Taking stock of 2014 as it comes to a close, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, believes New York’s 23rd congressional district is poised for economic growth in the new year.
During his weekly telephone conference with the media, the congressman pointed to several developments in the last year that bode well for his 11-county congressional district.
“The jobs reports are a positive indication that we’re going in that direction,” Rep. Reed said. “We have control over our energy supply, and that’s reflected in our prices at the gas pump. I will encourage things at the national level to continue that, like comprehensive tax reform that could lead to millions of jobs being created.”
During the next year, Rep. Reed said his work in the nation’s capital will center around reviving the district’s “stagnant economy.”
“I’m very excited by the advanced manufacturing bill and the possibilities it has to really grow and create the jobs of tomorrow,” Rep. Reed said.
The congressman was referring to the Revitalize American Manufacturing Initiative.
The legislation would establish regional Centers for Manufacturing Innovation to focus on the next generation of manufacturing technologies.
“There’s possibilities for the Western New York and the Southern Tier to have one of those hubs in our own backyard,” he said. “That’s at the top of our list to try to identify opportunities for manufacturing.”
For Cattaraugus County, the congressman intends to focus his efforts on two projects that have spanned decades.
“One of the things I’m hopeful that we can put together next year is the completion of Route 219 with Continental 1,” he said. “I spoke with Catharine Young, the state senator, and we had a great conversation about really identifying how we can get Continental 1 together.”
The Route 219 project carries an estimated $1 billion price tag and would increase the expressway from two lanes to four from its Peters Road exit outside of Springville to Interstate 86. It’s part of Continental 1 effort, which aims to have a four-lane trade route from Toronto to Florida.
Rep. Reed also plans to support legislation for the West Valley Demonstration Project and its continued cleanup of a former nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.
“That would improve national security and take care of the nuclear waste there,” he said.
Rep. Reed offered a mixed appraisal of actions taken by Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently impacting economic development in the state’s entertainment and energy sectors.
The congressman applauded the governor’s push for state casino gaming authorities consider an application to allow for a Las Vegas-style gaming facility in Tioga, a small community between Corning and Binghamton.
“I think it’s only fair that the Southern Tier be placed into consideration as one of the four choices for a casino,” Rep. Reed said. “There’s a strong application from Tioga Downs. I’m very hopeful that the license will be summarily granted to that operation and we can move forward with that facility’s construction and development. Fundamentally, it’s a question of jobs and how people are going to be able to afford to live in the Southern Tier.
The congressman tempered his remarks on future casino development in his district.
“By no means do I believe casino gambling is a cure-all for the economic woes of the Southern Tier,” Rep. Reed said. “But it is an opportunity for jobs that can be put in place in order to hopefully keep and spur economic development and keep the region going in the right direction.”
Rep. Reed criticized the governor, however, for the upcoming ban on fracturing for oil and gas extraction — referred to commonly as hydrofracking — in New York.
“We’re going to continue to deal with the issue of the ban,” Rep Reed said. “One of the things that we’re going to do is take a hard look at is promoting legislation at the federal and state level to recognize that (Gov. Cuomo) has taken property rights from landowners unilaterally. In my humble opinion, we need to stand for the landowners who pay property tax bills and compensate them for the right that has been taken with this decision. I think it’s only fair and the right thing to do.”
(Contact City Editor Christopher Michel at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHChris)