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Another Voice

‘Race for Place’ will be transformational for Buffalo

By Byron W. Brown and Douglas Jemal

According to reports from noted international consultants Ady Advantage, economic development strategies must expand well beyond individual company recruitment and incentives, as growth-oriented regions need to focus on establishing “quality of place” in order to impact the retention and attraction of a modern workforce.

In essence, talent itself has become a driver of investment and jobs, and such talent wants to live, work, and gather in dynamic and diverse settings.

With this reality of “place” as a critical leg of the economic development stool, communities and private-sector partners must therefore think, act and collaborate differently to maintain relevance within the global economy.

Luckily for Buffalo Niagara, the region has already taken steps to diversify our economy and create genuine settings. This includes widespread organic and institutional support for the burgeoning startup ecosystem, the launch of several talent attraction initiatives such as Invest Buffalo Niagara’s Be in Buffalo campaign, and major contributions by local real estate developers – think Larkinville or the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Such progress is also evident in Douglas Development Corp.’s plans to rehabilitate the Seneca One property, and the adjoining commitment by M&T Bank to retain and rapidly grow a massive technology workforce in downtown Buffalo, in coordination with the One Seneca Douglas Development project.

The Brown administration is pleased to unveil the Buffalo’s Race for Place initiative, a proactive response to the transforming regional economy and related global technology, recruitment and talent attraction trends. The initiative will identify public and private partnership opportunities to enhance regional vibrancy, propel infrastructure and public space improvements, increase accessibility and inclusivity, promote infill development, integrate intelligent technology and placemaking design, and address quality of life needs as identified through citizen engagement and analysis.

As part of the overall initiative, the Brown administration is also announcing that Douglas Development Corp. has agreed to forego the possibility of substantial tax benefits for the company’s Seneca One Douglas Development project, in order to advance vital infrastructure improvements within the City of Buffalo. Such exemptions, if utilized, would have saved the company millions of dollars in property taxes over a 12-year period.

With Douglas Development Corp. not pursuing these benefits, the company has instead agreed to direct the full tax level payments to support an Accelerator Fund. In recognition of this impactful decision and commitment, the Brown administration and the City of Buffalo plan to match this significant investment, in order to create a nearly $40 million jump-start for supporting business development and talent attraction through infrastructure improvement.

We’re extremely excited to stand behind Buffalo’s Race for Place and the related Accelerator Fund. These forward-thinking concepts will help us achieve our vision for the City of Buffalo as an epicenter of innovation, talent attraction and economic and social equity.

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Byron W. Brown is mayor of the City of Buffalo. Douglas Jemal is founder and president of Douglas Development Corp.

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