$1 Billion For Buffalo: The Decision Makers

4:43 PM, Mar 22, 2012   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - Two On Your Side continues to follow developments regarding the one billion dollars in incentives that Governor Cuomo pledged for Western New York.

Cuomo has stated that much of the decision making on how to deploy those resources will be left to the Western New York Regional Development Council, which he appointed.

There are 29 members of the panel, and while a list of them can be seen by going to the WNY Regional Development Council website, it could be said, in short, that they comprise a diverse group.

It includes four CEO's, the heads of three chambers of commerce, two college presidents, one labor leader, a doctor, a lawyer, a plant manager, a grape grower, and community organizers.

There are also three Mayors, two County Executives, and the Presidents of three county legislatures from counties which don't have an elected Chief Executive Officer such as an Executive.

All were brought together to map strategy to lure businesses here using the incentives being made available by the state, under the guidance of the Empire State Development Corp. (ESD).

"It's a good mix," said Sam Hoyt, the long time former State Assemblyman who Cuomo appointed to serve as ESD's Western Regional President.

"The Governor picked them based on recommendations made from locals...we wanted diversity in terms of academia, business, and geographic diversity as well," Hoyt told WGRZ-TV.

So far the group has had two formal meetings since Cuomo made his billion dollar pledge.

"We're just out of the blocks, but I think we're off to a good start," said Thomas A. Kucharski, the President & CEO of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and a member of the panel.

"There are multiple things happening at once," said Hoyt. "First of all we're establishing a working group within the Regional Economic Development Council which will kind of focus much or most of all their attention on the best strategy for the billion dollars."

One of the first things that group did was to recommend the hiring of a consultant to guide them.

Asked why a consultant was needed if there are already nearly 30 of the presumably brightest minds in Western New York empaneled to help cure its economic ills, Kucharski replied that a good consultant can help a larger group, such as the panel, focus its energy on the task at hand, while assisting those who already know the strength of the region to see an even bigger picture.

"If I were the Governor I'd do the same thing," said Kucharski.

"The governor has remarked that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It's not a blank check, but it's a big check... and he expects a well thought out plan that's going to work." Hoyt said.

Hoyt also told Channel 2 News that word of the Governor's pledge has already sparked inquiries from businesses interested in possibly moving to Western New York, as well as from business already here seeking to expand. However, he would not identify them.

Click on the video player to watch our story from Two On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Norm Fisher from Eden.

Click here to read Dave McKinley's blogs.


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