Invest Buffalo Niagara’s strategy of targeting a few business sectors appears to be showing some success.
The group, formerly known as Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, boasts an impressive basket of “wins,” 15 projects brought in during the 12 months ending in June. The projects are expected to create more than 2,000 jobs in Western New York.
The two biggest projects would not have happened without an infusion of state cash, but Invest Buffalo Niagara did help smooth the way for those projects.
About half of the jobs are at the Western New York Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) the state is funding in Genesee County. 1366 Technologies plans to make improved silicon wafers there. The other big project is the Athenex drug factory in Dunkirk, part of the state’s Buffalo Billion economic development program. It is expected to create 450 new jobs.
Seven of the wins are Canadian companies, and across a number of industry sectors. That is a good sign that our economy – unlike the old manufacturing-heavy days – will be better able to weather recessions and economic downturns.
The business and marketing group, led by President and CEO Thomas A. Kucharski, expects the projects to lead to $2.6 billion in new investment in the region and net job creation of 2,541, (2,007 of them brand new). In reporting to its backers and the public, the group exudes renewed optimism.
The organization is working with Rochester businesses to create a “super region” with expanded appeal for businesses looking to start up or relocate. That provides companies with specialized workforce needs a larger population from which to draw. Locating STAMP between Buffalo and Rochester allows it to attract workers from a wide area.
Invest Buffalo Niagara is focusing on specific sectors: agribusiness, clean technologies and advanced manufacturing, areas reflected in its 15 project wins. Getting that word out to site selectors and corporate decision-makers is key to Invest Buffalo Niagara’s success.
Of course, collaboration is important and the group should continue working with such organizations as the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and Visit Buffalo Niagara in growing the local economy.
Invest Buffalo Niagara is also engaged in workforce development, another element critical to the region’s growth. The group engaged the University at Buffalo Regional Institute to conduct an in-depth study of the region’s labor market.
The intent is to update a 2010 assessment and make workforce a regional strength by studying talent attraction; underemployment, workforce development and training; employer costs; employer union success stories; and the expansion of workplace best practices
The results, expected to be released in January 2017, will help inform Invest Buffalo Niagara as it works to attract businesses to invest in the region. Such efforts can only be successful when there’s a skilled workforce from which to draw. Local high schools, colleges, universities and workforce development initiatives play a key role in creating a deeper bench.