If We Build It, Will Retail Come?

 

Canalside, Buffalo, NY

Canalside, Buffalo, NY

Planners and politicians agree that a vibrant downtown is a measure of a region’s success and retail activity is a critical component. While Buffalo’s central business district is in a period of rebirth, many wonder if increased retail activity will follow. Progress in other markets illustrates that a sustainable trajectory of increasing demand will appeal to retailers. This sustainability is built on common principles: increase downtown population, develop a mix of complimentary uses, attract tourists, and improve accessibility.

Housing is a primary catalyst for downtown development and a priority for local government. The 9-5 workforce cannot sustain retail and commercial activity but a significant residential population creates the necessary balance. Mayor Byron Brown is committed to residential development with his administration’s stated goal of 1,300 new downtown housing units by 2018, leveraging the recommendations of the Buffalo Building Reuse Plan (BBRP) to achieve this effort.

Building these units alone won’t create demand. Residents will be attracted to a downtown with a variety of recreational, professional, and commercial development. BNE’s downtown development map highlights the diversity of current and proposed projects.

In addition to workers and residents, a vibrant downtown will attract tourists. Complementing the existing cultural amenities, HARBORcenter, Canalside and its future attractions such as Explore & More Children’s museum will draw millions of visitors to downtown Buffalo. To meet the demand of this development, hundreds of new hotel rooms are in the works.

Lastly, a successful downtown must be accessible. As the Cars Sharing Main St. project creeps towards Canalside, a Pearl St. reconfiguration is planned and streetscape improvements are developing for primary thoroughfares such as Ellicott, Genesee, and Chippewa Streets. Buffalo’s downtown accessibility will be markedly improved.

There is no guarantee of retail progress yet, but a sign of its imminent arrival is the arrival of at least 15 new downtown restaurants recently opened or in development.

While other components such as the regulatory environment, public safety, and surrounding neighborhoods all play a vital role in the downtown equation there isn’t enough space in this post to elaborate! However, rooted in these principles, with increased retail development on the horizon, Buffalo’s downtown future will leave visitors impressed and residents proud.

by Christopher Finn, Research Manager

Fantasy Football? Bet on Buffalo Niagara this Year!

In Buffalo Niagara, the falling leaves mark another Bills’ season and endless debates about what’s in store for our beloved team. NFL analysts and prognosticators predict each team’s playoff future but this year, Team BNE is taking a slightly different approach to forecast the Bills’ win-loss potential.  Instead of rankings and depth charts, we matched up each game on a stat that we regularly report, cost-of-living.

When we work to attract a company to our region, the Buffalo Niagara’s cost-of-living comes up frequently.  This statistic puts salary into context and illustrates how far a dollar goes here versus other areas. Aggregated by the Council for Community and Economic Research, every quarter Team BNE hits the field to price out a typical “basket of goods” which ranges from food staples to home prices and doctor visits to dry cleaning services. The data from Q2, 2014 shows we have a score of 97.2, which means our cost-of-living score is 2.8% below the national average. Using this data, we matched up the Buffalo market versus the Bills’ 2014 – 2015 opponents. (The Green Bay game was recorded as a tie with no data for their market.) Let the competition begin!

Cost of Living Comparison

Cost of Living Comparison

If our cost of living score is any kind of indication, using our complicated prediction model, the analysis shows the Bills will have an easy run into the playoffs with a final record of 14-1-1!

(Sigh….) If only this figure was taken into account for the actual season!  But you can bet Team BNE is looking for a season of economic wins and when it comes to our beloved Bills, the playoffs will be more than a fantasy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHbnQXsyDrE

by Christopher Finn, Research Manager

Mapping Downtown Buffalo’s Development

by Christopher Finn, Research Manager

In the years ahead, 2014 will be viewed as a milestone in Buffalo’s history.

-The year that development plans and proposals turned to cranes and steel.

-The year that saw the commencement or continued construction of projects that altered the future of the western New York region.Buffalo, NY Development on the Rise!

These projects were not achieved by happenstance, but through decades of hard work and persistence from local stakeholders, built from the foundation of other significant development ventures that came before.

From Buffalo Billion Initiatives, (eg – High Tech Park @ Riverbend and IBM’s announcement) to HARBORcenter; from the University at Buffalo’s Medical School to Canalside, Buffalo’s development is occurring organically and with great diversity.

Our future is now and it’s the culmination of a development strategy rooted in unprecedented cooperation between public and private entities, community organizations and every level of government.

In an effort to chronicle this momentum, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise has updated our downtown developments maps. We consider this an ongoing effort, with updates occurring regularly, so input is always welcome. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly with observations, additions, or edits.

