Higher Wages, Fewer Jobs

Higher wages and fewer jobs- that’s the undeniable takeaway from a recent study looking at the economic impact of a $15 an hour minimum wage in New York State. The study was commission by the Empire Center and conducted by two nationally recognized economists who concluded that at least 200,000 jobs would be lost throughout New York State if the minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour. More than 15,000 of those jobs would come from the Buffalo Niagara job market.

The Empire Center’s EJ McMahon traveled to Buffalo recently to provide Partnership members with a detailed analysis of the study and context around Governor Cuomo’s proposal. What is clear is that a 67% wage increase will not only negatively impact employers, but taxpayers, consumers and those currently struggling financially.

“Fifteen is unprecedented”, said McMahon. “It’s really, really high in historical terms, it’s really, really high even in global terms.”

Not only is a $15 minimum wage sharply above New York State’s historic all-time high minimum wage adjusted for inflation, it would be the highest state-wide minimum wage in the country. But it doesn’t stop here. No developed country around the world has a higher minimum wage than $12 an hour when adjusted from purchasing power parity.

While most of the talk around raising in the minimum wage in New York State has centered on fastfood workers, the Governor’s proposal would impact a huge segment of our local economy. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 25% of people working in the Buffalo Niagara metro area in 2014 made less than $15 an hour. That figure does not include food service jobs which tend to be among the lowest-wage occupations. Forcing higher wages across all of these occupations will drive up the costs of goods and services across the board.


A $15 minimum wage seems all the more outrageous considering the median wage for all occupations in the Buffalo Niagara area is $16.71 an hour. As we know, increasing the minimum wage 67% will not just impact the wages of people currently earning minimum wage, but force employers to raise wages for people currently earning $15 or more an hour.

Beyond devastating impacts to employers, McMahon says the ones most hurt by this proposal will be the people the Governor is attempting to help as employers will be forced to make tough decisions about how many employees they can afford.

“The minimum you can make is nothing,” said McMahon. “The real risk here is that hundred of thousands people, virtually all of them poor people, and many of them younger poor people of color living in places like Buffalo, will be making nothing because they will find it hard to find work.”


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Regional Priority Projects

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership recently released its 2016 Regional Priority Projects. Formerly known as the Regional Agenda, the list continues the Partnership’s collaboration with the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls and the counties of Erie and Niagara to identify regionally significant development, infrastructure and planning projects for our state and federal representatives to support.

The list highlights 20 projects in four key economic areas:

Border & Trade

  • Buffalo Niagara Regional Trade Database
  • Queenston-Lewiston Bridge Plaza Improvements

Infrastructure & Transit

  • Buffalo Public Works Campus
  • Canalside/Cobblestone Transit Enhancements
  • Cars Sharing Main Street Completion
  • Lackawanna Wastewater Treatment Plan Elimination Project
  • Robert Moses Parkway-North/Niagara Gorge Corridor Project
  • Southtowns Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility Upgrade
  • Transit Options Amherst-Buffalo
  • WNY First Response & Preparedness Center

Smart Growth Ready

  • Agriculture Business Park
  • Bethlehem Steel Site Acquisition and Redevelopment
  • Huntley Power Plan Closure Recovery
  • Niagara Falls Highland Area Commerce Park
  • Niagara Falls International Airport Business District Fiber Optic Network
  • South Buffalo Riverbend Infrastructure Master Plan

Tourism & Recreation 

  • African American Cultural Center Relocation
  • Gratwick Park Marina Redevelopment Final Phase
  • Niagara Experience Center
  • Niagara Falls International Airport Florida Marketing Initiative

The 2016 Regional Priority Projects were determined through a robust submission process, followed by a ranked vote to determine the final list of 20 projects. The list also includes background on each project and its potential economic impact on the Buffalo Niagara region.

