Special to the OBSERVER
The State University of New York at Fredonia announced Friday that the Fredonia Technology Incubator will enter a transition phase with the pending departure of its executive director and the beginning of new initiatives to provide expanded opportunities for job growth in the community.
Executive Director Robert Fritzinger will be leaving his position on Aug. 1 to pursue other opportunities. Mr. Fritzinger has led the incubator since the new building opened in 2009.
"I want to thank Bob for serving our campus and community over the last five years, and for representing us at the state and regional levels in various economic development capacities. All of us at Fredonia wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors," said Kevin Kearns, vice president of Fredonia's Division of Engagement and Economic Development.
"I'm also excited by the opportunities before us to bring greater economic vitality to the region. We have a transition plan in place to enhance our incubation program and take full advantage of new synergistic business innovation and resurgence opportunities."
One of the new opportunities is the Western Region Innovation Hot Spots program, which will create or designate high-tech innovation incubators at several locations affiliated with higher education institutions in order to encourage private-sector growth. "Hot Spots" link regional sources of innovation and expertise, awards New York State Incubator Designation to the Fredonia Technology Incubator, and offers qualified clients five years of extensive tax breaks. The western consortium of universities includes the University at Buffalo as the lead, with Fredonia and Alfred State College as key partners.
Dr. Kearns said he is pleased by the level of partnership and collaboration on economic development efforts with the county, local governments, Jamestown Community College, the business community and other organizations with the implementation of the StartUp NY program and other efforts. StartUp NY, initiated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, creates tax-free zones on or near approved colleges and universities throughout New York State. The goal is to attract businesses that would not otherwise locate in the state by providing incentives to retain and expand jobs. Businesses must be approved and sponsored by a campus that has an approved Campus Plan. In Chautauqua County, Fredonia and JCC are the institutions of higher education charged with implementing the program. They have partnered in order to provide the greatest benefit to the county.
Kearns stated that a transition team is being established to advise and assist the next phase of incubator operations. He also announced that he has tapped Center for Regional Advancement Director Chuck Cornell as Interim Director of the Fredonia Technology Incubator. Mr. Cornell, who has been the director of the center for the past six years, has been actively involved in the incubator's programming and operation since its inception. He has also served on the boards of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, Greater Jamestown Empire Zone and Manufacturing Technology Institute. He holds a master's degree in Public Administration.
"Chuck is very familiar with our incubator's operations and has the skill set needed to manage this transition," noted Dr. Kearns.
The Fredonia Technology Incubator (FTI) promotes economic growth in Western New York by supporting entrepreneurship and the development of new, innovative companies into successful business ventures. The incubator creates jobs in the community, develops internships and training opportunities for students, attracts and retains graduates in the area, provides a first-class facility for community activities, and provides support services to community organizations and leaders.
Fredonia established the Engagement and Economic Development (EED) division in 2013 to facilitate and support university-community collaborations that enhance the intellectual, cultural, artistic and economic vibrancy of the region. Such collaborations include active community engagement and partnerships with local and regional organizations, governments, businesses and universities. In addition to the incubator, the division also oversees the university's StartUp New York economic development program.