Poloncarz Releases Economic Development Strategy

Focus On Job Creation and Creating a “One-Stop” Shop for Development

ERIE COUNTY, NY – Today, County Executive Candidate Mark Poloncarz pledged to make job creation the top priority of his administration and released his plan to stimulate economic development in Erie County.

“Chris Collins said that Erie County must grow or die and that we should hold him accountable for his promises,” Poloncarz said. “It’s time to hold him accountable. Unfortunately in the last four years, Erie County has lost over 14,000 jobs and the unemployment rate is over 3 percent higher. It’s clear that our current approach isn’t working. That is why when I am elected County Executive, I will take the drastic steps needed to ensure Erie County’s economy gets back on track so that our skilled workforce can get back to work.”

Poloncarz’s plan proposes (1) consolidating Erie County’s six industrial development agencies (“IDAs”) and numerous municipal development agencies (“MDAs”) into a “one-stop” shop for economic development, (2) aggressively attracting business expansion from Canada and (3) tasking his Deputy County Executive with spearheading the county’s economic development strategy.

Poloncarz believes that Erie County’s economic development strategy has been too divisive for too long. Currently, Erie County has six different IDAs, each with competing interests, overlapping areas of responsibility, different mission statements and separate goals for development, which does little more than confuse businesses and force them to navigate a maze of red tape. Often, instead of working together to attract new business and economic development to Erie County, these IDAs compete against one another, and end up poaching existing businesses from neighboring municipalities. To solve these problems Poloncarz proposed consolidating Erie County’s six IDAs into one general agency as a “one-stop” shop for economic development. This will help focus initiatives, reduce administrative costs and ensure more equitable distribution of tax exemptions.

“When businesses get hundreds of thousands of dollars to move from one town to another without actually creating any jobs, or even threatening moving out of the area, we have a problem,” Poloncarz said. “We should not be fighting amongst ourselves, but working together as a county so that all cities, towns and villages can grow with each other, not compete. This will ultimately save taxpayer dollars and end the process of poaching businesses from one part of the county to the other.”

Second, Poloncarz called for an aggressive development campaign into Canada. Erie County is uniquely positioned to take advantage of its proximity to Toronto, Canada’s economic hub. A large part of Erie County’s economic development strategy should be working to attract businesses from Canada. Poloncarz pledged to work with the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise (BNE) and Buffalo Niagara Partnership (BNP), two key local players in economic development, to expand the county’s scope into Canada.

“When I worked in the private sector, my law firm had an office in Toronto and aggressively marketed our ability to represent Canadian businesses in their America expansion,” Poloncarz said. “We must capitalize on our proximity to Toronto, Canada’s financial center, and become the American home to Canada’s largest businesses.  We are 90 miles away from Toronto but we might as well be 9000 miles away based on the decades long lack of effort to attract these strong businesses to our community. As County Executive, I will not only work to support existing partners, but aggressively work to attract new Canadian business to our county.”

Lastly, Poloncarz emphasized the need for his Deputy County Executive to work as a “Jobs Czar” for the county to spearhead all of these efforts. This person would be tasked with coordinating the region’s economic development tools and agencies to provide assistance to businesses who want to relocate to Erie County while nurturing the county’s existing businesses. The Jobs Czar would also hold monthly stakeholder meetings with local development entities, including the IDA, BNP and BNE to ensure all agencies are working together toward the betterment of our county.

“For too long, Erie County has been devoid of a cohesive economic development strategy,” Poloncarz said. “We must overhaul the system in order to drastically upstart our economy. My Deputy County Executive will create a streamlined, sustainable and efficient approach to economic development whose sole focus will be job creation. It’s time that Erie County taxpayers see a return on the investment of their tax dollars into economic development initiatives that show results.”

SEE FULL REPORT: “Growing Jobs: Creating an Economic Development System that Works for Erie County”