Temporary fix for highways in the works

highwayAs the Highway Trust Fund nears insolvency in the coming weeks, the House has passed a bill that will extend funding for about 10 months.

The $11 million extension will temporarily avoid the uncertainty in funding for major surface infrastructure projects, but a long term fix is desperately needed.

With Congress approaching its summer recess, the Senate is only expected to pass the House’s version of the bill.

The Highway Trust Fund is the primary source of funding for surface infrastructure construction and repair projects, and was a major focus in the Partnership’s inaugural Transportation Summit in May.

Speakers like Janet Kavinoky, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Director of Transportation & Infrastructure, and Gregory Nadeau, the Federal Highway Administration’s Deputy Administrator, argued strongly for a long-term funding solution.

The temporary extension buys Congress several months, specifically until after this November’s elections, to hash out a longer term solution.

One of the more popular suggestions for funding has been raising the national gas tax, which at 18.4 cents per gallon, has not been raised since 1993. As cars have become significantly more fuel-efficient, the Fund’s primary source of income has failed to keep pace with construction needs. However, In an election year, many politicians are particularly adamant about not raising taxes.

Allowing the Fund to go bankrupt would be devastating to the economy, resulting in the loss of roughly 700,000 construction jobs as states would be forced to cut back infrastructure projects.

The passage of this bill avoids that outcome for now, but it is imperative that Congress comes up with a solution that will stabilize funding for years to come. Infrastructure is not often the first issue on people’s minds these days, but it is critical to the nation’s well-being and to the business community.

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The Great Lakes Metro Chamber Coalition, of which the Partnership is a co-founder and steering committee member, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have both advocated for extensions of the Highway Trust Fund, and we join them in recognizing Congress for not letting the Fund go bankrupt.

However, it is not enough to view this 10 month funding program as a complete victory; all three of our organizations will now push for a long term solution with reliable funding sources to restore our nation’s roads and bridges.  What that reliable funding source (or sources) will be remains to be determined.

There are several actions that community members can take to ensure a funding solution is reached.

First, write your Congressperson demonstrating the importance of infrastructure is crucial. On the state level, supporting cost-reducing programs such as Design-Build, and supporting reforms to the Scaffold Law will greatly reduce project costs here in New York.

A new funding solution should support cost-cutting programs, while establishing long-term funding sources like the gas tax and others, to make much needed improvements to our decaying infrastructure systems.

The Partnership has taken action throughout this year to push for more infrastructure investment, with the previously mentioned Transportation Summit, as well as hosting the TRIP Press Conference in February. TRIP’s New York State infrastructure analysis can be seen here.

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Networking is the key

We live in an ever-changing technological world, filled with the latest and greatest ways to get in touch with customers fast.

As these trends come and go, one thing will never go out of style – networking.

Face to face conversation is still one of the best ways to ensure new business and business retention, which is why a majority of the events the Partnership hosts each year include a networking component.

networking1Whether allowing time before an event begins, or creating events that are specifically designed for networking (such as our Scramble Networking Series), our events offer attendees the opportunity to interact with other members who have similar goals.

We understand that it can be uncomfortable to approach business professionals and start a conversation, which is exactly why we created the Scramble Networking Series – to provide attendees with the opportunity to expand their network by connecting with others in a comfortable setting.

The series is great for young professionals, sales managers, marketing professionals, and anyone interested in expanding his or her network.

“The Scramble event was well-organized and low-key.  It managed to take a task that seems daunting to many professionals (building a network) and transform it into an evening of fun conversations with lots of new and interesting people.  By the end of the night, I found that I had “networked” despite myself, and walked away with many new contacts that I didn’t have before.”  – Joanna Dickinson from #BNPMember, Phillips Lytle

We recently wrapped up this year’s Scramble Networking Series, which included three separate networking events over breakfast, lunch and cocktails.

networking2At the breakfast and lunch events, attendees rotated tables during each course, discussing different topics and answeing questions provided by the Partnership.

