Progress Continues On Initiatives For A Smart Economy

Modified: August 24, 2016 12:11pm

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Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz today noted significant progress made across multiple economic sectors in his “Initiatives for a Smart Economy”, an economic development plan introduced in June 2013 and containing 64 attainable initiatives spread across 12 major areas.

To date, 27 Initiatives have been completed, up from 16 at the time of the last report in January 2016, representing 42% of the total.

“Erie County’s economy is the strongest it has been in decades, and our economic plan has played a key role in making that growth a reality,” said Poloncarz. “We have completed initiatives in agriculture, workforce development, international trade and more and are seeing significant progress in other targeted areas. By working with partners, leveraging county assets and resources, and aligning with NYS economic development priorities for our region we are strengthening Erie County on many fronts.”

Initiatives reaching the 100% completion point during the last six months include many from the Agriculture section of the Initiatives. Among these is the completion of a feasibility study on the creation of an Agribusiness Park; the creation of a Food Policy Council; the development of a regional agricultural brand in conjunction with the Niagara County Cooperative Extension; and the creation of a farm trail map and website to promote agritourism.

Poloncarz continued, “Agriculture is a critical but often overlooked component of our economy that has great potential to be even more of an economic engine than it is now. We are working on ways to bring more local produce to market, create a regional brand for our produce, and promote agritourism in Erie County. Farms and farming have always been closely linked to our lifestyle locally, and we are strengthening those links today for the future.”

Other Initiatives progressing to completion focus on Bi-National Logistics and international trade, with the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (“ECIDA”) providing $100,000 in funding to the Invest Buffalo Niagara organization to advance business attraction efforts in Canada; a Blue Economy Initiative centered on better methods of identifying sources of bacteria in beach water, which has improved the ability to protect the health of swimmers at 4 local beaches (Hamburg, Bennett, Lake Erie Beach and Evans Town Park Beach); and the creation of Workforce Development Summits which are ongoing and bring employers together with potential employees.

32 of the remaining 37 Initiatives are in progress, representing 86% of the total remaining to be completed. Initiatives are in progress in all twelve sectors, including some that will always be ongoing and never classified as “complete”; these include the implementation of an apprenticeship law for contractors on county projects of over $250,000, the creation and ongoing cost-saving mission of an Erie County Energy Management Office, and the creation of a Niagara Region Ventures Fund.

The Initiatives cover 12 key areas, each with subsets of actionable items that pertain to economic development in our region. Each identified initiative includes a timeline for completion, the lead agency involved, potential partners, and any resources that may be needed to complete the initiative.

The areas are Workforce Development, Smart Growth, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture, Tourism, Energy, Bi-National Logistics, ECIDA Reform and enhancement, International Trade, Land Development and Redevelopment, Quality of Life, and Blue Economy/Clean Water.

Poloncarz concluded, “The progress we are seeing across sectors is the result of hard work, cooperation, and vision from many partners who are committed to building a better Erie County. No one government, agency, or organization can do it alone, but by sharing resources and pursuing common goals all are able to contribute and participate in creating a stronger community for us and for generations to come.”