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As the new Buffalo takes shape, what’s next?

The cover headlines on the annual Buffalo News Prospectus section say it all.

2014: The new Buffalo

2015: Building the new Buffalo

2016: The new Buffalo takes shape

Our region is changing. A half century of hard times is giving way to growth, investment and optimism. In 2015, HarborCenter and the Conventus building were completed and Delaware North moved into its new headquarters. This year, the $900 million SolarCity factory will be largely completed and Roswell Park Cancer Institute will move into its new addition. Next year, the UB School of Medicine and the new Oishei Children’s Hospital will open. More and more empty industrial buildings are being turned into the kind of hip urban housing millennials crave.

This is public and private investment on a scale Buffalo hasn’t seen in decades.

There are growing pains. Much of the investment has happened in and around downtown Buffalo, leaving impoverished city neighborhoods untouched. Buffalo public schools continue to underperform, threatening to leave many city kids unprepared for the new Buffalo’s jobs.

The big question is what’s next. The most important part of the Buffalo Billion isn’t the new buildings but the new businesses and new jobs that will fill them – and the newcomers who will increase our population, fill our region with fresh energy and ring up new sales at local businesses.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo modeled the Buffalo Billion on the state’s success creating a nanotechnology industry in the Albany region. The state lured companies to Albany by building state-owned state-of-the-art facilities. From SolarCity to IBM to the Medical Campus, Cuomo is using the same approach in Buffalo.

But nanotechnology succeeded in Albany because the investment continued. Over the years, SUNY nanotech wizard Alain Kaloyeros persuaded political leaders to keep paying for the latest and greatest equipment.

The Buffalo Billion is a great shot of adrenaline. Before the adrenaline wears off, let’s figure out what’s next.


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