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Small firms deserve a place ?at economic development table

Governor Cuomo's $1 billion investment can be maximized by including small businesses in Western New York's economic development. As they are 98 percent of the economic power of New York State and Western New York, it is essential to assure their success.

Small-business owners live here, spend money here and remain here. Targeting small firms is not as dramatic as attracting a large firm, but the results are bigger and better. Hundred-fold gains in jobs and taxes can be generated for about a thousand dollars in strategic assistance for small firms. Additionally, local support will convince more entrepreneurs to remain here and grow their businesses here.

Encouraging entrepreneurial enterprise should not, however, discourage large firms from settling here, as a proper balance of industry is essential for a sustainable economy. Besides, large firms spawn the growth of small companies that supply essential goods and services.

Simply encouraging entrepreneurial growth is not enough. Without appropriate training in strategic planning and marketing, the potential gains will not materialize. Business owners must learn to become market leaders producing innovative products and services that customers will want to buy. Profit is essential, but it is secondary to acquiring customers.

Most small firms are struggling to survive and most fail. Because small firms are usually privately owned, their failure rate is hidden from public view. Although there are many services currently supporting small firms, the high failure rate is not declining.

With the right strategic guidance that focuses on total enterprise performance, this failure rate could be reduced and profits increased.

Bob Deneen

Amherst

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Republican lawmakers ?are hurting the county

The budget created by the majority in the Erie County Legislature has been crafted to do to Erie County what the House of Representatives has been attempting to do to the United States economy and the Obama administration.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz has been able to slowly straighten the ship that Mr. "Run County Like a Business" had taken off course, and this move is trying to thwart these positive changes. It is inconceivable that a majority of Republicans think it is more important to try to wreck the economy in an attempt to win the next election.

I realize this is by no means all Republicans, but they are leading the majority in these types of actions.

Gary Carrel

Amherst

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Bradford had a right? to speak out about sign

In a recent letter to The News, a writer mischaracterized Paul Bradford as a tyrant. By definition tyrants are heads of government who rule by threat and intimidation. Bradford is a private citizen. He complained about Joseph Shimburski's sign. He did not try to damage the sign nor did he threaten or intimidate Shimburski.

Bradford is right to be concerned about the prevalence of hate speech in our society. Blacks could not have been lynched so freely had hate speech not made publicly acceptable the idea that they were less than human. Jews could not have been rounded up and sent off to extermination camps so easily had society not been conditioned to view them as evil.

Genocides in Rwanda and the Balkans could have occurred only through the presence of propaganda that allowed the perpetrators to believe that their fellow citizens were unworthy of living.

People need to stop allowing themselves to be brainwashed by hate mongers such as Rush Limbaugh, who profit from demonizing women, Democrats, immigrants and who knows who else.

It appears that Limbaugh's followers now refer to anyone who disagrees with them as Communists. We have already experienced the McCarthy era once.

I don't think another pass through that gutter will benefit us as a nation. We need to care enough about our country to use the right to free speech judiciously.

Patricia Fraser

West Falls

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Parton has admirably? raised her voice for literacy

I recently listened to a radio broadcast interview with country music star Dolly Parton on WBFO 88.7 FM.

The conversation was delightful and briefly touched on the topic of Parton's work to improve the literacy skills of children through her organization, Imagination Library.

The organization delivers a book a month directly into the hands of just under 700,000 children, free of charge. I was blown away by the efforts of Parton's Imagination Library and wanted to know if Buffalo children could take advantage of this great opportunity, and it turns out they can.

Any child under the age of five who lives in the 14215 ZIP code is eligible to start receiving books in the mail.

The Imagination Library has partnered locally with Read to Succeed Buffalo, which facilitates the registration process. To register a child, go to Read to Succeed Buffalo's website: www.readtosucceedbuffalo.org.

Buffalo is a city that has an astonishingly low literacy rate, with 30 percent of adults reading at or below a fifth-grade level. Not surprisingly, that statistic is echoed among Buffalo children with only 40 percent reading at grade level by third grade.

With the holidays quickly approaching, in my opinion there is no better gift to a child then the gift of reading.

Renee Siepierski

Kenmore

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There's nothing educational ?about animals kept in cages

Cute as can be, the hamster was pictured in an ad from a pet shop in Sunday's News, offering a 25 percent discount when purchased. Wow! You even get a discount on this little guy. A hamster kit could also be purchased with a cage that did not look roomy enough.

Once sold, I wondered how he would be cared for. Would he be given enough attention, exercise, treats, proper handling? Or, ignored in his cage after the initial attraction had worn off?

I was in a pet shop once and there were turtles in a tank that kept constantly clawing at the side of their tank trying to climb out. What was the point?

Another time, I asked about some of the animals in a pet shop and why they were there and was told that "it's educational." What is educational about caged animals?

You see, I am not a fan of pet shops and, if I were king of the world, there would be none.

Judith Manka

East Amherst