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To maximize impact, planners need to 'buy local'

For the past several years, Buffalo Niagara Partnership members have engaged in a large-scale advocacy campaign in Albany for the passage of UB 2020. It was evident right from the inception of UB 2020 that, if successful, it would lead to strengthened private sector investment and job creation -- the most impactful initiative on our regional economy in a half-century. We were pleased when, through the leadership of the Western New York state delegation, NYSUNY 2020 (which enabled UB 2020) passed the Legislature and was signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last year.

The implementation of NYSUNY 2020 and the governor's SUNY Challenge Grant has given our already growing university the resources for its next big undertaking -- relocation of its medical center into a state-of-the-art new facility on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The process is already under way as proposals for the design of the building are being evaluated.

As the University at Buffalo grows, it is important to bear in mind why our community was so avidly behind UB 2020 in the first place: to create investment and jobs in the Buffalo Niagara region. While there is no specific language in the request for proposals for the medical center and similar projects that would give any advantage to local firms or workers, it is critical that the state's selection committee place great emphasis on the number of jobs created and local economic impact of this project. Without question, we have the expertise here in the region to achieve the UB 2020 vision.

When signing the NYSUNY 2020 bill, Cuomo recognized that in addition to building New York's schools into world-renowned research and educational facilities, this initiative was designed to "create jobs for New Yorkers and improve our state's economic competitiveness." The selection of who is going to implement the projects both individually and as an economic development package needs to reflect that mission and to do so, "Buy Local" -- utilizing local resources as often as possible -- must be part of the equation for all phases of the medical school project. Particularly for a project as significant to our region and the downtown landscape as it is to UB.

In 2012, the fruits of our community's advocacy for UB 2020 are becoming tangible. UB's presence on the downtown medical campus is growing daily -- and if you haven't been over to see the campus in a while you need to make some time to do so. It is invigorating to experience the economic development taking place and the jobs being created in the City of Buffalo.

To ensure the economic impact of that growth, we as a community, as a region and as a state should be making every effort to see that these projects have the maximum local impact possible, beginning with putting Buffalo Niagara's work force on the job.


Nicole Rosso is project manager for the Buffalo Niagara Partnership Buy Local Initiative.