Rural Canadians learn from U.S. region: Part 11

After lunch on Day 2, we crossed the ridge of land between Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake, passed the towns of Ovid and Romulus, and drove up to the guardhouse in a remote corner of the Seneca County Army Depot, formerly operated by the U.S. military.

The tour of the Finger Lakes by rural small business owners from Norfolk County, Canada, was organized by Norfolk County Tourism & Economic Development and sponsored by Ontario’s Southwest Tourism.

Army Depot Plan

Seneca County Army Depot plan / Source: Seneca County IDA

“Welcome to the Cold War,” said Bob Aronson, stepping onto our bus. From the 1940s through the 1990s, this site was one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons on American soil. Bob heads the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency (IDA). The primary role of his team is to find new tenants and uses for the property, which is about the size of Manhattan Island. This task includes repurposing 519 “igloos” that were used to store munitions. One company uses an old army barracks to manufacture materials used in the oil and gas industry.

Nature has reclaimed a lot of the 10,000-acre property, home to a population of unique white deer. Their colour is a result of inbreeding caused by being fenced in for many years.

“The planning that goes into economic development was eye opening to me. So many different aspects, so many people affected, weighing the pros and cons and coming up with a solution to keep everyone relatively happy must be a huge challenge.” – comment from participant

Seneca County Army Depot

Entrance to the Seneca County Army Depot / Photo: Clark Hoskin

Bob had good news to share. In December, the State of New York announced that Seneca County has been awarded one of four “non-Indian” casino licenses. The Lago Resort & Casino will be built in the community of Tyre. The $425-million resort will have 2,000 slot machines, 207 hotel rooms, a 10,000-square-foot spa and a 40,000-square-foot pool area. More than 1,250 jobs could be created. Site plan approval has been granted and environmental approvals are in place. Seneca County IDA granted incentives to the developer of the casino, including property tax abatement and local sales tax exemptions. We thanked Bob for his insights, and dropped him off at the guardhouse.

This was just one of the stops along the way on the Norfolk County Finger Lakes Study Tour. Watch this blog for more chapters in the story. See photos of the trip on the Invest in Norfolk facebook page.

(c) Clark Hoskin 2015

Finger Lakes Study Tour blog posts

  • Part 1: Wine & Culinary Centre | Technology Farm
  • Part 2: Winewagen Tours
  • Part 3: Weaverview Farms | Milly’s Pantry
  • Part 4: Yates County Arts Centre | Finger Lakes Ec Dev
  • Part 5: Climbing Bines Hop Yard & Brewery
  • Part 6: Wiemer Vineyards | Glenora Cellars
  • Part 7: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel | Ice Bar
  • Part 8: Finger Lakes Distilling
  • Part 9: Cornell Lab of Ornithology | Ithaca Commons
  • Part 10: Americana Vineyards
  • Part 11: Seneca County Army Depot
  • Part 12: Seneca Falls
  • Part 13: Warfields Restaurant
  • Part 14: Debriefing at The Combine