Buffalo Commons



Combatting Inequality in Workplace Structures: Worker Cooperatives and Employee Stock Ownership Programs in Buffalo-Niagara

Kristin (Szczepaniec) Ksiazek, Annabel Bacon — Dec 7, 2020

This report engages with present forms of ownership and power in the workplace, using Buffalo-Niagara as a case study. Its broader thrust is that current crises have placed our society at a critical juncture where we must question “business as usual” and begin charting a course to a new, more democratic economy. In short, we need business structures and policies designed to pull us out of crisis, drive us away from inequality, and carry us toward shared prosperity for all. The …

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Building “Next Generation” Democratic Workplaces to Reduce Inequality and Empower Workers: Evidence and Policy Implications from Buffalo-Niagara

Russell Weaver — Oct 28, 2020

Within the current political economic system, prevailing cultural norms and institutional infrastructure have forged a business climate that rewards self-interest, growth, and profit-maximization while essentially punishing “costly” actions that enhance the public good at the expense of the private bottom line. As such, entities that exhibit all of the NGE features listed above are extremely rare. And they are under constant threat of being swept away by competitive economic forces …

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Analysis of Predatory Lending in New York: From Origins to Interviews

Ryan Aguilar, Milena Saakyan — Aug 24, 2020

Certain legal procedures and policies have given headway for predatory lenders to become prominent and sustained. A short history, description of the New York circumstance, and analysis of CMG Services are delivered in this brief. Interviews of financial service providers were also conducted noting some of the effects of Covid-19 on predatory lending.

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CDFI Ecosystems and Alternate Forms of Lending

Milena Saakyan — Aug 24, 2020

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are entities whose main charge is delivering responsible and affordable lending for low income and other disadvantaged people. This brief explores what CDFIs look like across markets in Detroit, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester as well as noting lack of public awareness for these institutions. CDFIs both combat the harm done by predatory lenders and offer alternative lending solutions.

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Predatory Lenders: Avoiding Scams and Unethical Lending Practices

Ryan Aguilar — Aug 24, 2020

This informational document allows for greater knowledge of predatory lenders through identifying them and understanding their marketing techniques while additionally gaining advice on securing lending relationships from Community Development Financial Institutions.

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Distinguishing the Social Sector: A Buffalo-Niagara Labor Market Study

Sam Magavern, Kristin (Szczepaniec) Ksiazek, Russell Weaver — Sep 19, 2019

The study focuses on the two largest parts of Buffalo-Niagara’s social sector: nonprofit and government employers. 

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The Climate Justice Movement in Western New York

Sam Magavern, Lynda Schneekloth — Jul 9, 2019

Although climate change requires an international response and will require national policies and actions, local geographies have to be involved because it that is where the harms are felt.  But how can local and regional areas respond to the climate crisis?  This article offers a story of the emergence of a climate justice movement in Buffalo and Western New York as an example of how one community is addressing climate change and its unequal impacts.

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Labor Takes the High Road: How Unions Make Western New York More Prosperous and Equitable

Sam Magavern, Lou Jean Fleron — Mar 8, 2019

The report explores how unions make a major impact on the region not just through collective bargaining, but also through community service and policy advocacy. Analyzing Census data, the authors find that union members in Western New York enjoy substantially higher wages, more full-time work, more health insurance coverage, and more pension benefits than non-members. Union impacts radiate out far beyond their members. Research reveals that unions improve wages, job quality, health, and safety, …

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Labor Takes the High Road: How Unions Make Western New York More Prosperous and Equitable Executive Summary

Sam Magavern, Lou Jean Fleron — Mar 8, 2019

The report explores how unions make a major impact on the region not just through collective bargaining, but also through community service and policy advocacy. Analyzing Census data, the authors find that union members in Western New York enjoy substantially higher wages, more full-time work, more health insurance coverage, and more pension benefits than non-members. Union impacts radiate out far beyond their members. Research reveals that unions improve wages, job quality, health, and safety, …

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Workers on the Brink: Low-Wage Employment in Buffalo and Erie County

Nicole Hallett Apr 12, 2018

In 2017, Professor Hallett, winner of a public research fellowship from Open Buffalo and PPG, conducted a survey of 213 workers in Buffalo to learn more about the challenges they are facing. 

