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Spitzer tells of priorities for economy

Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer received a thumbs up from key business leaders when he rolled out his economic development priorities Tuesday before Amherst Chamber of Commerce members and investors.

"I got the sense that he was putting it out there as a challenge for all of us," said Dennis Elsenbeck, chairman of the Chamber's board and vice president of National Grid's Business Services Western Division.

Spitzer spoke behind closed doors with about two dozen business leaders, many from the local banking and health industries, about the need to push specific economic development priorities.

"From a business perspective, that's really music to our ears," Elsenbeck said.

Several business leaders said they were impressed with Spitzer's breadth of knowledge and determination to focus on measurable results.

"Mr. Spitzer has been very focused, very specific and metrics driven -- in other words, very results driven," said Paul Ciminelli, head of Ciminelli Development.

Spitzer appeared before the Chamber of Commerce with Kenneth A. Schoetz, a Western New Yorker and longtime aide now serving as chief operating officer of the Empire State Development Corp.'s upstate branch. Daniel Gundersen, Spitzer's nominee for chairman of the upstate office, was expected to attend, but Spitzer said Gundersen was on the road.

Business leaders sent Spitzer their own message about their desire to be included and consulted.

At the meeting, the governor asked business leaders what they thought of his plan and received a "white paper" summary of the Chamber's economic development recommendations. Many of the recommendations coincided with the governor's own agenda, Elsenbeck said.

The Chamber's recommendations stressed the need to take advantage of the University at Buffalo as a community and business asset. They also mentioned the desire to create brownfield development incentives, develop a comprehensive energy policy, continue investment in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and promote plans for smart, regional growth.

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com

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