The Buffalo Billion Evolution

Sunset Downtown Buffalo, New YorkPhotographer: Douglas Levere

Sunset Downtown Buffalo, New YorkPhotographer: Douglas Levere

The change in Buffalo Niagara’s collective psyche and economy – a renewed optimism, cranes in the air, and growth of new and existing businesses – is not a figment of our imaginations.  The after-effect of the “Buffalo Billion” is tangible and much-deserved credit goes to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s investment in Western New York’s future.

From downstate all the way to Asia, Buffalo Niagara is benefiting from a renewed interest and greater appreciation of our assets.  Our affordable workforce, infrastructure, low-cost power, educational institutions and enviable location have been promoted by BNE since its inception 16 years ago.  The Buffalo Billion was the shot in the arm that our region needed, and where preparation met opportunity.  And the momentum it has created, the change in attitude from within and without, must be sustained. Thanks to thoughtful planning and execution, that is an attainable goal.

The involvement of local universities in the development of start-ups has the potential to retain and attract highly educated graduates and create jobs for some of the talented 25 – 34 year olds who left for greener pastures.  I don’t know a single parent who wouldn’t be pleased to have their kids come back, and now that is more than a pipedream.

Cooperation among counties, including IDAs and elected officials, is another positive outcome.  The BNE has been involved with and provided support for many of the Buffalo Billion’s initiatives, and we will continue to build on strategies such as smart growth, diversity, and workforce development, working cooperatively with nearby regions.

It’s no accident that Buffalo Niagara caught the Governor’s attention and earned his trust and investment. More than a decade of hard work, cooperation and thoughtful planning are paying off in dividends that can and will sustain this positive momentum and become of a model for the rest of the state to follow.

by Tom Kucharski, President & CEO

It’s Happening Now! Check out the New Buffalo

This short video (Paget Films) shows some of Buffalo Niagara’s newest developments and captures the region’s momentum and energy. Nice job Western New York Regional Council and ESDC. Check it out!

New Buffalo,NY Development Maps

New Downtown Buffalo, NY Developments Maps Now Available

New Downtown Buffalo, NY Developments Maps                Now Available

As 2015 settles in, what better time than to revisit and update our downtown Buffalo, NY development maps. The past few years have been a watershed for the economic momentum of the region and downtown Buffalo is receiving the brunt of the benefits. As usual, we updated two maps. The first shows the projects classified by status (Under construction, Proposed, & Completed), the second captures that information as well, but organized by project type, (Buffalo Billion, Office, Mixed use, Hospitality/Tourism, Medical, Residential, Other).


Buffalo, NY Downtown Development Maps:


As always, this information is gathered from a variety of public sources, focusing on projects with a minimum of $1,000,000 in investment. Any omissions are oversights, and feedback is always welcome!

by Christopher Finn, Research Manager

BAK to the Future

Bak USA is a company with a conscience.  A manufacturer of low-cost PC tablet devices and mobile smartphones, its philanthropically minded Danish founders, Ulla and J.P. Folsgaard Bak, formed the company to manufacture affordable devices for underserved countries and also to create jobs and a better life for their employees.  Admirable goals on both sides of the equation.

photo credit: KC Kratt Photography

Ulla and J.P. Folsgaard Bak at Bak USA headquarters in Buffalo, NY.

Based on their track record of success at their first factory in Haiti, the Bak’s sought to set-up a U.S. facility in order to expand and extend their reach.  The operation required a clean room environment where operators could assemble devices in a non-assembly line process from components sourced from China.  Integral to the project’s success was keeping overhead costs to a minimum, ensuring that the end products would be affordable and of very high quality. Access to financial incentives was critical in this aspect.  The Baks came to Buffalo in March 2014, meeting with BNE and the University at Buffalo. In typical BNE style, we rolled out the red carpet, grabbed them by the hand and launched the project into hyper speed. We toured potential sites, familiarizing them with service providers and community leaders as well as the region’s diverse workforce.