At our cocktail event, guests were asked to network with several people based off a sheet of names they were provided with at the start of the event.

“I was able to attend all three of the Scramble events which made the Cocktails event even more effective for me… Because of the prior sessions, I was able to approach a group with someone I had met previously at a BN360 event and engage in conversation with the whole group. The “find the person lists” also helped to ease the awkwardness of approaching a group of new people. Through all three of the events, I was able to not only broaden my professional network, but learn a great deal about other Buffalo businesses and their key values and concerns.” – Lauren Glose from #BNPMember, Wendel

While our members benefit from discounted pricing for all of our events (and the opportunity to attend many for free), non-members are welcome to attend our events as well.

At our last Scramble event, Ellen Cahill, Board President for Road Less Traveled Productions, attended. She gained so much from the event the organization is planning on joining The Partnership next month.

networking blog 1“In order to meet our mission of fiscal responsibility and community inclusion, non-profits, too, must work at business development. I had some lovely conversations at the event and the experience reiterated the true value of being a partnership member.” – Ellen Cahill from Road Less Traveled Productions

We have already secured the dates and venues for the 2015 Scramble networking series, so mark your calendar now:

  • 8 – 10 a.m., February 25 at The Marriott (Amherst)
  • 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., April 14 at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens
  • 5:30 – 8 p.m. on June 30 at The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls

Have questions or want to sign up as a Partnership member to take advantage of decreased ticket prices? Contact Charlene Janiga at 716-541-1770.

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BN360: advancing the region’s young professionals

The 2013-2014 year marked the sixth year of Buffalo Niagara 360, the region’s premier young professionals organization.

This year was not only one of our busiest, but also one of our most enjoyable and interesting due to our program lineup.

young professionalsOver 800 young professionals participated in various events focused on professional development, community engagement and business networking.

Some of the highlights for the year include:

We have two additional upcoming events that you won’t want to miss out on:

May 19 blog photoOn Thursday, July 17 we will host the season’s last Happy Hour for a Cause: Christmas in July. This annual fundraiser will support B Team Buffalo’s holiday event “City of Light.”

Register today and don’t forget bring a toy for donation!
All attendees who donate a toy will be entered into a raffle for gift baskets from Road Less Traveled ProductionsBuffalo Spree and BikeorBar!

 

Our final event of the year is a happy hour at Resurgence Brewery on August 6. Joined by the Canadian Consulate and Emerging Business Leaders, we will educate young professionals on NEXUS Niagara and the importance of bi-national relations.

We are busy (and excited) planning the 2014-2015 season which will kick off with a Professional Development week starting September 15, 2014! There are several events scheduled throughout the week, all leading up to our BN360 season Kickoff Celebration!

Getting excited? Renew your membership (with Charlene Janiga at 716-541-1770) and register for the kickoff today!

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Immigration reform: join the discussion

Last month, I blogged about how immigrants and refugees are catalysts to economic growth.

June 11 small biz statCities across the country are beginning to see the growing trend of in-migration and are taking action to attract and retain this growing population.

Given the critical need across the country for world-class talent, it’s not surprising that major companies from around the country (and here in our region) are clamoring for sensible, employer-friendly immigration reform.

To remain globally competitive, the United States must have a reliable and legal supply of foreign born talent.

Unfortunately, the positive economic impact of immigrants to our economy is often lost in the heated debate over comprehensive immigration reform.

Questions arise such as: Why is there such a demand? What can the business community do to address the demand for highly skilled labor while a nation-wide schism over immigration is rapidly widening? 

June 11 Immigrants photo1 TO USE

International Institute of Buffalo works to place refugees with jobs at local businesses such as Lloyd Taco Truck

As the regional chamber of commerce, we have been working with our partners at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition to address this issue at the federal level, while conversing with local partners about how our region can better leverage our burgeoning foreign born population. 

