The ROI of Partnership membership

As a part of the member engagement team at the Partnership, I work closely with our members on strategy and aligning their business objectives with our marketing opportunities.

As a result of any investment a member makes in the Partnership, we are often asked to provide a return on that investment (ROI).

Rather than defining the benefits of membership using ROI, I’d like to introduce you to the concept of value on investment (VOI).

Our #Member #Engagement team Molly McGowan, Mary Woronowski, Joe Stabb and Kate Scaglione. Check out today's #blog to learn how to #TapIn to our #BNPMember benefits!

Joe Stabb and Kate Scaglione from our Member Engagement team.

The VOI concept was first introduced by Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company.

VOI is defined as “intangible assets that contribute heavily to an organization’s performance… Where ROI is the measure of tangible benefits of a project or activity, VOI is the measure of the intangible benefits of a project or an activity. VOI includes ROI.”

VOI means much more than dollars spent.

The VOI concept applies to the often overlooked and unexpected benefits of membership investment.

Most of the benefits of membership go way beyond monetary exchanges, and include:

  • Information: The Partnership provides timely and relevant information to members using a variety of sources including, e-newsletters, social media, council involvement, our website and events.
  • Initiative: On behalf of our members, we take a stand on issues and ensure that a business voice is included before decisions are made.
  • Impact: Our initiatives create impacts that benefit our members, the business community, and the industries we serve.
  • Influence: Because we proactively monitor business issues and take action, we are seen as one of the most influential organizations in our community and throughout New York state.
  • Interaction: The Partnership provides opportunities for members to make connections, share information, and learn best practices from a community of their peers.
  • Insights: Members gain valuable knowledge, best practices, and learn from other members and industry experts through participation in our events and councils.

Your member engagement representative is available to help you get the most out of your membership.

Contact me today to learn how to truly activate your membership benefits in order to receive the best and highest VOI.

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STEP Ahead 2016: Women in Manufacturing Awards

The Manufacturing Institute is now accepting applications for their 2016 STEP Ahead Awards, recognizing women in manufacturing.

According to the Manufacturing Institute, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production (STEP) Ahead initiative honors and promotes the role of women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research and leadership.

step ahead mfg logoThat’s a good thing because, despite making up around 50 percent of the overall labor force, women represent only 25 percent of the manufacturing workforce.

The STEP Ahead Awards recognize women at all levels (from the factory to the C-suite,) that work in manufacturing across the country.

The application for the STEP Ahead awards only takes a few minutes to fill out, and can be submitted directly on the website.

According to the website, nominees will be selected by the review committee based on “specific contributions or technical achievements the nominee has made for her company, past experiences that have shaped her and her accomplishments in manufacturing, and her unique talents/abilities that distinguish her from her peers.”

manufacturing institute logoNominations will be accepted until October 9.

100 women will be honored and of that 100, 30 will be recognized as emerging leaders, meaning they are under the age of 30.

Honorees will be announced in February of 2016.

I encourage you to consider this opportunity to recognize the outstanding women in your organizations on a national scale.

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Member Spotlight: Hodgson Russ LLP

To celebrate our members and their accomplishments, we have started a Member Spotlight blog series.

This month, Partnership Member Hodgson Russ LLP discusses opportunities to get involved in the firm, the recent development happening in Buffalo, and the diversity of our membership.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Paul Vallone, Partner at Hodgson Russ LLP, to learn more about why they’re proud to be a Partnership member.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Paul. I know that you are a recent member of our board, so I was eager to hear more about how you got to be involved and what your role is like as Partner at Hodgson Russ.

Paul Vallone, Partner at Hodgson Russ LLP

Paul Vallone, Partner at Hodgson Russ LLP

A: Hodgson Russ has always been involved in the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and we were looking for a new person to step in on the board of directors. My practice is general corporate and business transactions, and a lot of my clients are working on (or wrestling with) a lot of the same issues that the Partnership deals with in regard to business development and economic development in the area.

Joining the board was a good opportunity to be around people that are interested in the same economic development and business issues that are important to my clients and our practice.

Q: Definitely, as the board represents so many different industries. What is the firm’s mission statement or slogan?

A: We are a single integrated law firm with entrepreneurial lawyers who have developed practices that create opportunities for us to serve clients regionally, nationally and even internationally, and whose skills and attitude make us the “go-to” law firm for any significant project or case in Western New York.

