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AU to host regional economic development meeting
8/31/11

Business leaders and residents of Allegany County are invited to share their thoughts about what the Western New York Regional Economic Development Plan should contain at a public meeting from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, in Nevins Theater, Powell Campus Center, on the Alfred University campus.

Alfred University President Charles M. Edmondson, who was appointed to serve on the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will host the meeting.

Those who wish to attend are asked to register by visiting the web site at http://nyworks.ny.gov/con... or by calling 716.846.8247.

"As a Council, we have been meeting regularly since Gov. Cuomo and Lt. Gov. (Robert) Duffy convened the first meeting in July," said Edmondson. "The timeframe is tight; we need to provide a regional plan to the Governor that emphasizes this region’s strengths and assets."

Because no one knows what those strengths and assets are better than those who live and work in the region, public meetings will be held in each of the five counties - Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara - that comprise the region.

The Empire State Development Corporation has said the plans will allow the regions to "make their own decisions about their futures," rather than have the State impose plans that offer little flexibility to reflect the diversity of a region.

"This is our chance," said Edmondson. "Regional Councils will replace a top-down development system with a community-based approach that emphasizes each region’s distinct advantages, harnesses local expertise and helps advance priority projects to create the jobs that fuel our economic recovery."

The regional councils are public-private partnerships that bring together leaders from business, academia, local government and non-governmental organizations. The collaboration between public and private entities will "use local knowledge to unlock economic opportunities for each region," allowing the state to "guide the resources in a manner than works better, costs less and produces more for taxpayers."

Gov. Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Duffy look at the regional councils as a way to "establish a more efficient business model that empowers individual regions to determine what is best for their communities." It will also allow the state to provide incentives that support "thoughtful economic policies through a substantive competitive process."

Edmondson, who is in his 12th year as president of Alfred University, the only research institution in the region outside the Buffalo metropolitan area, has been named to chair a regional task force on advanced manufacturing for the Council as well.