The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council met to endorse 24 projects as priority projects for the second round of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Regional Council initiative. The council also provided an update to the public on the progress of the "Buffalo Billion" initiative. Cuomo has tasked the WNYREDC with recommending an investment strategy that will leverage the state's $1 billion pledge and gain a 5:1 commitment from the private sector, resulting in more than $6 billion in total economic development impact.
"The priority projects endorsed by the Regional Council represent critical opportunities to build upon the region's strengths and competitive advantages, and immediately accelerate job creation and economic growth," said Satish K. Tripathi, president of the University at Buffalo and Regional Council co-chair. "Together with our work on the Buffalo Billion, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council is playing a key role in the strategic deployment of state funding to support the expansion of local companies, and in the targeted attraction of new businesses across the country and around the globe."
The WNYREDC has made significant progress toward identifying the scope of opportunities for the Buffalo Billion initiative since its creation as part of the 2012-13 state budget. The Brookings Institution, along with Buffalo Regional Institute, began by developing an initial list of opportunities that will achieve top-line economic growth based on broad market analysis. The WNYREDC then added opportunities to the list and refined it, based on community feedback and further analysis. The list was then narrowed based on a deep analysis of Buffalo's assets.
The council will now generate ideas for potential initiatives to implement strategies and select the initiatives with the highest potential to drive economic growth. Ultimately, the WNYREDC will recommend an investment strategy that will support the expansion of local companies, growth of new companies and target the attraction of new businesses across the country and around the globe to come to Buffalo.
"The Buffalo Investment Development Plan being developed will guide the historic $1 billion in incentives that Buffalo and the region will receive from Governor Cuomo and the state of New York," said Howard A. Zemsky, managing partner at Larkin Development Group and Regional Council co-chair. "This is not a blank $1 billion check to Buffalo, the council and our partners are conducting deliberative and diligent work to narrow our key strategies so that we can attract and create quality and good paying jobs to Buffalo."
High potential sectors currently being explored include advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences and tourism. Key enablers to support growth across industry sectors currently being explored are infrastructure, innovation and entrepreneurship, workforce and proximity to Toronto. The WNYREDC also announced it will travel to Albany on Tuesday, Sept. 11, for a tour and discussion on public private partnerships.
The council also endorsed 24 projects as regional priorities to be submitted to the state at its meeting. If awarded funding, the priority projects have the potential to generate more than $170 million in economic activity and create and retain more than 900 direct and 2,600 indirect jobs. Projects chosen will help further implementation of the strategic plan the council developed by investing in workforce development, entrepreneurship, smart growth infrastructure projects, advanced manufacturing, renewable energy and tourism assets. Those projects include:
•Finishing Trades Institute of Western & Central New York has 1,500 members and 100-plus contractors in which it provides OSHA-approved health and safety classes, four DOL apprentice programs, as well as journeyman upgrading and retraining in 33 counties across Western, Central and Northern New York. To support growing demands for skilled contractors, the FTI is seeking funds to expand its existing buildings training space.
Smart Growth Infrastructure Projects
•Western Region Corporation Community Revitalization Program proposes to create and administer a community revitalization revolving loan/grant fund that will be available in communities in each the five Western New York region counties. This program will result in community revitalization in specific neighborhoods and downtown business districts in a number of communities in Western New York.
•Wellsville Waterline Extension The Town of Wellsville requests assistance in the addition of infrastructure to provide public water to address the needs of area businesses along state Route 417. The 1.25-mile project area supports facilities for 15 businesses, including Alstom Air-Preheater Corporation (620 employees) and Northern Lights Candles (100 employees).
•Town of Ellicottville Regional Water Project involves the construction of a 350,000-gallon water tank and related water transmission works to eliminate low flows and pressures in the Town and Village of Ellicottville and the Town of Mansfield. This project will allow for job retention and growth by improving infrastructure used by existing major employers.
•Buffalo Niagara Street Sustainable Corridor and Community integration Project aspires to improve transportation components within a section of Niagara Street, a rapidly developing corridor that covers 4.5 miles of business and residential areas. This project will serve to enhance safety, calm traffic, and encourage bicycle and pedestrian use, which utilizes the same approach as the city-backed "Complete Streets" movement.
•Downtown Niagara Falls Stabilization Project NYMS aims to revitalize the downtown mixed-use commercial district and adjacent residential neighborhood, to attract young adults, by offering to assist with the re-payment of student loans. The City of Niagara Falls estimates 20 young professionals will move into the targeted Third Street Commercial District or Park Place Historic District locations by the end of 2012.
•5 E. Main St., Springville Center for the Arts, will acquire and rehabilitate 5 E. Main St., in Springville into an arts cafe, artisan marketplace and artist housing.
•37 N. Buffalo St., Springville Center for the Arts, a major provider of cultural activity and artistic experience in rural Western New York, will conduct critical improvements to the 1869 Baptist Church property, at 37 N. Buffalo St., which it purchased for adaptive reuse as a multi-arts center.
•Gowanda's Historic Hollywood Theater The restoration and reopening of the theater is expected to create jobs and enhance cultural tourism while greatly encouraging new business development, in the center of a village that has undergone considerable economic distress over the past 30 years.
