By Matt Hurlbutt and Tom Kucharski
In recent years, words and phrases such as “resurgence” and “regional momentum” have steadily found their way back into the local lexicon. And it is this newfound confidence and belief in a more promising future that has reignited the innovative soul of Buffalo and Rochester.
While our economic development efforts have by no means been perfect, we have certainly made some very promising strides. Major downtown commercial and residential development continues, expansion and invigoration of our tech industries and startup ecosystems is underway, and livability and low operating costs have proven to be key attractors of employees and employers alike.
Enter Amazon and its unprecedented September solicitation for potential sites to locate the company’s proposed second corporate headquarters (HQ2).
This solicitation has been dubbed the world series of business attraction, and all of the usual players have lined up – New York City, Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Washington and many more. With such fierce competition, the question arose of how other worthy cities might showcase their qualities and get noticed.
For Buffalo and Rochester the answer was simple – be different, be unique and rely on the genuine connectivity that has long existed between upstate New York’s two largest cities.
As a result, Invest Buffalo Niagara and Greater Rochester Enterprise, along with economic development partners across upstate New York, adopted one of Amazon’s own leadership principles and made the decision to take ownership of the situation and put the needs of the region ahead of those of the individual cities. The strategic collaboration that ensued has come to be known as the “Buffalo-Rochester Metro Corridor” joint Amazon HQ2 submission.
This distinctive partnership is grounded in the fact that as a combined corridor, we are that much stronger, talent- and resource-rich, and enticing to Amazon and other companies looking for a dynamic place to call home.
The 2.2 million-person corridor offers many diverse site options, while our competencies in the areas of radio frequency identification, sustainable packaging, flight controls, drone technology, high-performance computing, software development and data analytics place us at the forefront of the technology revolution. With a binational location and over 60 colleges and universities, our region is producing the intellectual pipeline that Amazon requires for growth, invention and survival.
We can state with conviction that the metro corridor is an idea that was ripe for trial, and the submission delivered to Amazon last week on behalf of Western New York was an exciting, sophisticated proposal of which we can all be proud. Win or lose, our team told the region’s economic story with a sureness that had long been absent and hard to place, but now is found.
Thank you to all those in the community who contributed to this massive effort – there were many.
Matt Hurlbutt is interim president and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise. Tom Kucharski is president and CEO of Invest Buffalo Niagara.