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"We're fighting for fairness!" The Struggle for a Fair Contract at Wendt Corporation

Patty Hughan, Nghia Nguyen — Jan 31, 2018

In June 2017, workers at Wendt Corporation's Buffalo, New York manufacturing shop overwhelmingly voted to join into a union and be represented by Ironworkers Shopmen's Local No 576. But workers say that the company has been dragging its heels and preventing them from getting a fair first contract. "Everyone that works here deserves fair pay, a safe workplace, equal treatment, and a little job security for ourselves and our families," one of these brave workers said.

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Equity Preservation Final Report

Akanksha Chauhan, Melanie Colter, Mengbing Du, Luis Graveley, Jr, Mengyu Guo, Sena Kayasu, Jonathan Ladley, Cole Norgaarden, Claire Meyer, Thomas Pera, Ashley Pryce, Lucas Raley, Zach Small, Jessica Stevenson, Michelle Van Meter, Andrew Varuzzo, Olivia White, Vivian Zou, Joey Jiayun Zou, Jennifer Minner — Oct 25, 2017

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A Strategy for Prosperity: 2017 Progress Report Western NY

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council — Sep 30, 2017

This report on the progress of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council (WNY REDC) Strategic Plan highlights what the organization is doing to create job opportunities and build a quality of life. They describe how by working hand-and-hand with New York State (NYS), our regionhas been successful in moving the needle on economic indicators and investment confidenceby advancing local strategies that directly align with NYS’s core strategies for …

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Initiatives for a Smart Economy 2.0

Mark Poloncarz — Jun 30, 2017

Just like its predecessor, I4SE 2.0 is organized in a manner that focuses on those sectors of the local economy identified by WNYREDC as growth sectors. It identifies initiatives within those sectors where ErieCounty can make a meaningful contribution. These sectors include: advanced manufacturing, smart growth implementation, workforce development, agriculture, bi-national logistics, energy, and tourism.The report also identifies specific initiatives that Erie County will undertake in other …

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"Locked in Buffalo's Socioeconomic Basement": An examination of Political and Institutional Racial Discrimination and its Effects on the local African American Community

Shanleigh Corrallo — Feb 14, 2017

This paper addresses the African American community in Buffalo, New York, and critically examines how local politics, interest groups and financial institutions negatively impacted the socioeconomic development of the city’s East Side.

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Buffalo Niagara's Strategic Plan for Prosperity, Buffalo Billion

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council — Jan 31, 2017

The Buffalo Billion Phase II plan looks back at the extraordinary strides Buffalo Niagara has made since2011. It describes the progress and impacts of Buffalo Billion Phase I investments; and using economicindicators, points to areas where we’ve seen progress and where there are still opportunities for growth.It gives a compelling account of why we need to continue to invest in the economic enablers and coresector strategies that we as a community developed. And, based on this momentum …

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One Region Forward A New Way To Plan For Buffalo Niagara

University at Buffalo Regional Institute — Jul 20, 2015

This document represents the culmination of three years of research, community engagement, partnership building and planning under the banner of One Region Forward. Within the pages of this plan, you will find the major research findings of what the data tells us about where the region is today and expressions of thousands of citizen voices on the direction people in the region want to see Buffalo Niagara go. Proposed strategies and actions, built by a team of 100+ subject matter experts, are …

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Initiatives for a Stronger Community

Mark Poloncarz — Mar 31, 2015

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Talking Proud: Telling Buffalo's Stories

Sam Magavern — Nov 1, 2014

In 1978, the directors of the Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce met in a workshop to create a five year action plan to improve the region’s economic climate – in particular, to increase the number of private sector jobs.  The Chamber decided that their prime strategy would be to upgrade Buffalo’s image, both among its own residents and nationally.  Eventually, they created a “Buffalo Image Campaign,” valued at three to five million dollars, with radio, …

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The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus: A High Road Strategy to Maximize the Community's Benefit

Open Buffalo — Aug 1, 2013

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (“BNMC”) has become a major hub for private and public investment in Buffalo, an anchor institution that can help improve the quality of life for the whole region.  Strategies to maximize the ways that the community benefits from the BNMC development include: Buying goods and services from locally-owned, independent companies, including minority-owned and worker-owned companies; Focusing economic development incentives and subsidies on the …