And stay tuned – the Buffalo Niagara Partnership will release its 2016 Advocacy Agenda detailing its policy advocacy priorities at the federal, state and local level at a rollout event on January 7, 2016.



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Shaping our Economic Development Advocacy & Programming

The Partnership’s annual Cross Council Agenda Rollout event is quickly approaching. This new event showcases the advocacy and programming agendas from our five councils: CanAm CouncilDevelopment Advisory Council, Energy Council, Logistics and Transportation Council, and Manufacturers Council.

Attendees will IMG_5893learn about the important issues each of the councils will be advocating for during the coming year. Many of the councils share common priorities and issues, making collective knowledge and action vital to the success of the Partnership’s advocacy efforts. Our member companies often see value in learning of each council’s mission and priority items to better understand how their business may be affected.

By combining different perspectives and knowledge, we are able to better understand the ramifications of certain issues across industry sectors. Furthermore, we are able to build a broader coalition of support to gain momentum and create more effective advocacy.

IMG_6288A prime example of cross-industry collaboration was the 2015 renewal of the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP). Members of the Partnership’s Development Advisory Council raised concerns about the pending expiration of the BCP. The program is vital for development in Western New York, particularly for the redevelopment of older sites and buildings which are often contaminated due to prior industrial uses. Other council members and general Partnership members understood the importance of this program for economic development and smart growth in the region, and were able to rally behind this cause. Ultimately, the program was renewed, helping to secure future investment in Western New York.

The economic development ramifications of many of our councils’ priorities are widespread. We encourage all members to take the opportunity to better understand the work of each of our councils and consider how their business or industry may be affected. Economic development in Western New York encompasses all business sectors and by working together and sharing expertise we will make our region’s voice stronger and move our economy in a continuing positive direction.

For more information and to register to attend the Cross Council Agenda Rollout, please click here

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Member Spotlight: Carmina Wood Morris DPC

Carmina Wood Morris DPC

Imagination Unlocked

Since its founding in 2001, Buffalo Niagara Partnership member, Carmina Wood Morris DPC, has made its mark across Western New York as a leading architecture, engineering and interior design firm. The firm’s talent and creativity can be seen across the region in a variety of award-winning projects from luxury lofts in historic Lafayette Square to renovations at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

“Carmina Wood Morris has earned a distinct reputation for our design and technical skills, specializing in historic preservation, adaptive re-use Residential and commercial, Health Care, Corporate Design, and education, “explains Darra Kubera, Marketing Coordinator at the firm. “We offer a comprehensive scope of services with full capabilities to take a project from concept through design to completion.”

With headquarters in downtown Buffalo, Carmina Wood Morris is home to a dynamic team of 23 professionals including architects, engineers and interior designers who collaborate to deliver unique, innovative results for their clients. The firm’s name is associated with countless projects that shine as examples of the resurgence underway in the Buffalo Niagara region.

Building the community

CaptureThe Hotel Lafayette. Seneca Street Lofts. The Phoenix Brewery Apartments. Those are just a few of the projects that demonstrate the firm’s philosophy of doing great work that help to make our community better.

It is a company culture instilled by firm principals Steven J. Carmina, AIA; R. Christopher Wood, PE; Jonathan H. Morris, AIA; and Pamela Timby-Straitiff, CID, IIDA, and shared by every member of their team.

“We believe in making a difference, in our work and in what we can do to support the community, from volunteering to getting involved with organizations such as the Partnership,” says Steve Carmina.

Carmina himself has been called one of downtown Buffalo’s biggest boosters, evidenced not only in the firm’s work, but also by the fact that he makes his residence in a restored historic building on Genesee Street.

