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Leaders cheer rosy economic outlook

An unemployment rate lower than the state's and those of neighboring counties was among the rosy economic outlooks Friday during the annual meeting of Genesee County's economic development agency.

The annual report luncheon of the Genesee County Economic Development Center and its real estate and development affiliate, the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp., attracted 140 business and government leaders to Genesee Community College.

Stephen G. Hyde, chief executive officer of the Economic Development Center, said the county's current unemployment rate is 7.6 percent, compared with the state's 8.4 percent and adjoining counties, all with rates of about 8 percent. He also said that unlike other areas, manufacturing jobs have increased over the past five years, and that part of the agency's success is partnerships with other organizations ranging from the University at Buffalo to National Grid.

Two major projects are in the 2010 planning. The Upstate Med & Tech Park will open in June, accommodating GCC's expanded nursing program, physical therapy services by United Memorial Medical Center and the Economic Development Center offices. Space will also be available for commercial medical and technical tenants.

The infrastructure will be the first step in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, flanked by Routes 5 and 63 in the Town of Batavia. The state's first such venture will focus on food-processing operations.

State Sen. Michael H. Ranzenhofer, R-Clarence, and Assemblyman Stephen M. Hawley, R-Batavia, discussed taxes, increased state spending and fees making it difficult to retain jobs. Ranzenhofer was critical of energy taxes, which he said discourage business development.

Hawley called the current Albany climate "the Land of Oz," with a governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller and U.S. senator all appointed. He also criticized the State Legislature's attempts to regulate the hours and benefits of farm laborers "as a threat to bankrupt the state's agricultural economy."

County Legislature Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock, R-Batavia, praised the collaboration between the Economic Development Center and local governments as an effective tool for economic growth.

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