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The 'Great Resignation' tops Buffalo Niagara Partnership legislative agenda

Jenny Kane

The start of the state legislature session bring pitches from across New York on what this or that group wants, legal changes and cash or cuts for businesses and agencies.

Years ago, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership set up a different system: a combined agenda from local governments and businesses on their combined priorities. Often, it's an attempt to deal with a particular problem or cash for something, like the push for a new Buffalo Bills stadium.

President and CEO Dottie Gallagher told Thursday's virtual presentation of the agenda that the big priority is getting more people into job training to fill jobs open right now.

"Our top advocacy priority is our member's top concern: tackling the talent challenge," she said. "In our annual survey, BNP members said that a lack of qualified talent is their number one inhibitor to growth; 83% currently have unfilled positions and 77% are looking to add even more employees this year. All of this set against the backdrop of the Great Resignation."

The Partnership's idea is to broaden the federal system of Pell Grants, the cash that goes go college students to help them get through school. The new system would allow Pell Grants to be used for job training programs, supporting people as they upskill or train for completely new positions.

Government Affairs Vice President Grant Loomis said the new transportation legislation is also good for the region.

"We thank senators Schumer and Gillibrand and congressmen Reed and Higgins for their support. Now that this historic investment has been allocated, leaders at all levels need to make sure funds are distributed efficiently and effectively to move projects quickly and on budget," Loomis said. "That includes make sure state leaders provide funding parity between upstate and downstate."

University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi wants his university designated as a research hub, using lots of federal dollars.

"Sen. Schumer has committed to using his influence to locate a technology hub in the Buffalo-Niagara Region," Tripathi said. "With a Buffalo-Niagara Region technology hub, our region would benefit from the creation of new, well-paying jobs. Moreover, our collective ability to attract master talent would be greatly enhanced."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.