The Partnership in the plans

Carmina Wood Morris became a member of the Partnership more than two years ago, citing the networking opportunities as a major reason for joining. As the firm has become more familiar with the Partnership, they recognized all that their membership has to offer, and firm associates continue to get more involved. Partner Pamela Timby-Straitiff is a member of the Partnership’s Executive Exchange Commitee and a number of associates are part of the Partnership’s BN360 program for young professionals.
In fact, firm architect Paul Lang was recently named as a 2015 BN360 Spotlight Professional, an annual BN360 program that highlights individuals in our area who exemplify today’s rising, young leaders. Paul recently wrote an article for the BN360 Spotlight Series that centers on re-envisioning Buffalo’s East Side neighborhoods. Read the article HERE.

Going forward

Obviously, revitalization efforts and new development in the Buffalo Niagara region has resulted in an increased demand for services provided by Carmina Wood Morris. The firm currently has several positions open in its engineering department and it recently recruited a young architect to Buffalo from Florida. Darra Kubera notes that all the exciting things going on in Western New York were added incentive for the emerging professional to make the move here.

While projects in downtown Buffalo have garnered plenty of attention, the firm is finding success throughout the region. Work currently underway includes interior design for Courtyard by Marriott in a signature building in Niagara Falls; design work at Crescendo apartments in a circa 1911 former Bison Storage and Warehouse complex on Niagara Street; and design work at the Delevan, a 60-room boutique hotel that will adjoin Salvatore’s Restaurant in Lancaster.

As Carmina Wood Morris continues to grow, Darra Kubera sees the firm’s involvement with the Partnership growing as well. “We are pleased to be a part of the Partnership and have found them very responsive any time we’ve had a question or needed assistance,” she concludes.

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Dream it, Do It: Adopt-a-School program

It’s no secret that manufacturers are facing an unprecedented workforce shortage. Due to aging current employees and a lack of qualified candidates entering the workforce, many companies are feeling the pressure of addressing the workforce issue.

The WNY Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) estimates that there will be 17,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs in our region by 2020.

The Partnership’s Manufacturers Council has made workforce development our top priority this year. The Council is tackling the issue head on by developing baseline skillsets for new hires, ensuring upskilling opportunities for incumbent employees, and growing the manufacturing pipeline.

Though all three of these elements are critical, the Partnership has taken on a new role this year in growing the pipeline of manufacturing workers. We are working with the Dream It, Do It program to encourage young people to pursue manufacturing and STEM careers.

DIDIDream it, Do It (DIDI) is a national program whose goal is to expose students to the many benefits of manufacturing careers- higher pay on average, better benefits, family-sustaining wages without a four year degree, and many others. The Partnership is working with DIDI WNY, the local program chapter, to reach out to students in Erie and Niagara counties this school year.

The focus this year is on DIDI’s Adopt-a-School program. This pairs up a manufacturer with a local high school and allows them to engage students in a number of ways, both in the factory and in the classroom. It allows manufacturers to creatively show students the many opportunities available to them, right in their backyards.

Too often, students are not encouraged to pursue trades and manufacturing careers due to outdated stereotypes of the industry. Today’s manufacturers operate some of the cleanest, safest, and most high-tech facilities in the world, and they pay higher wages and give great benefits. Buffalo and WNY was built on manufacturing, and the DIDI program aims to show young people (and parents!) what great opportunities STEM careers can provide.

If you would like to get involved in the Adopt-a-School program, click here to view our sign up form, or simply would like more information about DIDI, please contact Barrett Erbe. We are looking forward to a successful year implementing the program.

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Minimum Wage Reality Check

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is a proud founding member of Unshackle Upstate.  In the blog below, Unshackle Upstate’s Executive Director Greg Biryla details our statewide effort to oppose a $15 an hour minimum wage.  On behalf of our members, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership is committed to working with our partners throughout New York to oppose this 67% increase in the minimum wage.    

-Grant Loomis, VP for Government Affairs

Unshackle Upstate is part of large and diverse coalition group that announced its plan to oppose proposals to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in the 2016 legislative session.