Join Partnership President & CEO Dottie Gallagher-Cohen at 8 a.m. on July 30 as she hosts expert panelists, such as Jeff Lungren, Director of Congressional and Public Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to discuss the business case for immigration reform and its implications for Buffalo Niagara.

Register today to get #InTheKnow on why CEO’s of leading U.S. companies are calling on Congress to act on immigration reform in 2014.

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Annual advocacy highlights

Late June marked the end of both the Partnership’s fiscal year and New York’s legislative session.

On June 24, 2014, our President & CEO Dottie Gallagher-Cohen hosted the Partnership’s Annual Report, where she shared our highlights for the year as well as her vision for moving both the Partnership and our region forward.

BCP infographicIt was an exciting day, as we had the opportunity to showcase the impactful year we had.

In the world of government relations, we had a tremendous year, as we were able to accomplish a number of priority items from our Regional Agenda and State Legislative Action Agenda.

There’s always more work to be done, as evident from the list of agenda items that have yet to be completed, but I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the positive impact we had this year:

  • Brownfield Cleanup Program: We’re thrilled to report a two year extension to the BCP has passed the Legislature and has the Governor’s support. Getting this program extended was a major priority of ours to ensure the continuance of dozens of regional development projects. However, we still need the Governor to sign the bill into law, and the program still needs a full 10-year extension authorized next year.
  • NYS Tax relief and reform: One of the best things to come out of this year’s budget was addressing New York’s crushing tax burden, especially on manufacturers. The tax cuts stemmed directly from recommendations from Unshackle Upstate’s New E.R.A. for Upstate agenda. One of the key points of this relief was an accelerated reduction and elimination of the energy tax known as the “18a surcharge”, a longtime Partnership priority that was created in 2009. (A BIG reason we’ll be involved in the State Senate races this November!)
  • Political Action: Speaking of elections, we endorsed and supported Mayor Byron Brown for re-election in 2013 and also supported two reform minded candidates for the 2014 Buffalo School Board: Larry Quinn and Patti Pierce, both of whom were elected. quinn and pierce garphic
  • Peace Bridge Pre-Authorization pilot goes live: We fought hard for cargo pre-inspection to reduce wait times at the border.
  • WRRDA & HMTF: The Water Resources Reform & Development Act and Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund were key issues for the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition. With President Obama’s signature on WRRDA, we established ourselves as a regional powerhouse in Washington when it comes to Great Lakes issues.
  • Bad Bills: Near the end of session in Albany, there’s always a glut of “bad” legislation that is proposed, and sometimes passed, in the crunch to “get things done” before adjourning for the year. The Partnership, in coalition with many other Upstate business organizations, successfully lobbied against bills that would create taxpayer-funded campaign programs, prevailing wage mandates, anti-call center legislation, paid family leave, sick family leave, over burdensome chemical regulation programs, and so on.

As the Partnership continues to advocate for its members and the Buffalo Niagara business community, I encourage you to stay involved in our efforts by visiting our advocacy page, following our blog, and staying tapped in to our advocacy related-events.

To view the digital version of our Annual Report, click here.

Thanks for your support in our advocacy efforts on your behalf!

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Dream It, Do It WNY: Annual highlights

Have you heard about Dream It, Do It WNY?

Dream It, Do It WNY (DIDI WNY) is a private-sector led, state-supported initiative designed to engage, educate and employ the next generation of advanced manufacturing talent by encouraging young people to pursue post-secondary opportunities with a plan and a purpose.

didi graphic 1As a program driver for the initiative in Erie and Niagara counties, the Partnership was pleased to recently roll-out the program’s 2013/14 highlights:

  • 1,440 career fairs
  • 823 hands-on, in-classroom presentations
  • 458 technology tours
  • 455 career presentations
  • 374 adults impacted by DIDI WNY adult learner presentations
  • 300 “tech wars”
  • 110 speaker series

didi graphic 2DIDI WNY provides a platform for collaboration between industry leaders and educators, with the goal of engaging young people about the continuum of career pathways in advanced manufacturing.

