College closes on $11 million federal loan to buy Keuka Commons

Kevin Frisch, Keuka College

The funding will “help Keuka College achieve new heights,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, who, along with Rep. Tom Reed, helped facilitate the loan.

Keuka College will use the bulk of an $11 million USDA loan to purchase Keuka Commons, which it currently leases, generating savings in the millions over the next 30 years.

KEUKA PARK — Keuka College formally closed on an $11 million federal loan this month, successfully capping a three-year process that benefits the college’s financial standing by reducing its debt, resulting in long-term savings.

The loan, which comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was announced in March and finalized this month after the College met dozens of conditions. The USDA and the college also closed on a separate, $6.15 million USDA-guaranteed loan through Canandaigua National Bank & Trust.

“This is very positive news for both the College and the community,” said Keuka College President Amy Storey. “Keuka College has been moving aggressively over the past several years to strengthen its financial stability and these loans are an important step in that process.”

Storey said the college will use funds from the $11 million loan to purchase Keuka Commons, the 28,000-square-foot multipurpose complex on the corner of Assembly and Central avenues. The college now leases the building, which opened in 2016 and houses the college’s bookstore, health and wellness center, classroom space and offices, as well as the Wolf Den Café, and other facilities.

“The more favorable interest rates provided through this loan will save the college several million dollars over the next 30 years,” she said.

Assisting the college in navigating the approval process was New York’s Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Tom Reed, whose 23rd Congressional District includes all of Yates County.

“Keuka College is not only a vital contributor to our higher education community, but is a key economic driver throughout the Finger Lakes region and New York,” said Schumer. “I was glad to help facilitate the awarding of this federal funding to help Keuka College achieve new heights, stimulate the local economy, and better position it to serve its students and employees for years to come.”

Reed, too, extolled the benefits of the loan. “We are grateful we were able to provide support to Keuka College to receive and close on a significant loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will truly impact the College and their students,” he said.

“We’re tremendously fortunate to have partners such as Sen. Schumer and Rep. Reed, who value the college’s educational and economic significance,” said Storey. “We’re grateful for their support.”

Keuka College leaders, from left, Director of Student Accounts Mary Ellen Griffiths, President Amy Storey, Executive Assistant to the President Tammy Warner, and Vice President for Finance and Administration Bob Baumet, were instrumental in the years-long process of obtaining the USDA loan.

The USDA-backed $6.15 million loan will enable the college to pay off $5.8 million in existing bonds, along with two smaller loans, again resulting in long-term savings. The agreement marks the first collaboration between the college and CNB.

“As the banker who worked with Keuka College and the USDA on our recent transaction, I speak on behalf of Canandaigua National Bank & Trust (CNB) when I say that we are thrilled to enter into this relationship with Keuka College,” said CNB Vice President of Commercial Services Brett Rawlings. “When the opportunity to work with Keuka College arose, we here at CNB immediately recognized that this community-based relationship is precisely aligned with our mission to assist customers within our local area.”

Storey applauded the college’s financial team, which worked on the lengthy and complex approval processes.

Working to secure a $6.15 million USDA-backed loan for the College through Canandaigua National Bank and Trust (CNB) were, from left, Keuka College Financial Attorney Jeffrey Graff of Riley & Graff LLP, USDA-Rural Development Area Specialist Cynthia Newcomb, President of Municipal Solutions, Inc. Jeffrey Smith, CNB Vice President of Commercial Services Brett Rawlings, CNB Financial Attorney Edmund Russell III of Underberg & Kessler LLP; Keuka College Controller Phil Catalano, and Keuka College Vice President for Finance and Administration Bob Baumet.

“We want to thank Vice President for Finance and Administration Bob Baumet, Controller Phil Catalano, the entire Business Office, and all of the other members of faculty and staff who contributed to this effort,” she said. “We have successfully restructured our long-term debt in a way that has set the college up for continued prosperity and success and I am so proud to be part of this amazing team.”