We believe that we have accomplished this within a culture of excellence, collegiality, and professionalism.

Q: That’s great. As I’m sure you know, the services that we provide have changed since Hodgson Russ became a member in the 1940’s. As a current member, and board member, what benefits have you most enjoyed through your involvement with the Partnership?

Guaranty Building (Hodgson Russ offices are located)

Guaranty Building (Hodgson Russ offices are located)

A: I was struck by the breadth and depth of the members of the Partnership. I was impressed by who is involved and how willing they are to spend their time on Partnership issues. Everyone you see at the meetings has a lot going on, and we are all busy, but they put the time in because they see the importance of working on these critical issues.

I have also been impressed with Dottie Gallagher-Cohen and her leadership. Dottie has the ability to get in contact with local, regional, and state politicians, as well as business leaders, to help further advance the Partnership’s causes. Dottie is uniquely positioned to reach out to the people that can actually make a difference.

Q: Thank you for sharing that, as we are proud to advocate and speak up for the issues that affect not just our members, but the region as a whole. So, does Hodgson Russ currently face any challenges or opportunities that you think the Partnership might be able to assist in?

A: I think that every law firm faces challenges, as the legal and business environment is constantly changing. I think that being a part of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and being able to work with so many different leaders will only benefit our firm.

Q: That’s great to hear. Have you had any recent accomplishments that you’d like the community to be aware of, or are there any special initiative you are working on? 

hodgson group 2A: It was recently announced that I was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2016 for my work in the corporate sector. Fifty-two other attorneys at Hodgson Russ are likewise recognized by Best Lawyers.

Hodgson Russ’s Mergers & Acquisitions, Business Litigation, and Health Practices were also recently bestowed the honor of being listed in the 2015 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, an annual referral guide that ranks law firms and attorneys based on in-depth research and interviews with clients, attorneys, and corporate counsel. Aside from professional recognition, the firm is proud to be approaching its 200th anniversary.

Q: Wow, that’s a lot! Congratulations. As I’m sure you know, our members benefit from the ability to work together in various capacities such as collaboration on projects or procurement. Do you currently have any opportunities to do business with fellow Partnership members?

Hodgson Russ logoA: In regards to collaboration, just by the nature of our practice, we do business with a number of current Partnership members. Similarly, the Partnership events and forums give us ample opportunities to grow those relationships or build new ones.

Q: That is great. Providing the avenues for business leaders to connect and build relationships is definitely a main goal of our events. Are there any other current opportunities for employment or involvement with Hodgson Russ?

Guaranty at angleA: There are always opportunities for employment. We are always looking to fill various needs and to add talented people to the firm.

Q: Looking ahead, what would you say you’re most looking forward to as a member of the Partnership?

A: I think it is mostly continuing to see the growth in Buffalo that the Partnership has been a part of.

I also look forward to continuing to grow and expand the relationships that I have started to make, as well as working on strengthening relationships I already have through attendance and participation in Partnership events.

Interested in being a part of our Member Spotlight blog series? Contact our Digital Marketing Manager, Julia Jornsay-Silverberg.

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Rise of the Rest initiative comes to Buffalo

It was recently announced that Steve Case – co-founder of AOL and CEO of Revolution – will be visiting Buffalo on Sept. 30 as part of the ‘Rise of the Rest’ initiative.

This is exciting news for the community, as according to this Buffalo News article, Case is coming here to shine his spotlight on our entrepreneurial ecosystem.

While in town, he will host a happy hour celebration and pitch competition, where startups will have the opportunity to win a $100,000 investment from Case himself.

rise of the restBuffalo’s startup ecosystem has been growing quickly over the past few years and people are starting to take notice.

Z80 labs, 43 North, Launch NY, VCAMP and Startup Grind have all brought national attention to our growing entrepreneur scene.

Local leaders have formed a committee to plan for Case’s visit and show off everything that has been happening in the region.

The “Rise of the Rest” initiative, which includes partners Google for Entrepreneurs and SalesForce for Startups, is a nationwide effort led by Case to showcase – and invest in – talented entrepreneurs across the U.S.

Through the effort, which President Obama has publicly applauded, $1.5 million has been invested in startup businesses across a diverse set of 14 cities.

