2017 Advocacy Agenda Expanded – Reinvesting in Buffalo Niagara

There is no denying the tax burden in Buffalo Niagara and all of New York State is high.  The Partnership spends a lot of time highlighting why and ways the public and private sectors can work together to reduce it.  While no one likes to pay taxes, smart investment of tax dollars can help create economic opportunity.

We believe our community is poised to reap the long-term benefits of strategically investing tax dollars into two key sectors driving our economy – higher education and tourism.  To drive this point home, we created a new section in our Advocacy Agenda for 2017, appropriately titled Investing in Buffalo Niagara.

UB Chart

University at Buffalo

There is no denying the fact that the University at Buffalo is an economic engine.  UB has an annual economic impact of $2.1 billion on New York State.  For every dollar New York State appropriates to UB, the University returns $13.90 back to New York in economic activity.  With nearly 7,000 full-time employees, UB is the region’s fourth largest employer.

For these reasons alone, the Partnership proudly supports SUNY 2020 and advocates for allowing UB, along with other SUNY schools, to implement a rational tuition policy. We are also calling for more capital investment in UB to help the University to successfully grow.

Tourism Funding

The local tourism market is hot, and not just in the summer months, but all year long.  Attracting visitors to the Buffalo Niagara market has never been so easy, but, unfortunately, we are failing to capitalize on the true potential of our tourism economy.  Visit Buffalo Niagara (VBN) – Buffalo and Erie County’s tourism promotion agency – is almost exclusively funded through an allocation of the Hotel Occupancy Tax (Bed Tax) collected by Erie County.  Since 2000, bed tax collections have increased from $5.5 million to almost $11 million in 2016.  Yet, the allocation to VBN has largely remained flat.

growing gapIf VBN received the same percentage of Bed Tax as it did in 2000, its budget would be over $5.5 million. That would put VBN on par with other visitor bureaus such as Bloomington, Minnesota; Grand Rapids, Michigan and Omaha, Nebraska.  We admit that we are biased, but Buffalo Niagara should be able to compete with those cities any day of the week.

By wisely reinvesting public dollars, our state and local leaders have the opportunity to leverage a greater return for our community with new jobs, additional tax revenue and sustainable economic development.  See all of our 2017 Advocacy Agenda here.