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Upstate czar may come from another state

The new upstate economic development czar should be from Buffalo.

No, Rochester. No, Syracuse.

What about Corning, or Watertown or somewhere in between?

Actually, what about none of the above?

The geographic residence of the person Gov. Eliot Spitzer will appoint to oversee efforts to revive the upstate economy has been no small matter to the Spitzer administration. Various business leaders from different areas of the state have been telling Spitzer aides they believe the czar should be a local candidate.

But Spitzer has not ruled out a different idea: Choosing none of the above and going out of state to tap an expert who who would come to the job without some of the geographic entanglements of, say, someone from a Tonawanda or a Utica or an Elmira.

Folks in Rochester say it should be one of their own. They say that because the new upstate office will be located in Buffalo, they should, as the next largest upstate city, get the appointment.

Sandy Parker, president of the Rochester Business Alliance, said Spitzer risks alienating some people if he picks someone from Buffalo for the new Buffalo office.

"I think it should be somebody from Rochester," she said.

But while she believes the czar should have a background in upstate issues, she did not shudder at the thought of an outsider coming in.

"The idea of someone coming in with a fresh perspective is good," she said.

"Sometimes an unknown evil is better than a known evil," added Andrew Rudnick, president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. "People won't see a bias toward Buffalo or Rochester or Syracuse."

Rudnick said he would not oppose an out-of-state resident being appointed "if the person is good enough."

Aides says Spitzer has not yet been made a choice.

"We've had some from Buffalo, some from other cities, some from out-of-state," said Christine Anderson, a Spitzer spokeswoman. Spitzer is doing the final interviews himself.

"It's one of the positions he cares about most," she said. "He's been more engaged in this interview process than others."

email: tprecious@buffnews.com

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