Buffalo Billion 2 already looks more promising than Buffalo Billion 1. While we laud ourselves for being smarter now than when we thought Bass Pro would save the city, were we guilty of doing it again with Solar City? $750M in funding for 500 manufacturing jobs isn’t a plan to solve our city and region’s complex problems.

Initially free of major money (and federal indictment) pits like Solar City, Buffalo Billion 2 promises more community and urban investments that will stabilize neighborhoods, provide job training, and bring jobs closer to those most in need.

It’s not just about money this time ($500 Million more of it) but also Albany paying attention to issues in the region that are affecting us. Yes, we should be skeptical, and vigilant, and hold politicians accountable to make sure the money is spent appropriately, but there is reason to be happy about the second major round of funding our region is receiving.

Followers of Rise and No Boundaries know that we cannot say our city has made a rebound if the developments since 2010 have had little or no impact on the neighborhoods east of Main St (and Riverside, Black Rock). Buffalo News and others have done extensive coverage of the allocation of dollars, but we wanted to comment on some pieces that stood out to us:

Bring the jobs to the people who need them most. In an area of the city where few people own cars, the reacquisition of the Northland Corridor makes a whole lot of sense:

BUDC’s [in partnership with Empire State Development] approach to the Northland Corridor Redevelopment Project consists of four interconnected strategies:

Community Outreach
WNY Workforce Training Center (Serving 1,000 people)
Northland Redevelopment Plan
Northland Neighborhood Plan

Learn more.

Beautification projects may seem trivial, but they are inspiring. According to the new budget, $100M will be set aside for work along east side business districts including Jefferson Ave, Fillmore Ave, Michigan Ave, Bailey Ave and $10M for housing renovation in the neighborhoods around them. Again, it’s Albany (and City Hall) paying attention to these streets and neighborhoods more than they have in decades. That can have an effect on feelings of self-worth, confidence to start a business, finish a degree, make an investment in the area.

We hope that this means that the average onlooker will point to more than Canalside as proof of the city’s resurgence. The real work to save the city is being done by people at the grassroots level. Refugees have breathed life into the west side, immigrants have stabilized block after block in Broadway-Fillmore. This progress should be common knowledge. These stories need to be told much more often, especially while a narrative that refugees and immigrants are bad is being pushed daily from Washington. It was inspiring to see Gov. Cuomo make such a statement.

Finally, a negotiation that was tied to the budget was to raise the age of punishing 16 year olds as adults to 18 years old. We agree with the Governor, and New York’s new law, that to tie a felony to the name of a 16 year old who made a stupid mistake is to give them yet another obstacle. “With a felony on their record, they will never get a good job,” according to Cuomo. We can’t expect to send a 16 year old child to an adult jail and see them come out rehabilitated for the better. It can be beneficial for our entire community to give people an extra chance to thrive.

It can be difficult to pull away from the news cycle coming from Washington DC, but we need to remember that the budget and laws coming from Albany have a greater effect on our day-to-day lives. We’re cautiously optimistic about this second round and hope that you will be too.

PS – We’ll have ride sharing in July 🙂 🙂