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IBM Buffalo Innovation Center opens downtown

Michael Mroziak/WBFO News

A new high-tech office brought to life with dollars from the so-called 'Buffalo Billion' was formally dedicated Friday in downtown Buffalo.State and local leaders gathered at Fountain Plaza to celebrate the formal opening of the IBM Buffalo Innovation Center. They cut a ceremonial ribbon - a blue one, naturally - after taking turns celebrating what they all said was another sign of Buffalo's resurgence.

"As a guy who's lived here for 33 years, and watched a population that had great aspiration and great disappointment over a long time, when you see all the changes now in Buffalo you can't even believe it," said Howard Zemsky, President and CEO of Empire State Development.

The IBM Buffalo Innovation Center will work in five high-tech categories: analytics, big data, Watson technology (a cognitive system of computing), cloud computing and mobile computing. Occupying office and data center space in both of towers at Fountain Plaza, the center currently has 11 employees. Officials say they hope to have 50 by the end of this year and then, eventually, employ several hundred people.

"We are also working with local colleges and universities to establish programs for recruiting, for internships, and residency programs," said executive director Jay Goodwin.https://youtu.be/efePx2XsimM","_id":"0000017a-346e-dad6-adfb-f6ef4dfc0000","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">https://youtu.be/efePx2XsimM">https://youtu.be/efePx2XsimM","_id":"0000017a-346e-dad6-adfb-f6ef4dfc0000","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">https://youtu.be/efePx2XsimM

Among the numerous elected officials who spoke was Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who spoke of watching her children leaving the Buffalo area for career opportunities.

"I'm here to announce that that brain drain is now stopped," Hochul said. "We've figured out the success and it's opportunities like this. This is exactly what the governor was looking for that amazing day, when the fate of Buffalo turned around in January 2012. Howard and I were in the audience when the governor announced the first phrase 'Buffalo Billion.'"

An estimated $55 million from that Buffalo Billion was used to invest in the opening of the IBM Buffalo Innovation Center.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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