Along with our proximity to Canada, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s START UP NY program, which offers a ten-year period free of state taxes, as well as personal income tax exemptions for employees, was a major factor in Bak USA’s decision to establish its business in Buffalo.  After touring multiple sites, they selected the Compass East building, located on Michigan Avenue in the former Sheehan Memorial Hospital.  This will become Bak USA’s global headquarters as well as the first PC tablet and smartphone manufacturing facility in the country.  Bak USA will invest $840,000 in this location and expects to create 267 new jobs in total.

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's START UP NY program, which offers personal income tax exemptions for employees, was a major factor in Bak USA’s decision to establish its business in Buffalo.

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s START UP NY program was a major factor in Bak USA’s decision to establish its business in Buffalo.

Currently there are employees from 13 different countries working at the plant, which plays into the company’s dedication to nurturing refugees from other nations, paying workers a living wage, and embracing racial and gender equality.  Students using Bak’s affordable PC tablets across the world benefit from the company’s social responsibility.  And its Buffalo employees are assembling more than affordable high-tech devices – they are building a better future for themselves and their families.

When it Comes to High Tech, Buffalo Manufacturing Works

While not the flashiest of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiatives, Buffalo Manufacturing Works has the potential to be one of the most effectual of them all. Originally dubbed the Buffalo Niagara Advanced Manufacturing Institute, Buffalo Manufacturing Works will soon become a pillar of the region’s manufacturing sector, providing technology solutions to companies across the industry through world-class engineering support, research and design, training and strategic services. Over the next five years, $45 million will be invested in facilities, equipment and engineering staff creating a state-of-the-art institution for the benefit of WNY manufacturers.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of Buffalo Manufacturing Works is that it creates a major new asset for existing WNY manufacturers while simultaneously creating an incentive for BNE to market to potential attraction targets. In an era where companies across the board are cutting back on research and development budget lines, the opportunity to leverage this great asset will be a significant draw for growing manufacturing firms. Few other locations provide companies with such an advantage.

Resulting from several in-depth focus groups and research, three primary technology areas will dominate Buffalo Manufacturing Works: flexible automation, materials and testing, and processing and fabrication. Columbus, Ohio-based EWI, North America’s leading engineering and technology organization, will operate the institute. The member-driven not-for-profit was selected to operate the Buffalo initiative based on its 30 years of success in central Ohio. Three additional key local partners are involved: the University at Buffalo providing access to early-stage fundamental research and academic facilities; Insyte Consulting assisting with improvements to process and operational productivity; and the World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara helping companies identify new markets and export opportunities.

As manufacturing shifts ever more towards highly technical and advanced practices, this investment will prove integral in continuing the Buffalo Niagara region’s great legacy as a nucleus of manufacturing innovation.

Click here to read more Buffalo Manufacturing Works from the Buffalo News.

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

Buffalo Niagara Commercial Real Estate: Good Challenges, Great Opportunities

by Tom Kucharski, BNE President & CEO

Buffalo Niagara has had one of the country’s most affordable commercial markets since the 1980s, when manufacturing decline, sprawl and economic uncertainty depressed the area’s real estate values. Now, however, as the local economy’s gained a level of momentum not seen in 60 years, what’s the impact on commercial real estate?

From 2012 to 2013 Buffalo Industrial Market experienced a sizable decrease in the overall vacancy rate, decreasing from 9.2% to 5.7%. The 2013 results mark the eighth consecutive year the Buffalo Industrial Market vacancy rate has remained below the national average, currently 11.7%. (CBRE, Inc. U.S. Industrial MarketView Q3 2013).

The region’s growth and expansion has caused a decrease in vacancy rates, driving factors behind new medical and office developments from the south campus of the University at Buffalo through the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. And brownfields between Buffalo and Lackawanna, as well as several northward through Niagara Falls, are bursting to life with facilities to support advanced manufacturing and future-looking technologies. Local development is currently estimated at approximately 700,000 sq. ft. of new construction planned for the first and second quarter of 2014.

Offices are filled with employees, of course, and we’re also seeing subsequent demand for residential properties, particularly mid- and high-end rentals. More people means a need for more service-oriented businesses, too, like coffee shops, restaurants and grocers – providing opportunities for small business entrepreneurs and a need for refurbished, ground-level spaces. Residential and commercial vibrancy also creates a more robust destination for tourism and recreation, and cranes are high in the sky with ongoing work at Canalside and the hockey-centric HarborCenter development.

