Buffalo Commons



The MRTA: What You Need to Know About Marijuana Legalization in New York

Miles Gresham — May 31, 2021

In March 2021, New York State adopted the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), a historic law that legalizes the use of recreational marijuana. In doing so, the MRTA centers racial and economic justice to repair the harms caused by decades of biased marijuana enforcement. It will bring revenue from marijuana legalization to communities most impacted by criminalization. It also removes or expunges past marijuana convictions.

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Community Development Financial Institutions vs. Predatory Lending in Buffalo, NY

Milena Saakyan — Aug 24, 2020

This fact sheet offers data on CDFIs and Predatory Lenders in Buffalo, NY. Maps demonstrating racist practices of one local bank are also included.

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Repudiated: “Unbankable” Business Owners

Ryan Aguilar — Aug 24, 2020

This fact sheet produces a snapshot of information on business owners that are unlikely to get credit or loans from banks. Nationally, minorities account for a disproportionate share of the repudiated stemming from lack of monetary resources, insufficient credit, and systemic enforcement. Including Buffalo figures of inequality across areas like poverty, homeownership, transportation, and segregation demonstrates the disadvantaged footing faced by minority business owners in the city which is …

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FB Community Land Trust Fact Sheet

Sidney Malia Waite — Jul 19, 2019

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Farm Fresh Foods: What to Know About Growing and Selling Produce in Buffalo

Colleen Roberts — Aug 1, 2018

It details local regulations on market and community gardens as well as rules for selling produce. It includes tips to find the right locations to plant food gardens and opportunities for education on growing and selling. It addresses topics such as plant selection and soil safety.

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Child Care Subsidy Fact Sheet

WNY Women's Foundation — Nov 27, 2017

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Credit Unions and Banks Near Downtown Buffalo

Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. Jul 6, 2016

Fact Sheet outlining credit unions and banks near Downtown Buffalo.

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Employment Data for Buffalo

Allison Considine — Sep 1, 2014

The types of jobs available in Buffalo have changed post-recession, with midlevel skilled jobs disappearing and high and low skill jobs growing.  The loss of jobs in fields such as teaching, office administration, factory work and construction work during the recession is exacerbated by the fact that many midlevel jobs, such as manufacturing, are being automated or sent to cheaper markets.  Growth has occurred on the high and low skill ends of the spectrum, however, with increases in …

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The Great Recession in Buffalo-Niagara

Ramon Garcia — Jan 17, 2013

At the end of the last decade, the U.S. experienced its most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression.  The so-called “Great Recession” shocked the economies of virtually every metropolitan area in the nation.  Officially, the recession began in December of 2007 and ended in June 2009.  But for much of the country, recovery has been very slow; over three years since the expansion began the nation had gained back less than half of the jobs it had lost during …

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Building Trades Pre-Apprenticeship Program: Job Training Program for Disadvantaged Workers

Michael Cimasi — May 1, 2012

This pilot program in Buffalo trains entry level workers for successful placement in the building trades and skilled trades’ apprenticeship programs.  As a pre-apprenticeship program, BTPAP does not attempt to replicate the specialized training that is part of an apprenticeship program.  Rather, BTPAP uses a “holistic approach” to basic skills development, including construction related mathematics, job search training, and exposure to various fields of skilled labor …

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Erie County Work Experience Program Partnerships with Non-Profits Offer Work Experience to Temporary Assistance to Needy Family Recipients

Gretchen Sullivan — May 1, 2012

TANF stands for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.  It is one of the United States federal assistance programs.  It began on July 1, 1997, and succeeded the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.  It provides cash assistance to indigent American families with dependent children through the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

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Localization in Buffalo

Kathleen Moriarty — Dec 31, 2011

Generally speaking, localization is the idea of keeping as much of a region’s resources and energy as local as possible - business, employment, agricultural yields, and economic goods.  Localization also includes an effort to reduce the distance that goods travel between production and consumption.

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Workforce Training Programs

Kathleen Moriarty — Dec 31, 2011

Workforce training programs are typically community sponsored organizations whose primary goals are to assist (1) community members in gaining employment and (2) employers in finding qualified workers. Organizations that focus on workforce training needs make every effort to be “one stop” shops: they bring together employers, employees and training programs to maximize communication and efficiency. Many of the partner organizations also provide GED preparation and assistance in …

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Benefit Corporation Legislation in New York: What's the Benefit

Amanda Dermady — Oct 30, 2011

Formerly in New York State, businesses could operate as one of six different types: a business corporation, not-for-profit corporation, limited liability company, general partnership, limited partnership, or sole proprietorship.  If Governor Cuomo signs the bill, businesses will be given a seventh option – the benefit corporation.  A business corporation can incorporate under New York State law by filing a Certificate of Incorporation under Section 402 of the Business …

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Unionization of Low Wage Workers

Brian Hartmann — Apr 22, 2010

The unionization of workers, particularly those engaged in occupations which pay low wages, has often been criticized by business leaders as stifling economic development.  This brief explores unionization of low wage work in both national and local terms and discusses its effects on economic development and on the lives of workers.  It asserts that in spite of the recent decline in union participation, the organizing of low wage labor significantly increases workers’ quality of …

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Erie County Industrial Development Agency

Patrick Fitzsimmons — May 3, 2009

The ECIDA is a public benefit corporation created by the New York State Legislature for the purpose of attracting and retaining private sector business development in Erie County.  That development creates local job opportunities and improves the overall economic environment for the people of Erie County.

