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Westchester Business Leaders Come Together

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Some of Westchester’s brightest and boldest have come together with ideas to make Westchester a more business-friendly place.

The Westchester Coalition for Business Development, a task force established by the Business Council of Westchester, issued a series of steps to build the county’s economic development on Wednesday at CW Brown in Armonk. The coalition also named Tim Jones, the managing director of the Robert Martin Company, chairman of the coalition.

“We felt it was important to view economic development beyond the traditional paradigm of real estate relocation plus incentives,” said Dr. Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester.

The coalition came up with 11 short-term goals, including establishing youth internships, develop new funding sources for marketing Westchester, repeal the MTA payroll tax, work to stop youth flight, promote development from straight office usage into mixed-use buildings and advocate funding for the Tappan Zee Bridge.

“We believe this report provides a holistic approach to economic development,” Dr. Gordon said. “It’s a macro-approach with specific action steps.”

Youth flight has been a problem in the area for several years, and Gordon has said that business leaders have remarked that it has become a liability in Westchester. Gordon said that more people know about the business possibilities in the county.

“We need to educate the uneducated,” Dr. Gordon said. “People need to know why business is good for Westchester. We need to get the word out.”

The coalition also advocated for opposing state legislation like wage and time off mandates.

Jones said that the ideas and recommendations would act as a tool kit for bringing economic development to the county.

“We need to focus on improving Westchester as a place to do business and as a place to live,” Jones said. “We will do everything we can.”

The coalition recommended creating an economic development public-private partnership to retain existing businesses and attract new businesses to the area. County Executive Robert Astorino, who attended the meeting, seemed receptive to the idea.

“This is a tremendous blueprint,” Astorino said. “These are really good ideas. You have a terrific team of business leaders. Promoting economic development has been a cornerstone of my administration.”

Astorino is launching a campaign to promote Westchester as New York’s Intellectual Capital and they have hired the person behind New York City’s Restaurant Week to help improve tourism in the county.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” Astorino said. “But we have the people and partnerships to get it done. My team will work closely to put these smart ideas to work. We can never have enough smart people working around a table for a common goal.”

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