Buffalo Commons



Raising the Minimum Wage: The Impact on Women, People of Color, and Immigrants in Western New York

Sam Magavern, Russell Weaver, Haley Smith — Jan 26, 2023

The New York State Legislature is weighing legislation to raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation and worker productivity. In this brief, we examine the impact of such legislation in terms of bringing workers in Western New York closer to a living wage, which is the hourly wage sufficient to meet basic needs such as housing, food, childcare, transportation, and medical expenses.

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The Eastside-Airport Metro Rail Extension

Citizens for Regional Transit — Aug 23, 2019

This policy brief provides information regarding the expansion of NFTA metro-rail services in east-side Buffalo to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. 

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Low-Wage Work in Buffalo-Niagara

Sam Magavern, John Sullivan Baker — Nov 20, 2018

This policy brief presents data on Buffalo-Niagara workers with a median wage of less than $15 per hour. It includes a list of all the occupations that fall into that low-wage category, along with the number of workers in each occupation and the hourly wage. Setting the data in the context of de-unionization and the shift from manufacturing to service jobs, it analyzes the loss in job quality and offers recommendations for reversing it. The brief was researched by Cornell University High Road …

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Electric Buses for the NFTA

Zachary Persichini — Aug 1, 2018

This brief discusses many reasons that the NFTA should invest in using electric buses. After explaining the differences in bus technologies, it details numerous environmental, public health, and economic benefits of electric buses. The brief closes with case studies to show how other cities and counties across the world are beginning to use electric buses.

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The Consequences of Being Unbanked in Buffalo

Jessica Gilbert — Feb 28, 2018

This policy brief was drafted by Jessica Gilbert, a research associate at the Partnership for the Public Good and a Ph.D. student in geography at the University at Buffalo. It offers national and local information about people who lack bank accounts and describes some of the impacts of being “unbanked,” including reliance on exploitative services such as check cashing, rent to own stores, and pawn shops. This research supports the work of the Buffalo Niagara Community Reinvestment …

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Taking the High Road to Canalside: How Community Activism Has Shaped Buffalo’s Waterfront

Michelle Zhao — Oct 27, 2017

This policy brief documents the efforts of local advocates to bring “High Road” economic development to Canalside, to advance community benefits over corporate control. It was drafted by Michelle Zhao, the 2017 Cornell High Road Fellow at Partnership for the Public Good. After setting out the historical context of Canalside and the fight that won its preservation, the brief focuses on the period of 2004 to 2015. It details the proposal to bring a Bass Pro Shop to the Inner Harbor, …

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A Community Benefit Agreement for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Anthony Hilbert Mar 9, 2016

The BNMC is the region’s largest economic development project.  Clustering health institutions together on one campus creates many collaborations and efficiencies and increases the potential for spin-off job creation.  Inevitably, however, any large scale development also includes some negative side effects for the community, particularly those who live nearest to it.  Traffic and air pollution increase.  Parking becomes a problem on nearby residential streets.  …

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Earned Sick Time Policy Brief

Kyle Friend — Jul 18, 2015

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High Road Economic Development: Best Practices

Tina Meyers — Feb 25, 2015

High Road Economic Development is an economic development strategy that emphasizes high quality jobs, environmental sustainability, and broad access to opportunities for a diversity of businesses and workers.  High Road Economic Development prioritizes both a healthy economy and a healthy community.  It ensures that public dollars result in both public good and economic growth, and that economic benefits are distributed equitably.  The following list captures many best practices …

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The High Road Economy: Principles and Practices

Tina Meyers — Feb 25, 2015

The High Road is an economic strategy that emphasizes high quality jobs, environmental sustainability, and broad access to opportunities for diverse businesses and workers.  The High Road prioritizes a healthy economy and a healthy community.  It ensures that public dollars result in both public good and economic growth, and that economic benefits are distributed equitably.  The High Road Economy promotes democratic practices, the Triple Bottom Line (people, planet and profits), …

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Town IDAs in Erie County: 2011-2013

Sam Magavern — Nov 14, 2014

In addition to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), Erie County has five town IDAs: Amherst, Clarence, Concord, Hamburg, and Lancaster.  In this policy brief, we review the performance of the five town IDAs from 2011 to 2013 and find that most of the projects that they have approved have involved restaurants, retail businesses, hotels, speculative office parks, or other projects that are highly unlikely to grow the region’s economy and create a net gain of jobs.