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A Public Statement of Principles for High Road Development of Buffalo's Waterfront

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, Canalside Community Alliance — Jul 11, 2013

The Canalside Community Alliance (CSCA) is a broad coalition of 60 community groups including block clubs, community developers, minority-owned contractors, environmental groups, locally-owned businesses, faith groups and many others with diverse skills, experiences, and knowledge, all committed to successful Canalside and waterfront development.  Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) has demonstrated a willingness to listen to public concerns and to involve the greater …

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Business Development in the Perry Choice Neighborhood

Center for Urban Studies, UB — Jul 26, 2012

This study provides an analysis of the number, composition, and types of businesses found in the Perry Choice Neighborhood. Understanding the dynamics and nature of the businesses the Perry Choice Neighborhood (PCN) is essential to building a vibrant community and forging a transformative plan (Map 1). Understanding the PCN business landscape is critical to formulating an neighborhood economic development strategy that will generate jobs and opportunities for the residents and that will provide …

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Establishment of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority Section 3 Business Development and Employee Training Center: A Concept Paper

Center for Urban Studies, UB — Jul 26, 2012

Project Name: Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority - Perry Choice Neighborhood Transformation Project This concept paper outlines a strategy to use the HUD Section 3 Act to “capture” business development and employment opportunities to empower and produce economic self-sufficiency among public housing residents and other very low- and very-low income groups and to use these resources to transform their neighborhoods into great places to live, work and raise a family.

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HUD Report on Buffalo Community Development Block Grant Program

Edgar Moore — Dec 13, 2011

Audit report from Edgar Moore to William O'Connell.

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Generating Waste: Problems with NYPA and the IDAs and How to Solve Them

Robert Grimaldi Oct 1, 2011

New York State is spending billions of dollars on economic development programs without reaping significant public benefits.  Too often the State is subsidizing sprawl, pollution, and poverty level employment.  An examination of the State’s two largest economic development programs, the industrial development agencies and the New York Power Authority, reveals numerous problems – but also ready solutions that will save the taxpayers money and lead to real, sustainable …

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Empire State's Cultural Capital at Risk?

Cornell University ILR School — Jun 1, 2009

New York State is a world center for the arts and entertainment industry and its vast and uniquely diversified workforce is its main competitive advantage.  Commissioned by the New York Empire State Development Corporation, this report examines the strengths and the challenges facing this industry and its workforce in the state, providing an assessment of the education and training infrastructure that supports this vital industry, and identifying issues that offer a potential role for …

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The Erie Canal Harbor Development: Building on Community Assets for a Sustainable Future

Carrie Weremblewski Apr 21, 2009

This policy brief frames the redevelopment of the Erie Canal Harbor as a tool for building on our existing assets and addressing our chronic challenges.  Ultimately, development of this vital and historic district will be accomplished on public land and with additional public resources and subsidies.  As such, Buffalo's Inner Harbor redevelopment, like and development receiving public funds, should have clear and achievable goals that advance public purposes.

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IDA Reform

Sam Magavern — Mar 9, 2009

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on IDA reform.  I teach at the University at Buffalo Law School in the areas of affordable housing and community economic development.  I am submitting these remarks on behalf of the Partnership for the Public Good (PPG).  PPG has united over 40 Buffalo-area non-profits around a 2009 Community Agenda, which includes this plank regarding subsidy reform: Reform New York State’s Subsidy Programs New York State should reform its major …

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Missing the Target

Sam Magavern, Daniel Webster, Anthony Armstrong — Feb 6, 2009

Buffalo is the nation’s third most impoverished city.  Buffalo’s East Side and West Side neighborhoods are two of Buffalo’s most impoverished areas.  If any two neighborhoods are in need of economic development, it is these two.  And yet, despite spending billions of dollars on economic development programs each year, the State, County, and City have largely ignored these neighborhoods and their increasingly desperate residents.  Programs, funds, and …

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The Difference a University Makes: An Updated Impact Analysis of the University at Buffalo

