Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2015 State of the City Address

            Over the past couple of years Buffalo has achieved countless accomplishments. From opening up Main Street for driving to the brand new Gates Vascular Institute in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Buffalo has not stopped advancing. After attending the State of the City Address back in late February, nothing but success and prosperity are to come for the city. Since the event took place, there have been even more plans for new development in the works. Buffalo truly has and is continuing to “build a city of opportunity.”
            Ideas of change, revitalization, and employment opportunities filled the ears of nearly 1200 guests, ranging from investors to city employees and to students from various institutions. On this brisk winter afternoon, guests ate a lunch together and socialized as Mayor Byron W. Brown prepared to give another speech. “I expect to hear aspirations for his future as mayor, development, and crime,” city of Buffalo employee Phyllis Brown said. Brown’s Deputy Director of Communications, Lorey Schultz, who organized the program said, “I am fortunate to work for Mayor Brown and his leadership time during an exciting time for the city of Buffalo.”
 “The State of the City is strong and continues to grow every day,” said Brown during his speech. “However, we must keep the engine of opportunity going by building a city of opportunity for everyone.”
Economics and the creation of jobs were discussed the most during the speech. Mayor Brown touched upon many plans to increase the job market not only for its residents but to attract more people to the area. In fact, since 2012, population growth in the Buffalo/Niagara area has increased 1% according to U.S. Census data. The Buffalo Niagara Film Commission is set to bring 250 new film jobs, the goal of bringing a large chain grocery store downtown on Ellicott Street, and the city overall expecting to create over 12,000 new jobs.
In addition to discussing issues pertaining to urban development and growth, Mayor Brown spoke about initiatives for residents’ overall well-being and quality of life. As stated at the address, overall crime has dropped 25% since 2005 and violent crime has dropped to a historic low in the past year. There are also plans to make Buffalo even safer and improve communication between law enforcement and residents by adding a partnership with Nextdoor, which is a private social network for neighborhoods. Development and growth overall will continue in the neighborhoods as services expand to do more for the people who live in them.
One particular development that Brown mentioned in regards to neighborhoods included the Northland Avenue Belt Line Corridor. This will be a business park for manufacturing jobs and job training funded on Buffalo’s East Side by the “Buffalo Billion” in partnership with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Empire State Development Corporation. “All areas of the city will benefit. Just because work happens in one section of the city at a time that doesn't mean other parts of the city don't benefit,” said Naeem Jenkins-Nixon, communications staffer for the Mayor’s office. Other projects the mayor mentioned during his speech included Niagara Street Gateway Project and Neighborhood Housing Projects that will break ground this year.
            Since the State of the City Address, Buffalo development has kept moving. Just recently, two investors have signed on to a project for $750 million each, which is being called Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend, according to The Buffalo News. Also, the Buffalo News reported this week that the city has also revealed a plan to offer free Wi-Fi downtown. With M&T Bank funding the project, residents will be able to access the Internet, in an area that will cover Main Street all the way to North Street and throughout the district. “Since 2006, Mayor Brown has worked hard to put a strategic plan in place and it’s working,” said Schultz.
News of Paramount Pictures coming to Buffalo to shoot scenes for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is in the works as well according to WIVB News.
            Since urban development in the city has been a major focus, positive hopes for the future have become more and more realistic expectations. “With significant investment and job growth underway in Buffalo, we have a unique opportunity to change this city for the better to ensure that every city resident shares in our rising prosperity,” Brown said.

“I was proud that the mayor outlined a plan that focuses on growth and opportunity for all. During his Address, he spoke on the importance of everyone benefiting during this current economic renaissance in the city,” Jenkins-Nixon said. The destiny of the city is on its way to bigger and brighter horizons.

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