Growth begets growth in Western New York, as the economy expands and builders find plenty of work - The Buffalo News
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Growth begets growth in Western New York, as the economy expands and builders find plenty of work

Demand for construction workers is up in the Buffalo Niagara region and while still far from the peak years of Bethlehem Steel, this is about as close as the region has come in a long time.

Cranes are in the air on a number of sites, the largest in South Buffalo at RiverBend, where progress on the SolarCity factory is impressive.

As reported in The News, work on the site has moved into its hectic phase. Workers are completing tasks on the building’s exterior while activity on the interior increases.

The multiphase construction plan has been followed by project backers – SolarCity, LPCiminelli and New York State. Indeed, it is an aggressive timeline to meet reduced-volume production at the factory during the early months of next year.

The excitement is in the air as SolarCity factory construction follows a “rolling schedule” – as one crew completes work, another is following behind, underfoot, if you will, to get the job completed.

Questions from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara aside, for now, the $900 million SolarCity factory, the centerpiece of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development initiative, has been good for business around here.

Construction workers have been finding work – a lot of it. And, as the article pointed out, it’s not just SolarCity with a big “Help Wanted” sign.

Enormous progress has been made on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus where the Conventus building received LEED Platinum status for its “core and shell,” becoming the only project in Western New York to reach such high green-building certification standards.

Construction is brimming on the $375 million University at Buffalo Medical School and $275 million John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital. Nearby is the Delaware North headquarters and hotel complex being built at 250 Delaware Ave.

All of this work has Paul Brown, president of the Buffalo Building Trades Council, speaking optimistically about prospects for construction workers in Western New York.

The employment market as a whole has improved around here with job growth at an annual pace of just under 2 percent through August, meaning that the region in on track to reach its most robust job growth in 25 years.

This good job news has to be supported by a trained workforce, apprenticeship programs and high-quality education throughout the county. It is critical that the Buffalo School District not only increase its graduation rate but also core competency among students.

Between construction work and manufacturing jobs coming online and proven areas of employment strength, this region is slowly but steadily once again becoming the place not only to build a family but a future that can keep those families here.

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