The goal of the Minimum Wage Reality Check coalition will be to make sure that the public, community leaders and elected officials understand that a 67 percent minimum wage increase is simply unaffordable for most of the state’s businesses, farms and non-profits.minwage1

The coalition includes NFIB New York, the Business Council of New York State, Unshackle Upstate, regional chambers of commerce, and trade groups that represent restaurant owners, trucking companies, various chambers of commerce, convenience stores, hotels, and builders.

Last month, Gov. Cuomo launched a campaign for statewide minimum wage. He said that he will propose increasing the minimum wage in stages $15.  If approved by the Legislature, it would take full effect in New York City at the end of 2018 and in the rest of the state in July 2021.

We recently received some statistical support for our position against the $15 minimum wage when the Empire Center for Public Policy released a report which finds that raising the state’s minimum wage “will reduce employment opportunities and harm the state’s economic outlook.”

The report looked at the impact of raising the statewide minimum wage to $15. It estimates that a $15 minimum wage would cost the state at least 200,000 jobs, with proportionately larger employment losses coming in upstate regions.

Infograhic (Empire Center)


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How Do You Commute? Take the Survey!

Over the past few years, the Partnership has led the private sector’s involvement in the development and implementation of One Region Forward, Buffalo Niagara’s regional sustainability plan. Transportation is one of the give major components (or “big ideas”) of One Region Forward.

The plan complied and analyzed data related to transportation patterns in our region and many of the results are startling, if not alarming. According to data from One Region Forward, we spend more time commuting than ever before. Compared to 1970, we drive twice as much, with more people driving alone.

IMG_6193Given the current state of transportation in Buffalo Niagara, as shown by One Region Forward, action is needed to help move our region towards a more sustainable transportation system. A new grassroots effort, GO Buffalo-Niagara, is underway to do just that.

GO Buffalo-Niagara seeks to encourage the use of sustainable options such as including Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) Metro Rail and Bus, walking, biking, carpooling, and carsharing. Some of the major partners on the effort include the NFTA, Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC), GObike Buffalo and Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC).

IMG_6272GO Buffalo-Niagara is conducting a survey of people who currently work within the City of Buffalo to gage the public’s perception of transportation. The survey asks participants questions about their current mode of transportation, as well as perceptions about alternative modes. The organization has the potential to make progress on transportation sustainability region-wide. The survey is an important initial step in information gathering to get this effort moving.

The Partnership encourages anyone working in the city to take the survey here. The Partnership, and its Logistics and Transportation council, recognize the importance of a sustainable, efficient transport system in the success of our regional economy. Exploring sustainable modes of transportation has emerged as a vital piece of future development and growth of Buffalo Niagara. As such, the Partnership supports the efforts of GO Buffalo-Niagara and its partners.

To have more information, or if you have questions, please contact Daniel Leonard

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BN360 Spotlight Series: Raising the Buffalo Community

It’s no secret that Buffalo is on the rise. Articles are being written about us, cranes can be seen in downtown Buffalo, people are moving back and there are economic development initiatives that have the ability to continue driving our city forward. To say it’s an exciting time to live in Buffalo would be an understatement.

KayleighTerranova-2015_0621With all of this happening, it’s important to remember that in order for a city to rise, its people and communities must rise with it. Currently there are a large number of Buffalonians living below the poverty line, working families who have to ask themselves how they will heat their homes this winter and put food on their tables. There is still a lot of work to be done.

Buffalo is known as the City of Good Neighbors, and it is time to use our sense of community to continue with Buffalo’s growth. We can become a front porch society again, by welcoming conversations with our neighbors to understand their joys and their struggles. It is easy to live in our own world and to face only what we need to, but there are still people, many of whom are our friends, neighbors, and co-workers, that need help.

What can we do to improve the quality of life for those around us so we can all rise as one?