Kathryn Foster — Jan 6, 2009

The following presents findings of an economic impact assessment of the University at Buffalo conducted by the UB Regional Institute at the request of the UB Office of External Affairs.  This analysis updates and expands upon a 2007 economic impact study of the university (see The Difference a University Makes: An Impact Analysis of the University at Buffalo, August 2007, available at http://www.buffalo.edu/community/pdfs/UB_Impact_Analysis.pdf.)  The assessment captures the economic …

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Labor Unions and Coalitions in Buffalo

Heather Anderson — Dec 8, 2008

Labor unions have evolved tremendously since their inception in 1866 in the United States.  Today, some unions in the Buffalo region are responding to free market fundamentalism with the development of multiple coalition partners.  Coalitions are composed of unions and like-minded activist organizations. This creative response to a long-term economic crisis has created a high road social infrastructure.  Unions have moved beyond their traditional roles of collective bargaining …

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Revitalizing Buffalo: Let's Take the High Road

Sam Magavern — Sep 1, 2007

Recently, Buffalo awoke to find that it had become the second-poorest major city in the nation, trailing only Detroit.  We are also second in rate of abandoned properties, right behind St. Louis.  Everyone agrees that we are a city in need of some economic development.  But what type of economic development do we need? As debates about the casino and Bass Pro demonstrate, the answers to this question vary widely.  Most observers, however, would probably agree that the …

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Brown to Green: Building a 21st Century Sustainable Community, A Strategic Plan for Regeneration of the Highland Avenue Community

Center for Urban Studies, UB — Jul 26, 2007

This proposal outlines a regeneration strategy for Niagara Falls’ Highland Avenue Community. The goal is to develop a strategic plan that identifies five priority projects that will function as catalysts that will spawn the community’s rebirth.

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Sprawling by the Lake: How IDA-Granted Property Tax Exemptions Undermine Older Parts of the Buffalo/Niagara Metro Area

Allison Lack — May 1, 2007

An examination of the geographic distribution of property tax exemptions given to businesses in 2005 by the nine state-regulated Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) in the Buffalo/Niagara metro area reveals they have subsidized job creation outside of the region’s oldest, most densely populated and most transit-accessible areas, despite the fact those areas are most in need of jobs and reinvestment.  The exemptions’ sprawling, pro-suburban bias is especially evident in Erie …

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Achieving a Greater Buffalo

Niagara River Greenway Commission Apr 1, 2007

This policy report argues that improving the quality of life for residents of all backgrounds living in Buffalo’s urban neighborhoods should be a central objective of any economic revitalization plan for the region.  In the process of strengthening housing and employment opportunities in the urban core, Buffalo should strive to become a premiere destination for innovators, artists, and entrepreneurs seeking a low-cost, culturally vibrant place in which to live and work.  The …

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Arts & Economic Prosperity III

Americans for the Arts — Jan 1, 2007

The findings from Arts & Economic Prosperity III send a clear and welcome message: leaders who care about community and economic development can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts.  An input-output analysis model was customized for each of the participating communities and regions to determine the local economic impact their nonprofit arts and culture organizations and arts audiences.  Because of the variety of communities studied and the rigor with which the Arts …

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Sustaining Arts and Culture in Buffalo Niagara

Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth — Dec 19, 2006

Like all nonprofits, arts and culture organizations are not immune to the inevitable shifts in fiscal health due to trends in the region’s economy and in charitable giving.  In recent years, however, the shifts have turned sharply downward due to budget crises for one of the industry’s most important supporters – local government.  With cherished arts and cultural assets in Erie and Niagara Counties struggling to make ends meet, the region is suddenly forced to …

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Framework for Regional Growth

The League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara Oct 1, 2006

The absence of a region-wide vision for conservation, development, and public investment has become an increasingly central concern of the Region’s leaders.  For the past two to three decades—the last regional plan was completed in 1974—local and regional actions have occurred without the benefit of reference to a larger policy or planning framework.  Important decisions regarding the location and pace of development, investments in economic development, the …

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Buffalo Child Care Means Business: Full Study Report

Lou Jean Fleron, Lauren Breen, Regina Grogan, Danielle Dimitrov — Jan 1, 2006

Buffalo Child Care Means Business presents the economic and business case for making Buffalo's children the focus of economic development.  The 2006 survey of 117 businesses located in downtown Buffalo, New York, documents the business sector's present and projected reliance upon high quality child care services as a necessary component to optimum workplace recruitment, productivity and stability.  This promising study highlights research specific to the Buffalo region measuring the …

