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Editorial: Regional Council secures another $62 million to boost a bundle of economic projects

Western New York is being duly rewarded by the state to the tune of $62 million for its continuing efforts to improve the regional economy – everywhere from rural communities to metropolitan areas.

The funding will be spent on 105 projects selected by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. The council is one of 10 statewide created by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to contribute to development plans that are based on local needs and assets. The councils compete each year for a pot of funding.

The Western New York council presented a well-designed case, supplemented by an impressive video mashup featuring successes on the entrepreneurial, science, cultural and quality-of-life fronts.

The council, co-chaired by University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi and Jeff Belt, SolExpoxy CEO, sought funding for what they had identified as 32 “priority projects” from the region, along with dozens of other important proposals. The state ended up approving funds for 105 of the projects.

“This year,” Belt said, “we have prioritized projects to train our workforce, foster a culture of entrepreneurship and realize smart growth in our cities and villages.”

The $62 million includes money from Empire State Development, along with support from other state agencies and programs. As reported in The News, projects granted at least $1 million in funding include such diverse efforts as a dairy farm expansion in Cattaraugus County, the rehabilitation of the Burrous Building in Wellsville, a medical simulation center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and upgrades to the area around Metro Rail on lower Main Street.

The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council has a strong record of accomplishments over the years. It has won more than $418 million to support 551 projects across the region, retaining more than 21,000 jobs and creating roughly 9,400 new ones.

Perceptions of the region have been changing for the better, thanks in part to the regional council’s efforts to make this a better place to live or visit. Good job.

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