Guercio’s, as an economic development strategy

Rumor has it that Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found inspiration in a visit earlier this week to Guercio’s, the ethnic Italian delicatessen that founded by an immigrant family who, four generations later, continue to own and operate it today. The Grant-Ferry landmark has been a longtime anchor in the neighborhood, since its heyday in the bustling 60s and 70s.

A favorite son of the labor movement and party standard bearer to the left of the Governor, DiNapoli could empower his office as an economic development engine.

Firms like Guercio’s are not only stable long term investments — they could be enormous growth opportunities. With the New York State Pension Fund as a stable long term private equity partner, Guercio’s could leverage its beloved brand to dominate a niche space while delivering a lucrative return to the pension fund.

The sad truth about Solar City is that, when it becomes wildly profitable, the cash flows will go to bank accounts in California, not here in Western New York. As a public policy prerogative, we should be investing in family owned and operated firms that have been around for decades. Helping those firms gain market share against corporate giants will allow the region to accumulate wealth.

A niche storefront grocer known for imported cheeses, an ethnic deli, and an old world ambiance would do well in the historic commercial districts of Buffalo’s more affluent suburbs. With locations in Villages like Williamsville, East Aurora, Orchard Park, Lewiston, and Hamburg — the firm could hone an upscale brand and position itself for nationwide expansion.

It’s a smart investment strategy for the pension fund and for our economy.

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