Erman: APA should not be 'one-stop shop'

RAY BROOK - The Adirondack Park Agency's lead man for economic development is cautioning those who would like to see the agency become more involved in helping attract business to the region.

In a letter submitted to Denton Publications July 6, Steve Erman, the APA's Special Assistant for Economic Affairs, noted how, in recent months, several citizens and elected officials have suggested expanding the agency's role in economic development, but said there are better ways to encourage development in the region.

Erman has served in the position since 1982, acting as the main liaison between the APA, regional economic development organizations, and entrepreneurs bringing projects for development within the Park.

"Before coming to the Adirondacks, I was a consultant in Washington, D.C. and learned the importance of building organizational capacity to create and implement workable economic development strategies," said Erman. "My experiences have given me a unique perspective on what is necessary for a stronger economic development agenda in the Adirondack Park."

According to Erman, he's offered substantial outreach to developers by explaining how the APA regulates land use and helping them adjust their plans before submitting an application, thereby allowing the permit process to proceed more quickly.

"My work as an ombudsman has helped reassure entrepreneurs that businesses are welcome in the Park and that, with proper attention to planning details, permits are predictably issued," he said. "I have also provided objective analyses of the economic and fiscal impacts of projects to the Agency staff and Board."

Erman is expected to retire soon, however, and many officials, including Assemblywomen Teresa Sayward and Janet Duprey, have suggested this may be the time to establish a more active "economic arm" at the APA that would allow the economic impact of development projects to be weighed as part of the permit review process and make the agency a primary resource for businesses looking to locate in the Park.

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