The Rise of the Rest tour kicks off in Baltimore on Sept. 28. Other stops include Philadelphia, Manchester and Portland.

RSVP to attend the pitches and/or celebration here, and follow Rise of the Rest on Twitter to stay in the loop!

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BN360: gearing up for Young Professionals Week

The eighth season of BN360 starts this September, and we’re kicking it off with our second annual Young Professionals Week!

Taking place from Sept. 14-17, we look forward to a week of engagement and networking for Buffalo Niagara’s young professionals.

YPs networkingOver the course of three days, we have an array of events planned that will help you grow professionally and personally.

Monday, Sept. 14: Who’s Who In Professional Development

Join us from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site to network and meet with more than eight young professional groups from the Buffalo Niagara region. Learn how about a variety of organizations, how to get involved and the programming they offer!

Tuesday, Sept. 15: Social Good: There’s An App For That

Join us from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at dig Buffalo to hear from the experts on how mobile technology is a leading force for the next generation of tech jobs, investment and social good.

Wednesday, Sept. 16: Give Back to the Future

We’re inviting young professionals to join us from 4 – 6 p.m. to discuss how even the smallest contributions to the community can lead to a life changing impact.

BN360 spotlightsParticipants will discuss how offering time through volunteering, and establishing a sustainable relationship with organizations, can be just as effective as donations when it comes to giving back. Walk away with an expectation on how to champion the causes that mean the most to you!

Thursday, Sept. 17: BN360 Kickoff

Young Professionals Week ends with our kickoff celebration! Join us at Acqua from 5:30 – 8 p.m. to celebrate the start of our 2015-2016 season and network on the waterfront with young professionals from around the region.

All events are free to members and non-members, so we encourage you to register today!

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Continuing downtown Buffalo’s momentum hinges on housing

The momentum in downtown Buffalo continues, as buildings, streets and neighborhoods are coming back to life.

New restaurants are opening throughout downtown and new housing units are leased nearly as fast as they become available.

Job growth on the medical campus, as well as a desire by many young professionals to live downtown, has helped stimulate residential demand.

Ellicott St 461However, we still have a tall mountain to climb to truly achieve revitalization.

In 2012, the Partnership along with the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation lead the charge for a concerted effort to rejuvenate the downtown real estate market.

We’ve made a lot of progress, but with nearly 2 million square feet of vacant commercial space still on the market, efforts to stimulate the market must be stepped up.

Recognizing the critical importance of converting vacant buildings to new residential space, Mayor Byron Brown chose to revise his housing unit development challenge for downtown Buffalo.

In 2014, the Mayor stated that he’d like to see 1,300 residential units developed in downtown Buffalo. Based on the prospect of 1,000 units in the pipeline for downtown and Larkinville, the Mayor raised the number to 2,000 units by 2018.

Delaware Ave 107Given the rate of development and market demand in the downtown area, this is not surprising. Developers report a 98 percent residential occupancy rate in downtown Buffalo.

The reality is downtown Buffalo has a problem: we’ve got a demand for housing that exceeds the units available.

Certainly this can be seen as a “good” problem to have, however more residential units are needed to meet the demand.

While the seemingly obvious solution to the residential shortage is “convert more units,” it’s unfortunately not that simple.

Adaptive reuse projects in the urban face a long list of challenges that projects elsewhere do not.

This is particularly true for smaller developers and it often results in financial gaps. These gaps may be the result of many issues, but lower residential rent rates (compared to other urban centers) is often a culprit.

Furthermore, the costs of converting some older buildings in the downtown core due to small floor plates, building neglect, and contamination can often be very high.

However, a number of initiatives such historic tax preservation credits, the Brownfield Cleanup Program or Buffalo Building Reuse Project (BBRP,) provide financing help to close the gap.

trico-buffalo-nyThese programs have been vital to development in downtown Buffalo.

BBRP is particularly aimed at smaller developers who may have more funding issues than larger, established developers.

While many projects have been completed in recent years, there are still many under-utilized buildings and spaces throughout downtown.

With the right project and support, these buildings can be transformed to meet the high housing demand.

Furthermore, more residential units will help spur more retail activity.

We’ve made progress in recent years, but if we’re going to meet Mayor Brown’s goal, we must continue to stimulate growth and activity in downtown Buffalo. 