This low vacancy rate may also be an opportunity for developers. Steve Blake, a partner in CBRE Buffalo expects the 3rd quarter/2013 vacancy of 5.7% to tighten even further by the end of 2014. Blake recently commented that, “This will inevitably result in higher lease rates and require longer lease terms as tenants turn to developers for new product to  meet their demands. While the Buffalo industrial market rarely has ‘true’ speculative development occurring, with market conditions there is a good probability that by simply publicly announcing a proposed, high bay, distribution warehouse project, a developer will have a good chance of pre-leasing a major portion of that project”.

Overall, while the market is stronger than it has been in decades, strategic reuse of existing buildings coupled with targeted new development means that commercial properties in Buffalo Niagara will continue to be attractively priced while still reflecting the region’s economic and cultural resurgence. And with potential support through “Buffalo Billion” allocation and the STARTUP NY Tax-Free Zone program, there’s unprecedented financial support for Buffalo Niagara business development.

Comprehensive sector overviews and up-to-date listings of new construction and redeveloped properties, available brownfields, and shovel-ready sites can be found in the Real Estate section of the BNE website. Our team also offers a range of services including assistance with financing and incentives to help new, relocating and expanding businesses take advantage of one of the country’s most affordable and dynamic commercial real estate markets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#NewBFLO Developments: Ricotta & Visco

NewBFLO-04_22_14-Ricotta (4)

Buffalo law firm, Ricotta & Visco showed its passion for Buffalo’s central business district by spending more than $1.6M to transform a vacant, 11,440 sq. ft. building at 496 Main St. into unique office space. Ricotta & Visco took advantage of an adaptive-reuse policy from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to help complete the renovations needed.

The company made it a priority to see that the building, dating back to the 1800s was returned to its original state. Interior designer Paul LaMorticella and David Sutton restored the building’s tin ceiling, exposed brick walls and maple hardwood floors. All of the construction on this project was completed by Lamparelli Construction.

Ricotta & Visco has since moved its offices from the Main Place Tower into the new space at 496 Main St. The firm employees 16 people and specializes in representing doctors, hospitals and health-care agencies in legal actions.

Go to Mapping Downtown Buffalo’s Development for more information on developments in Buffalo, NY.

Watch for #NewBFLO on our Blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

#NewBFLO Developments: the Hub

NewBFLO-04_07_14-HUB (4)

Work is underway at 145 and 149 Swan Street as the two buildings are rehabilitated. Dubbed the Apartments at the HUB, the two historic buildings will house 50 new apartments and first floor retail in original storefront space. This will all be done with a bicycle them, hence the name “the HUB”. The buildings are being developed by architect/developer Jake Schneider and his team at Schneider Design. The $13.5 million project is utilizing historic tax credits with historic review and approval services provided by Preservation Studios.

First Floor Retail:

Three bicycle-related commercial tenants will have storefronts at the Hub and a bicycle sculpture will be featured on on the corner of Michigan and Swan along with ample bike racks. Commercial tenants will include:

  • A fitness center dedicated to cyclists
  • A Pub called the Handle Bar at the Hub
  •  The Bike Shop, an expansion outlet of the Bike Shop located in East Aurora

Go to Mapping Downtown Buffalo’s Development for more information on developments in Buffalo, NY.

Watch for #NewBFLO on our Blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Are You Right for Buffalo? Thank you!

So many people were generous with their locations and time in the making of Are You Right for Buffalo? Thank you for your help promoting Buffalo:

John Paget and fabulous crew of Paget Films, Block Club, Larkin Square, Buffalo Harbor Kayak, WNYBAC, Sun Restaurant, Healthy Zone Rink, Anchor Bar, Lexington Co-op, Liberty Hound, Canalside, Tabree, Bistro Europa, Megan Norris, Erin Habes, Bonnie Jean Taylor (wonderful host), Seamus (the wingman), and Chuck and Bill Banas the “twins”…Thanks so much to all!