Bee News - Re-Imagining Our Approach to Economic Development in Erie County

February 9, 2012

Guest Editorial
By Mark Poloncarz

The release of the 2010 Census delivered a stark reminder of the reality that confronts us.  We hear over and over that population and job loss are an “Upstate” problem and, to a degree, they are.  However, while there were a number of counties across the state that also saw population loss, Erie County lost 7,400 more people than all those other counties combined.

To stem this tide and stop the exodus from Erie County, a top priority for my administration will be promoting job creation and economic development. And while it is true that government cannot create jobs on its own, it can create an economic climate that invites business in and encourages it to grow and create jobs. 

For too long, Erie County has been riddled with missed opportunities and misguided economic development policies. However, it seems like the stars are beginning to align for Buffalo and Erie County and we are presented with a tremendous opportunity to grow in a way we never thought possible.

With the commitment of $1 billion in economic development assistance from New York State, Governor Cuomo has helped us change our region’s destiny.  While this funding is meant specifically for the City of Buffalo, it will have a ripple effect that will be felt across Erie County and the entire region.  Ninety-six job creating projects across our region were awarded $100.3 million in economic development funding and UB 2020 is becoming a reality.  And lastly, President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Harper entered into an historic accord that will open up the flow of commerce between our two nations. 

With all of this new opportunity in front of us, we cannot simply live with our failed policies of the past—and we won’t. 

After just a few short weeks in office, we are already moving forward to create a more streamlined, sustainable and efficient approach to economic development in Erie County. 

My Deputy County Executive, Richard Tobe, will serve as my administration’s point-person responsible for coordinating all of Erie County’s economic development tools and agencies and focus on removing the unnecessary myriad of bureaucratic roadblocks, in an effort to instead create a “one-stop-shop” for businesses to locate here and expand here.  

In addition to our efforts to bring in new business from other parts of the country, for the first time, we will finally focus on leveraging our strategic international border to attract new business from Canada.   Canada is our nation’s largest trading partner and its economic hub—Toronto—is 90 miles away.  But when it comes to our relationship with them, it might as well be 9,000 miles away. 

After hosting introductory meetings with the Canadian Consul General in Buffalo and other leaders, I am confident that we can build a better relationship with our Canadian friends that goes beyond simply being shoppers in our malls to truly investing in our community. 

This is truly an exciting time for Erie County and our region.