EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of articles highlighting major issues facing each of the 19 Chautauqua County districts and the legislators who will preside over them.
After 20 years, Fred Larson has returned to the Chautauqua County Legislature for a fourth term.
Larson's district is the home of Jamestown Community College, which he said is a vital tool for bringing jobs back to Chautauqua County.
"A top priority for me is making sure the legislature works with JCC to take full advantage of Start-Up NY to bring as many new companies and new jobs as we possibly can to Chautauqua County," he said. "This is a brand new opportunity for economic development and we must take full advantage of it."
StartUp NY is an initiative allowing businesses to operate tax free for 10 years in cooperation with community colleges and SUNY campuses and was implemented by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this year.
"Our labor force has shrunk dramatically," Larson said, adding that roughly 7,000 fewer people are employed in Chautauqua County than seven years ago. "If we could attract a new business to the campus, that'd be a big improvement to our economy."
"Chautauqua County government needs a laser-like focus on economic development and job creation."
incoming District 12 county legislator
Current Employment: Attorney in private practice
Education: Princeton University, Yale Law School, Jamestown High School
Elected Offices Held: Jamestown City Council 1979-82; Chautauqua County Legislature 1985-93
Civic Involvement: Jamestown Kiwanis Club board member; Jamestown Board of Public Utilities; Chautauqua County Sports Hall of Fame board member; Southern Tier West Railroad Authority founding board member; county attorney 1998-2005.
Enjoys walking nine holes of golf
Additionally, having "shovel-ready," appropriately zoned work sites countywide is crucial in order to attract new businesses.
Another concern in Larson's district is the amount of blighted homes which need to be demolished.
"The county can be helpful for improving our neighborhoods through the Land Bank's recent grant from the attorney general," he said.
In October, the Chautauqua County Land Bank received a $1.5 million grant from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office which was split into five categories, including $1 million designated for the demolition of 80 structures between Jamestown, Dunkirk and other municipalities in the county.
Larson's third priority is maintaining commercial air service at the Jamestown Airport.
"It's very important to our existing businesses," he said. "I will do what I can to improve commercial air service and try to make sure our commuter service connects Jamestown to the right destinations at a competitive rate."
As for the Chautauqua County Home, Larson said he had researched numbers and facts on its current financial status.
"I really have felt the same way, going back 20 years. If they can break even, that's fine. If they can't, I'm not opposed to selling it," he said just after winning the election in November. "I just hope it gets sold to a good operator and for a fair market value."
Lastly, Larson said the county should strengthen its "Welfare to Work" program and that money spent getting people off of welfare and into a job is money well spent.
"Chautauqua County government needs a laser-like focus on economic development and job creation," Larson said.