for a rare earth recycling project aimed at helping the company reclaim valuable earth materials.

• The Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation was awarded a $300,000 grant for a Western New York branding plan. A consortium of of Western New York organizations will work to create a new brand for the region.

• Niagara County Community College was awarded a $25,000 grant for an operational skills training program. The college will provide training for 60 long-term unemployed workers in entry level job skills.




Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257