The Small Business Development Center at Jamestown Community College recognized Mark Geise with the U.S. Small Business Administration Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery during National Small Business Week on May 2.
As the Deputy County Executive for Economic Development and CEO of the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA), Geise’s leadership helped many small businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mark Geise and his team at the CCIDA have been at the epicenter of business relief measures in Chautauqua County, especially during the pandemic. He has been able to secure funding in loans and grants for businesses in diverse industries, helped manufacturers develop personal protective equipment to give to other businesses throughout the region, assisted businesses through employment issues and showed his commitment to the community with the investment of his time and energy. He has been successful in leading the staff at the CCIDA and helping local businesses because he truly wants our community, our businesses, and our county to be successful.
According to Courtney Curatolo, director of the SBDC, “The CCIDA is known as a strong pillar of the Chautauqua County community and Mark Geise deserves recognition for his tremendous dedication and leadership, not only with the county IDA but also in his neighborhood, among friends, family and through collaborations he instigated. In addition, his support of the SBDC has helped hundreds of businesses in our county.”
Through his leadership and dedicated efforts during the worldwide pandemic, many businesses have been able to not only survive but also thrived and attracted more talent to the area.
Geise was successful in expeditiously establishing an emergency loan fund with funding obtained from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and in four short weeks, the IDA had assisted 24 local small businesses with $10,000 each to provide much needed working capital to weather the COVID crisis. The CCIDA also established a revolving loan fund after they were awarded $10.5 million in 2020 as part of the EDA’s Cares Act Stimulus funding, which could be used for working capital and equipment purchases. This funding was committed within nine months of its launch, and benefited more than 50 companies.
In April 2020, he also led a partnership to ensure all essential businesses were able to provide for the health and safety of their employees with personal protection equipment. He was able to secure local philanthropic funding to provide 50/50 matching grants to businesses to purchase personal protection equipment and provide technical assistance to businesses to help them re-configure their workspaces in order to provide appropriate social distancing and other protocols to protect workers and customers.
While many of the programs he implemented helped businesses in the first year of the pandemic, he is still working on long-term goals to help the community. For example, in February 2022, the CCIDA announced a collaboration with the Chautauqua Chamber of Commerce and the SBDC at JCC to provide marketing grants to small businesses with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Under Geise’s leadership, several new programs were quickly established for small businesses during the pandemic. He remains dedicated to the long-term recovery and future disaster preparedness for the county.