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Municipal Unions

Edward Hawthorne — May 2, 2009

Erie County cannot hire part-time workers in place of full-time workers.  An arbitrator from the state's Public Employees Relations Board ruled in favor of the Civilian Service Employees Association Local 815. The union filed an improper practice charge last year after County Executive Chris Collins hired about 150 regular part time workers.  The arbitrator ruled that the county violated the state's Taylor Law when it failed to negotiate with the union before hiring part time workers …

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The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation

Michael Mettille — Dec 8, 2008

The ECHDC is currently developing the Inner and Outer Buffalo Harbor, most notably where the historic terminus of the Erie Canal is.  The ECHDC is also developing some of the surrounding area including the old Memorial Auditorium and the Donovan State Building.

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IDA Consolidation

Michael Mettille — Nov 20, 2008

Multiple IDA’s confuse businesses and force them to navigate too much red tape.  There are too many IDA’s and they have overlapping areas of responsibility.  Multiple IDA’s contribute to the region’s economic decline.  Multiple IDA’s foster a spirit of intramural competition among municipalities rather than fostering a spirit of cooperation to compete at the varsity level (i.e. national and international level.  No real growth is generated by …

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Community Benefits Agreements

Amy Kaslovsky — Nov 19, 2008

Community Benefits Agreements (CBA’s) are legally enforceable contracts between community groups and developers in which community groups promise to support the developers in seeking approvals, permits, or subsidies, and the developers promise to provide certain benefits to the surrounding community.  CBA’s are outgrowths of the civil rights, labor, and community organizing movements. CBA’s often represent community-based unionism, where organized labor supports …

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Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau

Irene Pijuan — Nov 16, 2008

The CVB is currently drafting a five-year strategic plan that will guide its sales and marketing efforts on behalf of the local tourism industry.  The plan, when complete, will serve to refine the CVB’s mission as a destination marketing organization and the official tourism promotion agency for Erie County.  Focus groups have been conducted with a variety of partner organizations representing the hotel, restaurant, retail, attraction, sports, cultural and philanthropic …

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Community Development Block Grants and Buffalo

Amy Kaslovsky — Nov 16, 2008

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program is a federal program run by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  CDBG grants are provided to state and local governments for the purpose of addressing community needs such as affordable housing, job creation, and retention and expansion of business activity.  Grants are available for projects lasting from one to three years.  Seventy percent of the funding must be used for the benefit of low and …

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Brownfield Cleanup and Development in Buffalo, New York

Caitlin Connelly — Nov 8, 2008

Brownfields are abandoned or underutilized properties for which expansion, development, or reuse may be complicated by environmental contamination, such as the presence of a hazardous substance or pollutant.  Examples of brownfields include the former sites of factories, mills, rail yards, gas stations, and dry cleaners.

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Historic Preservation

Rachel Jones — Nov 6, 2008

Historic preservation is the physical rehabilitation of historical buildings and neighborhoods.  The United States began its campaign for preservation in the 1960s.  Historic preservation has been a concern for the United States for a long time.  In 1966, the federal government established the “National Historic Preservation Act”.  The purpose of the act was to insure that the cultural and historical foundations of the country were preserved in the face of …

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Professional Sports Subsidies

Irene Pijuan — Oct 24, 2008

The subsidies to franchise owners take two forms—tax breaks and the availability of arenas at a very low cost.  Public subsidies take the form of new stadiums and arenas provided by local authorities and financed by taxpayers or by issuing state bonds.  The subsidy starts with the federal government, which allows state and local governments to issue tax-exempt bonds to help finance sports facilities.  Tax exemption lowers the interest on debt and so reduces the amount that …

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The New York Power Authority

Chris Berardi — Oct 3, 2008

The Power Authority gives subsidies in the forms of discounted power to municipalities, industrial customers, and through various means to residential customers.  Until recently, power leftover after sales to industrial customers went to National Grid, a private entity, which then passed on some of the savings to residential customers.  Now the Power Authority keeps that leftover power that they can sell at normal rates elsewhere.

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Erie County Office of Economic Development

Louise Calixte — Oct 2, 2008

The OED has constant challenges in getting enough financial resources.  Since there is no specific budget allocation, the OED must compete with other priorities of the Department of Planning and Economic Development.  Another challenge that the OED faces is complicated ownership issues, specifically with brownfields.  In order to remediate the sites, legal ownership issues have to be resolved.  At times, this process is arduous and time consuming.

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Buffalo's Tourism

Robert Goodwin — Dec 31, 2007

Erie County created the Office of Arts, Culture and Tourism (ACT) in 2001, which operates within the Erie County Planning division.  The purpose of this group is to oversee the distribution of an approximate $9 million annual investment among Erie County’s cultural tourist attractions.  This money is dispersed under two grants.  One of these grants, the Public Benefit funding, awards money to not-for-profits that focus on the region’s economic development and engage …

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