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Panelists say Buffalo ‘Renaissance’ is real

Ashley Hirtzel

Buffalo’s ‘Renaissance’ is real, at least if you ask the panelists who participated in a forum held at Niagara University Friday. The hour-long discussion put together by university students, focused on the dynamics that are helping to change the city’s image.

The three panelists included Congressman Brian Higgins, Buffalo Heritage Unlimited CEO Marti Gorman,  and Niagara University Assistant Professor of Economics and Management Kristine Principe. The audience was able to ask questions of the Buffalo “Renaissance” experts at the end.

Principe says the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is a major draw to the region. She says companies are moving to the city from out of state to be on the campus.

“I think the amount, both in dollar and in quantity of projects that the medical campus is spurring in non-scientific types of firms is evidence of the strength of the renaissance, because if it wasn’t strong and sustainable we wouldn’t be seeing the significant investment of private capital,” said Principe.

Principe says the medical campus is also causing outgrowth across the city such as new restaurants, hotels, and, apartments. She adds that the strong higher education system is also a draw to the region. Congressman Higgins says he believes a turning point in Buffalo’s history was when the waterfront began to see a renewal.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO
Niagara University students put panel discussion together

“I think it’s seeing tangible results from things people were promised throughout decades and things that never materialized. When they finally materialized, it had a profoundly beneficial impact on the psychology of Buffalo, which influences investment decisions. I think when people saw it, they felt it.  When they felt it, they knew it was real and I think that has formed the basis for the ‘Renaissance’ that you see,” said Higgins. “It starts with a few people but the multiplier effect has been multigenerational and has transcended geographic areas, both in the metropolitan Buffalo area, but throughout the county where a different story is being told of Buffalo.”

Gorman says investments by public and private entities are helping people to see change and improving the city’s image.

“People are now convinced. There was skepticism for a long time. Now even the most deeply skeptical individuals are believers and they’re acting accordingly. Those of us that are here are acting accordingly. We have investors spreading the goodness. We have folks from elsewhere, some ex-patriots, and they’re saying, “Wow, this place has immense potential and it’s cool” said Gorman.

But, how is Buffalo overcoming negative factors such as high state taxes and safety concerns? Higgins said the continual word of mouth by Buffalonians is promoting how safe the city is now, while business incentives such as STARTUP NY in a state ridden with high taxes are helping to offset the negatives.

What does the ‘Renaissance’ mean for the community? Higgins says the revival means young people are staying here after college and people who have left are coming back to the city, helping to fuel its rebirth.