A the last meeting of the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board Executive Director Richard Zink outlined the funding situation and programs currently underway. In short, federal funding seems to be intact for now. On September 13th the House passed a continuing resolution to keep the federal government in operation through March 15th 2013. The resolution requires agencies receiving federal funds to outline how received funds will be allocated among various programs. The continuing resolution actually includes an 8 billion dollar increase in overall spending for most federal programs and services. The funding that will be received by the Economic Development Administration is expected to remain the same, while monies received by the Appalachian Regional Commission will increase by 0.612 percent or a total of $418,000.
Several working groups are being planned. Among them are: Energy, Transportation, Land Use and Livable Communities, Waste management, Water management, Agriculture and Forestry, and Economic Development. The groups will be charged with studying their respective subjects and proposing programs for improvement in those areas.
Mr. Zink introduced a program to brand foods grown or created in Western New York. The program will use a logo that says “ Fresh. Local. From the Ground Up.” The logo could be printed on bags, or store signage and other marketing materials to educate customers as to the advantage of buying locally produced food. Known as the Farmers Market Promotion Program, Southern Tier West has applied for an $80,772 grant from the USDA. The decision on funding is expected before Columbus Day. There was some question as to monitoring producers to be sure they are creating a product worthy of the logo. As the program is currently conceived there will be some effort to police the producers.
Southern Tier West is moving forward with its plan to provide broadband internet access to the rural communities in Western New York. They have partnered with Cattaraugus County, The Southern Tier Library System, the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System, Jones Memorial Hospital, Olean Medical Group, and several clinics in the Chautauqua County Health Network to create a grant totaling about $700,000 to move the project forward. The cost saving for creating electronic medial records is one of the concepts driving the program. When the system is built out it is expected to serve about 1,500 customers.