Catt. County IDA To Get Help Attracting Businesses

ELLICOTTVILLE – Economic development is something that cannot be done by one person or organization. The Cattaraugus County IDA has taken a step to bring in a bit of help to entice businesses to expand into the area. For $1,000 a month, a consultant could be the answer in Cattaraugus County.

“We have to take a different approach to economic development than we have in the past,” said Thomas E. Buffamante, board chairman. “It’s a collaborative effort.”

That is the approach that brought Gregory Sehr, CEO of Upstate Consultants of Buffalo, into the meeting to help present a plan to add his expertise in bringing businesses from southern Ontario into the Western New York region, especially Cattaraugus County.

The plan would be to have Sehr and his firm work with the IDA, as well as the county-level economic development department to work in concert to attract firms looking for an American presence but still close to home in southern Canada.

“What we want to do is to build relationships to help these businesses expand, as well as build relationships with businesses here,” Sehr said. “What we can do is bring more of a supply chain to the existing businesses, as well as respond to the needs of developers looking to do work in the area.”

The feasibility of these businesses moving some operations to the area has already proven to be high, according to Wiktor.

“We have already had discussions with large companies that are looking at significant investments in the area,” he said. “What we are looking to do is to help businesses expand. We are not looking to poach business from other areas.”

One of the areas that Wiktor said he has already looked into would be to bring back office operations for the oil and gas industry to the area – despite the inability to have the functions that are happening in Pennsylvania in New York. Those companies need to have offices, as well as equipment suppliers and maintenance workers close. Wiktor said the question is easy.

“Why not locate here?”

The mindset of an IDA and a county-level department collaborating with a consultant to aid in economic development is something that has not happened in New York state, according to Wiktor.

“The team approach and collaboration is important,” he said. “There are huge things ahead and a lot of things that we must tackle, as far as economic development goes.”

Part of the agreement with Sehr’s company would include development of marketing materials and networking with key figures looking to get into the area, Wiktor said. He also said he has been approached by outside agencies to underwrite some of the efforts. Wiktor also said, at the present time, the IDA would be the agency to shoulder the bill for the contract, even though the county economic development department would receive benefit as well.