Interview: IDA chief Jim Allen

Investigative Post Editor Jim Heaney interviewed Jim Allen, Executive Director of the Amherst Industrial Development Agency, on the state of the regional economy and some of the controversial projects that have been subsidized of late by local IDA’s.

Allen, in the interview that aired on WGRZ’s Daybreak Sunday, said:

  • The state is much better off focusing $1 billion in aid pledged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to promote entrepreneurship and nurture a creative class in Western New York than on trying to lure manufacturers and other large companies to the region.
  • The regional economy is more diversified and otherwise in better shape than it was a decade ago, but that WNY isn’t doing as good of a job as many other communities to promote and nurture the next wave of economic growth.
  • Local IDA’s are working well together, but the government economic development efforts as a whole still suffer from insufficient cooperation.
  • Vital economic development ties between New York and Ontario are bound to suffer because of recent decisions to close the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo and a state trade mission in Toronto.
  • Decisions by the Amherst IDA to fund controversial projects, such as the relocation of Premiere Liquors from Kenmore to Amherst, make sense in the context of IDA’s focus on trying to deal with chronic vacancies along some aging commercial strips.

The video clip above runs about 4 minutes and includes interview highlights. The complete 20-minute interview is posted below.