Weekly Feature

2017-11-08 / Front Page

Team to implement action plan on economic development


Hartz Hartz Having received unanimous approval from the Town Board in October, planning officials are busy assembling an implementation team for the Tonawanda Tomorrow initiative, to help further local economic development.

James Hartz, director of community development for the town, said in keeping with the initiative’s 64-page economic action plan, the approximately 12-member team will advise town officials on future economic development initiatives in the River Road corridor and be composed of professionals representing organized labor, education, environmental protection and business interests, who have helped with the action plan’s creation.

He said the team will also likely include a clean energy consultant to help explore reuse opportunities at the Huntley Power Plant site and other properties, as well as four town officials including himself, a representative from the comptroller’s office, and representatives from the technical support and parks and recreation departments.

Hartz said the team is intended to continue relationships with initiative stakeholders and maintain momentum.

“It’s just keeping lines of communication open and trying to see that these items that are in the plan are implemented,” he said. “The short-term vision right now for this group is to meet monthly over the course of the next year and see how much we can get accomplished.”

According to the action plan, the team’s responsibilities include creating ways to foster growth of local employee owned businesses and nonprofits, assessing contamination levels at the Huntley site and a cleanup strategy, assessing the transportation needs of residents in terms of getting career help, and extending the Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board’s job club program to the Northtowns.

Hartz said the team is likely to focus its energies on workforce development issues such as education and worker training programs and related funding, issues that he felt will give the team’s duties a broader focus.

“It’s more regional in scope when you’re talking about workforce recruitment and things like that,” he said.

At present, individuals and agencies invited to join the team include:

Heather Gresham, executive director of the Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board

Richard Lipsitz, president of the Western NY Area Labor Federation

Rebecca Newberry, executive director of the Clean Air Coalition of WNY

One representative from the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning

One representative from the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District

One representative from the Kenmore Teachers Association

A member of the local business community, such as Tracey Lukasik, executive director of the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Chamber of Commerce, or an interested business owner.

Hartz said the tentative plan is for the team to begin with a meeting in January, and agendas and meeting times will likely be posted to the town’s website at www.tonawanda.ny.us/.

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