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ESD's Western New York office a $25 million winner of federal Build Back Better Challenge


Fri, Sep 2nd 2022 11:10 am

Winning plan will grow advanced manufacturing workforce, innovation & infrastructure throughout regional ecosystem

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently announced New York's Empire State Development Western New York regional office was awarded $25 million from the federal Build Back Better Challenge, the U.S. Economic Development Administration's “marquee program” under the American Rescue Plan.

A press release explained, “The Build Back Better Regional Challenge provides transformative investments to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters across the country, all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally. New York state's winning application will develop or scale advanced manufacturing, develop and train the workforce of today, and build resilient economies for the future.”

"Buffalo is a big winner in President Biden's Build Back Better Challenge, which will provide investments that will jumpstart specific sectors targeted in the winning regions," Hochul said. "This $25 million award will fund businesses throughout Buffalo, spurring higher-paying jobs and economic growth, and innovative entrepreneurship for Buffalonians. Congratulations to the winning communities, and I look forward to seeing them take their projects to the next level."

ESD's Western New York regional office and Western New York Regional Economic Development Council (WNY REDC), in partnership with University at Buffalo Regional Institute (UBRI), will implement this winning proposal – which includes projects that “will scale up existing advanced manufacturing strategies through projects that will spark innovation, advance inclusive workforce development, and develop needed infrastructure.”

Partners that were awarded by EDA include Buffalo Urban Development Corp., Buffalo Manufacturing Works, and Goodwill of WNY.

ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "Western New York will benefit from transformational investments that will develop and strengthen vital industry clusters. Combined with state matching funds, we will be able to train the workforce of today, and strengthen the economies of the winning regions."

The three funded projects include:

√ Small & Medium Sized Manufacturer Manufacturing Technology Program: Buffalo Manufacturing Works – A press release said, “This project will create a cycle of technology innovation to access supports to overcome barriers to successful technology implementation, promoting a more economically diverse region. Buffalo Manufacturing Works will build an Industry 4.0 ecosystem that leverages four years of partnerships and work with SMMs, including hands-on training for incumbent workers and high schoolers; original equipment manufacturer interactions and networking events.”

√ Goodskills Career Builder: Goodwill of Western New York – “Working in partnership with employers and trainers, Goodwill will expand advanced manufacturing career on ramps, focusing on underrepresented individuals and underserved communities in urban and rural areas. Good Skills Career Builder will move individuals from underemployment into careers with recruitment, assessment, training, job placement, retention and wraparound supports.”

√ Northland Corridor Redevelopment Phase 3: Buffalo Urban Development Corp. – “The project will begin to renovate/restore remaining buildings on the campus to meet growing site demand of this emerging advanced manufacturing hub along Northland Avenue on Buffalo's east side. Buffalo Urban Development Corp. will redevelop two significant industrial buildings, complete a clean energy microgrid, and enhance infrastructure to create leasable space for local manufacturers and workforce training opportunities; grow new jobs/businesses; and provide low-cost electricity to the campus and adjoining residential neighborhood to promote equitable development in a distressed community.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer said, "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that can transform Western New York's legacy as an industrial powerhouse into a new national advanced manufacturing and tech hub, bringing back good-paying jobs from overseas and training our workforce to equitably benefit from those new opportunities. This game-changing $25 million award, for which we thank President Biden and Commerce Secretary Raimondo, will help to revitalize East Buffalo and show the rest of the country what I've long known: Western New York can be the foundation for America's advanced manufacturing future. I observed, listened and channeled the voices of the people of Western New York all the way to the president – to help make this groundbreaking effort for expanding support for small and mid-sized manufacturers and workforce training a reality. This funding will make sure that the east side community and Western New York are driving forward in the effort to bolster and expand advanced manufacturing in the USA."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said, "This funding represents a significant investment in Western New York's manufacturing sector and will create jobs and economic opportunities in east Buffalo. As I wrote to Secretary Raimondo in March, this funding will invest in Western New York's advanced manufacturing corridor, support an inclusive workforce, and provide the necessary infrastructure for the growth of advanced manufacturing as a facet of the regional economy."

Congressman Brian Higgins said, "The recognition of this grant by the Biden administration is affirmation of what we already know: Western New York is home to a number of excellent organizations with the expertise to help provide new economic opportunity and create the next generation of jobs. ESD's successful Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant will galvanize the work of Goodwill of Western New York, Buffalo Manufacturing Works, and the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. to propel new careers and small businesses."

EWI President and CEO Henry Cialone said, "Buffalo Manufacturing Works operated by EWI is excited to be a part of the Western New York team focused on growing the advanced manufacturing sector through investment in innovative technologies, workforce development, and infrastructure. The Build Back Better Grant award will allow us to support the needs and growth of small and medium-sized manufacturers as they implement emerging technologies to become more competitive on a global scale. This award will further support the original Empire State Development vision of a thriving Northland Manufacturing Corridor, and we look forward to seeing this collaborative effort continue to grow."

Goodskills Career Builder/Goodwill of Western New York President and CEO Thomas Ulbrich said, "We are excited to leverage this funding to expand opportunities and prepare underserved individuals in east Buffalo and across Western New York for careers in advanced manufacturing."

BUDC President Brandye Merriweather and BUDC Executive Vice President Rebecca Gandour said, "The Western New York Region and Buffalo Urban Development Corp. were well-positioned to compete for the Build Back Challenge due to the strategic vision of Mayor Byron W. Brown, BUDC's chairman; and the tremendous support of our regional partners in the redevelopment of the Northland Corridor into an advanced manufacturing hub. This award recognizes the importance that advanced manufacturing plays in our regional economy, and demonstrates that a strong workforce, investment in our infrastructure, and a focus on innovation are key to a resilient and sustainable economic future. BUDC is proud to bring these elements together in east Buffalo, further establishing the Northland Corridor as hub for growth and opportunity for our local community."

In December, the EDA selected 60 communities as finalists out of 529 applicants for the $1 billion “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” Funding is provided through the American Rescue Plan, supported by Higgins. Goals include projects that: build equity, build partnerships and build global competitiveness.

Empire State Development was among the finalists chosen late last year, and this week was named one of just 21 awardees nationwide for a project submission titled: “Vision for Western New York's Advanced Manufacturing Cluster: Scaling up the region's existing advanced manufacturing strategies through innovation, workforce development, and infrastructure.”

In March, Higgins hosted Assistant Secretary Alejandra Castillo, who heads the EDA, at a roundtable in Buffalo with Western New York business and community stakeholders to explore ways to promote economic opportunity in underserved communities.

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