Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan already has misssed the boat.

The well-connected are planning regional development for the Buffalo (Erie County) and Niagara Falls (Niagara County) region. Their impetus is the result of a $1 billion development offer from New York State by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and will operate under the moniker – Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan.

It just made the following announcements

A Message from the Co-Chairs

On behalf of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, we are proud to present the Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan.  The Plan was developed at the request of Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Plan encompasses an in depth analysis of the levers that drive Buffalo’s and the region’s growth within a global context, promotes strategies based  upon Buffalo’s unique assets, and advances early initiatives for implementation.  The plan’s  success depends on the continued input and commitment of Buffalo’s and the region’s stakeholders.

Many people have contributed to the Plan’s development.  Whether providing leadership and direction, research and analysis, conducting interviews, providing global context , the collaboration of people and organizations have made this plan possible.  We would like to  acknowledge the members of our Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, as well as the members of the Buffalo Billion Advisory Group, the many hundreds of people  who served on design councils and our partners at Empire State Development.  We would also like to acknowledge the work done by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, McKinsey & Company, and University at Buffalo Regional Institute.  The combined insight and  work has the power to positively impact the economic growth trajectory of Buffalo and the  region.
In particular, we thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership, as well as his dedication to Buffalo
and the region.  Governor Cuomo recognized the potential of WNY, and that recognition inspired the Plan contained within.  We also thank Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy for his vision throughout this process, and for his continuous support of our Regional Economic Development Council and of our Plan.

Thank you in advance for joining with us as we move forward.

Sincerely,
Satish K. Tripathi                          Howard A. Zemsky

It acknowledges the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council membership:

Chair-

Robert J. Duffy, Lieutenant Governor, New York State

Regional Co-Chair

Satish K. Tripathi, President, University at Buffalo and Howard A. Zemsky, Managing Partner Larkin Development Group – Regional Co-chairs

Members -
Crystal Abers, Cattaraugus County Director of Economic development, Development, Planning & Tourism – designee of Cattaraugus County Legislature Chair;  Pamela R. Henderson, Managing Partner,  Henderson-Woods, LLC;  John R. Koelmel, President & CEO, First Niagara Financial Group, Inc.;  Aaron Bartley Executive Director, PUSH (People United for Sustainable Housing) Buffalo; Thomas A. Kucharski, President & CEO, Jeff Belt Buffalo Niagara Enterprise: President & CEO, SolEpoxy; Brenda W. McDuffie, President & CEO, Bufflao Urban League;  Robert T. Brady, Chairman & CEO, Moog;  Deanna Alterio Brennen, President & CEO Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce; Jennifer J. Parker
President & CEO President, Jackson Parker Communications, Black Capital Network; Byron W. Brown, Mayor of Buffalo;  Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive;  Paul Brown, President, Buffalo Building & Construction Trades Council;  David Porter, Plant Manager, Cummins, Inc.; Michael H. Ranzenhofer, New York State Senate, 61st District; Curtis Crandall Chair of Allegany County Legislature; Colleen C. DiPirro, President & CEO, Amherst Chamber of Commerce; William Ross, Chair of Niagara County Legislature;  Paul A. Dyster,  Mayor of Niagara Falls;  Duncan Ross, President, Arrowhead Spring Vineyards;  Andrew J. Rudnick, President & CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership;  Dr. Charles Edmonson, President, Alfred University;  Greg Edwards, Chautauqua County Executive, Robin Schimminger, New York State Assembly, 140th District;  Robert Gioia, President, The John R. Oishei Foundation ; Samuel Teresi, Mayor of Jamestown;  Dr. Rosa Gonzalez, Owner/Assistant Professor & Chair, Emergency Management Program, R. Gonzalez Consulting, Inc./ Erie Community College;  Dr. Connie Vari, Executive Vice President & COO,  Kaleida Health; Dr. Raul Vasquez, Founder & CEO, Urban Family Practice

Buffalo Billion Advisory Group –

Martin Berardi, President, Moog Medical Devices Group;  Robert Shibley, Dean, University at Buffalo, School of Architecture and Planning; Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker,  President/CEO, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo;   Rich Tobe, Deputy County Executive, Office of Erie County Executive.

It has defined its areas of interest for regional investment and development as being: 1)  Advanced Manufacturing; 2)  Health and Life Sciences; and,  3)   Tourism.

This site has its focus on tourism and travel.  So I will stick with the Tourism focus of the plan and express the opinion that its members choice of Regional Attractions are not necessarily a reality check as much as it could be a “we want these” opinion.

The BBIDP identifies what it calls the 18 top regional attractions.  They are:  1. Niagara Falls State Park; 2. Buffalo Olmsted Parks; 3. Ralph Wilson Stadium; 4. Canal side; 5. Buffalo Zoo; 6. Buffalo Museum of Science; 7. Albright Knox Art Gallery; 8. Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens; 9. Niagara Wine Trail USA; 10. National Garden Festival; 11. Old Fort Niagara; 12. Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society; 13. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House Complex; 14. Theodore Roosevelt Historic Site; 15. Buffalo Sailing Adventures; 16. Buffalo Transportation/Pierce Arrow Museum;17. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Graycliff Estate; 18. Forest Lawn Cemetery.

All are attractions except one.  Ralph Wilson Stadium.  It is a sporting venue that attracts people only on game day.  It is not a tourist destination.  Over 40 years it has never been a place that attracts out-of-town visitors to come by take a look and spend money in the process.  How many of you go to New York City and have Yankee Stadium or the Meadowlands on your must se list?

Why I find interesting is that some very serious attractions are left off the list from Niagara County even though the Mayor of Niagara Falls, President of Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Niagara County Legislature are members.

The committee has ignored for major local attractions where people come by bus, personal car, and rental by the tens of thousands to do something interesting.. They come to Lockport, NY to see and experience the 200-year-old Flight of Five Locks from the Original Erie Canal.  They take the canal trip through Locks #34 and #35 on one of the two tour boats operated by Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Tours.  This company has been featured in segments of television programs on the History and Discovery Channels. They walk the 175 year old Lockport Cave and take the underground boat ride. The Erie Canal, America’s greatest engineering feat, by itself is not even considered as a regional attraction to be developed by the group let alone receiving well-deserved World Heritage Site recognition after 188 years of existence.  Its name known world wide and this area continues to not capitalize on that global recognition.

When they leave the City of Lockport if they haven’t done so earlier, the take a trip to the Lewiston  to take in the great Niagara Power Project Power Vista.  The engine that drives New York State and  areas of its neighboring states.

There is the place that is a treat to kids.  A place tailored to their entertainment.  A place to have fun when a family needs a break in their sightseeing agenda.  That is the 52-year-old Martin’s Fantasy Island on Grand Island.

Finally, if you want to attract tourism to this area.  It means you must end the New York City monopoly on international air travel in to the state.  The Buffalo Billion group “must” avail itself to an active pursuit of travel airlines and their tourist packages to Niagara Falls International Airport.  Until done, this area will never meet its full tourism potential because it will always be subjected to the whims of travel brokers located elsewhere.

This Plan needs hard-working, involved and committed tourism specialists and educators to do the leg work.  As far as I can see, this group does not have people with that back ground.