Take a good look around Buffalo these days. Do you see that various neighborhoods are more vibrant? Much of what we are seeing can be attributed to the small businesses that have invested in commercial districts, from Hertel Avenue to the Old First Ward, and points in-between.
A lot of people have been happy to see that Buffalo is being built from the ground up, in an almost grassroots manner. That is what is making this renaissance so special. Mom n’ pop bakeries, retail stores, co-ops, breweries, restaurants, cafés, shoe stores, urban farms, tattoo studios, print shops, etc,. – these are the businesses that believed in Buffalo enough to invest their own money to create the burgeoning neighborhoods that are bearing fruit today.
Now a rallying cry is beginning to be heard, to keep a similar momentum going strong. Buffalo is very unique in that the majority of businesses that thrive here currently are owner operated. Not to say that it’s bad to have a mix – all cities could use a Starbucks or a Trader Joe’s. Having a healthy mix of owner operated businesses and out of town hotspots is a good thing. The combination allows for Buffalo to have home town appeal, along with big city attributes. But what is the right balance, and how do we maintain it?
As Buffalo continues to grow, we will see this city begin to change in many ways. Some people are starting to prepare for that growth by recognizing that our neighborhoods must continue to support the economic efforts of those who live here. Instead of watching Buffalo turn into a homogenized city, there are ways to empower Buffalonians to be a part of the growth, instead of standing by and watching the reordering (missing the boat). Similar shifts have happened in other cities countless times.
On Thursday, November 5, starting at 5:30pm, Assemblyman Sean Ryan will be hosting The Worker Cooperative Roundtable. In attendance will be regional cooperative leaders, and special guests from the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives and The Democracy Collaborative. The topic of the conversation will be workplace democracy, and how everyone can play a part in the financial recovery of this city (if they wish).
The Worker Cooperative Roundtable
Partnership for the Public Good | 617 Main Street (Market Arcade) | Thursday, November 5, 2015 | 5:30pm-7pm | In cooperation, Tori Kuper
Dr. Curtis Haynes
Associate Professor, Economics Department, SUNY College at BuffaloMs. Victoria Kuper
WorkHive/BreadHiveMr. Chris Michael
Founder, New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives
Mr. Andrew Delmonte
WorkHive, Small Business Development Center at SUNY College at Buffalo
Ms. Jessica Bonanno
Director, Strategy Development & Operations, Democracy Collaborative
Mr. Frank Budwey (via video)
Owner, Budwey’s Supermarket