Governor Cuomo in his State of the State 2017 address promised State support to extend the light rail system to the UB Amherst North Campus and establishment of a transit hub in the DL&W terminal at the foot of Main Street. The projects are part of the Buffalo Billion II program unveiled today that includes 20 different programs and initiatives totaling $500 million.
“The first Buffalo Billion brought new life and new energy back to Western New York, and this investment will ensure the momentum continues,” Governor Cuomo said. “The second phase of the Buffalo Billion will build on the success of strategic initiatives that have already made dramatic improvements to the region’s quality of life and create new economic opportunities for all Buffalonians. This is exactly the kind of transformation New York invests in and these achievements will ensure that the Queen City is nothing short of world-class once again.”
The second phase of the Buffalo Billion proposes to accomplish this through an approach that includes funding through Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council Awards process along with the following initiatives:
Revitalization and Smart Growth Efforts
East Side Revitalization Initiative: Invest in targeted place-making improvements on key east side corridors—Fillmore, Jefferson, Michigan and Bailey Avenues—which will help leverage additional investment in key, historic assets such as the Central Terminal, MLK Park, and the Broadway Market. Building on the Buffalo Billion’s original $45 million investment in the Northland Corridor, Phase II proposes an additional investment for further site acquisition, brownfield remediation and place-making to further secure Northland Corridor’s future as a light manufacturing neighborhood.
Main Street Revitalization Initiative: Buffalo Billion Phase II proposes a transformative investment along 10 miles of Buffalo’s central spine, Main Street, from the Outer Harbor, Inner Harbor and medical campus to the University at Buffalo’s North Campus. Priority investments include: place-making and access at the outer harbor, as well as attracting a private developer to reimagine the long-vacant DL&W terminal.
Connecting Economic Progress by Rail: Develop a new commuter rail and multi-modal station in downtown Buffalo and completing Buffalo’s light rail extension to University at Buffalo’s North Campus will provide 20,000+ students access to downtown Buffalo and the waterfront, as well as connect urban job seekers with suburban employment centers, helping Buffalo to deliver economic inclusion for all the region’s workers. Additionally, a new train station will replace Buffalo’s outdated Exchange Street station which has been in need of repair for some time.
Suburban Redevelopment/Bethlehem Steel: Bethlehem Steel represents the largest manufacturing/industrial land tract in a first-ring suburb. Phase II envisions acquiring up to an additional 250 acres of land to clear the way for future growth.
Downtown Revitalization Initiative: Similar to 2016’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Phase II would create a competitive grant program for place-making strategies to revitalize the downtown areas of suburban small cities, villages and towns in the greater Buffalo/Niagara area.
The Buffalo Blueway: Create a network of expanded public access points to waterways and historic, cultural and natural assets to spur revitalization and tourism in the Buffalo/Niagara Region.
Encouraging Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Health & Life Science Sectors: No element of the Buffalo Billion has done more to build the brand of the New Buffalo than 43 North, the world’s largest business idea competition. Phase II of the Buffalo Billion proposes to double down on another 5 years of the competition with enhanced mentorship and continued 43North equity participation.
New investment at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus will support new and expanded incubator/accelerator/lab and maker space to continue to accommodate the region’s growth of start-ups (up 105 percent since 2012), as well as investment in better-commercializing the intellectual property created at colleges and universities as part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. A Strategic Investment Fund will also fuel public/private partnerships in life science.
The first phase of the Buffalo Billion helped leveraged more than $200 million of private investment in Niagara Falls and Phase II plans to build on that progress. New investments include the strategic acquisition of distressed lands adjacent to Niagara Falls State Park and the restoration of architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright will be completed to increase their attraction as a magnet for global tourism.
Developing Workforce and Advanced Manufacturing
Buffalo Manufacturing Works, the Western New York Workforce Training Center for manufacturing and energy that was funded through the original Buffalo Billion, will go a long way toward serving the more than 130,000 underemployed individuals in the region, but Phase II envisions investing with many workforce partners in the region to scale up efforts to address the underemployed population more comprehensively.
The facility will move from its temporary location to Northland, which will be transformed into a revitalized mixed use neighborhood that includes light manufacturing and workforce training, as well as residential and retail locations. This is central to inclusive economic growth for the east side and the greater Buffalo/Niagara area. A Strategic Investment Fund will also fuel public/private partnerships in advanced manufacturing, while a workforce development fund will help ensure Western New Yorkers are prepared for the jobs of the future.
In addition, Cuomo promised to “embrace ride-sharing services” like Uber and lyft Upstate saying, “if it makes sense for Downstate, it makes sense for Upstate.”