On February 20, 2020, Buffalo, New York Mayor Byron W. Brown officially unveiled the innovative Buffalo’s Race for Place initiative at his annual State of the City address. This dynamic new revitalization effort is being introduced as a proactive response to the transforming regional economy, global technology and recruitment trends, and related local talent attraction needs.
Buffalo’s Race for Place will focus on the identification of public and private partnership opportunities to enhance regional vibrancy, advance critical infrastructure and public space improvements, increase accessibility and inclusion, promote infill development, integrate intelligent technology and placemaking design, and address quality of life needs/amenities as identified through citizen engagement and analysis.
“I am extremely excited to unveil Buffalo’s Race for Place and the related Accelerator Fund, as these concepts represent a forward-thinking and timely approach to realizing our vision for the City of Buffalo as an epicenter of innovation, talent, and economic and social equity,” said Brown.
With the national unemployment rate at 3.6% and the announcement of hundreds of new jobs coming online in emerging technology sectors, including from M&T Bank at the Seneca One Douglas Development project, finding the right talent continues to be a growing economic challenge for employers throughout the world.
To combat this growing challenge, public and private sector interests must align to implement recruitment, training, and up-skilling programs that can better attract and support the next wave of workers in Buffalo Niagara.
Meanwhile, government and business leaders must also adopt innovative approaches to infrastructure improvement, placemaking, Smart City design, transportation and safety solutions, and the offering of amenities and public spaces that appeal to these same talent prospects in order to remain regionally competitive and relevant.
“Buffalo’s Race for Place will bring together learnings from past City-led studies and global talent trends, and combine such intelligence with citizen and worker inputs, and the insights of local businesses,” continued Brown. “This collaboration will help position the City of Buffalo and Western New York to compete on the broader economic development stage, with a very clear message that our region is truly in this together and fighting to win.”
ABOUT BUFFALO’S RACE FOR PLACE
Launched in February 2020, Buffalo’s Race for Place is made possible through a one-of-a-kind community collaboration driven by the leadership of Mayor Byron W. Brown and his administration; an unprecedented commitment of jobs and investment by M&T Bank within the City of Buffalo, and; a noteworthy public-private partnership with Douglas Development Corporation to fund and advance critical infrastructure improvements and streetscape enhancements.
The new initiative will commence with an opening focus on several key considerations, including:
- Advancement of the downtown infrastructure plan, streetscape improvements, and placemaking in key investment corridors and nodes;
- The strengthening of anchors located along the Main Street “Knowledge Corridor”;
- Progressive land-use policies that prioritize traffic calming, demand and load management, and pedestrian and bicycle friendly activity, as well as promotion of public transit usage, and continuation of Cars Sharing Main Street;
- Implementation of additional Smart City technology solutions and capabilities within such corridors and beyond;
- Additive public safety solutions to further community and new resident confidence;
- Increased urban vibrancy and activation through implementation and feedback inputs from citizens and employees/employers (via City of Buffalo, Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, and community outreach); and,
- Integration with existing talent attraction activities, organizations, and region-wide campaigns, such as Be in Buffalo.
Mayor Brown concluded, “Through Buffalo’s Race for Place, the City of Buffalo—and its diverse public and private sector workforce, which hails from all parts of the region—will play an ever-increasing role in making our urban areas both inclusive and attractive to prospective talent.”
As part of the overall initiative, the Brown Administration is also announcing that Douglas Development Corporation has agreed to forego the possibility of substantial tax benefits for the company’s Seneca One Douglas Development project, in order to advance vital infrastructure improvements within the City of Buffalo.
Such exemptions, if utilized, would have saved the company millions of dollars in property taxes over a 12-year period. With Douglas Development Corporation not pursuing these benefits, the company has instead agreed to direct the full tax level payments to support an Accelerator Fund.
In recognition of this impactful decision and Douglas Jemal’s ongoing commitment to Buffalo, the Brown Administration now plans to have the City to match this significant investment, in order to create a nearly $40 million jump-start for supporting business development and talent attraction through infrastructure improvement.
Featured photo of Buffalo via Adobe Stock.