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Keane touts job-creating plan

Democrat James P. Keane on Wednesday unveiled a comprehensive economic development plan he promised will take advantage of regional assets and create jobs.

In a morning news conference outside Memorial Auditorium, the Erie County executive candidate said the redevelopment of the site slated for major work should be part of an overall strategy ranging from expanding the University at Buffalo's downtown presence to merging all of the county's industrial development agencies.

Among Keane's recommendations:

* Locating the region's key economic development agencies in one building to reduce bureaucracy and speed up the economic development process.

* Merging IDAs into the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

"I will ensure that the ECIDA board is composed of representatives from the towns we would ask to join the county IDA who may not currently trust the concept of a single regional IDA," he said. "We must stop internal competition and focus on external customers."

* Restoring the bed tax to the Convention and Visitors Bureau to support a cultural tourism initiative he said will generate new economic activity and a "world view of the assets we take for granted and need to market to tour companies and the travel industry."

* Completing the intermodal terminal at the Bethlehem Steel site and promoting international marketing.

* Seeking more local input into New York Power Authority allocation decisions and working with National Grid on how it spends its community assistance fund.

* Focusing the county capital budget on "winner" projects on which state and local development agencies focus to create an economic stimulus.

"We have great assets and these assets need to be marketed and used to convince people to come here and work and live, and I will ensure we have a team who will do just that."

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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