By Gordon Reger
Our business has grown since its founding in 1950 as a small plastering company to become one of the largest Western New York-based owners and developers of industrial and residential real estate. For many local entrepreneurs, Western New York is not just our place of business, it’s our home; so we support the wide range of benefits that expanding economic growth brings. We also feel the pain when large operations are hindered or closed.
With an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, it is critically important to support the companies creating jobs in Western New York. Economic powerhouses like M&T Bank, Kaleida Health and Catholic Health collectively provide over 20,000 jobs in the Buffalo area. Another local business that contributes to the economy of Western New York is the network of hotels and casinos run by the Seneca Nation of Indians, which I’ve worked closely with. Over the past 15 years, the Seneca Nation has paid $1.5 billion to the state, invested another billion dollars directly into infrastructure enhancements, employed thousands of Western New Yorkers and contributed to the communities that we all call home. Regardless of any disagreements going on in Albany between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Seneca Nation, it’s very clear that the Seneca Nation’s investments are beneficial to our region.
One of the clearest examples of the continued positive impact is the thousands of jobs that have been sustained by their casinos. In fact, the Seneca Nation employs more than 4,000 local citizens with good jobs, with competitive wages that enable them to support their families and communities. In addition, hundreds of construction jobs have stemmed from this investment, resulting in millions of dollars being paid to local workers contracted to do the work. Investment like the Seneca Nation’s betters our area and helps the people who live here.
Each year, the Seneca Nation drives more than $108 million into the local economy through its payroll alone, acting as a tremendous economic machine in Western New York. Additionally, business owners in the area benefit from the Seneca Nation maintaining its business operations. In fact, in 2014, the Seneca Nation spent nearly $43 million with Erie County vendors.
All totaled, the revenues that the Seneca Nation’s properties gave to the states and local communities help fund desperately needed infrastructure improvements, state and local programs and social services.
Perhaps most importantly, the Seneca Nation has repeatedly stated its commitment to being good neighbors, a promise they have kept, time and time again. The Seneca Nation is a reliable and large donor to many causes across Western New York and, over the years, the nation has partnered with local communities and businesses, reaffirming its dedication to the community.
Any disagreements at the state level should come second to the clearly positive impact – both economic and charitable – that the Seneca Nation has on our home.
Gordon Reger is president and CEO of Reger Holdings LLC.