"I'm betting on Buffalo for a billion dollars": Cuomo talks up WNY
Even by the Governor's usual high standards, this was a pretty spirited performance.
Speaking at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center Tuesday morning, the governor (passionately?) reinforced the extent of the state of New York's largest single investment in the state's second-largest city.
Members of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council (WYNREDC) fleshed out the details of plans for the billion-dollar investment with an emphasis on three key areas: Life Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing and Tourism.
Some details after the jump and view our other coverage of the project for additional background.
Some themes that emerged during a number of spoken presentations by members of the WNYREDC were; failed urbanization programs, a city stereotyped by potential visitors, overlooked and underutilized cultural assets and a disconnect between an advanced manufacturing sector and the unemployed.
Buffalo has already pegged out some significant territory in the area of Life Science, and this was reinforced by an announcement of a private public partnership with bio-research firm Albany Molecular Research Inc (AMRI) who will partner with the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus to develop a drug research center. The AMRI investment of $200 million, leveraged off a $50 million input from the state of New York is expected to create 250 jobs, according to the governor's office.
Officials talked about the half century of economic challenges for the city and the loss of the younger population as context for the investment initiatives.
Speaking from the tourism sector, President and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara, Dottie Gallagher-Cohen says that the relationship with Canada is significant for the region, bringing in an average of $931 million per year through visitors from the Greater Toronto region. The aim was to increase the average number of visits from 3 to 4 per year.
The previously neglected Niagara Falls downtown is to be the target of an international design competition and the contrast between the U.S. and Canadian sides of the famous tourist attraction were highlighted. Private enterprise is being courted to help develop a range of additional activities in and around the Niagara Falls National Park including building outdoor recreation facilities like bike tracks, trails and rock climbing sites.
Additional audio available here from our colleagues at wbfo.org.
From the Office of the Governor, here is some more detail on the entities that will drive the investment strategy.
- Buffalo Center for Manufacturing Innovation: a state-of-the-art facility to support the growth of the region’s manufacturing sector. It will be a shared services enterprise that provides support in commercializing applied research, developing more efficient operational processes, enabling entry into new markets, and up-skilling the existing workforce.
- The Buffalo Science Productivity and Research Catalyzer (SPaRC): to help bring breakthrough healthcare innovations to market. The Accelerator supports researchers in developing translational research, acquiring patents, and then licensing those patents or developing them into businesses.
- Buffalo Niagara Tourism Program: a regional tourism program to leverage the world-class tourism assets in Niagara Falls and the City of Buffalo through a more coordinated and sophisticated marketing strategy; investments and increased programming in the Niagara State Park; investments in other regional tourism assets and amenities; and the creation of regional offerings.
- The Buffalo Skills Partnership: a skills broker with initial investments in Rapid Right Skilling and Say Yes. The partnership will make Buffalo’s workforce system the most flexible, diverse and responsive in the nation by aligning education and training behind the skills employers need to expand and workers need for job success.
- Buffalo Breakthrough Business Challenge: a world-class business plan competition to catalyze the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Winners will receive initial funding, incubator space, mentorship and introductions to leading venture capital firms
- Better Buffalo Fund: to make targeted investments through a dedicated fund to support high impact economic and community development projects. A competition will determine the best investments, based on overall strategic fit, impact, proven capacity for execution and commitment of additional funds.