Regional Business organizations like the Business Council of Westchester are taking on an increasingly important role in economic development, according to BCW President and CEO Marsha Gordon.
As head of the county’s largest and most prestigious business membership organization, Gordon was in Albany on Wednesday to serve on a panel at the New York State Economic Development Council’s 2019 Conference on the Economic Impact of Regional Business Associations.
Gordon said that the BCW’s role has grown more focused on advocacy and the promotion of economic development in recent years. Gordon, who is a member of the executive committee of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC), said that the BCW has been very supportive of investments in Westchester’s cities, which it sees as having potential for growth.
“Because we have considerable urban centers and downtowns in Westchester we made a very conscious decision to focus our attention there,’’ said Gordon. “So, for example, in New Rochelle we have partnered with the city to enhance the incredible development emerging there.”
The state recently awarded a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant to the City of New Rochelle, focused on the Lincoln Avenue Corridor. Gordon will serve as co-chair of the project’s Local Planning Committee along with New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson.
Gordon also discussed the BCW’s role in assisting Westchester County in promoting economic development, as well as its support of a bio-tech sector in the county with projects such as the recently approved North 60. The BCW has also been integral in supporting the City of Yonkers in development of its waterfront and downtown, promoting its Generation Y campaign to attract millennials and its uncovering of the Saw Mill River in downtown to make the area more attractive.
The BCW has had a long history of playing an integral role in regional transportation projects that support economic development, such as the building of the new Tappan Zee/Mario Cuomo Bridge. The BCW, she said, has also acted as a resource for the City of White Plains, which is pursing Transit Oriented Development around its Metro-North Railroad station, which is currently undergoing a $90 million makeover.
“More and more we are seeing these municipalities…as well as new significant businesses turn to the BCW as their source for advocacy and support and guidance,’’ said Gordon.