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State Funding for the NFTA Reduces Pollution, Fights Poverty, and Promotes Economic Development

Robert Grimaldi Feb 7, 2012

New York State should support public transit in Buffalo-Niagara by increasing Transit Operating Assistance and increasing the NFTA’s allocation of low-cost electric power.  There is no more effective tool for reducing pollution, cutting poverty, and promoting economic development than affordable and comprehensive mass transit.  In recent years, New York State has been cutting its funding to the NFTA, even as the NFTA’s costs have been rising.  State funding has been …

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The Triple Bottom Line in Buffalo: Standards for Economic, Social, and Ecological Success

Jeffrey Baker — Jun 27, 2011

In respect to human capital, or people, the triple bottom line requires fair and beneficial business practices towards employees, the community, and the region.  Such practices include offering fair salaries, safe working conditions, decent hours, healthcare, and educational opportunity.  In terms of the environment, or the planet, the triple bottom line requires businesses to engage in sustainable environmental practices. Businesses aim to reduce their carbon footprint by carefully …

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Looking for Trickledown Under the Peace Bridge: A Critique of the Public Bridge Authority's Economic Impact Claims

Donna Budniewski Apr 19, 2011

The Public Bridge Authority’s economic impact analysis, presented in its environmental impact statement for the Peace Bridge Expansion Project, offers a grossly exaggerated impression of the project’s benefits.  The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority has proposed a significant expansion to the operations of the international crossing between Buffalo and Fort Erie known as the Peace Bridge.  The plans presented to the public in 2007 would radically alter a five …

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Drug Testing by Potential Employers

Neil Diegelman — Apr 28, 2010

New York State should pass laws that regulate pre-employment drug testing in order to maximize fairness, accuracy, and efficiency while recognizing employers’ needs to maintain a drug-free workplace.  Drug testing, when done properly, is quite accurate and has standardized procedures to ensure fairness.  A pre-employment drug test can be an effective way for an employer to check on factors influencing whether an applicant will be productive or continuously tardy or have attitude …

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Local and Minority Hiring Practices

Kasia McDonald — Apr 28, 2010

This brief discusses various strategies to ensure a diverse and local workforce at the Canal Side project on Buffalo’s waterfront.  To make the project as advantageous to the community as possible requires the use of exact language in contracts governing the development, active participation of local neighborhoods, a monitoring system to track efforts made by developers and jobseekers and then distribute the results to the community, and civic oversight to hold the businesses …

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Criminal Convictions and Employment Rights in New York State

Robert Strassel — Apr 26, 2010

New York has a strong policy toward preventing discrimination based on prior criminal convictions and its progressive policy outlook should encouraged.  In 2007 a report concluded that New York employees were largely unfamiliar with State laws regulating an employer’s use of prior criminal convictions for employment-related decisions, and in response, the legislature amended Section 296 of New York Executive Law to require employers to post and disseminate information regarding a job …

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Education Levels and Low-Wage Work

Dannine Consoli — Apr 26, 2010

Is education the key to getting low-wage workers out of poverty and into higher paying, middle class jobs? In the United States, roughly one in three jobs pays a low wage.  The Center for Economic and Policy Research defines “low wage” as less than 66 percent of the median wage for male workers (the median weekly pay rate for men in the fourth quarter of 2009 was $825).  Employees with higher levels of education do have a significantly lower probability of working a …

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Canal Side: How Will the Community Benefit?

Owen Field Apr 1, 2010

For the last two years, PPG partners have voted to make a community benefit agreement (CBA) for the $300 million Canal Side development a plank in the PPG Community Agenda.  A CBA would include binding guarantees about quality jobs, green design, local businesses, local and minority hiring, and mixed income housing.  Each year, PPG leads its partners and other citizens in crafting a Community Agenda: ten policy actions that government can take in the course of the year to revitalize …

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