With two seats on the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA) board of directors, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership provides the lone and important private sector voice on the issues affecting development and job growth in the region.
As an ECIDA board member, Buffalo Niagara Partnership president and CEO Dottie Gallagher continues to push the ECIDA to better understand the realities of private sector decision making and shared an update at the recent Development Advisory Council meeting.
Gallagher noted that while economic resurgence in Western New York is touted by local government leaders, the Partnership’s mission is to keep an eye on the realities of the community and what that means for business. Poverty has increased 7 percent in the region. Racial inequities continue to grow. Workforce participation in Western New York is lower than the national average.
“We have to keep these issues in mind and consider the negative consequences of some of the economic development actions being proposed,” she explained. “Our goal is to reframe the conversation with the ECIDA and local leaders so that there is a collective voice – including our local developers – to solve problems without creating new ones.”
Economic development incentives provide one example of the need for a shift in the narrative among government leaders and the business community. According to Gallagher, while some local leaders may not believe in the need for incentives, the private sector understands they are necessary for the success of future projects.
Gallagher used ECIDA incentives for companies to keep jobs in the area as an example and gave kudos to the positive change in lowering the retention rate from 100 to 95 percent for larger employers to reflect the tight labor market.