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City construction projects helping ease COVID layoffs

Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Niagara Street on Buffalo's West Side continues to bustle with construction.

Recent Buffalo mayors have spent millions fixing up major streets on the premise economic development will follow, with many citing what's happened along re-built Ohio or Niagara Streets as proof. However, a Canisius professor said those projects have even more value.

Economics and Finance professor Julie Anna Golebiewski said there are really two aspects to these projects, with one especially important right now.

Workers have to be paid to do projects, like the one currently underway near Niagara and Ferry. That's cash up front.

"Particularly at this time, any investment in infrastructure has a more immediate effect of creating jobs," she said. "So in the economic environment that we find ourselves in as a result of COVID, that job creation by itself has a postive effect."

Then, there's the economics behind the theory that new streets will develop along them. Niagara is a major example of what's claimed as the end product of street work, those old factories that are now market-rate housing.

"How much will that investment cost and how much new activity will it attract? On the margin, I do think it will, at least, add to the economic activity," Golebiewski said.

The Brown Administration is hoping the city's investment to improve Broadway will have a similar impact, projects like the $51 million The Forge complex on the vast site of what was the Buffalo Forge manufacturing plant. The new housing stretches along the recently repaved and improved section of Broadway.

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.
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