On April 18th Harvard Professor Ed Glaeser is invited to WNED studios in Buffalo to discuss, possible debate, his locally-controversial article “Can Buffalo Ever Come Back?” first published in the New York Sun and City Journal magazine. Although the subtitle of the article essentially screams “No, and the government shouldn’t bother to try”, a thorough reading hints that Buffalo should endeavor to right-size itself rather than attempt to grow back to its prominent old self.
I am not in agreement with all of Glaeser’s conclusions (especially the ones using old or faulty statistics), and I think he left out a number of arguments that speak highly for Western New York, like its people. Nonetheless, I am not out to disparage the guy, either. Professor Glaeser is the pre-eminent urban economist, and we should listen very seriously about what he has to say for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that people in high places listen to him.
Glaeser eagerly accepted the UB Regional Institute Director Kate Foster’s invitation to come to Buffalo (he’s been here before). He did so graciously and without reservation. The event will not be a public forum, so don’t expect to be able to walk up to a microphone and start venting your anger and frustration at him; that is not the intention. This is meant to be a serious discussion about the future and how we might get there in better shape than we are today.
I have been asked to be on the discussion panel that will meet with Glaeser at 2 PM at WNED. An audience of around 200 is expected. I also get the chance to have lunch with the man in a more private setting. I hope that as a community we take away new insights into how we can efficiently and effectively revitalize Western New York. I certainly intend to pick his brains.