A new $50 million investment from the state looks to further improve life on Buffalo’s East Side, bringing new development and enhancements in technology and breathing new life into cultural institutions.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaking from the Northland Workforce Training Center, said $5 million will be devoted to East Side real estate developments, with another $5 million set aside for restoring older buildings.
Another $10 million will be spent to improve streetscapes and storefronts to encourage new businesses to move in.
Additionally, Cuomo announced $6.6 million in new funding for MLK Park, $7 million for the Michigan Heritage Corridor and $4 million for the Broadway Market, which he said could once again become a year-round destination.
"It just really reinforces the fact that the market is here, will be here for future generations and it's just a great investment,” said Kathleen Peterson, Broadway Market manager.
“All the arrows are pointed in the right direction,” Cuomo said of Buffalo’s resurgence. “We’re doing so well, now we’re doing well enough to ask the really difficult question: What do you mean by success? What do you mean by Buffalo’s doing well? What do you mean by we are doing well? The truest form of success is that the greatest feast has the most number of people at the table. The greatest success says not only some of us are doing well, not only the top of us are doing well, but we are all doing well.”
This latest round of funding is part of the second Buffalo Billion initiative.
Critics of the original Buffalo Billion say it ignored the East Side in favor of downtown and waterfront development, but economic development czar Howard Zemsky rejects that notion.
"The East Side has been part of the revitalization strategy since the get-go, since our first plan in 2011 and we've been making those investments all along,” said Zemsky, Empire State Development president.
In fact, including the new investment, Cuomo says the East Side has received more than $300 million in public funds during his tenure.
A large portion of that has gone toward the Northland Corridor Workforce Center where the governor held his event Tuesday.
But the new initiative represents a different kind of focus.
"I think it's very, very important that this message be sent, that we're not just doing huge projects, one huge project, but we're doing a lot of smaller ones as well,” said Mark Poloncarz, (D) Erie County executive.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who's made the East Side a focus of his own administration over the past two years, says he's pleased with the direct investment in existing buildings and businesses.
"When you look at the East Side, look at it today, when you look at it two years from now, with these projects that have been announced, you will not recognize parts of the East Side because the transformation will be quite evident,” Brown (D) said.