Wed September 7, 2011
WNY Regional Economic Development Council reports progress
By Joyce Kryszak
Amherst, NY – The Regional Economic Development Council that is charged with boosting the local economy reported on its progress Tuesday.
The Western New York Regional Economic Council met again Tuesday at UB's North Campus. It is one of ten such groups appointed by the Governor statewide.
Representatives from several work groups within the local Council presented their ideas for harnessing the region's economic potential. Some of the area's most prominent business, education and government leaders were at the table.
But not all were boasting progress.
First Niagara President and Chief Executive Officer John Koelmel said the Council needs to get more focused.
"How do we better align to come up with programs in the next sixty days that are innovative and can incrementally move the needle," said Koelmel. "So, I'm a little bit concerned as I'm listening to the conversation that it's a little self-fulfilling than focused on the targeted objective."
To be eligible for tens of millions of dollars in state economic funding, the Councils need to submit their detailed plans for boosting their region's economy by mid-November.
Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy is overseeing the process. Duffy said he is impressed with the progress being made by the Councils - particularly Western New York's Council. But Duffy said Koelmel is wise to keep the group on track.
"What John is saying is that he agrees with the long-term planning, but let's connect the dots here at this table...and do something tangible now" said Duffy. "And that really defines why John is so successful at First Niagara, because he's a bottomline person."
And the bottomline is that the ten regional Councils are in competition for the Empire State Development Corporation and Excelsior tax credit funding.
The top four plans will each receive $40 million. The next six proposals will split the remaining $40 million. Duffy said the public is being encouraged to help their region win the highest funding.
The first public sessions for this region begin Wednesday in Allegheny County, followed by Cattaraugus County on Monday, Chautauqua County on Tuesday, then Erie and Niagara Counties next Wednesday and Thursday.
Times and Locations for those sessions can be found at Regional Economic Development Councils.