The continuing expansion of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is viewed by many as a major economic catalyst for the region. Matthew K. Enstice, president and CEO of the Medical Campus, sat down with The Buffalo News’ Brian Meyer to discuss recent developments. Here is a summary of issues covered in an interview that is part of the “In Focus” series. Watch the full interview at BuffaloNews.com/video.
Meyer: What are the current job numbers, and what are the job projections looking a few years into the future?
Enstice: When we started this idea of bringing all the institutions together in our surrounding neighborhoods to work on development here, we had 7,000 jobs. Today, we have 12,000 jobs. By the end of 2016, we’re going to be up to 17,000 jobs on this campus – jobs and students.
Meyer: A lot of these jobs are being transferred from other areas of the city. We saw Millard Gates close, and the jobs came here. We’re going to see (Women & Children’s Hospital) close. The jobs will come. Is it really going to be a major net job gain?
Enstice: It’s actually something we talk about a lot. We feel that we’ve done the easy part. We’ve consolidated. We brought people together and created this critical mass. And it has made others look here. So when you look at those numbers today, we’ve really gained about 3,000 new jobs to this campus. Which is a pretty good thing since 2002. But the consolidation has gotten a lot of attention from private companies – the private sector looking to invest in and around the campus. That really is what I believe where the job growth is.
Meyer: Outside of the medical sector?
Enstice: I think it will be in the medical sector and the technology sector in general. They want to be around the critical mass of population that we have here – whether it’s of patients or employees here. But the big thing that I also see is that the surrounding neighborhoods will continue to get new job opportunities, whether that’s restaurants, service businesses – that is a critical part of … what we’re trying to create here on the campus.
Meyer: Developers like Mark Hamister call this a transformational development that is going to see payoffs decades into the future. Yet you mention the neighborhoods. There are a lot of residents living right within the boundaries of the Medical Campus. And there has been controversy. … Is it possible to develop a Medical Campus of this magnitude without having some fallout for residents?
Enstice: Our goal would be not to (have fallout). You always have to look at the human side of things and how people are going to make decisions for their own destiny. What we have to do is be as open-minded as possible and make sure that people are educated when they make various decisions. Our goal is to rebuild the campus, and hopefully from that, spin-off will happen in and around the neighborhoods here. We’re working very closely with (Common Council Member Darius G. Pridgen of the Ellicott District). We’re working very closely with the neighborhoods. One of the things that I think is unique about our organization is that we have a representative from the Fruit Belt neighborhood. We have a representative from the Allentown neighborhood on our board of directors. So as we’re doing our strategic plans, and as we’re doing developments, we’re getting input (such as), “Is this a good move or this the wrong direction?” If we hear that, we have to work together to figure out how we do that development.
Meyer: What’s the status of the cavernous Trico building?
Enstice: We are working with a local developer who is taking a very, very serious look at trying to redevelop it right now. Hopefully, within the next two months, we will have a better understanding of where that will be going.