Since the launch of the program in January 2013, 6,400 students have been impacted in Erie and Niagara counties.

This year, through DIDI WNY, 31 industry manufacturers collaborated with 22 high schools and 10 middle schools.

That number will only continue to grow, as DIDI WNY expands through various initiatives:

  • Backed by a $10,000 grant from the Motorola Foundation, DIDI WNY will present Young Manufacturers Academy in collaboration with Erie Community College. This five-day camp will feature VEX Robotics, mechanical and electrical engineering, biomanufacturing and hands-on CNC projects utilizing 3D software and printing technologies. We encourage our manufacturing members to join us from 1-3 p.m. on Friday, July 25 at Erie County Community College to watch our “young manufacturers” present their final projects to industry leaders and educators.
  • A partnership with Mayor Byron Brown’s Summer Youth Internship Program to provide more than 20 paid summer interns to eight manufacturing companies.
  • In the 2014-2015 school year, partner school district Lakeshore Central will add a new tech class called Exploring Manufacturing with DIDI WNY, which will double the school’s tech-related student count. Similarly, due to increasing student interest, partner school districts Williamsville North and Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda will each add an additional tech class.

To view the entire presentation of DIDI WNY’s annual highlights, click here.

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Hiring Our Heroes

Historically, veterans have a strong pattern of positive employment outcomes and are celebrated for their leadership, team-building and advanced technical training skills.

As the regional chamber of commerce, we understand the importance of supporting initiatives like Hiring Our Heroes that provide our members with information needed to help them connect with, and recruit, America’s Veterans.

Through Hiring our Heroes, the US Chamber of Commerce has created a number of resources for Veterans and employers.

One such resource is the Employer Roadmap, which helps employers navigate the programs and services available to find the talent their business needs.

hiring our heroesOn June 19, 2014, we partnered with the US Chamber of Commerce, New York National Guard, NYS Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service, Goodwill Industries (and the WNY Chapter,) and the American Legion to host the Hiring Our Heroes job fair.

The job fair was part of the US Chamber of Commerce and Capital One’s Hiring 500,000 initiative to work with businesses to make a commitment to hiring 500,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014.

Joined by 66 employers, including 20 Partnership members, we helped inform 150 veterans and their spouses on the current employment landscape and available positions in the Buffalo Niagara region.

We will continue to work with such initiatives to ensure that regional employers are aware of the various resources available to help them find, hire, train, and employ some of America’s most valued and skilled work-ready individuals – our veterans.

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Buffalo Niagara Partnership Member Spotlight: PeroxyChem

The Partnership represent nearly 2,000 members and a quarter of a million employees in the Buffalo Niagara region.

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

PrintThe first member we want to recognize, and celebrate, is PeroxyChem.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Marci Gregson, Manager of Human Resources at PeroxyChem, as well as Amie Dunn, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, to learn more about PeroxyChem and why they’re happy to be a member of The Partnership.

Q: Thank you both for taking the time to speak with me. I’m eager to learn more about PeroxyChem.

A: Thank you, Julia. We’re happy to have the opportunity to explain who we are and what we do, and why we are excited to continue our membership, which was formerly under FMC, with The Partnership.

Q: Can you briefly explain the impact (if any) that transitioning to PeroxyChem had on your business and membership with The Partnership?

Peroxychems photos1A: The former Peroxygens division of FMC was a very successful business and we look forward to continuing to drive the future of PeroxyChem in the same direction.

When we became PeroxyChem on March 1, we decided to continue our membership with The Partnership, as FMC was a member since 2001 and truly enjoyed the value gained from the membership.

Q: That’s great to hear. So, tell me a little bit more about who you are. What’s the mission of PeroxyChem?

A: PeroxyChem is a global manufacturer of hydrogen peroxide, persulfates, peracetic acid and adjacent technologies. We’re the only producer of persulfates in North America, and are one of the largest North American producers of peracetic acid.

