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UB and its School of Architecure and Planning Key to Buffalo Billion Plan

From left, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Howard Zemsky and President Satish K. Tripathi appear at a press conference during which a plan for the state’s investment in Western New York was presented to the governor. Photo: DOUGLAS LEVERE

By JOHN DELLACONTRADA

Published December 6, 2012

“Ideas are now birthed in institutions of higher education.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s $1 billion pledge to Buffalo took a step forward Tuesday as President Satish K. Tripathi and other members of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council publicly presented the governor with a plan for the state’s investment in the region.

“This is truly an exciting time to be a Western New Yorker. We are experiencing a tremendous period of opportunity and promise,” Tripathi told a crowd of hundreds who gathered at the Buffalo Convention Center to hear details of the plan. “We are very fortunate to have a governor who recognizes the critical opportunities at stake in our city and region.”

Tripathi co-chairs the regional council with local business and civic leader Howard Zemsky. The UB Regional Institute and Urban Design Project in the School of Architecture and Planning have been working with the council and teams from the Brookings Institution and McKinsey & Co. to frame the plan, identify the region’s distinctive assets and advantages, and outline investment options.

Following the presentation of the plan, Cuomo announced the state’s investment of $50 million to attract an Albany-based biomedical company to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The arrival of Albany Molecular Research Inc. (AMRI) will create 250 jobs, said Cuomo, who noted that the company was attracted by the potential to collaborate with UB and other local research institutions in drug development and commercialization.

“We need to jumpstart the Western New York economy because it has been a long time coming, and we need to do it big,” Cuomo said. “I’m betting on Buffalo for a billion dollars.”

Cuomo and several other speakers pointed to the powerful role UB continues to play in regional economic development. “The big ideas and the big economies across the country all have the same formula,” Cuomo said.

“Ideas are now birthed in institutions of higher education. They come up with a new great idea, a great concept, and they then become fertilized in the entrepreneurial private sector to form businesses. That’s what’s working all across the country, and that’s the magic that we have to bring to Western New York.”

The council’s economic development plan identifies two sectors for investment that will involve the university: advanced manufacturing and life sciences. These sectors will leverage UB faculty strengths in materials science, as well as research now under way at the Clinical and Translational Research Center and commercialization efforts at UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.

The life sciences sector, in particular, will benefit from the relocation of the medical school to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where there will be a continued push to develop medical innovations and bring them to market.

UB’s move downtown and the expansion of the medical campus also will benefit neighborhoods around the campus, said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who described the effect of state investment on the city’s revitalization.

“Buffalo is on the verge of transformation,” Brown said. “Every resident and each neighborhood must feel the effects of this change.”
A description of the full regional investment plan is available here. 

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy thanked Tripathi and Zemsky for their work in support of the entire region. “These two gentlemen have done an extraordinary job leading this effort, bringing people together and getting the job done,” he said.