Economic Development Agencies Discuss County Strengths and Needs | Archives

LITTLE VALLEY ã Representatives from nearly every economic development group in the county gathered Friday at the County Economic Development Agency meeting to discuss needs in Cattaraugus County, as well as services offered and successes past.

Agency officials said tourism, maintaining jobs and attracting new businesses should be the county’s focus.

“One of the biggest needs for businesses in the region is employee training,” said Southern Tier West manager Donald Rychnowski.

Dan Border of the Cattaraugus/Allegany Workforce Investment Board said that with struggling manufacturers in Cattaraugus County in a “global economy,” they must learn to compete.

Other organizations such as the Cattaraugus One-Stop Career Center aim to help companies find or train employees.

Thomas Livak, director of economic development, planning and tourism for the county, said companies such as Dresser-Rand have highlighted the need for more trained employees.

“Dresser-Rand has identified serious labor issues,” he said.

Part of finding trained employees is retaining young people from the southern part, Livak said.

Mr. Rychnowski also said that the current trend of young people leaving the region is alarming.

“We are gaining an older population and losing the working population more than other parts of New York,” he said.

State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, also expressed concern about the rate at which young people are looking for jobs elsewhere. “We need to help young people develop career paths” here, she said.

State Assemblyman Joseph Giglio added that the employment situation in New York is further complicated by state restrictions and high costs for businesses.

“We don’t play on a level playing field,” Mr Giglio said.

Other needs in the area, according to John Sayegh, director of the Greater Olean Chamber of Commerce and Cattaraugus County Empire Area, are necessary tools such as infrastructure to attract new business.

The focus on community development projects improves communities, helping to attract businesses, he added. Some projects Mr. Sayegh has been involved in to improve infrastructure and communities include securing $16 million for the Town of OleanÞs Water Treatment Plant, securing $5 million for the Olean water reservoir and housing grants of $1.2 million, obtained three years in a row to rehabilitate houses.

Other success stories include two business incubators, the rehabilitation of the former YMCA building and the acquisition of the former Blumenthal building.

Salamanca Industrial Development Agency President Tim Flanigan said that in Salamanca, IDA is planning a 60,000 square foot industrial building and has helped retain various businesses in the city.

He cited the development of the area around the Seneca Allegany Casino as key to Salamanca’s development.

Increased railroad activity has also been a helping factor for businesses and municipalities in the southern part, Rychnowski said.

“Southern Tier West helped bring in about $100 million” for the railroads, Mr. Rychnowski said. ßIt took about 12 years.à

When he became involved in the attempt to revitalize the railroad, there was only one shipper and very few railcars crossing the county, he said. There were now 22 shippers with 54,000 cars passing through the county last year.

“The railroad created 120 jobs and retained several more,” he said.

Officials at the meeting agreed that increased communication and partnership was needed to help attract more businesses to Cattaraugus County.

Other agencies present at the meeting were the Department of Labor, Empire State Development and the Cattaraugus County Business Development Corp.