“Buffalo is dying that is for sure we need to be realistic.”
This is a quote from a commenter on a Buffalo Pundit blog earlier today. I see lots of people writing pretty much the same thing in the local blogs.
I think they are wrong. They are not realistic at all.
I’ve spent the past few years getting involved in the community at a number of different levels; first within my town, now within the local business community and especially the University at Buffalo and the Life Sciences initiative. This is what I’m seeing:
- An enormous growth in life sciences and other biotech-related companies. The life sciences downtown corridor, first established around 2000, has already had two major buildings erected and with the addition of the $200 million Cleveland BioLabs corporation, is so close to full that UB purchased the M. Wile and Trico buildings as part of a biotech corridor expansion. UB is also adding a brand new building to house the new Educational Opportunity Center at Goddell and Oak Streets.
- Including Southern Ontario and places as far east as Syracuse, the “Golden Horseshoe” is the fourth-largest biotech area in North America.
- Up to this point the growth in Life Sciences has centered on hiring the best and brightest researchers – which is now spilling over into product development and manufacturing as these researchers take their ideas to market. SmartPill is a great example of this, as is Empire Genomics and Cleveland BioLabs. The Bank of America recognized the need for home grown technical support in this field, and donated $250,000 to help train the technicians needed to support these rising companies, from the Buffalo labor force.
- $120 million is being pumped into The Statler renovation. The Dulski Building is going through a $60 million makeover. New Era Cap and Health Now just finished their new (gorgeous!) downtown facilities. The $100 million Federal courthouse is going up.
- Bass Pro really is going in (and it had nothing to do with either Donn Esmonde or Tim Tielman) and the Inner Harbor really is going to be built.
- Love it or hate it, the Seneca nation announced a $300+ million hotel and gaming complex in the Cobblestone district, adjacent to the Inner Harbor and Bass Pro. One needs to stop and think about how close we are to reaching critical business mass in this region.
- UB 2020, the big gorilla, is well on the way to getting the community and more importantly, every single politician behind the push for a huge increase in higher education in Western New York. The resulting impact on the community is huge. Higher education already accounts for a significant fraction of our local economy and is destined to grow substantially in the next 10 years.
- Moog is growing so fast they can’t find close to enough talented workers and have to import staff from as far away as Utah.
- Buffalo is rapidly becoming the nation’s call center capitol. Ingram Micro, Geico and HSBC are recent examples of call center companies that the community has lured into growing here.
- People in other upstate communities are looking to Buffalo (and moving to Buffalo!) as an example of how to rebuild an economy.
Too many people around here have been focusing on the losses in manufacturing, the layoffs and general economic malaise without bothering to look at the entrepreneurial growth that’s happened lately. Huge manufacturing complexes are being replaced by highly flexible small businesses. People who have ambition and vision are employed and growing their businesses. More and more programs are being established by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, UB, Canisius and other institutions to teach successful business practices to those who are willing to try.
Too many people around here have wanted instant gratification; in reality, building new business takes both nurturing and time. We are about to reach a tipping point where everything is starting to happen at once, and where the renaissance will soon become obvious, even to the most cynical.