By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO April 9, 2002 A key part of Sullivan Countys economic development is their designation of an Empire Zone (EZ).
During the last few months, as the county has learned how the zone works, all the pieces have been put in place to properly administer the program.
The latest piece was put in place in late March as the Sullivan County Legislature announced the hiring of George Bucci Jr. as the Empire Zone Coordinator.
Bucci comes from a strong economic development background. The Newburgh native earned a business degree in marketing from Manhattan College.
After 17 years of professional basketball (two years with the New Jersey Nets and 15 years in Italy), Bucci entered Newburgh politics.
He spent eight years on their council, six of those years as the town supervisor. During that time, Bucci was instrumental in getting that area designated as an Empire Zone.
Working with Newburghs Empire Zone, Bucci got a good idea how the zone works and how to properly administer it.
Two years ago, Bucci decided to step out of the political arena. As he looked around in the private sector to figure out his next move, Bucci monitored Sullivan Countys progress in getting an Empire Zone.
When the coordinator position was created, Bucci applied for the job. He was hired over many otherqualified candidates.
After being introduced at a March Legislature meeting, Bucci was introduced again last week at the Legislature's Planning and Community Development Committee meeting.
In the future, Bucci will be reporting to the committee on a monthly basis.
The program has been run effectively, correctly, and professionally by [Planning and Community Development Commissioner] Alan [Sorensen] and his staff, Bucci said. I will need their support. The criteria used by the Zone Board is the way it has to be done. We cant deviate from that.
This is a very positive program," he said. I want to get to know Sullivan County. Everyone will be treated equally. There is no back door. I will be very up front.
In his first few weeks on the job, Bucci has gotten to know the county officials and learn its system. He has been impressed with what the county has done so far and plans to build upon it to make the system better.
The process doesnt end, he stated. It will be a continuing process. We will make it easier for the applicant; we will help the applicants.
While staff review the applications to be sure all the necessary information is included, Bucci will visit each site that wishes to be a part of the zone.
Bucci also plans to meet with all 15 town supervisors and the six village mayors within the next month to go over the program. Bucci plans to have a website set up and will have a separate phone line so that he can be reached easily.
I want to work together with everyone to get the word out on the program, Bucci said. I want to highlight the program. We will market it.
Bucci and his wife, Ginny, live in Newburgh. They have three children-Ryan, a student at CW Post; Kristopher, a student at Dominican College; and Kara, a seventh grader.