Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz presented the next steps to build on progress made in the county’s economic development efforts over the past five years as a guest speaker at the Daemen College Distinguished Leaders Lecture Series.
The county executive reviewed several key sectors for growth included in 71 new initiatives identified in his plan, “Smart Economy 2.0: Focus on Inclusion,” an update to his original economic development plan released in 2013.
Poloncarz emphasized during his Aug. 28 presentation at Daemen that the county’s economy has improved since the first plan was launched, pointing out that “of the 64 initiatives in the original plan, half have been completed with another 28 near completion. The updated economic development strategy focuses on new efforts and shared opportunities with the goal of ensuring inclusivity for all residents, whether they live in the county’s urban, suburban, or rural areas.”
Among the main initiatives discussed was the recent acquisition of 150 acres at the old Bethlehem Steel site, with the goal of redeveloping the property as a high-tech industrial business park. The 2.0 plan also focuses on several other areas, including job growth that will create an inclusive and prepared workforce, advanced agri-business efforts for local farmers, an extended public transportation system, and a new convention center.
“We are currently doing a study to determine the size, cost, and other details to create a modern, state-of-the art, multipurpose convention center that is appropriate for our county,” said Poloncarz.
In another initiative referred to as the “blue economy,” Poloncarz noted, “We have an abundant supply of fresh water with our Great Lake, and it is vital that we promote this and the various economic projects that are based off of having this wonderful resource available in our region.”
Poloncarz added the county is committed to continuing its role in contributing to Western New York’s economic resurgence.
“We are creating the community that we always knew it could be, and working together we will continue to do that in our county,” he said.