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Friday, February 20, 2015

Jeff Belt, President of SolEpoxy Inc. in Olean, has been appointed as the new co-chair of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced this morning.

Belt has served on the Council as a member since 2011. He has represented manufacturers and Cattaraugus County, and has taken an active role in the smart growth and Global-NY workgroups, among other regional council initiatives, to foster entrepreneurship and the development of small businesses.

“Through the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, we have seen an incredible amount of change in the right direction, and today I am proud to appoint and welcome Jeff Belt to serve as co-chair," Gov. Cuomo said. "Mr. Belt has already contributed so much to this successful team, and I am confident that with his continued help we will see more even growth and momentum in this region"

Belt said he is "honored by this appointment and Governor Cuomo’s confidence in me to serve as co-chair of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. The Council has demonstrated that this collaborative, community driven process is succeeding for our region as a whole. I look forward to working with President Tripathi and the entire council to continue this good work.”

Belt will lead the Regional Council in collaboration with Council Co-Chair Satish K. Tripathi, President of University at Buffalo. He replaces Howard Zemsky, who was recently nominated by the Governor to head Empire State Development as President, CEO and Commissioner.

As a member of the original slate of Western New York Regional Economic Development Council members appointed by the Governor, Belt has remained one of its most active members. He helped lead the council’s smart growth agenda focusing on investments within existing urban, village and town centers, waterfronts and brownfields. He helped present the region’s progress to the Governor’s strategic assessment team, a critical step in the annual Regional Economic Development Council awards selection process. He has also advocated for investments in the North Union Street Walkable Olean project, helping to successfully organize local support for the initiative and leverage the attention and resources of not only the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council but the federal government.

Belt has served as President and Director of SolEpoxy since 2010, when he led the acquisition team that rescued a high-tech manufacturing business slated for closure. Team SolEpoxy is restoring the Hysol tradition—Hysol was the Olean company that invented the plastic used to protect the silicon chip, among other things. Belt has doubled R&D investments and pushed exports worldwide. Prior to SolEpoxy, Belt served 15 years in engineering, manufacturing and corporate strategy roles at General Motors, followed by 12 years of entrepreneurship and small business management in Buffalo-area tech companies. His passion is business strategy and his method is to study successful role models.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Nominee Howard Zemsky said, “Through our work together on the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, Jeff has become not only someone who I reach out to for his knowledge and expertise, but also someone I now call a friend. I know that working with President Tripathi, Jeff will continue to implement the council’s strategies and build on our region’s success.”

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair Satish K. Tripathi said, “I am delighted Jeff Belt has been named co-chair of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. Jeff has been a terrific council member and has brought a dynamic business mind to the role, as well as a sharp focus on smart growth and the unique needs of Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Allegany counties. I look forward to continuing our collaboration as the council seeks to further encourage investment, create jobs and leverage private sector support and resources.”

Belt received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University and his Master of Business Administration from IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland. He is an active member of the community, serving on the Greater Olean Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; Upper Allegany Health System, Olean General Hospital and Bradford Memorial Hospital Board of Directors; North Union Street Restoration Steering Committee; and the Olean Brownfield Opportunity Area Steering Committee. He has also served as trustee for The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservatory; board member and president of The New Millennium Group, Buffalo; and director and vice president of The American Chamber of Commerce, Beijing.

The Western New York region’s 2011 strategic plan, “A Strategy for Prosperity,” focuses on economic enablers that promote smart growth, prepare the workforce and foster a culture of entrepreneurship, leveraging these principles to accelerate key industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, agriculture, bi-national logistics, energy, health & life sciences, higher education, professional services and tourism.

In the first four rounds of the Regional Council initiative, the Western New York region was awarded $273.5 million in state support for 306 projects across its five counties. In just the last year, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council also recommended, and Empire State Development awarded, $24 million in Excelsior awards for 24 different companies that are expected to leverage $181 million in private sector investment, leading to the creation or retention of more than 5,200 jobs.

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