The following 'Good News Weekly' article is being reprinted with permission of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise - written by President and CEO Tom Kucharski:
I wanted to use this week's update to offer my perspective on what is arguably one of the most talked about news items across our eight county region the last six months. In his January State of the State address, Governor Andrew Cuomo
declared that his administration believed in Buffalo and this belief was going to be backed up by an unprecedented commitment of $1 billion in state resources to aid in the transformation of a new, more prosperous economy.
From that day forward, virtually every corner of our community has wanted to know where the money is, "how do I get my share" and when can we start spending it. That is understandable to a degree when we consider that great opportunities are accompanied by great expectations. But I think we need to remain focused on the fact that this commitment was meant to have far more impact than just what would be generated by the state's billion dollars.
To be a real game changer, these resources, in whatever shape or form they take, must be applied so that they leverage considerably more private sector investment. At the request of the Cuomo administration, the Brookings Institute
has partnered with the University at Buffalo Regional Institute
and our Buffalo Niagara Enterprise research department. Their joint efforts were focused on assessing our region's current market position, identifying our assets, challenges and opportunities, and then proposing potential investment options.
BNE's research department has committed in excess of 160 man hours to this project. Having been this involved in the process, I can assure you that it has been very thorough and has provided a great first step in determining the most effective methods for employing the state's resources.
In a presentation to business, academic and community leaders at last week's UB Partners Day, Brookings Vice President Bruce Katz organized their work into three categories - the vision of our next economy, regional market challenges and opportunities, and goals for the billion dollar challenge (click here
for the full text of Katz's speech). I was very encouraged by what I heard.
Greater export activity and innovation must be two linchpins of our next economy. That's heartening for a community that shares an international border with our greatest trading partner and is home to a life sciences industry rich with research and development, a center of excellence in bioinformatics and coordinated by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
The fact that Buffalo Niagara is abundant with physical assets, excels at research and development and production, and can be an affordable alternative to other communities, all contributed to our region having the third best overall performance in the recession and recovery among the top 100 metropolitan areas in the United States. This is a very strong foundation to build on, and as we move forward the acceleration of growth in our existing base of companies will enhance economic development attraction efforts like those of the BNE.
In his speech last week Katz said "bold investment at this scale necessitates purposeful design and deliberate action." The purposeful design is now well on its way. Our state partners are currently evaluating proposals from a number of renowned consulting firms who will assist us in the "deliberate action" phase that awaits us. The restructuring and revitalization of a regional economy are not accomplished with one speech or one promise of a billion dollars. But with continued patience, perseverance and belief in ourselves, I think we have reason to be optimistic that we are on the right track.
Image: © 2012 University at Buffalo | Douglas Levere | Buffalo NY