•Center SPACE Buffalo will operate a multi-tenant office facility for nonprofits, for-profits, social entrepreneurs and unincorporated community groups. CenterSpace will provide back office services and general office management and administration.
Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation
•Alfred University Integrated Manufacturing Center: Alfred University is proposing to partner with the State University of New York at Buffalo to create an advanced materials manufacturing and training center to substantially advance the speed with which new materials, and therefore new products and processes, are brought to market.
•Ceramic Technology Partnership LLC: Calix Ceramic Solutions, GNP Ceramics, and Ceramic Technology Partnership are proposing a joint development project to create a company that makes ceramic products using three new advanced ceramic manufacturing processes.
•The University at Buffalo's New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics will be a driving force for technological breakthroughs and job creation in Western New York by undertaking applied materials research driven by industrial needs.
•TheraSyn Pharmaceuticals will include the expansion of an existing facility, energy plan development, new capital expenditures for equipment, and extensive hiring of personnel.
•Personalized Medicine Biorepository: The University at Buffalo, in collaboration with colleagues at Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, proposes the creation of a deep image annotation enabled bio-repository for precision diagnostics. This is the second phase of development to build on the genomics project Roswell undertook with council support last year.
•Wood Fuel Processing Facility: Niagara Recovery will procure construction and demolition wood, process and recover the vast majority of the available wood, and supply an on-spec renewable fuel for Niagara Generation. Niagara Recovery will also create an additional steam of recycled metals and other materials that will be separated from the wood in the process.
•Dunkirk Bioenergy will provide a more affordable recycled waste disposal alternative and lower-cost clean power and heat to two of the largest employers in Chautauqua County. This project is designed to take advantage of the industrial organic waste stream that exists in a small circumference around the facility site to receive and process organic waste for power generation.
•Low Emissions Wood Fired Boilers: Lopper, a German company seeking to break into the U.S. market, is seeking funding to purchase and install manufacturing equipment necessary for the production of low emission, high-efficiency wood-fired boilers.
•Swain Ski Resort proposes to install a high-speed detachable quad chairlift to replace two old, inefficient lifts at Swain Ski Resort and upgrade amenities at the resort.
•Allegheny State Park: This project will include the expansion of existing water, sewer, power, natural gas services, lodging and other facilities. Specifically, the project will include increasing the current inventory of nine full-service cottages to approximately 37, development of a group camp offering, and construction of a world-class ropes course and zip-line attraction.
•Darwin Martin House Interior Restoration: Final phase of interior restoration of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo. Investing in the restoration of the Martin House will ensure a tourism asset with long-term, sustainable benefits that will revitalize the Western New York community on multiple levels, both economically and in terms of the area's ability to market the community at large for its arts and architecture.
•"Arctic Edge" exhibit: The Buffalo Zoo seeks funding for a new $14 million "Arctic Edge" exhibit, including naturalistic habitats for polar bears, Arctic wolf, Canadian lynx and bald eagle. It will create 228 construction jobs, further enhance a major tourist attraction and beloved community asset, and promote sustainability through education programs addressing climate change.
Business Development Projects
•ProTech Automation is seeking assistance to expand its Lancaster facility to create additional capacity to meet the increasing demand of its customers. The project will help ProTech reduce production costs and provide a relief from cost pressures from domestic and overseas competitors.
•Del Monte Foods proposes to install additional railcar staging and unloading at its Milk-Bone Buffalo facility. This investment will help assure the Milk-Bone plant remains in Western New York for the foreseeable future as the only manufacturer of the Milk-Bone line.
Cuomo created Regional Councils and the consolidated funding application to fundamentally change New York's operating model for economic development and job creation. The Regional Councils have transformed the way the state invests in economic development, shifting from a top-down approach to a community-based, performance-driven model that empowers individual regions to develop, invest in, and advance regional solutions and job-creating projects to spur economic growth.
Last year, $785 million was awarded for job-creating economic and community development projects consistent with each region's strategic plans. To build on the success of the first round, a second round of up to $762 million in state resources was launched in 2012. Funding for the second round includes $220 million ($150 million in capital and $70 million in tax credits) to implement regional strategic plans and continue to advance priority job-creating projects, and up to $542 million from state agency programs through the CFA to support regionally significant economic development projects.
Five awards of $25 million will be made, and the competition will have two parts:
•First, the four regions with the 2011 best plans will compete for two awards of up to $25 million each in capital funds. Awards will be made based on the progress the Regional Councils have made implementing their strategies and evolution of their strategic plans
•Second, the remaining six regions will compete for three awards of up to $25 million each in capital funds. Awards will be made based on the regions' revised and updated strategic plans and progress made implementing their strategies
The balance of the $25 million in capital will be available for priority projects in the remaining five regions. In addition, each region will also be eligible for up to $10 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow business in the region.
Following the submission of each region's one-year progress reports, beginning in mid-September, the strategic implementation assessment team will visit each of the 10 regions, to hear oral presentations and participate in a tour of the councils' implementation activity and priority projects. These tours will make New York's economic development process more transparent, open and publicly-accessible. Funding awards for the second round of the CFA process are expected to be announced this fall.
To learn more about each regional council and their economic development plans, visit www.nyworks.ny.gov.