While visiting the Market Arcade building moments ago, I ran into Matt Connors, Vp Development for Sinatra Real Estate. As I was asking Matt about a couple of development within the building, he pointed to the third floor, and said that work would soon start on a 7700 square foot build-out for the Cornell ILR School Extension Office (IRL = Industrial and Labor Relations). The office will house office space and functional classrooms, under the tutelage of ILR emeritus Lou Jean Fleron.
I asked Matt about the background of the program, and he told me that while the initiative had been around since 2009, the university’s lease was maturing. Since Matt attended Cornell, he connected with Megan Connelly, program coordinator for the High Road Fellowship Program. The two had previously discusses housing opportunity for program interns, who spend their summers in Buffalo participating in group research, active learning and service that revolves around economic development. Sinatra Development’s role in real estate and development, combined with Matt’s role as Board member on the Fellowship Committee, led to a discussion that eventually pulled in Assemblyman Sean Ryan, who helped to come up with some funding to build out the offices The ILR School will eventually occupy most of the third floor of the building.
Seeing that Megan was also Director of Programs and Development for the Partnership for the Public Good (PPG), that organization also took out a small chunk of space within the 7700 square foot office.
Although Cornell University is two and a half hours from Buffalo, the interns spend their program time living here and learning about this city. They are charged with coming up with best practice and innovate solutions to spur economic development. For the past couple of months, twenty students conducted studies in Buffalo, and will give presentations at the end of the summer.
With the additional space (starting next year), and an upgrade in technology, the Buffalo-Cornell relationship will be able to flourish. Matt told me that since the interns are relatively unfamiliar with Buffalo, the program delivers an infusion of talent and alternative perspectives, both of which are a welcome addition to our downtown landscape.