Town of Amherst to Create a NEW “Economic Development” Department

What is this NEW Department of “Economic Development” and why do WE need it? What ever it is or what ever it does, it will be located in Town Hall just across from the Supervisor’s office, and apparently will be reporting to him after a the new local law is added to create it. The first public hearing about this new department will be held at the next Town Board meeting on Monday, February 24.

Link to Town Board Agenda:

To understand what is happening here, it is useful to understand that Amherst town government has many different parts where the supervisor leads both the legislative branch as chairman of the Town Board, and the executive branch as chief executive officer of the town. With the exception of the Police Department, Highway Department, and Town Clerk, the supervisor directly manages the operation of rest of town government structured as a collection of different departments.

So adding a new department is a big deal since it increases the operational complexity of government, extends the supervisor’s executive management control, can be expected to increase the town payroll permanently, and hopefully will produce real and measurable benefits.

We have some questions for the supervisor. Why is this NEW department needed, what will it do, what will it cost, who will run it, how will it be structured, how many people will it employ, will it get bigger, how will it interact with other departments, will they be doing new things or restructuring existing things or both, and how can we measure it’s results in order to justify the reasons given for creating it?

3 Responses to “Town of Amherst to Create a NEW “Economic Development” Department”

  1. Steven says:

    The IDA has always functioned as the towns economic development department with a substantial annual budget. The IDA director makes more $ than the town supervisor. Does the creation of this new department dissolve the IDA? If that is the case, this would seem to be a really good idea. If not, why would two economic development departments make any sense? Should there also be 2 planning departments?

  2. Brian Kulpa says:

    The Economic Development Department has basically been in ‘prove it ‘mode for the past 2 years since Maggie Winship came on board as Director of Strategic Planning.

    In 2 years time the basis for the office created a federal oppertunity zone, won state grants for infrastructure and planning, removed hurrdles to get Station 12 at the old Northtown Plaza into construction, created an impetus and worked with the receivership company to get the Boulevard Mall to bid (and sold), got Uniland to the table to discuss purchase of the site of the Hampton Inn at Northtown Center (hopefully removing the Town from a terrible lease), has been a driver in the negotiations at Westwood, has helped land UBMD, Roswell Park and got movement at the old Ridge Lea campus. All items which past administrations lacked the horsepower to take on. I am proud of the work that has occured and with the tasks ahead for us in redeveloping failing infrastructure, have worked with the budget and the Board to establish a department.

    Along with Mrs. Winship, we have added an administrator, who will be shared with the Finance department to oversee and closeout State and Federal Grants (a product born out of our management letter from our auditors).

    As we face challenges in the future with retooling dying big box, struggling office complexes and further demand for outside resource for infrastructure reconstruction, the Town cannot be without the proactive capacities of this office. The IDA simply is not in the position (nor should it be) to contend qith issues born out of Municipal operations (coordinations with permitting, planning, assesment, etc.) Or with direct State and Federal outreach.

    Supervisor Brian Kulpa

  3. Joe says:

    I would agree normally, but in the case of the The Highway Superintendent he is not an independent official. In this case, the Amherst Superintendent takes his orders from the Town Supervisor. In addition, he has also become very, very political after taking over the Amherst Conservative Party where he in his own selfish ways screwing over candidates and now after recently switching parties and becoming a Democrat, he gave the Amherst GOP Party the big heave ho after they helped him get elected in the first place. Senior was a class act. Junior, not so much. Enjoy your term limits pal.