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Plans in place for "Billion to Buffalo"

Ashley Hassett/WBFO News

Plans for the “Billion to Buffalo”are ready to be implemented. The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council met on University at Buffalo’s North Campus Thursday to announce how the funds will be allocated.

It was one year ago that the Governor promised $1 billion to Buffalo and now the final plans are in place for how that money will be used. Regional Co-chair Howard Zemsky said funds will be allocated to six investment initiatives.

“We’ve got three focus sectors in the economy. Our focus sectors are advanced manufacturing, tourism, and life sciences where we have a billion dollars invested into the medical campus. Then we’re focused on enablers, workforce development, getting people the right skills to fill the jobs. You can’t grow your economy if you can’t find people with the right skills to fill the positions. Revitalization and smart growth and then finally entrepreneurship is a third enabler,” said Zemsky.

Zemsky said the investment is expected to create thousands of jobs and spur new investment and economic development over the next several years.

“Around these strategies, creating an environment that attracts private sector investment is the way to go in building on our strengths. We have core strengths and we have certain needs, and so building on our strengths and trying to bolster some of the areas of weakness, that’s what we’re doing,” said Zemsky.

Committees comprised of area stakeholders and council members will be formed to appropriate the funding and a “Billion to Buffalo” website will be launched in a few weeks.

The Buffalo Billion’s six signature investable initiatives include:

  • Buffalo Center for Manufacturing Innovation: a state-of-the-art facility to support the growth of the region’s manufacturing sector. It will be a shared services enterprise that provides support in commercializing applied research, developing more efficient operational processes, enabling entry into new markets, and up-skilling the existing workforce.
  • The Buffalo Science Productivity and Research Catalyzer (SPaRC): to help bring breakthrough healthcare innovations to market. The Accelerator supports researchers in developing translational research, acquiring patents, and then licensing those patents or developing them into businesses.
  • Buffalo Niagara Tourism Program: a regional tourism program to leverage the world-class tourism assets in Niagara Falls and the City of Buffalo through a more coordinated and sophisticated marketing strategy; investments and increased programming in the Niagara State Park; investments in other regional tourism assets and amenities; and the creation of regional offerings.
  • The Buffalo Skills Partnership: a skills broker with initial investments in Rapid Right Skilling. The partnership will make Buffalo’s workforce system the most flexible, diverse and responsive in the nation by aligning education and training behind the skills employers need to expand and workers need for job success.
  • Buffalo Breakthrough Business Challenge: a world-class business plan competition to catalyze the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Winners will receive initial funding, incubator space, mentorship and introductions to leading venture capital firms.
  • Better Buffalo Fund: to make targeted investments through a dedicated fund to support high impact economic and community development projects. A competition will determine the best investments, based on overall strategic fit, impact, proven capacity for execution and commitment of additional funds.