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6/07/13: Bee News - Creating Opportunities for a Growing Workforce


MARK POLONCARZ
June 7, 2013

This month I am pleased to share with you some encouraging news on the Erie County employment front, as well as some new initiatives I am unveiling this week to stimulate smart economic growth in our region. Both are positive indicators of the current climate in Erie County, and both point toward a brighter future for our local workforce.

According to the New York State Department of Labor, Erie County has seen a modest but notable rise in employment, and corresponding decline in unemployment, from January 2012 to April 2013. In January 2012, Erie County’s unemployment rate was 8.9%, as 414,700 people were employed and 40,700 were unemployed. The latest numbers, from April 2013, show that the County’s unemployment rate has dipped to 7.5%, with 421,900 people employed and 34,300 unemployed. While there are many factors that go into determining rates of employment, it is undeniable that Erie County is trending upwards in this area over the past 15 months. It’s good news for all County residents.

This week, my administration is building on that good news with the announcement of our “Initiatives for a Smart Economy”. These Initiatives build on the work done by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, which has identified areas that are poised for growth in our local economy and has recommended guidelines to foster that growth. The Initiatives also leverage Erie County’s strengths and assets in ways that will complement and enhance the Council’s efforts, with a special focus on areas where Erie County will lead.

These comprehensive Initiatives provide a realistic blueprint of specific actions we can take to invest in our community and take substantial steps to improve the quality of life all around Erie County. Major parts of the plan include making targeted, strategic public subsidies; focusing on a “Blue Economy” to leverage our geographic location and water-based resources; pursuing smart growth and sustainability through thoughtful land use planning; ensuring farmland protection and brownfield redevelopment; and investing in our infrastructure, workforce, and quality of life areas. Other focus areas are agriculture, tourism, international trade, and energy.

Meaningful, productive partnerships will be a key factor in realizing the full potential of this agenda. These are partnerships across all sectors, including public, private, non-profit and philanthropic, many of whom have been independently pursuing identical economic development goals for years. Erie County is the common link that can bring these entities together, harnessing their skills and energy to the Initiatives and focusing resources on areas of common interest. Working in tandem with the rubric set out by the Council, these partnerships will help to maximize the impact of the financial resources we will prudently invest.

We are overflowing with positive opportunities in Erie County, and these Initiatives will provide a path forward to seizing those opportunities and realizing our full potential as a top region to live, work, and play in.