Regionalism will move county forward

County Executive Vince Horrigan is on the right track in making regionalism a priority. During his State of the County Address this past week, Horrigan announced the establishment of a Regional Solutions Commission, which will focus on shared services and consolidations. The panel, to be chaired by County Legislator George Borrello, will work to identify, develop, and implement a regional approach in public safety, infrastructure, and municipal government.

Chautauqua County has recently made some important inroads towards regionalism. Chief among them is the Northern Chautauqua Water District. The County Legislature has now authorized the formation of the water district, following years of planning, discussion, and laying the groundwork for the project. With a number of local governments signed on to participate, the Northern Chautauqua Water District will help pave the way for additional economic development in the region.

One positive example of municipal consolidation is the ongoing effort to dissolve the Village of Forestville into the Town of Hanover. While the move was prompted by a financial crisis for the village, it remains a positive step for the taxpayers of Forestville and demonstrates the importance of combining governments as a way to continue providing needed services while also meeting the needs of the residents and businesses. Another great example is the most recent agreement between the Town of Hanover and Village of Silver Creek to share the cost of law enforcement protection with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department. The two local governments negotiated a payment solution that makes sense for all and demonstrates cooperation among municipalities.

Dede Scozzafava, New York Department of State’s Deputy Secretary for Local Government had high praise for regionalism efforts being made in Chautauqua County when she appeared in Dunkirk last month. Scozzafava thanked local officials for tackling tough issues head-on, while also recognizing that taking a regional approach is vital as local governments work to maintain a high level of services while working under increasingly difficult financial constraints.

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier have long been proponents of municipal consolidations, mergers and shared service agreements as a way to help reduce tax rates for our local businesses and property owners. The County Executive’s renewed drive to encourage consolidations, mergers, and shared services is a crucial step toward helping these processes along. We applaud these efforts and look forward to working with the new commission as it develops.

DIDI Fundraiser March 9

Brazil Craft Beer & Wine Lounge will host a fundraising night for Dream It Do It on Wednesday, March 9 from 5-8 p.m. Twenty five percent of all beer and food sales on that night will be donated to Dream It Do It Chautauqua County, a 501(c) 3 that is proactively responding to the workforce challenges faced by manufacturers.

DIDI is an essential program for our region, devoted to increasing the skilled workforce pipeline entering manufacturing careers. DIDI is an initiative that has reached over 20,000 students with a positive message about local job opportunities and the importance of manufacturing to the region. The event runs from 5-8 p.m., with a brief presentation on DIDI at 6pm. There will be raffle prizes including apparel from local manufacturers. No preregistration is required, just show up and demonstrate your support for the educational programs that make a difference to local manufacturers!

Fredonia Chamber Annual Meeting March 10

The Fredonia community Chamber of Commerce will hold its Annual Awards Banquet and Board Election on Thursday, March 10, at Squire’s Table at the White Inn. The cash bar cocktail hour begins at 5:30, with dinner at 6:30.

Awards will be given for: Business of the Year, Comerford’s Collision; Retailer of the Year, DFT Communications/The Netsync Store and Sears Hometown Store; Community Service Award to Mary Croxton; Service to Humanity Award to Ronald Sellers, former President and CEO of Hospice Chautauqua County; Taste of Fredonia Award to Squire’s Table at the White Inn and Domus Fare; and the Spirit of Fredonia Award to Margaret Valone.

For more information or to register call the Fredonia Community Chamber of Commerce at (716) 679-1565.

76West Highlights Importance of Clean Energy Technology

76West is a competition sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority that is focused on growing entrepreneurs across the Southern Tier of New York. The competition is aimed at attracting resources from around the nation and the world to build clean energy businesses and jobs all the way across the Southern Tier, from Chautauqua County to Binghamton. With $10 million in prize money at stake, including a $1 million top prize, the goal is to develop a regional community of clean energy technology innovators, experts, educators, and investors. Applications for the first round are due by March 15. Anyone interested can learn more about 76West during an open house at the Fredonia Technology Incubator on Monday, March 7 from 4-7 p.m. The event will include networking, an art gallery, video premiere, and local food and beverages. To learn more, call the Fredonia Technology Incubator at (716) 680-6009.