STATUS, Downtown Buffalo Development Projects (Completed, Under Construction and Proposed)

TYPE, Downtown Buffalo Development Projects (Medical/Medical R&D, Mixed Use, Office, Other, Residential and Tourism/Hospitality)

What’s in a (Code) Name?

by Christopher Finn, Research Manager

A standard practice across the business attraction industry, code names are a critical component of BNE’s work. From shareholder concerns to competitive advantages, the companies we work with demand confidentiality. Once a company gets a code name within BNE, it becomes rare to hear the company’s true name again. But how are the names chosen?

The project could come to us with a name already in place, but if not, a quick brainstorming of BNE staff begins. The project manager provides the team a few basic details: company name, stakeholders names, products, etc., and then the magic happens. (And by magic, I mean usually a Seinfeld reference). We try to create at least two degrees of separation from the code name to the company to thwart any would-be sleuths. So, for better or worse, we’re pulling back the curtain on our “super-secret “ process!

Project Bayside

Project Bayside

Project Goalie (Sentient Science, advanced manufacturing testing software) Company CEO’s name is Ward Thomas. Cam Ward + Tim Thomas (Both NHL goalies) = Ward Thomas = Project Goalie

Project Hello (Alita USA, Dubai-based steel tube manufacturer) Shortly after the successful Welded Tube project announcement we were contacted by another steel tube manufacturing company. “Oh hello there second steel tube company!”…turned into this.

Project Flux (Name withheld) A company whose power requirements were so large (120MW) that we felt they needed a flux capacitor to run the place!

Project Pilgrim (Yahoo! data center) This one from the company. One of the project leaders was from South America and was not familiar with the east coast of the United States…except for it being the location of the Pilgrims’ arrival.

Project Wave (Originally dubbed Project White Wave before BNE was involved) (Muller/Quaker yogurt manufacturing facility) This is a multi-corporate endeavor, including Pepsico. White Wave…Pepsi. Some are so obvious in hindsight it’s sad we didn’t crack them first.

Project Bayside (Name withheld) A company executive is named Mario = Mario Lopez = AC Slater, champion wrestler for Bayside High School on Saved by the Bell.

I even had my six year old daughter name one. Project Shadow (Name withheld) Working from home one day we began working with a company whose name reminded me of the word voodoo. I turned to my daughter and asked her what she thinks of when I say “voodoo” and she said the Shadow Man from Disney’s Princess & the Frog.

We ensure that a code name could never lead someone back to the actual company, but now that you have an understanding of how we think, it’s fun to try!

Development Sites in Downtown Buffalo, NY

by Christopher Finn, Research Manager

Downtown Buffalo, NY Development Sites

Downtown Buffalo, NY Available Development Sites

During the last decade, through one of the worst recessions in U.S. history, investment in downtown Buffalo persevered with billions of dollars in completed and recently announced projects. Economic development efforts must not rest on this success, but instead build off of this tremendous momentum.

To this end, Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC) has begun an effort to market downtown Buffalo as a place that welcomes future investment.BUDC identified and inventoried downtown parcels that would be attractive to developers. Once this initiative was completed, they contacted BNE and requested that we create a map to be used as a marketing tool for these options. Currently, the map highlights twenty-three unique parcels for a total of 21.5 acres.

BUDC’s mission includes the acquisition, remediation and management of distressed properties, and to engage in related real estate development activities for the purpose of attracting and/or retaining new and existing businesses to the City. This effort is visible in the success of Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park and their latest project along the Buffalo River, RiverBend Commerce Park. They are also the lead agency tasked with implementing the recommendations of the Buffalo Building Reuse Project (BBRP). BUDC is one of the most progressive economic development agencies working on behalf of Buffalo, pursuing transformative projects in our region.

Downtown Buffalo, NY Development Sites Map is a living document and edits or additions can be made by contacting Brandye Merriweather, BUDC project coordinator.

University at Buffalo (UB) Incubator Named Best in the World

by Christopher Finn, Research Manager

The University at Buffalo Technology Incubator has received a most exemplary honor: named the top university-based incubator for the life sciences in the world. That’s right. In the world.

According to a report published in June by the Swedish University Business Incubator Index (UBI Index) titled “Top University Business Incubators: Global Benchmark Report 2013,” UB’s incubator excels in areas such as talent retention, network enhancement and post-incubation relationships. The report, which UBI Index claims is the first ever global index to benchmark performance and best practices of university incubators, studied 150 incubators in 22 countries based on a 50 criteria.