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Highway Trust Fund: advocating for a long-term extension

With a shutdown of federal highway projects looming, Congress recently passed a three month extension for the Highway Trust Fund.

This extension ensures that projects will be funded until October 29. While this may seem like good news, it is only a temporary fix.

The Highway Trust Fund (HTF) was established nearly 60 years ago, and provides funds for roads and mass transit.

The fund, which is derived from fuel and excise taxes, is extremely important to infrastructure maintenance in this country.

Transportation infographic 1 jobsGiven it’s importance, it’s troubling to see the HTF’s pending $13 billion gap this year.

Much of this is due to the fact that a large percentage of its revenue is generated from fuel taxes, and increases in fuel efficiency has led to a decline in gasoline sales in recent years.

Given this gap, and a myriad of political issues, Congress has often struggled to find a long-term funding solution for the HTF.

In fact, the most recent extension is the 34th in the last decade.

The lack of a long-term plan puts the fund, and projects that rely on it, in jeopardy.

The Senate recently passed a measure that would extend the HTF for six addition years, providing funding for three of these years. The bill however, has not been taken up by the House of Representatives.

A long term extension of the HTF will almost certainly require new revenue sources to close the gap from declining fuel sales.

The exact revenue sources, whether raising the fuel tax or pulling from other sources, will certainly be a contested issue.

However, given the state of infrastructure in this country, an adequately funded HTF is crucial.

Transpo infrastructure blog infographic1According to the Department of Transportation, the nation needs to spend at least $124 billion a year to maintain our current infrastructure.

Currently, The HTF funds around $50 billion in projects each year.

This all comes at a time when so much infrastructure in Western New York is in dire need of repair.

A March 2015 study conducted by transportation research group TRIP found that 32 percent of roads in the Buffalo area were in poor or mediocre condition.

A well-maintained transportation infrastructure is vital to the economic success of the region. Especially when you consider our proximity to the border and the constant movement of freight and commodities.

Furthermore, an efficient transportation infrastructure ensures the movement of people through jobs, whether it be via road or public transit.

We feel strongly that a long term solution that provides adequate, long-term funding for the HTF must be established in order to continue the growth and economic prosperity of the Buffalo Niagara region.

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Regional Agenda Reboot

For well over a decade, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership has collaborated with the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls and the counties of Erie and Niagara to produce the Regional Agenda.

The document has been a combination of shared requests for both project funding and policy changes at the state and federal level.

While this document has served an important purpose and successfully facilitated regional collaboration, changes are needed as the process for advocating and securing state and federal funding evolves.

regional agendaAfter listening to feedback from both our members and collaborators, we are excited to announce changes to our approach and process that I think will produce a more focused and user-friendly product.

Starting this January, the Partnership will be producing its own Advocacy Agenda.

This document will reflect the policy priorities of our membership at the federal, state and local level.

The policy initiatives will be grouped into several thematic categories and will be driven by the specific advocacy priorities of each of our key industry councils:

  • Can/Am
  • Development Advisory
  • Energy
  • Logistics and Transportation
  • Manufacturing

Once compiled, the Partnership’s Advocacy Agenda will guide our Government Affairs work for the year and accurately speak to the issues most important to our members.

Specific policy outlined in the Advocacy Agenda will also form the topics discussed and debated as part of our upcoming Capital Conversations events starting in 2016.

Separate from the Advocacy Agenda, the Partnership is eager to continue its long standing role of organizing the effort to advocate for regional development and infrastructure projects.

Our Regional Priority Projects will be a list of 20 projects selected by the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, the counties of Erie and Niagara, and the Partnership.

Unveiled this coming November, the Regional Priority Projects list will identify projects that have real potential to significantly impact the regional economy, but are in need of government financing.

The final list will also detail why each project is regionally significant centering on one of the following factors: permanent job growth, critical regional infrastructure or revitalization of an anchor property in an existing business district.

This criteria has been established under the guidance of One Region Forward, Buffalo Niagara’s regional growth plan.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months for more information and detail about both our Regional Priority Projects and Advocacy Agenda.

We look forward to sharing where we stand on key issues and what projects were are advocating for in new and effective ways.

