The new state budget that lawmakers hurried to wrap up Sunday delivers $150,000 to the Women's Business Center at Canisius College and millions more for an array of pro-business programs in the Buffalo region.
The Women's Business Center, one of dozens nationwide connected to the Small Business Administration, works to help women-owned businesses succeed. It will split $150,000 with the Center for Professional Development, also at Canisius College, according to materials included in the spending package that goes into effect Monday.
Some 780 people participated in the more than 150 programs and counseling sessions put on by the Women's Business Center in 2017, the organization says on its website. Participants include employed women thinking about starting their own venture and women who run companies with millions in annual revenues. College President John J. Hurley told state leaders in a letter that it is New York's only women's business center affiliated with a university.
In another benefit for Canisius College, the state will funnel $100,000 to the hockey program to defray some of its costs for hosting the upcoming Frozen Four, the championship tourney for Division I hockey, said state Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore. Schimminger is chairman of the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry, through which the funding requests passed.
In the new budget, the state continues to support two Centers of Excellence at the University at Buffalo, with $1 million each for the Center for Materials Informatics and the Center for Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. All 11 of the centers of excellence around the state will receive at least $1 million, Schimminger said.
The Center for Advanced Technology in Big Data and Health Sciences at UB, which exists under the Center for Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and fosters the commercialization of life-science inventions, will be able to compete with other centers for advanced technology statewide for a share of $14.4 million in matching grants.
The state budget also contains $150,000 for workforce development programs put on by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. The organization's website says it focuses those programs on students still in school, on workers already employed and on the unemployed.
World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara, a nonprofit that helps companies find opportunities with foreign trade, will receiving $50,000 in state support. The same amount will go to the Buffalo Niagara International Trade Gateway Organization, which helps companies with transportation issues in relation to the U.S.-Canadian border. And $50,000 will go to Invest Buffalo Niagara, which works to draw new employers to the region.
While the budget contains money for job-creation and job-training in the region, a state senator from the area lamented that state lawmakers swept $20 million from the New York Power Authority to support state operations. Some lawmakers and policy-makers in Buffalo have long said that revenue from the Niagara Power Project, a power authority asset, should solely benefit Western New York.
“We all know the Niagara Power Plant is one of the only profitable power generators in the entire NYPA system, thus Niagara is likely responsible for nearly all this $20 million in profits,” said State Sen. Chris Jacobs, R-Buffalo, in a news release. With Republicans now the minority party in the Senate, Jacobs lacks the ability to pass a bill without significant Democratic support. But he said he will introduce legislation to prevent the practice of “raiding” the power authority during the budget process.