Fund Will Revitalize Commercial Corridors, Support Anchor Organizations and Improve Infrastructure
Supports Investments in Four Main Commercial Corridors: Michigan, Jefferson, Fillmore, and Bailey Avenues
East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund Booklet is Available Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the $50 million East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund, an initiative to spark revitalization of Buffalo's East Side through investments in the four main commercial corridors: Michigan, Jefferson, Fillmore, and Bailey avenues.
AUDIO of today's event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Wow, wow, wow, what a great place, huh? It really is. I was just in the back in one of the training rooms and they were explaining to me what they were doing with a machine and a drill press and a computer and I had no idea what they were talking about. It is way beyond me. Stephen Tucker and the entire team here, God bless you and God bless what you're doing. Let's give Mr. Tucker a round of applause. Mayor Byron Brown who is doing a great job and has had a special place for the East Side always. County Executive Mark Poloncarz, our partner who is doing a great job. Pleasure to be with him. All the local leaders, I'm with Howard. I think Thurman Thomas can play today. That's the shape he's in. stand up, Thurman Thomas, stand up. Look how good he looks. Who wants Thurman back on the field? There we are! And to Mr. Zemsky, Mr. Buffalo, who has been doing a great job. Let's give Howard Zemsky a big round of applause.
Now you notice how Howard made a big deal out of my ability to say no and draw a line in the sand and stand up for what you believe in. I got that from Howard Zemsky. This is a man who knows how to say no. he's Mr. Buffalo, lives in Buffalo, loves Buffalo, but stays focused to his mission. I called him about three weeks ago. I said, I just spoke to the Mayor, spoke to the County Executive, and we have a snow storm coming and an ice storm coming and I'm out on Long Island and the plane won't fly. They say it's very dangerous. Would you do me a favor and go meet with the mayor and the county executive and coordinate our snow and ice forces? He said no. I said, what do you mean, no? He said I'm drawing a line in the sand. I do economic development; I am not doing that.
I had to get on a plane, fly through the storm. I call him up two weeks ago—wind storm. I said, "Howard, would you do me a favor and go on the Skyway because they think the wind is too strong and we may have to close the Skyway but I can't get up there?" He said, "No. I draw the line in the sand. I do economic development; I am not going." I was Disappointed. I called Howard this past Sunday and said, "there may have been a lightning strike on the electrical substations outside of Hamburg. Would you do me a favor and go look at the substations?" Here's what Howard said, "No. I do economic development." So don't count on Howard if it snows, or if the wind blows, or if the lightning strikes, but when it comes to economic development, there is no one better in the state of New York. Howard Zemsky.
Let's give the band a big round of applause. Thank you and God bless you for what you do. And Howard said it all. The Buffalo psyche for too many years was about yesterday; it was all about our past, it was about our history, it was about Bethlehem steel and Republic steal and Trico and telling great beautiful stories about the past, but not enough thought and vision and belief in the future and tomorrow and what're we going to do and where are we going? And we've turned that around. Buffalo now is focused on the future. We're making progress. You see it on every level. The Mayor and the County Executive have done an extraordinary job.
Every number is up; every arrow is pointed in the right direction; it is undeniable. Unemployment is down, jobs are up, young people are coming back—20 percent increase in young people coming back to buffalo after a decade where we lost t10 percent of our young people. So a new energy: jobs, businesses, growth, every newspaper, magazines—Buffalo is a national urban recovery story; it is beautiful. I said about Byron Brown behind his back—because I don't like to say nice things in front of him—I said behind his back that Mayor Byron Brown and County Executive Poloncarz are going to go into the history books for turning Buffalo around 180 degrees.
So, all the arrows have pointed in the right direction. But we're doing so well, now we're doing well enough to ask the really difficult questions. What do you mean by success? And what do you mean by Buffalo is doing well? And what do you mean by we are doing well? And the truest form of success is that the greatest feast has the most number of people at the table. And 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. We are doing so well and we're so smart that we said until we all are participating in success it's not true success.
And the East Side has had economic challenges for many, many years. We all know that. And the Mayor and the County Executive have bene focusing on the East Side. But now that we have the wind at our back, now that we have some economic momentum, let's make sure we bring the East Side along in that success so that all of Buffalo, all of Western New York, and all of the East Side are also doing well.
And that's why when we laid out our plan for a new Buffalo, we've already invested over $250 million in the East Side. That's what this Northland workforce training program is all about. Yeah, we're bringing back jobs, but that job doesn't do anything for you if you don't have the training or the skills to fill that job. As a matter of fact, our problem now is the abundance of success. We have more jobs than we can fill. We have more jobs that we have trained workers. So now we're doubling back to get workers trained to fill those jobs. And that's what Northland is doing. But, we have more to do to bring the East Side to that same level of success. And today we're announcing another $50 million of investment in the East Side to build on the assets that are here.
And the people who are here. And the community based organizations that are here. Build the East Side from within the East Side. Investing in these assets. And we're going to invest $150 million in the cultural institutions and to spur tourism. The Martin Luther King Park district is going to get $6.6 million. The Michigan Street and Heritage Corridor—$7 million. The Broadway Market has great potential. It does very well around the holidays. We think that can be a year-round destination and business development center and we're going to invest $4 million in the Broadway Market. We have great small businesses on the East Side. They all have the same problem: they don't have access to capital, they don't have access to credit. They go to a bank and they don't have the balance sheet to get working capital to improve their program. We're going to start a $10 million capital investment fund in the East Side small businesses.
There's a great potential for real estate development on the East Side. You have this growing population, people need housing. You don't have to move out. Look at the East Side. Great opportunity for real estate development but you need the skills to do that real estate development. It doesn't just come naturally. We're going to do a $5 million grant with UB to train people from the East Side to actually do real estate development of the East Side.
We have beautiful, historic buildings and historic architecture. We spent too many years as a society knocking down the old. Now we actually appreciate the old. And the architectural beauty and significance. We want to keep it; we're going to invest $5 million to improve our historic building in the East Side. And the commercial corridors that make up the East Side that are the arteries of the East Side, they have beautiful old stores. They have great potential, but we have to develop those streetscapes and those main streets and those storefronts and we're going to invest $10 million in doing that in the East Side.
And to me, in many ways, this is a high point of everything we have done. It's great to see the hotels going up, it's great to see the office buildings going up and the office parks going up. It's great to go to Niagara Falls and see all these great new developments but in many ways, the sweetest success is seeing people who have been left behind for too long and places that have been left behind for too long now sharing in that success. And reaching a level we've never reached before. Thank you and God bless you.