One of the UB incubator’s top performing companies is ONY, Inc., which was featured in a previous issue of Buffalo Niagara Life Science News with an interview of its President and Founder, Dr. Edmund Egan. ONY is the owner of Infasurf® (calfactant), a lung surfactant developed and tested by academic scientists in Ontario and New York in the 1970s and 1980s.

The incubator, located at UB’s North Campus in the Baird Research Park, began as a partnership between UB, the UB Foundation, and the State of New York in 1988. As one of the nation’s first bioincubators, it offered not only office space but wet labs as well. The 40,000 square foot facility was designed to be FDA compliant, a critical step for companies developing either pharmaceutical products or medical devices. FDA compliance has been maintained throughout the facility’s history and is one of the few facilities in western New York to offer such space to emerging companies.

Why is Buffalo Niagara Attractive for FDI?

by Christopher Finn, Research Manager

Global Company Motives for Investing in the U.S.

Global Company Motives for Investing in the U.S.

Incentives are a common tool utilized by states and regions to leverage job creation and investment amount from business attraction projects. For certain companies/industries, incentives are critical to a project’s success; however, in others they play only a supporting role.  In a recent blog post from the International Trade Administration, (ITA),  they state that in regards to companies investing outside their home country via Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), “…financial incentives (including tax or funding incentives) have played a minor role in company location decisions over the last nine years and are decreasingly important.”

If incentives are not driving these FDI projects, what are the primary criteria used during the site selection process? Two of the top three are assets of the Buffalo Niagara region that we use to market Buffalo Niagara to the world – Proximity to Markets and Skilled Workforce Availability.

These two factors, plus the others listed in the report,  drove many of the 75 FDI projects BNE attracted to our region. The educated/skilled workforce and university system pumping out thousands of new workers every year, factored with the ability to reach over 125,000,000 people in a 10 hour drive, makes Buffalo Niagara an ideal location for FDI.

Click here to read the full ITA blog post.

BNE Takes Buffalo on the Road…

Graham Smith, BNE Research Director, at US Commercial European Roadshow

Graham Smith, BNE Research Director, at US Commercial European Roadshow

by Christopher Finn, Research Manager

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National Branding & Investment (NBI) Expo in Eindhoven

Buffalo Niagara Enterprise has an aggressive travel schedule. As I type this blog post, two of BNE’s team members are in Germany attending Hannover Messe 2013, one of the world’s largest industrial technology trade shows. Each year BNE’s Business Development managers spend a significant portion of their time on the road, publicizing the assets of Buffalo Niagara. They attend trade shows, industry seminars, economic development summits; any event that will help us achieve our mission – attract investment to western New York. But how can dealing with hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees be efficient? This is a resource intensive effort that requires careful planning to ensure a maximized return on investment.

The most critical piece of traveling is pre-event due diligence and planning. BNE’s research department analyzes vendor lists, targeting operations for email campaigns that inform the companies of our presence at the show, offering the opportunity for individual meetings. Our marketing department creates customized collateral for distribution, targeting the exact needs of the specific show. If appropriate we can partner with other strategic partners to provide a more robust message. This could include legal, accounting, or commercial real estate professionals, or if it is a Canadian event, attending with our Canadian consultant, Lee Meister. In Germany, we are lucky enough to work with the US Dept. of Commerce, who has created matchmaking sessions between groups like BNE and companies that have a desire to expand into the United States.

We also do not limit the travel to just the event. We take the opportunity to arrange for meetings with site selectors, corporate real estate professionals, or targeted companies. Making these connections, in their own offices, helps build the relationships that create opportunities for our region. As one of the top sources for BNE “Wins” come from these personal interactions, we diligently work to enhance these networks.

Over the next six weeks, we’ll have attended another 10 shows/events. Even though trade shows are just one tactic we employ to attract businesses to Buffalo Niagara, they are a critical one to keep our project pipeline full.

Waterfront Development Update

In a recent blog post BNE highlighted that downtown Buffalo is seeing development and investment at an unprecedented level. With over $1.5 billion in completed projects and another $1.5 billion under construction or planned, the momentum our region is exhibiting cannot be denied.

The scale of investment is enormous, but just as impressive is vision of the larger, anchor projects. The redevelopment of the Inner Harbor and Canalside – undoubtedly the most anticipated and visible of these projects – will transform the land on the Buffalo River and around the First Niagara Center into a vibrant destination for residents and tourists to enjoy year-round. The 425 activities that were held in 2012 drew 500,000 visitors and in 2013 Canalside has a 70% increase in event programming already scheduled.

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