By Dr. Marsha Gordon
President/CEO, The Business Council of Westchester
The Business Council of Westchester, the county’s largest business and professional organization, has launched a concerted effort to move Westchester’s economy in a positive direction with the formation of the Westchester Coalition for Business Development, chaired by Tim Jones, Managing Director/Partner, Robert Martin Company. The coalition – comprised of Westchester’s most influential business leaders from the hot sectors of business growth in the market including biotech, information technology, health care, professional services, finance and the green sector – is focused on the major issues critical to retaining existing businesses and attracting new ones to the county.
After 1,000 volunteer hours of research, discussion and deliberation over a period of six months, the Coalition presented its key findings in July with the development of several imaginative, innovative and exciting recommendations, including:
-Development of a Hot Spots Business Location Map for use by prospective businesses considering relocation to the county
-Creating a One Stop Internship Clearinghouse
-Organizing a Financial Consortium/Investor Forum for existing businesses in hot sector industries
-Increasing the marketing budget to promote Westchester
-Repealing the MTA tax
-Stopping youth flight from Westchester by understanding the needs of our under-35-year-old employees
-Ensuring that Westchester’s economic development needs are well-represented on Governor Cuomo’s new Regional Economic Councils
-Completing the Tappan Zee Bridge project
-Promoting more creative reuse of existing office space along the I287 corridor into mixed-use development
-Establishing a Biotech Research Center at a local university
The city of White Plains is poised to move its economic development agenda forward and I have spearheaded many productive and positive meetings with Mayor Tom Roach and other White Plains business leaders. As the county seat and home to many of our leading business, cultural and professional assets, White Plains is poised to contribute to and benefit from the promotion of a comprehensive economic development agenda. An environment that is welcoming to young people, the city has a vibrant downtown, culturally rich environment, with great restaurants, shopping, and parks… excellent educational institutions, great transportation, and a diverse population. And, of course, White Plains has the real estate inventory that attracts all sectors of the business community, from major corporations to the growing mid-size and small business market. Clearly, as New York’s intellectual capital, Westchester County…and the city of White Plains… will continue to be a catalyst for economic development.
Finally, with the formation of the Regional Councils, Governor Cuomo’s dedication to economic development and job creation represents a fundamental shift in the State’s approach to economic development, from a top-down model to a community-based approach that emphasizes the region’s unique assets, harnesses local expertise and empowers each region to set plans and priorities. With my appointment, and that of Business Council of Westchester Executive Board member and White Plains-based businessman Wiley Harrison, president, the Business of Your Business, the interests of White Plains will be well-represented within a regional framework to revitalize New York’s economy. The task ahead includes developing a five-year economic development plan for the region, which will benefit White Plains and its residents.
Most importantly, the public and private sectors must work together to promote an environment that supports economic development. The Business Council of Westchester looks forward to working with Mayor Roach and his team to create a positive economic environment in White Plains and throughout the region.