The Cattaraugus Local Development Corporation (CLDC) is a 501©3 nonprofit organization fully recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. The CLDC was formed in 1996 because of the needs of the residents in the Appalachian community. The economic boom of the 1990’s had passed them by, and the community needed to reevaluate its position. The mission of the CLDC is to be a vehicle to initiate, research, develop, incubate, fund, manage, and spin off projects, programs and businesses that allow the community to have empowerment, independence and control over its own destiny. This is implemented through a holistic approach, as members of the CLDC do not believe that there is one silver bullet for making a community viable for renewal/reinvention.
The CLDC identified and addressed five important areas. They looked at community development, economic development, education, preservation and resource conservation and the development and implementation of new technology. Using this approach allows integration and a sense of balance within the cultural, business and social environments that make up the Cattaraugus community.
Not only have the areas been identified, but also the CLDC has realized various opportunities and needs unique to its region. They raised $141,000 from two rural development grants for a revolving loan fund for local businesses and contracted a feasibility study on the need to develop a historical preservation institute. This would teach the forgotten skills of woodworking, restoration, and preservation. Alfred State College partnered with the CLDC in 1999 and developed the institute in the Village of Cattaraugus. Their motto was “preservation is our future.”
They mobilized 40 organizations and municipalities in a community effort to take ownership of and create a 12 mile “Rails-to-Trails”, created and funded and inter-community organization called Southern Tier Association for Rails-to-Trails (START), and developed three county mapping program for tourism promotion. CLDC was also responsible for raising $25,000 in three weeks to put 17 old fashion light poles in the historic business district, and three other communities are using that as a model.
The CLDC has also helped to promote a school annexation to voters, field a patent on community economic development and technology, and designed an e-commerce digital imaging company for economic development and high tech jobs. They took ownership of an 1100-acre subdivision in order to save a community’s tax base and rectified 27 years of homeowner concerns in three months.
Each of the programs and activities have resulted in the communities’ belief in itself and its hope for the future. The programs are staffed with volunteers who freely give of their time and resources. The communities have contributed about 10,000 hours of service and in the process raised over $2,000,000 for this rural region of Appalachia. The CLDC is continually working to get better and better and will always be a means of community service for the Appalachia area.