Ready for the Future of Manufacturing

by Matthew Hubacher, research specialist

Over the past two decades the economy of Western New York has diversified a great deal.  In fact, the regional economy looks more like that of the nation as whole now more than ever.

Manufacturing is no longer the dominate sector of the regional economy, but it remains a critical sector, employing over 51,000 workers and generating approximately $6.3 billion in gross regional product.  Community colleges and other workforce training centers do an excellent job in giving production workers the foundation of knowledge and the skills they need to begin a successful career in manufacturing.  In fact, a recent study by the Center for an Urban Future shows that community colleges in Western New York have higher graduation rates than the state average.

In order to ensure manufacturing remains strong in the region, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council recently recommended the creation of a worker training facility specifically dedicated to manufacturing.   The facility will provide training opportunities focused on hard-to-fill job categories and support local manufacturers “up-skill” their workforce.

Thanks to the leadership of the WNY Regional Development Council and the support of Governor Cuomo, Buffalo Niagara is making the necessary investments to ensure manufacturing remains a strong sector of the regional economy for years to come.

Sentient Science recently relocated to Buffalo, NY. Hear their thoughts on the area’s workforce readiness and ability to meet future needs in manufacturing:

View Video (3.34 min.)

Buffalo Niagara GDP Reaches $45.99 billion

by Matt Hubacher, Research Specialist

Last month the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released advanced 2011 GDP data for 366 metropolitan areas across the nation.  At $45.88 billion, the Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY MSA (Erie and Niagara counties) ranks as the 56th largest metro economy in the country and the 3rd largest metro economy in New York State.

The regional economy of Buffalo Niagara, which has increasingly diversified throughout much of the past two decades, has been on a growth trajectory for three consecutive years and experienced the second highest rate of metro GDP growth (1.4%) in New York State in 2011, and falls within the second quintile of growth nationwide . Major gains in the Professional and Business Services, Trade, and Leisure and Hospitality sectors helped fuel this tremendous economic expansion.

Those interested in learning more about Buffalo Niagara’s economy and labor pool can consult Buffalo Niagara Enterprise’s recently updated 2013 Buffalo Niagara Economic Guide.  The Economic Guide serves as a detailed overview of the region’s economy and provides data and information on demographics, workforce, education, and transportation (and more), for use by businesses, researchers, students and practitioners

BNIA: A Bi-National Asset

Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BNIA)

Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BNIA)

by Matthew Hubacher, research specialist, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

Convenience, reliability and cost of air transportation are all critical factors for both leisure and business travelers.  With over 5.1 million annual passengers, the Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BNIA) plays an essential role in the quality of life, business climate, and tourism industry of the region.  In fact, nearly one-third of BNIA passengers hail from Southern Ontario making it a true bi-national asset.

By providing 110 daily flights with non-stop service to 18 cities and 22 airports, BNIA is a convenient place from which to originate air travel.  Major passenger carriers Southwest, JetBlue, Delta, US Airways, AirTran, American and United escort passengers to top destinations across the country including New York City, Atlanta, Orlando, Chicago and Baltimore.

On time performance at BNIA is extraordinary and reliable.  Departing flights registered an 82% on-time mark and arriving flights touched down on-time 78% in 2011.  Only 1.75% of flights were cancelled in 2011, and planes have been grounded at BNIA for an average of only 4.25 hours per year since 2004.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Consumer Airfare Report, Buffalo Niagara air passengers enjoy an average one-way airfare of $170, among the least expensive in all domestic markets; it would cost more to fly out of nearly every other major U.S. market.

The Buffalo Niagara International Airport is a tremendous asset for the community of Western New York and Southern Ontario.  For more information, please visit BNIA’s website:

Comparing Cost of Living Among Metro Areas

by Matthew Hubacher, Research Specialist

Among the million reasons why Buffalo Niagara is “Where Life Works” is its affordable cost-of-living.  Numerous media outlets, including CNN-Money, Forbes Magazine and CNBC, have lauded Buffalo Niagara as a low-cost place to live and do business.  In fact, the cost of living in the region is routinely below the national average.  But what are these data based on and from where do these statistics originate?

The research department at Buffalo Niagara Enterprise is one of hundreds of academic institutions, chambers of commerce and economic research teams that participate in The Council for Community and Economic Research’s (C2ER) Cost of Living Index (COLI).  COLI data are recognized as the most reliable source for comparative consumer costs by the US Census Bureau, US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.  It is designed to provide the best possible means to compare cost of living differences among metro areas.

Participating researchers are provided a diverse list of nearly 60 goods and services, which range from doctor’s office visits to fast-food items, to price in their regions on specific dates.  The prices are compiled and transmitted to C2ER, whose researchers calculate the region’s cost of living index scores.

