Area waiting for a success

A major announcement in 2006 brought excitement to the city and region. The State University of New York at Fredonia and Dunkirk would be partners as a technology incubator would be built on Central Avenue between Second and Third streets.

With plenty of community pride, the state-of-the-art facility opened in 2009. It has since been showcased to numerous state and federal officials and had some minor successes. But for a number of city residents in recent months, there are a number of questions being asked privately.

Last month, Charles Cornell was named interim director of the incubator as Robert Fritzinger left the post for other opportunities. Cornell is the third person to hold the position and is still getting accustomed to the job.

He has hopes for a community open house and there are indications some area development departments may be moving into the building.

That could be a step in the right direction.

Currently, the building’s major function has centered around hosting community meetings. Those are still welcome, but the area is starving for a business to emerge from the facility. In the past, there was some false hope from some start-ups while other businesses worked hard and quietly in achieving certain goals.

This newspaper – and the community – back the efforts of the incubator. But with changes and almost a consistently empty parking lot, doubts have arisen.

Most of the disappointment is due to the recent momentum seen in Buffalo, especially with $1 billion being promised to the Queen City. But that also means our region needs to be more aggressive in going after those funds.

College officials, through Start Up New York, need to somehow lasso those high spirits. Our community is in the midst losing 400 jobs by the end of the year. Despite one high-ranking official’s belief in the Fredonia plant closing is “an opportunity,” those who live here know that statement is an outright absurdity.

Economic development efforts, for better or worse, have been handed to state universities by the governor. And though Western New York has made some gains, there has been little activity locally.

The natives are getting restless.