Le Royans will often tell you, they live in a special place. Now they have some proof and a chance to demonstrate just how special it is, with the chance at a $3 million prize at the end of the rainbow.
Frontier Communications, drawing from 138 applications in 27 states, has picked Le Roy as one of the Top 50 communities in America.
The honor comes with a $50,000 prize to help fund writing a comprehensive plan aimed at spurring business growth with assistance from business leaders at IBM.
"For those of us who choose to live here, and those people who have chosen to move away and come back, there is a draw to la-roy, or lee-roy (pause for laughter), and we need to capitalize on that, and I think maybe that's why we were so strong with our application," said Lynn Belluscio, curator of the Le Roy Historical Society, who helped with the application process. "It is going to take all of us going in the same direction, which we know is sometimes difficult in this community, but I think we can do it."
The impetus to apply came from County Legislator Shelly Stein, who worked with the staff at GCEDC to get the ball rolling, but the application process and letters of support brought together not just Stein and the GCEDC, but Belluscio, Supervisor Steve Barbeau, the Rotary Club of Le Roy, the Chamber of Commerce, Superintendent of Schools Kim Cox, the Le Roy Business Council, County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari and the Village of Le Roy.
The Village and Town of Bergen also pitched in because Le Roy by itself didn't have a big enough population to qualify.
The business project that will be targeted for infrastructure improvement -- a bigger natural gas pipe and broadband -- is the park at Route 19 and West Bergen road.
Robert Smith, the Rochester area general manager for Frontier, said he though Le Roy and Bergen were a great choice.
"But the work doesn't end here," Smith said. "You have a lot more to do because there is a lot more that can come from this."
The comprehensive plan will be reviewed in November and after that the Le Roy group will find out if it moves onto the next stage.
The eventual payoff for the winner is a $3 million prize, but second plays will earn $2 million and third, $1 million.
Growing the local business base is critical, Barbeau said.
He noted that for every tax dollar generated by a commercial property, businesses consume about 60 to 70 cents and services. For agriculture, it's about 30 cents in services. But residential, he said, eats up about $1.30 in services.
"We feel like this is a perfect opportunity to expand our infrastructure and bring in more business," he said.
Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, said this is an exciting opportunity for Le Roy and Bergen and fits right in with everything GCEDC is trying to do to attract more industry to Genesee County.
"When you try to grow an economy, you need to be able to talk about the quality of life and the factors that make it a place where people want to live, work and play," Hyde said. "This community has that."
Photo: Smith presenting a finalists' certificate with Rotary president Randy Vink and Stein in the background.