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Renaissance drives young professionals back to Buffalo

Rebirth. Renewal. Renaissance. These three words have seemed to define the changes that have been underway in the Buffalo Niagara region within the past three years.

With development on our waterfront, re-purposed historic buildings and new restaurants opening monthly, there are many reasons why young professionals are staying here and moving back.

Most importantly, the creation of jobs gives us confidence and a steady outlook on why investing in our region is critically important.

Buffalo, specifically the SolarCity plant, was the focus of a recent New York Times article, detailing how the wind and sun are breathing life back in to the city.

solarcity logoRenewable energy is giving Buffalo an economic edge and creating investment in the city that is now trickling down to revitalized neighborhoods, reuse of abandoned historic buildings, and creating a job market for those to stay or return to Buffalo.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and our young professionals program BN360, know that this development impacts the Buffalo Niagara region in a number of ways.

An increase in population, specifically in downtown, is just one of the impacts that this new industry and development will have on the region.

As long as this rebirth continues, we will see young professionals staying in the area, finding work, and creating their home here.

Hotel Lafayette

Hotel Lafayette

Within the past three years, I have witnessed the resurgence while living in one of the first rehabilitated historic buildings in downtown, the Hotel Lafayette.

Canalside is now used year-round: we embrace our winters with an outdoor ice rink and soak up our summers with kayaking and outdoor concerts; over 20 new restaurants have opened within a mile radius of the downtown center; mixed-use buildings have become homes for hundreds of young professionals who have come back to the area or stayed after college.

Our initiatives and partnerships with SolarCity directly impact our economy.

We are making the connections between local outsources for SolarCity to produce solar panels, and we are part of the workforce conversation that will bring in over 1,500 jobs on site this fall.

With these brand new positions comes the trickle-down effect; our region will continue to thrive and provide careers, homes, and a lifestyle for the next generation of leaders.

With unique economic investments in the Buffalo Niagara region, we have the opportunity to continue watering the seeds of new business being planted throughout our area.

Direct Energy 1With SolarCity being the next great development to our community, the sun will no doubt shine light on our Queen City revitalization.

How have you seen our region developing over the past three years?

Has the trickle-effect been noticeable enough to bring you back to our city?

Comment below and share your take on the success and growth our region is experiencing using the hashtag #BuildingBN.

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Unleashing the Power of the Mega-Region

Did you know that the Buffalo to Toronto Mega-Region represents one of the most powerful economic engines in North America?

As Canadian and American business leaders, it is critical that we find opportunities to connect and grow not just our networks, but our businesses.

Hamilton Chamber members networ at our July Business After Business Event

Hamilton Chamber members network at our July Business After Business Event

With the close proximity of the border, the opportunities for collaboration and idea sharing between Canadian and American business leaders are endless.

The mega region, which stretches from Waterloo all the way over to Montreal, is expected to see half the nation’s population growth and two-thirds of its economic growth over the next four decades.

Recognizing the power that the mega region plays in our economic development, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the Greater Niagara and Hamilton Chambers of Commerce have come together to host a summit for Canadian and American business leaders who want to expand their opportunities beyond their individual borders.

“Unleashing the Power of the Mega-Region”, which takes place from 1:30 – 5:00 p.m. on September 10 at the Seneca Niagara Casino, will provide the forum for business leaders to engage in discussion on the opportunities, challenges and potential solutions that exist to leverage cross-border relationships.

Nadja Piatka

Nadja Piatka

Attendees will be inspired by Nadja Piatka, CEO of Nadja Foods, as she shares her story on how she built a juggernaut food business by utilization of cross-border opportunities and relations.

Join experts in manufacturing, transportation, logistics, development, law and infrastructure for an afternoon of networking, developing relationships and learning.

Attendees will walk away with a post-event business guide, resources, new connections, and post-event whitepaper detailing the value propositions that exist for your business.  

“Unleashing the Power of the Mega-Region” is just the start of our effort to create connections and conversations like this.

Buffalo Niagara Partnership members connecting at a recent “Scramble” networking event in Niagara Falls, NY

Buffalo Niagara Partnership members connecting at a recent “Scramble” networking event in Niagara Falls, NY

The economic development and prosperity of Buffalo Niagara is closely tied to that of our neighbors across the border.

Register today to join us for this unique event that will enable you to grow not just your business, but your network.

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