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Help program is in need of help

Here's a small example of our economic dysfunction.

There are no fewer than 243 programs in Erie and Niagara counties geared towards helping small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs. They're administered by some 60 different public and private sector entities.

Where to start? Many who could use the help probably don't, or muddle their way through.

There's a better way that is, unfortunately, sitting on someone's hard drive.

Four years ago, the Niagara Erie Regional Coalition put together a database listing all the programs. The intention was to put it online with a user-friendly interface that business owners could use to identify programs of use to them. You know, take the 243 programs down to a manageable list of say, a dozen.

NERC -- a coalition of the county legislatures in Niagara and Erie -- went looking for a sponsor. Someone with a little bit of cash and a little bit of manpower to make the data presentable on the Web and to keep it updated.

The NERC folks found no takers. To this day.

"It's sitting someplace doing nothing," said Jim Allen, executive director of the Amherst IDA, who was involved in the effort. '"We can't find anybody to take it and maintain it and keep it fresh.

NERC is renewing its effort to find a patron. With all the economic development agencies and business advocacy groups that populate this region, and all the money they spend, you'd think someone would come forward.

You think they have this kind of problem in, say, Raleigh?



Economic Development
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