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From the county executive: A new year brings new initiatives for residents of Erie County

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz
HAMBURG — The following guest column has been submitted by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

Happy New Year to all, as we begin what promises to be another year of growth in Erie County, building on the successes of the past two years.

In 2014, the county will commence several new initiatives, to strengthen Erie County economically and culturally; these initiatives were first outlined in my “initiatives for a smart economy” address.

These smart investments and strategic partnerships, in such sectors as economic development, energy, tourism and public art, will allow us to leverage resources and build our international profile, while creating a more dynamic and diverse county.

For example, in 2013, we witnessed increased Canadian and international business interest in Erie County.

Welded Tube, Outdoor Portable Solutions and Gracious Living are three Canadian firms making multimillion dollar investments, bringing hundreds of new jobs and taking advantage of our unparalleled transportation access to build their “made in the USA” footprint here in Erie County.

We believe this is just the beginning, and the 2014 budget includes funding to establish an Erie County economic office in the greater Toronto area, a business outreach device that has never existed, but will serve to make more foreign investors aware of the favorable economic climate we offer.

Our investment of $100,000 will raise our international profile considerably and could potentially attract millions of dollars in future business, meaning more jobs and a more robust economy in years to come.

Energy efficiency across Erie County will take on a new meaning in 2014, with an energy officer in place, to help reduce county costs on electricity and other fuels, lessen our impact on the environment and manage our energy future.

This position, made possible with assistance from our partners at National Grid, represents a significant step forward in how your county government, much like your home, assesses energy usage and makes improvements wherever possible. Energy efficiency means increased savings, which is good news for taxpayers.

The budget also looks to the future of our tourism industry, investing in cultural tourism and development, as well as in a needs analysis study for a new convention center.

Our world-class cultural assets are a key driver of our economy, annually bringing thousands of tourists to our area and cementing our growing reputation as a cultural beacon.

In 2014, we will work on shaping the future of that industry with the convention center needs analysis study, which will provide clear insights into whether we need a new center and, if so, what we need in a modern center to attract, retain and boost tourism.

Finally, an exciting partnership with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery making a public art initiative possible, that will have artwork placed around the county for all residents to enjoy.

Working in conjunction with Albright Knox, Erie County’s first-ever public arts curator will be charged with bringing great art to our communities, enriching our quality of life and reinforcing our status as a region of primary cultural significance in the Northeast.

We have much to celebrate and anticipate, in 2014!

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