The overall index is comprised of six component indexes – housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services – and is the ratio of a metro area’s average price to the average price of the same item nationwide (the nation’s index score is 100.0).  The share of consumer spending on each category, as defined by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2004 Consumer Expenditure Survey, determines the category’s weight in the Index.  In Q3-2012, cost of living index score for the Buffalo-Niagara Falls MSA was 99.2 (0.8% below the national average).

Businesses that have questions on cost of living differences, or any other detailed comparative analysis needs, are encouraged to contact BNE’s Research Department.

BNE Looks Back at 2012

Matthew Hubacher, Research Specialist, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

As we approach the end of another successful year here at Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, it is important to look back at the year’s activity to take account of what we accomplished in 2012 and forecast where we are headed in 2013.

Taken together, the eight project wins thus far in 2012 have an anticipated investment of over $260,000,000 with nearly 450 new and retained jobs pledged.  The eight wins spanned four of BNE’s target industries (Advanced Manufacturing, Advanced Business Services, Agribusiness, and Logistics/Distribution) and all were international companies (seven from Canada, one from Europe).  You can view all of BNE’s wins, either by year or target industry, at our Project Wins page.

In terms of overall activity in 2012, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise worked with companies in each of our seven target industries: Advanced Business Services, Advanced Manufacturing, Agribusiness, Cleantech, Life Sciences, Logistics/Distribution and Tourism.  We experienced the most activity among Advanced Manufacturing opportunities (42%), followed by those in Advanced Business Services (27%).  Over 40% of new opportunities in 2012 were with companies located outside of the United States.  Given our strategic location as a bi-national region, the majority of international companies BNE works with are Canadian, but our region also attracted interest from companies based in Europe, Asia, and Australia.

We continuously strive to make Buffalo Niagara a better place to live, work, and raise a family.  Looking ahead to 2013, we expect to continue our strong performance within each of the industry sectors we target for business expansion and relocation projects and remain a premier region for foreign direct investment.

New York State’s Agricultural Economy

Matt Hubacher, Research Specialist, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

New York State’s agricultural economy is a leading producer several of the foods we enjoy during holiday feasts: fruits and vegetables, a variety of dairy products, poultry, meat and even maple syrup are all produced in the Empire State.  What may go unnoticed at the dinner table is the significance of New York State’s beverage production sector, a growing part of the state’s economy that accounts for $22 billion in annual economic impact.

Earlier this Fall, Governor Andrew Cuomo met with several interest groups – including producers, farmers, industry officials and consumers – at the state’s first “Beer, Wine and Spirits Summit.”  Participants at the summit discussed regulatory reforms, promotional campaigns, and partnering efforts to boost what is already a strong beverage production economy.  New York State currently ranks 3rd nationally in wine and grape production and 2nd in the number of operational distilleries, and is poised for further growth.  More information on the summit can be found at:

As preparations are being made for holiday gatherings, please consider supporting New York State’s excellent beer, wine and spirits producers.  Your friends and family will be glad you did. Happy Holidays!

Local Companies on Forbes’ 2012 Largest Private Company List

by Matthew Hubacher, Business Development Specialist

Rich Products and Buffalo Niagara Enterprise Founding Investors Delaware North Companies and Tops Markets aren’t just three of Western New York’s largest private companies; they are among an elite group of privately held companies throughout the nation that enjoy annual revenues of at least $2 billion.

With an annual revenue of $3.02 billion, Rich Products ranks 142nd in the Forbes’ 2012 Largest Private Company list.  Rich Products has been doing business in Buffalo since 1945 and is a global supplier to the foodservice industry.  Beyond its traditional role as a world leader in non-dairy toppings, Rich Products boasts a healthy roster of offerings across several product categories.

Delaware North Companies (DNC) has long been a respected corporate citizen in Western New York. As a Steering Level investor in Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, DNC plays an integral part in developing the mission, goals and strategies of the organization.  DNC’s seven operating divisions combine to form one of the most respected hospitality and food service management companies in the world.  Achieving a rank of 172nd on the 2012 Forbes’ Largest Private Company list is a great way for Delaware North Companies to celebrate its 95th anniversary.

Tops Markets, the 191st ranked company on Forbes’ list, is celebrating its golden anniversary this year. For fifty years Tops has been a leading supermarket retailer, coupling quality groceries at great prices with extraordinary customer service.  Tops is a true local success story,  growing from a single retail outlet in Niagara Falls to over 130 stores that stretch from Northern Pennsylvania, through Western New York, all the way to Syracuse.

