What is the plan? Development officials have some ideas | local business







Planning for economic development

Erie County has a new five-year economic development plan aimed at addressing the challenges the region faces in today’s business climate.

• Attracting and retaining workers in a tight labor market with record low unemployment.

• Development of shovel-ready land and “special” industrial buildings built without a specific tenant in mind.

• Strengthening of the region’s logistics infrastructure.

The Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy plan that the Erie County Industrial Development Agency just approved is part of its effort to maintain eligibility for state grant funds to support loans to businesses. Developed with consultants from MRB Group and Prospect Hill Consulting, the plan has a strong focus on resilience, equity and inclusion, and “economic justice.”

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The updated economic recovery plan “promotes effective economic development in Erie County’s towns, cities, towns and cities through a locally anchored, regionally driven planning process.”

The plan isn’t just about business. Key factors include attracting and retaining workers by improving the quality of life, providing recreational opportunities, promoting safe and affordable housing and providing childcare. Regional cooperation is also important.

But it also cites the “urgent need” for speculative development of industrial sites and buildings, access to capital and resources for small businesses, availability of shovel-ready sites and the importance of modern and robust logistics infrastructure around water and broadband internet services, energy and transport.

For over 43 years, ECIDA has received millions of dollars from the US Economic Development Administration, part of the US Department of Commerce. Among other causes, this money supports the county’s revolving credit fund managed by the Buffalo and Erie County Regional Development Corp., an ECIDA subsidiary.

However, to be eligible for funding as a regional planning organization, ECIDA must submit and update its economic development plan for the county at least every five years. After doing so in 2011 and 2016, the agency launched a new process in July 2021 – with at least two workshops and input from 22 municipalities – and officially adopted the new policy last week.

Do you want to know Moconcerning? Three stories to catch up:

• Dig more shovel-ready land in WNY

• Schumer breaks deadlocks and frees WNY $17 million

• Schumer wants to restore federal funds

Welcome to Buffalo Next. This newsletter from The Buffalo News brings you the latest coverage of Buffalo Niagara’s changing economy – from real estate to healthcare to startups. Read more at BuffaloNext.com.

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WHAT HAPPENS TO…

Whitney Neighborhood and WinnCompanies

then: WinnCompanies, the nation’s largest operator of affordable housing, is planning a year-long redevelopment of the Whitney neighborhood in Buffalo’s West Village Historic District. This is a cluster of 10 non-contiguous buildings at Carolina and Georgia Streets, Prospect Avenue, Johnson Park and Whitney Place, containing a total of 135 apartments.

The developer, who acquired it for $8.33 million in early February, plans to use low-income residential tax credits, state and federal historic tax credits, and additional funds from New York State Housing and Community Renewal to fund the project.

now: State officials on Monday awarded the project $31 million, which will help fund extensive repairs and improvements to improve safety and reduce energy use.

Twenty-one of the homes will be dedicated to homeless veterans, with supportive services from Soldier On, but all 135 homes will be covered by Section 8 rental subsidies from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

NEWS IN CONTEXT

Gluten-free craft beer, anyone?

What: Get ready for some locally made gluten-free craft beers from Ghostfish Brewing Co. The Seattle-based brewery is opening an East Coast processing and distribution center on vacant space at the Grape Discovery Center in Westfield, where it will produce beverages to grow to meet consumer demand in both the US states and the Canadian provinces east of the Mississippi.

Tell me more: Producing six beers year-round, several rotating seasonal styles and several specialty products, Ghostfish has won more than 23 medals in competitive beer competitions, including the Great American Beer Fest.

It was voted “Best Beer Brand” in the 2017 Gluten Free Buyer’s Guide, and its grapefruit IPA is the best-selling gluten-free IPA nationwide. Its products are distributed in 19 US states and four Canadian provinces.

The new brewery will occupy 5,100 square feet in the Chautauqua County facility, which also houses the Official Visitor Center for the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt. In addition to beer production, the company plans to offer brewery tours and possibly add tastings and beer sales.

Why it matters: Chautauqua County — through the Chautauqua Region Economic Development Corp., the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, and Lake Erie Wine Country — seeks to promote craft beverages, particularly craft breweries and distilleries.

The Ghostfish Brewing project received an AL Tech Revolving Loan Fund loan from the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency last week to meet working capital needs and purchase equipment.

THE NEWEST

The state is preparing for this Start offering rewards to healthcare workers as part of an effort to retain and attract people to an area that was struggling to fill vacancies.

Five local businesses will receive grants totaling nearly $400,000 by National Grid for expansion projects.

Buffalo Bills and Sabers owner Terry Pegula is branching out into the financial services world.

How can banking services be brought to underserved communities? Bank on Buffalo plans to take them to the streets.

Kaleida Health’s new CEO, Don Boyd, is expanding his leadership team and has announced several important appointments.

The state’s legal cannabis market is still taking shape, however there are many opportunities and pitfalls for businessGrowers and anyone else looking to get into what is likely to be a big new business in New York.

A Niagara Falls fitness equipment manufacturer acquired from a private equity-backed company that already owns some big national brands.

legislation to Restoring the retirement savings of retired Delphi workers has garnered support from left and right in Congress. It was passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, and supporters hope the Senate will follow suit.

A Bill that would fund a number of technology centers across the country – and possibly in the Buffalo Niagara region – passed the Senate.

Buffalo Next reporters Jonathan D. Epstein, Jon Harris, Natalie Brophy, Matt Glynn, Janet Gramza, Samantha Christmann, and Mike Petro contributed to this summary.

ICYMI

Five readings from Buffalo Next:

1. Rich Products relies on Innovations and new products to grow his business and a good portion of that effort is taking place in Buffalo.

2. The rules for would-be cannabis store operators remain unclear — and that’s just one of the challenges they face as the launch of a legalized marijuana marketplace draws closer.

3. David Balkin, the new president of SUNY Erie Community College, moves fast to make a name for itself on the fighting institution.

4. Amazon’s large distribution center in the city of Niagara is approved, but there are still many hurdles to overcome.

5. Buffalo’s startups aren’t just for programmers. They also attract accountants and salespeople: Although more and more startup companies are tech-focused and there is a demand for tech employees — particularly in western New York — employees such as accountants, customer service representatives, and salespeople are also important components of these organizations.

The Buffalo Next team brings you an overview of the region’s economic revitalization. Buy buildings? Renovating a property? Do you have a tip? You can reach real estate and development reporter Jonathan D. Epstein at 716-849-4478 or email jepstein@buffnews.com.

Email tips to buffalext@buffnews.com.

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