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Fredonia hosts Western New York economic development leaders
Friday, May 30, 2014

Fredonia hosts Western New York economic development leaders

The Williams Center was the venue for the meeting of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and New York State Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) workshop.

As part of its ongoing efforts to promote economic development and community engagement in the region, SUNY Fredonia’s Division of Engagement and Economic Development hosted the members of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council (WNY REDC) for their regular meeting on May 29. The meeting was followed by a New York State Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) workshop.

Fredonia’s Vice President for Engagement and Economic Development Kevin Kearns said the WNY REDC meeting provided the local community and SUNY Fredonia a unique opportunity to speak about local economic development initiatives and learn more about the regional plans and activities. Dr. Kearns described SUNY Fredonia’s StartUp New York campus plan, the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator, and Fredonia’s SUNY 2020 “Great Lakes “challenge grant. The Fredonia SUNY 2020 grant proposes a lakefront Science and Education Center in Dunkirk that would include hands-on Great Lakes museum exhibits, and working science laboratories for SUNY Fredonia science faculty. It is anticipated that the center would draw tourists to the area and help stimulate the local economic growth.

“It was a great opportunity to gather with the economic development leaders of Western New York on the SUNY Fredonia campus to discuss our efforts to revitalize the local community through our community engagement efforts,” said Dr. Kearns. “This public meeting also provided the local community the opportunity to listen to the many exciting initiatives taking place in Western New York and the plans for the future. It was a tremendous opportunity for our campus to host these leaders.” Among the regional leaders participating in the WNY REDC meetings were its co-chairs, University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi and Howard Zemsky, managing partner at Larkin Development Group. Other REDC participants included Regional Economic Development Councils Deputy Director Ryan Silva, WNY Empire State Development Director Christina Orsi and Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan.

The CFA Workshop, which was sponsored by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD), attracted approximately 150 attendees. The workshop followed the regional meeting and provided information to businesses and other organizations on funds available to boost economic development. “The CFA presented our campus and community with an opportunity to learn about funding available to support innovative and transformative projects that can boost the local economy and create new jobs and prosperity in our region,” Dr. Kearns added.

The Regional Economic Development Council initiative (REDC) is a key component of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s transformative approach to state investment and economic development. In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 Regional Councils to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. The councils are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York State invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach and establishing a competitive process for State resources. After three rounds of the REDC process, more than $2 billion has been awarded to job creation and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans, resulting in creation or retention of more than 100,000 jobs.

The CFA process gives economic development project applicants expedited and streamlined access to a combined pool of grant money and tax credits from dozens of existing programs in New York State. CFA-hosted workshops represent the fourth round of Governor Cuomo’s initiative to stimulate job creation and economic growth through the Regional Economic Development Council, which sponsored the workshop. The CFA process marks a fundamental shift in the way state resources are allocated, ensuring less bureaucracy and greater efficiency to fulfill local economic development needs. The CFA serves as the single entry point for access to economic development funding, ensuring applicants no longer have to slowly navigate multiple agencies and sources without any mechanism for coordination. Economic development projects use the CFA as a support mechanism to access multiple state funding sources through one application, making the process quicker, easier, and more productive. The CFA was recognized with a Special Award for Excellence in Business and Economic Development in 2012.

SUNY Fredonia established the Division of Engagement and Economic Development (EED) in 2013 to facilitate and support university – community collaborations that enhance the intellectual, cultural, artistic, and economic vibrancy of the region. Such collaborations include active community engagement and partnerships with local and regional organizations, governments, businesses and universities.

The CFA application period for the five-county Western New York area will close June 16. More information can be found at the Division of Engagement and Economic Development website at

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