National Grid today became the first company in Western New York to commit direct support to the Buffalo Building Reuse Project, an initiative undertaken by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership to improve the competitiveness of downtown Buffalo by attracting new investment and creating a development process and structure for long term sustainability. Buffalo Building Reuse Project is the result of a year-long study, and was announced in January 2012 alongside an $11.25 million commitment from the City over the next three years.
National Grid will offer matching assistance to the Buffalo Building Reuse Project over a three-year period through a menu of successful economic development and energy efficiency programs the company makes available to communities and businesses in its upstate New York service areas. The total level of support by National Grid could augment the City's commitment by a third or more.
National Grid is committed to investing up to $1.25 million per year for the next three years through its upstate New York economic development grant programs with potential of additional grant monies being awarded from its various energy efficiency programs. National Grid's economic development grant programs have a strong focus on site development, community revitalization, strategic marketing, and facilitating customer growth through infrastructure assistance, energy efficiency and productivity improvement. The programs also reflect an increasing emphasis on sustainable development, the efficient use of existing energy infrastructure, and the strategic deployment of renewable generation technologies.
In addition, National Grid will contribute up to $500,000 through its Strategic Economic Development and Cooperative Recruitment programs to support Buffalo Building Reuse Project marketing efforts of the City to out-of-state investors in strategically identified industry sectors.
Since 2003, National Grid has supported economic development and urban revitalization throughout Erie County through more than $15 million in grants.
"Partnership initiatives like Buffalo Building Reuse Project are clear examples of expertise@work - combining member volunteer and staff energy, expertise, and resources to grow jobs and investment in our region," said Andrew J. Rudnick, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. "National Grid continues to be at the forefront of this, as the initial private funder of the project's recommendations, and is doing so in a way that will encourage additional companies to step forward."
The Buffalo Niagara Partnership has been working the past six months to implement the principal recommendations of the study released in January and the framework of the project, which include:
- Designating a lead entity for downtown Buffalo development - the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation - with increasing downtown specific resources (staff, loans, grants, etc.) to fulfill the recommendations and to ensure comprehensive implementation of the project;
- Creating a dedicated funding stream and utilizing effective tools (improve existing, establish new) to encourage redevelopment investments through project loans, matching grants, and gap financing and to improve downtown public infrastructure and amenities; and
- Implementing a housing in-fill strategy to transition class 'B' and 'C' commercial properties into residential use as the initial focus.
In April, the City accepted applications for the first round of funding under the Building Reuse program. Grant awards were scheduled to be made in May. Though the list of funded projects has not been announced, rejection letters hit the streets a couple of weeks ago.