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From Theory to Practice: The Quest to Radically Reconstruct Buffalo's Inner City Neighborhoods

Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. — Jul 26, 2004

Project Name: The Inner City Transformation Project The Inner City Transformation Project (ICTP) was launched in 2001 to develop a model of community development that can be applied to the radical reconstruction of distressed neighborhoods in metropolitan Buffalo and similar size cities in the United States. The project is based on the assumption that distressed urban neighborhoods now represent the epicenter of racism and social class inequality in the United States and that the quest to …

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Fruit Belt/Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Tax Increment Financing District

Center for Urban Studies, UB, Sam Cole, Richard Milgrom, Samina Raja, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. — Jul 26, 2004

The Municipal Redevelopment Law entitles municipalities (individually or as joint undertakings) to issue tax increment bonds that are payable from and secured by real property taxes. This proposal seeks to establish a TIF (Tax Increment Finance) district for this the Fruit Belt and the adjacent Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

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The Fillmore Avenue Commercial Redevelopment Plan

Center for Urban Studies, UB, Antoine Thompson, Sam Cole, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. — Jul 26, 2004

Project Name:  The Fillmore Avenue Commercial Redevelopment Project The Fillmore Avenue Commercial Redevelopment Plan provides a vision for the Fillmore Avenue commercial corridor that is one of a vibrant, thriving passageway that serves as the cultural commons for the Martin Luther King, Jr. neighborhood and a Gateway to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. The Fillmore commercial corridor will be a symbol of the vibrancy of King’s Dream and a place that brings people together from …

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Transition and Renewal: The Emergence of a Diverse Upstate Economy

Rolf Pendall, Matthew Drennan, Susan Christopherson — Jan 1, 2004

During the 1900s, the U.S. transitioned from an economy based largely on manufacturing to one in which almost all jobs are in services.  This transition has rearranged the economic fortunes of regions throughout the nation: Locations in the Sunbelt and on both coasts prospered in the 1970s as traditional manufacturing centers in the Midwest declined.  But such “rust belt” states as Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan rebounded in the late 1980s and early 1990s as the hemorrhage of …

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Fruit Belt Redevelopment Plan Preliminary Study

Center for Urban Studies, UB — Jul 26, 2002

This study follows two earlier works published by the Center for Urban Studies, The Turning Point: A Strategic Plan of Action for the Fruitbelt/Medical Corridor (March 27, 2001) and Fruit Belt/Medical Corridor Tax Increment Financing District (February 12, 2002). The original report argued that better social, economic and physical connections could be established between the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC), a wealth generating district within the city, and the adjacent Fruit Belt …

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Small Business: Big Challenge

Ramon Garcia — Jan 1, 2002

In recent years, the contributions of small business to the American economy have become increasingly apparent.  Small firms are a significant source of new jobs, and play crucial roles in the development of new technologies and provision of economic opportunities.  Small businesses may be especially critical to the regional economies of upstate New York, where a number of large employers have either moved their operations or scaled back their workforces.  As a result, it is …

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The Martin Luther King, Jr. Cultural District & Cultural Corridor: A Strategic Plan and Action Agenda For the Masten District

Center for Urban Studies, UB — Jul 26, 2001

The purpose of this report is to develop a strategic plan and action agenda for Buffalo’s Masten District, which is based on the turning point threshold concept. Every neighborhood has a turning point threshold, which is that point where a snowballing effect takes place that transform the neighborhood when investments rise above it. The ultimate goal of this project is to outline a plan, which if successfully implemented, will push the Masten District beyond the …

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Champions @ Work: Employment, Workplace Practices and Labor-Management Relations in Western New York: A Study

Lou Jean Fleron, Howard Stanger, Eileen Patton — Jan 1, 2000

This study examines private sector employment, workplace practices and labor-management relations in Western New York (WNY) from the mid-1980s to the present.  It is a regional assessment, a benchmark designed to help the public and private sectors make informed decisions regarding enterprise and regional development.  Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations conducted the study as a part of its public service mission, with financial support from New York State.

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