While our products are not ones that you’d necessarily see on a shelf, you’d find our product in many industries. Our global footprint extends across North and South America, Europe and Asia.

We supply customized chemicals for electronics, energy, environmental, food safety, pulp, paper, polymer and other industrial and consumer markets.

Peroxychem Persulfates

PeroxyChem – Persulfates process diagram

Q: With a list that extensive, it’s no surprise that we decided to visit PeroxyChem for our Manufacturers Council Tour on May 15, 2014. Can you tell me a little bit about the tour?

A: We had about 40 people from various manufacturing facilities come tour our plant to introduce PeroxyChem to the community.

This was our first opportunity to introduce our new company to the local business community.

During the tour, people went through our processes and facility where they had the chance to see our machines and ask questions about our processes.

Individuals walked away knowing more about our business and the variety of products and industries that are touched by our business.

Q: I heard how clean the facilities were!

A: Safety and cleanliness are our top priorities. A clean facility and strong housekeeping inside the facility ensures a safe environment for our employees to work in.

Q: I definitely agree. So, what benefits has Peroxychem received or experienced through its membership with The Partnership?

A: For us, it’s the opportunity to introduce PeroxyChem, and what we do here, to the community. We are very active in Tonawanda to ensure that we are responsible in the community that we’re working in.

peroxychems photos3Now, we want to take it to the next level with our business community.

For example, I attended the Congressional Briefing event at The Partnership to keep us in the loop of current events in our own backyard.

It was very informative, and I appreciated the opportunity to hear Congressman Collin’s perspective on what’s happening in Washington and how decisions will potentially impact our business.

Q: That’s great to hear. So, what current challenges or opportunities do you face that you think The Partnership might be able to play a role in?

A: It’s really the community awareness of our company and how we can promote our business to both perspective customers and future employees. We are very proud of our business and the products we manufacture in Tonawanda – persulfates and peracetic acid.

Persulfates are efficient oxidants, making them useful in a variety of applications. They are utilized across the environmental remediation, oil and gas production, polymers, and chemical and personal care industries.

Our peracetic acid is used for chemical synthesis, bleaching, disinfection and sterilization across a variety of industries, including food and beverage, industrial cleaning, and oil and gas production.

The more people we can make aware of what we have to offer, the better chance we have at growing as a company and providing benefits and solutions to our customers.

PeroxyChem Percetic Acid

PeroxyChem – Percetic Acid process diagram

Q: Have you had any recent accomplishments that you’d like the community to be aware of?

A: Every year our company awards two scholarships named after one of our site’s innovators, Dr. Bretschger.

He invited the process that we use in our facility and was very well-known in the community. He wanted to see individuals further their education in the areas of chemistry and science so that we could see the benefits in society.

We’ve continued that tradition by offering scholarships to two graduating students (one from Kenmore East and one from Kenmore West) who are going into the field of chemistry or science.

We have recently presented these scholarships to two very deserving students and have had their families onsite so we could congratulate them and offer them a tour of our facility.

We’ve even had past recipients of the scholarships back during their college career as interns.  It’s been a very enjoyable experience for us as a company, and for the students.

peroxychems photos2Q: That’s wonderful. Are there any other current opportunities for employment or involvement with PeroxyChem?

A: We are currently hiring.

We are growing and also ensuring that a proactive knowledge transfer occurs in our organization, as we are seeing many of our more senior employees preparing for retirement. It’s an exciting time for our site and our company as a whole.

Q: That’s great! So, my final question is what are you looking forward to benefiting from as a member of The Partnership in the upcoming year?

A: We look forward to continuing to spread the word about who we are and what we do in the local community.

It’s really nice to network with people at the events thrown by The Partnership; it gives us the opportunity to share the good news that we’ve experienced.

We also look forward to being more active members at Partnership events. The Manufacturing Council Tour really energized us and we truly enjoyed the interaction with other Partnership members.

Curious to learn more about The Partnership and the benefits we provide our members?

