BusinessGovernmentThe White Plains Examiner

Business Council Gathers Suggestions for Post-Pandemic Recovery

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Support for biosciences, a new, state-of-the-art County Center, enhancements to the County Airport and funding for a public/private job training partnership were among some of the ideas for spending federal recovery dollars that were proposed by business leaders last week at a virtual Town Hall Forum held by the Business Council of Westchester and Westchester County.

Westchester County’s Director of Economic Development Bridget Gibbons and Westchester County Planning Commissioner Norma Drummond, who were on hand to listen to suggestions, said the county would hold public hearings on August 24 and September 14 to elicit more ideas on how it should spend $188 million in federal funding over the next two years from the American Rescue Plan.

The Business Council of Westchester has played a leading role in assisting the county and the state in its recovery efforts by creating its Economic Recovery Task Force of leaders from different business sectors which issued two reports outlining how government could best help our economy recover from the pandemic.

“The topic this morning is to get suggestions from the Business Council members on how Westchester County should prioritize and strategize the allocation of the funds from the American rescue plan, which they will be receiving to help rejuvenate Westchester’s economy,’’ said BCW Executive Vice President and COO John Ravitz, who moderated the Town Hall forum.

Ravitz said that suggestions from the program along with others would be presented to County Executive George Latimer in a formal report.

Gibbons said that the county will have until the end of August to provide the federal government with a high-level report on how it intends to spend the money. She said guidelines for spending included categories such as supporting public health, addressing negative impacts on households, and assistance to small businesses and non-profits.

Drummond added that cities like New Rochelle, Mount Vernon and Yonkers would receive their own allotment of funding from the American Rescue Plan as would towns and villages for certain projects.

BCW members proposed some key initiatives that would help boost Westchester’s economy. Some suggestions included: Support for Life Sciences Sector; Public-Private Partnership for Job Training; a Clean Energy Task Force; Expansion of Broadband and WiFi capabilities; a New Westchester County Center; Enhancing the County Airport; Child Care; and Tourism and Hospitality.

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