Find Your Passion

I have found my passion in a variety of organizations: Danceability, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Homespace, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Greater Bflo (YNPN) and United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. All of these non-profit organizations bring the Buffalo community together by serving those with wide-ranging needs. Take time to discover your passions and use that to find the causes, issues or initiatives that align with those passions. Do your research to find out what organizations you can get involved with that are helping find the solutions to those issues- trust me, there are many! For many of these organizations they are only as strong as their volunteers and by joining in, you become part of the solution.

Give It Your Time, Talent, and/or Treasure

There are many benefits of volunteering; it helps improve your physical health and decreases stress, just to name a few. Once you have found your passion, find time to devote to helping make a difference. It is an incredible feeling to live for something bigger than yourself, to help somebody who can never repay you. Someone you may never know.

KayleighTerranova-2015If you don’t have time to donate, there is also no amount of money too small to make a difference. Whether you are giving a donation because you are unable to give your time, or simply because you feel it is the right thing to do, when you invest in the community, you are investing in the people.

People often believe that one person cannot make a difference, but when we combine our efforts with like-minded individuals, we make all the difference. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Become the person who reaches their hand out to help lift up others before lifting up themselves.

Because of the renaissance Buffalo is experiencing, we have the opportunity to become an even greater city. If we support each other, move from the backyard to the front porch, our community grows stronger- as our community grows stronger, our city will continue to rise.


About the author: Kayleigh is on the Board of Directors and Chair of Programming Committee at Homespace, Board of Directors and Director of Special Events with Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Greater Bflo (YNPN), and part of the United Way Committees for the Women’s Leadership Council, WNY Girls in Sports, and the Emerging/Young Leader’s Initiative.


BN360 Spotlight Professional series is sponsored by:

yahoo 163 x 48



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Networking: Taking the First Step with BN360

As a young professional, hearing the word “networking” could very well invoke nervousness or uncertainty. We understand that knowing the right people and making connections can lead to great things yet we may not know where we can begin. Buffalo Niagara 360 (BN360) is the answer.

BN360_Nieman_12Business networking has been a tenet of focus for BN360 and continues to be the strongest pillar as we begin our eighth season. Each event opens a door for building lasting relationships with other professionals in the region and helps you connect with the right people.

The best way to take on building connections is to set yourself up for successful results, engage with people you meet and ask questions, and follow up with them to move the discussion forward. With 14 events this season, there are countless opportunities to meet young professionals.

BN360 member Ashleigh Berst says the program creates the prefect environment for introductions.

NYW_0020“At one program I attended, the room was buzzing with energy and following the event I met and connected with someone who led me to fulfill my career with a purpose. We continued the conversation over time and ultimately I was recruited to join his team.”

By taking the steps to better your professional development you will develop a natural approach to networking and making life-long connections.

BN360 brings you opportunities at each event throughout the season to uncover how collaboration is key to your growth. Young professionals in the network can meet, learn about one another, and create lasting relationships that affect them professionally and personally.

BN360_Nieman_18Julia Spitz, Spotlight Professional 2015, joined BN360 to be part of the network in order to thrive in the region. “BN360 has strengthened my network. Their events are a phenomenal way to engage with fellow young professionals while having fun and experiencing new local hotspots.”

Networking can be challenging yet rewarding. Take the first step to building your relationships by becoming a member of BN360 this season. Come with the right mindset, ask questions, and follow up. See where BN360 can take you!

To learn more about BN360 program and how you can join, please contact Lindsay Stickney at 716.541.1766

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Manufacturer Spotlight: International Paper

Today’s Manufacturer Spotlight: International Paper

international paper

International Paper is a global leader in the paper and packaging industry with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and North Africa. The company’s Western New York packaging plant in Buffalo is part of the Industrial Packaging business comprised of converting plants, containerboard mills, recycling centers and support facilities strategically located across the United States, Mexico and Latin America.

colorWestern New York Location
100 Bud Mil Drive
Buffalo, NY 14206


To read more Manufacturer Spotlights, be sure to follow us on our Manufacturers’ Council LinkedIn!

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