With the holiday season fast approaching I would like to take this opportunity to wish all a happy and peaceful Christmas and holiday season, as well as extend best wishes for the New Year. As we gather to share holiday cheer I thought it would be appropriate to recount some of the successes Erie County experienced this year. There have been many, and my sincere thanks go out to all for your support and for working with me to make our County a better place.
For starters, 2013 was an exceptional year for economic development. Since December 2012, 13,300 more people are employed in Erie County. Many local and foreign companies made multi-million dollar investments resulting in hundreds of new good-paying jobs to follow as our region continues to gain international attention as a good place to do business. For example, the former Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna is once again “open for business” and serving as the home to a Canadian-based steelmaker. A resurgent manufacturing sector and the developing skilled workforce necessary to maintain it are just two of the many things to be cheerful about this season.
Erie County parks also enjoyed a revitalizing year in 2013. In January, the toboggan runs at Chestnut Ridge Park were the topic of a feature in the Boston Globe, while the park also saw large crowds this year for Winterfest and Hero Rush. We cut the ribbon on the newest county park, Black Rock Canal Park, in May; Bennett Beach was the site for a volunteer-led restoration effort in September; and all county parks are reinvigorated after my administration invested over $4 million in improvements to them over the past two years. I hope you can enjoy your nearest park soon.
Popular Erie County services such as hazardous household waste collections, free rabies clinics, and a free flu vaccination clinic collectively drew over ten thousand residents and demonstrated once again that “the People’s Mandates” need to be supported. These are services that the private sector either can’t or won’t provide, so Erie County and our partners step up to provide them for residents to protect public health and safety. Thanks again to our many partners in these successful ventures.
Among the other achievements to be happy about this year: the beginning implementation of my “Initiatives for a Smart Economy”; settlement with FEMA of its October Surprise Storm claim; a new snowplowing agreement with municipalities to ensure road safety in the winter months; the passage of a balanced 2014 county budget, with no property tax increase; the introduction of a long-overdue agriculture and farmland protection plan to strengthen Erie County’s core agricultural sector; and presenting “Senior of the Month” honors each month to outstanding and inspiring seniors.
As you see, there is much to be thankful for. Have a safe and happy holiday season!