Congratulations go out to these three excellent companies on their most recent accolade. The full list of 2012 Forbes’ America’s Largest Private Companies can be found at:

You don’t have to come home just for the holidays…

66-page Buffalo Niagara relocation guide

by Matthew Hubacher, ResearchSpecialistLike many of my generation, I moved away from Western New York shortly after completing my undergraduate studies in order to begin my career and pursue a graduate degree.  After five years living and working in Washington, DC, I made the decision to return home to Buffalo Niagara to be close to family and friends.  I know first-hand the myriad of factors involved in a plan to relocate and the decisions one must make before committing to a final judgment.

Beyond seemingly straight-forward, but oftentimes complex, decisions such as “Where will I live?” and “How do I find a job?” several other critical factors influence one’s decision to relocate.  Family, education, cost-of-living, transportation, health care, and quality of life considerations are often difficult to decipher because information on these critical topics are scattered, scarce, or both.

To assist Buffalo Niagara expatriates – as well as those who have not yet called our region home – move to Western New York, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise compiled a Relocation Guide to assist those researching relocation to the area. The guide, available in both print and online editions, is a comprehensive informational resource that answers many questions that arise throughout the many phases of the relocation process.  The guide details the many reasons why Buffalo Niagara is “Where Life Works” by presenting data in three major sections: “Where” (community overviews, real estate, education), “Life” (cultural attractions, transportation, health care), and “Works” (employment resources).

I know from my experience as a returning Buffalo expat that Buffalo Niagara is a great place to live, work, and raise a family.  It is my sincere hope that those who are considering moving to Buffalo Niagara find the Buffalo Niagara Relocation Guide a detailed roadmap that helps them navigate their relocation journey.

Western New York School Rankings

by Matthew Hubacher, Research Specialist

Halloween is here, which means students across Western New York have been back in school for nearly two months.  Beyond reacquainting with friends or cheering the school football team on Friday night, students across Buffalo Niagara, with the help of parents, teachers, administrators and staff, are serious about academic success.

Several school districts in Western New York have been lauded among the top 10% of school districts in Upstate New York by Business First.  The school district rankings are based on a 192-part formula analyzing four years of standardized test scores across various grade levels.   All told, thirteen school districts were ranked in the top 10% across Upstate New York (rank in parentheses):

–          Williamsville (4)

–          Clarence (8)

–          East Aurora (12)

–          Orchard Park (20)

–          Amherst (24)

–          Lewiston-Porter (25)

–          Bemus Point (26)

–          Alfred-Almond (27)

–          Grand Island (29)

–          Iroquois (31)

–          Alden (32)

–          Hamburg (37)

–          Lancaster (39)

Akron (ranked 49th) bolsters WNY’s academic pedigree by allowing the region to claim 14 of the top 50 school districts across Upstate New York.

The full list of Business First’s 2nd annual academic rankings of 430 public school districts in the 48 counties of Upstate New York can be found at:

In the Competition for On-Shoring Jobs…

The concept of “on-shoring,” the return of a company’s overseas investment back into the domestic market, began to gain traction in trade publications and industry journals a few years ago as a remedy for a stagnant economy with sluggish job growth. Last Tuesday night, the concept of on-shoring found itself at the center of a national discussion as President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney debated how best to invigorate job growth across the country.

Seemingly all observers agree that not every operation and job that has moved offshore will one day return. However, several external influences may lead to multinational companies moving high-skilled jobs back to the U.S. Labor costs across the globe have been rapidly increasing, particularly in regions that had long been extremely low-wage, and multinational companies continue to struggle to find large numbers of highly skilled workers in developing nations, which leaves a large talent gap compared to domestic operations. Furthermore, rising real estate and transportation costs, quality control issues, fluctuating currency exchange rates, and intellectual property rights infringement are just a sampling of additional factors that may lead to a company’s decision to bring operations and assets back stateside.

Buffalo-Niagara is poised to take advantage of increased on-shoring activities by positively addressing many of the aforementioned negative issues with doing business offshore.

  • Western New York boasts a large, qualified manufacturing workforce of nearly 67,000 and the region’s colleges and universities produce over 2,000 graduates in engineering, mechanical and production trades each year.
  • One of every nine jobs in our region is in the manufacturing sector (10.8% of total employment) and the region enjoys a rich manufacturing history and heritage.
  • Private sector manufacturing wages in the region average $57,876, over 2% below the national rate.
  • Industrial real estate costs in Buffalo Niagara are nearly $1.00/square foot less than the national as a whole.
  • A developed multi-modal transportation systems allows for direct market access to over 38% of the U.S population and 59% of the Canadian population within 500 miles of the region.
  • Unique business incentives, including low-cost, renewable hydropower from the New York Power Authority (NYPA), make the region an affordable place to do business.

In an ever-changing economy, Buffalo Niagara remains a low cost but highly skilled area with a bi-national location and diverse economic base; an ideal region for advanced manufacturing operations looking to expand or relocate.