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Digital Door Opens for Local Economy

County IDA website showcasing 30 office and industrial parks

The Buffalo News [ View Original Article ]

Companies, developers and real estate brokers scouting Erie County for locations have a new digital tool.

The county and its economic-development partners unveiled a website highlighting about 30 industrial and office parks in the county. The website uses geographic information system technology, or GIS, to provide detailed imagery of the parks, along with information about each park, such as available incentives, utilities and zoning.

"A Realtor doesn't have to get into a car and drive folks all over Western New York," said County Executive Chris Collins. "They can sit there at a computer and do it."

It can be accessed through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency's website, www.kanshiphoto.com. The website showcases industrial parks with at least 10 acres of available land.

Kenneth J. Swanekamp, the county's director of business assistance, said the county has been working with its municipal partners on getting industrial parks ready for tenants. "No matter how good your website is, if you don't have the product, it really doesn't matter," he said.

The website allows users to search for a location that suits their preferences, whether it be a new "greenfield" site or a revitalized "brownfield" site.

Erie County's Department of Environment and Planning developed the website with support from the ECIDA and National Grid.

Shaun Donnelly, a consultant for National Grid, said site selectors -- who scout locations on behalf of client companies -- have been clamoring for the GIS capabilities that the new website offers.

Users such as site selectors can conduct a good amount of research on their own and obtain that information much faster than they could in the past, Donnelly said.

Beyond the industrial parks, users can explore details such as how much neighboring land might be available for a future expansion, or how close the employee entrance would be to the nearest bus stop, he said.

"The end user's not interested in simply the bricks and mortar," Donnelly said.

The cost of the project was about $12,000, with a National Grid grant covering about half.

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