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Column: Economic growth fuels a change in landscape, attitude

Welcome to the New Buffalo. It’s a city brimming with hope and fresh attitudes.

The rebirth of the city’s economy is changing how we work, live and play. It’s also reshaping the city’s landscape.

Nowhere is that more evident than at three big projects that will be unveiled in 2017.

In South Buffalo, on land once left behind by Republic Steel, the first solar panels are slated to begin rolling off production lines of a massive new factory this summer. Tesla Motors, which bought SolarCity late last year and then struck a deal with Panasonic to operate the plant, plans to eventually employ more than 1,400 workers at the site.

Across town, at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, two big moves will cap years of planning to bring many of the region’s key health and science institutions together in one neighborhood.

Doctors, nurses and patients at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo will complete the move into the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital on the Medical Campus in November, while the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is also scheduled to open there in the fall.

It’s not just big catalyst projects that are reshaping Buffalo. Manufacturing, still a significant employer for the region, is seeing major reinvestment in factories that have pumped out engines, tires and cereal for decades. Old warehouses and empty office buildings are getting new life as loft apartments. Banks have seen a shake-up after recent acquisitions, and stores across the region are rethinking the way they do business to meet the demands of consumers.

In this, the 25th edition of Prospectus, we’ll take you on a tour of the new Children’s Hospital and behind the scenes of construction at the medical school. You’ll see how solar cells are made and how metal fabricators turn old vehicles into gleaming new food trucks. And you’ll see where hundreds of new apartments in downtown Buffalo have opened or will be built by the end of the year.

To be sure, 2017’s milestones will be signs of progress down the path toward economic revival, not the end of the road. There will be plenty more to do to strengthen the region’s economy and rebuild neighborhoods that have long been left behind.

But there’s no doubt that the New Buffalo is more than just a change in attitude.

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