Join us at 8 a.m. Friday, August 1 at 665 Main St for our Summer Open House!

*Note: As of March 1, 2014, the former FMC Global Peroxygens business is PeroxyChem. FMC sold its Global Peroxygens business to affiliates of One Equity Partners, the private investment arm of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. One Equity Partners has an extensive history growing their portfolio companies, including numerous ones in the chemical industry.

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Buffalo Niagara Partnership: a year in review

June 24, 2014 marked my first Annual meeting as the President & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

It was an exciting day, as I had the chance to speak to our members about the impactful year we had, as well as my vision for moving forward.

43 north photo of buffaloThroughout the year, I have met people from all over who feel and see the momentum of change and growth for our region.

For example, we have a community that is aligned around a strategic plan for economic growth, a Governor that pays attention to our region, and a growing population of 20-34 year olds; these are just a few factors that are helping our community turn around decades of decline.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership exists to mobilize our members, strategic partners and employees to tackle community challenges and maximize opportunities for growth.

We work for you by focusing on target industries that will grow our economy and advocating to remove barriers to that growth.

NYW_0072Our mission is to organize and undertake actions to expand private sector jobs and investments in the Buffalo Niagara region.

We want to drive Buffalo Niagara to be one of the most vibrant, sustainable and competitive economic regions in the country.

How do we do this? We:

  • Look for trends and develop solutions
  • Advocate for pressing community issues
  • Help companies grow their business
  • Represent the interests of our members

So, what are we most proud of this year?

  1. Brownfields Tax Credit Program: We’re thrilled to report an extension to the BCP. Getting this program extended was a major priority of ours to ensure the continuance of dozens of regional development projects. However, we still need the Governor to sign.
  2. NYS Tax relief and reform: One of the best things to come out of this year’s budget was addressing New York’s crushing tax burden, especially on manufacturers.
  3. Realization of the first two projects of the Buffalo Building Reuse Project: Under the leadership of Mayor Brown, we have identified “micro-neighborhoods” for targeted investment. The BBRP will result in transformational changes to our landscape that will be felt for generations.
  4. Political Action: We endorsed and supported Mayor Byron Brown for re-election and also supported two reform minded candidates for the 2014 Buffalo School Board: Larry Quinn and Patti Pierce, both of whom were elected.
  5. Dream it Do it reaches new heights: Dream it, Do it brought 31 manufacturers together with 22 area high schools and 10 middle schools in order to engage students in grades 7-12 about career pathways in advanced manufacturing.
  6. Peace Bridge Pre-Authorization pilot goes live: We fought hard for cargo pre-inspection to reduce wait times at the border.
    bryan logistics blog photo march 19
  7. Realization of the CanAm council: This council has the highest level of financial support of any of our councils and has gone from 20 members to just over 40 with interest continuing to grow.
  8. Founding partnership to form the Great Lakes Metro Coalition: this earned significant clout on capital hill.
  9. Expansion of logistics and transportation industry support: We launched the formation of the Buffalo Niagara International Trade Gateway Organization (ITGO). We also hosted a Transportation Summit that brought together over 100 community leaders with leading Federal and State decision makers to discuss our regional transportation infrastructure challenges.
  10. Management of the Smart Growth events for One Region Forward: We held 2 “economics of sustainability” sessions which more than 275 people attended.

NYW_0103

I want to thank our board and our members who all helped to enable us to achieve all of the highlights listed above.

Want to learn more about what was discussed at our Annual Report? Check out this writeup in The Buffalo News.

To view the digital version of our Annual Report, click here.

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WNY’s fastest-growing private businesses

Buffalo Business First’s 2014 Fast Track Awards reception, which recognizes Western New York’s fastest-growing private businesses, took place earlier this week.

Forty-eight companies were honored at the reception, eighteen of which are members of the Partnership!

We are incredibly proud of the following companies that were recognized:

Congratulations!

To view the entire list of businesses that were recognized by Buffalo Business First at the event, click here.

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