Amherst Chamber of CommerceAmherst Chamber of Commerce

Message from the President

 

A Billion Dollars for Our Region - How do we Get it?

By Colleen DiPirro

 

Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo made an extraordinary announcement - he committed $1 billion dollars to  Western New York. As a member of the WNY Regional Economic Development Council (REDC), I have had the opportunity to learn more about what this could mean for our region and how if we all work together we will benefit from this once in a lifetime opportunity.    

 

Since the announcement, I have fielded dozens of calls from firms and individuals wanting a piece of the pie.  It is important to understand the Governor's intent behind this investmentopportunity.  It is not about funding projects in the pipeline, but rather about making long term strategic investments that will ensure transformational, sustainable development changing the trajectory of  Buffalo and the region. 

 

In addition to the unique $1B fund that is under development, NYS has existing programs available now to help firms grow in NYS. You can learn more about those programs by contacting the WNY Regional Office at 846-8221 or at http://www.nyfirst.ny.gov . Regarding the $1B fund, here are some facts to help you understand the intent and parameters for use:

 

1) The Billion Dollar Project is referred to as the  Buffalo Regional Innovation Cluster.  The Executive Budget contains the first phases of a multi-year $1 billion economic development package.  The REDC is charged with developing the details of a viable plan to create thousands of jobs and to spur at least $5 billion in new investment and economic activity. 

 

2) This is a challenge grant and the money is based on performance.  The money will not be disbursed until private investments are made.  This is not seed capital.  But it is a huge opportunity to attract private sector investment. 

 

3) The resources from this initiative are meant to impact the City of  Buffalo and the entire region.  Projects funded should have regional impact.  The exact project locations are not as critical as the impact of the project in a broad way.  Recognizing that the City of  Buffalo is the metropolitan center of the region, it is essential that projects have a positive impact on the City. 

 

4) The money is NOT for existing projects and it is not for "one shots" but is expected funding will be recommended for both local company expansions and new business attraction.  The money is for projects that will have regional impact and or develop a cluster economy that will have region wide, sustainable development.  The use of money to leverage a private sector investment is flexible, depending on the company's needs. 

 

Developing the strategy for leveraging this investment will be a collaborative process among WNY REDC, local economic development agencies and the State.  While some will be disappointed at first glance by the criterion which precludes them from qualifying, when we realize the long term quantifiable value of transformational projects, it is clear that this we will all benefit from the outcomes. It is imperative that we work regionally and think big. This is indeed an historic opportunity for us to dictate our future for generations to come.

 

For a copy of Frequently Asked Questions click on REDC or email me at cdipirro@amherst.org.

 

 


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