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6 ideas for the 'Buffalo Billion'

The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council presented with Gov. Andrew Cuomo with investment options to spur the economy in Western New York. Also, Albany Molecular Research Inc., is planning to expand to a Buffalo medical campus with the help of $50 million from the state. Photo by courtesy of the governor’s office.
December 10, 2012
Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week was presented with six ideas to improve the economy of Western New York after pledging this fall to commit $1 billion for the cause. While visiting business leaders in the Buffalo region last week, he announced the state will invest $50 million in a new drug research center.

The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council laid out a plan to create jobs and attract private investing in the area over the course of the next several years, according to information from Cuomo's office.

"The strategies presented today by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council make smart decisions with the Buffalo Billion to drive billions more in public and private sector investment to Western New York," Cuomo said. "New York state is helping Buffalo to realize immediate economic growth that puts our neighbors back to work now while setting the foundation for sustainable economic opportunity for future generations."

The regional development council's co-chairs Satish Tripathi and Howard Zemsky, along with Bruce Katz, the vice president of the Brookings Institution, are tasked with an assessment of the region's "market position" and were asked to identify "advantages" and "assets" in order to maximize investment potential, according to information from the governor's office.

The University of Buffalo's Regional Institute, the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and Empire State Development, will assist in the analysis.

Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma, chairman of the Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee, said the investment plan is good news in light of the state's financial difficulties in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

"The governor's reaffirmed commitment to Western New York is welcome news amidst Sandy's yet-to-be-determined fiscal impact on the state budget. Western New York's economy is a sleeping giant and I believe our regional economic development council has put forth a series of initiatives that recognize and build upon our local strengths; new market biotechnology applications, advanced manufacturing and continued investments in our regional tourism assets are the road map to a prosperous future."

Cuomo was presented with six "signature investable initiatives," that he must now consider, including; the Buffalo Center for Manufacturing Innovation, a state-of-the-art facility to drive manufacturing growth; the Buffalo Science Productivity and Research Catalyzer, dealing with healthcare research; the Buffalo Niagara Tourism Program; the Buffalo Skills Partnership, related to workforce training; the Buffalo Breakthrough Business Challenge, a competitive system to award resources; and the Better Buffalo Fund, a competitive fund directed at supporting economic and community development projects.

In addition to the accepting the council's plans, Cuomo announced a $50 million investment and partnership with Albany Molecular Research Inc., and as a result AMRI will expand to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to launch a drug research center, according to information from the governor's office. AMRI will use $35 million toward new equipment and $15 million toward improving existing lab space. The agreement is slated to leverage $200 million in additional investments and create 250 jobs.

According to Cuomo's office, by using the money to invest in "core infrastructure" and equipment rather than give the money directly to the private company, the state can create "a state owned foundation for private sector job growth." To complement similar investments made in the Capital District, Buffalo is being developed into a center for biomedical research.

Thomas D'Ambra, chairman, CEO and president of AMRI, said the partnership is likely to be beneficial to all parties involved.

"[We] are pleased to be working with the state of New York to locate a new state-of-the-art pharmaceutical research, development and testing operation in Buffalo," he said. "We salute Gov. Andrew Cuomo's vision and leadership in building a new New York as a global hub for pioneering innovation and economic opportunity in the leading scientific fields in the 21st century."

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