Buffalo Commons



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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Buffalo Niagara's Union Members: Good Neighbors and Active Citizens

Russell Weaver — Aug 30, 2019

In honor of the 125th anniversary of Buffalo’s own, President Grover Cleveland, signing the law establishing the federal Labor Day holiday in the U.S., this report creates a current profile of labor union members in the Buffalo-Niagara region.

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Erasing Red Lines: Part 1 - Geographies of Discrimination

Russell Weaver — Aug 28, 2019

Since at least the 1930s, the City of Buffalo, New York has been spatially and socially divided. While certain mixed use and residential communities across the map have shown remarkable resilience—and thrived—during the City’s history of deindustrialization and population loss, many communities of color on Buffalo’s East and West Sides have experienced persistent and increasing levels of distress. This series of brief reports examines those patterns and engages with …

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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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Perceptions of Residential Displacement and Grassroots Resistance to Anchor Driven Encroachment in Buffalo, NY

Li Yin, Camden Miller, Pascal Buggs, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr., Robert Silverman — Jul 19, 2019

This article examines perceptions of institutional encroachment and community responses to it in Buffalo, NY. Specifically, we focus on residents’ perceived effects of anchor institution (e.g. hospital and university) expansion on core city neighbourhoods. Through this analysis we offer insights into the processes driving neighbourhood displacement in the contemporary period. Data were collected through a series of focus groups with residents and other stakeholders in working class, …

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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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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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The Geography of Poverty in Erie and Niagara Counties

Eli J. Levine — Nov 20, 2018

This Buffalo Brief provides visuals of the locations and rates of poverty in Erie and Niagara counties. 

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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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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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Employment Data for Buffalo-Niagara

Partnership for the Public Good — Jul 11, 2018

Unemployment in Buffalo and the surrounding region shot upward in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, but declined in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. In 2017, unemployment rose in the city and region while falling in the state and nation. 

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Renewing America’s economic promise through older industrial cities Buffalo NY

Kathryn Franco Apr 19, 2018

This is an image of Buffalo's economic indicators from the report, Renewing America’s economic promise through older industrial cities, which identifies, analyzes, and categorizes the considerable assets and distinct challenges of 70 older industrial cities that collectively account for one-eighth of the U.S. population and economy. With increasing interest in local, state, and national policies to revive the fortunes of struggling communities, older industrial cities represent …

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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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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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"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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Child Care Subsidy Fact Sheet

WNY Women's Foundation — Nov 27, 2017

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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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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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Buffalo Transit Riders United: Community Agenda Plank Video

UB Media Studies — Jun 27, 2017

In the spring of 2017, students from Professor Dorothea Braemer's class in the UB Media Studies department collaborated with community organizers to create videos on 4 of the PPG Agenda plank issues.

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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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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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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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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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High Road Economic Development: Best Practices

Sam Magavern, Jessica Bauer-Walker, Renee Cadzow 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

Sam Magavern, Jessica Bauer-Walker, Renee Cadzow 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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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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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 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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Initiatives for a Smart Economy

Mark Poloncarz — Mar 14, 2013

"The concept of sustainability has gained a foothold in Western New York and previous brownfield sites. These efforts continue as New York State (“NYS”) Energy Research and Development Authority (“NYSERDA”) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) offer communities the opportunity to compete for tens of millions of redevelopment dollars for the presentation of a thorough, innovative, and collaborative sustainability plan for their …

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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: 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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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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Mortgage Lending Disparities in Metropolitan Buffalo: Implications for Community Reinvestment Policy

Robert Silverman — Jul 26, 2008

This article examines patterns of mortgage lending in metropolitan Buffalo, New York. The analysis is based on 1999-2002 HMDA data and 2000 Census data for metropolitan Buffalo. Mortgage lending patterns in census tracts are compared using descriptive statistics, GIS mapping, and multiple regression. The results from this analysis indicate that disparities in mortgage lending between census tracts are attributable to differences in: educational attainment, neighborhood socioeconomic distress, …

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The Role of Citizen Participation and action research Principles in Main Street Revitalization

Christopher Crawford, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr., Robert Silverman — Jul 26, 2008

This article examines the use of citizen participation techniques during the planning process for neighborhood revitalization in the Village of Depew which is an industrial suburb of Buffalo, New York. The article focuses on how research principles can inform and enhance traditional approaches to citizen participation.

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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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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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Can Buffalo Ever Come Back?

Edward Glaeser — Jan 1, 2007

At the onset of the Great Depression, Buffalo had 573,000 inhabitants, making it the 13th-largest city in America.  In the 75 years that followed, this once-mighty metropolis lost 55 percent of its population, a decline most dramatic in its blighted inner city but also apparent in its broader metropolitan area, one of the 20 most quickly deteriorating such regions in the nation.  Twenty-seven percent of Buffalo’s residents are poor, more than twice the national average.  …

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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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Reflections on Progress at Work

Lou Jean Fleron, Lois Gray — Jan 1, 1996

[Excerpt] Today, we enter our second half century, facing a new millennium of opportunity. We pause to celebrate with pride our ILR Extension heritage, from its roots in Buffalo. We pay tribute to colleagues before us and partners with us who have made this fifty years of progress at work.

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