Brendan Keany

Buffalo Niagara Partnership Announces 2019 Agenda

Regional chamber of commerce outlines policy priorities

January 10, 2019 - 11:56 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - The Buffalo Niagara Partnership serves as the chamber of commerce for the region, and the organization unveiled its Advocacy Agenda Thursday at Sahlen Field. 

More than 250 people gathered at Pub at the Park inside the stadium, and they listened to a brief presentation regarding the political and economical initiatives that the Partnership will be looking to support.

"It's where we really talk about what the region's priorities are for economic development and how our government partners can actually move the needle for us," said Dottie Gallagher, who serves as the president and CEO of the Partnership.

The following items are on the 2019 Advocacy Agenda:

  • Opposing the creation of a single-payer healthcare system in New York State
  • Calling for the state's "highly effective" property tax cap to be made permanent
  • Supporting "free trade policies that will strengthen the region's vital trade relationship with Canada" and calling for the ratification of the new North American Free Trade Agreement
  • Calling for the creation of an incentive program that will stimulate infill development and spur the construction of walkable, complete neighborhoods on Downtown Buffalo

Gallagher spoke more specifically on the items the Partnership wants to see in Western New York.

"On a local level, we're very concerned about infill development, and infill is places where there are maybe surface parking lots or empty lots," said Gallagher. "Right now, we're seeing a lot of development in Buffalo, but it has really been on historic because of the tax credits that are available, but now we've got to repair the holes in our infrastructure. Getting that done and making sure that there are tools to get that done are one of our priorities. The second local priority is really to make sure that Visit Buffalo Niagara receives increased funding for tourism."

The following projects are on the 2019 regional priority list for the Partnership:

  • Construction of an agriculture industrial park with complete streets and intermodal connectivity (Erie County)
  • Completion of the Cars Sharing Main Street initiative (City of Buffalo)
  • Expansion of the NFTA Metro Rail to the north and south (Buffalo Niagara Partnership)
  • Construction of a new roundabout connecting Hyde Park Boulevard and the Niagara Scenic Parkway (City of Niagara Falls)
  • Construction of a detached outer harbor breakwater in Olcott Harbor (Niagara County)

As far as state legislation goes, Gallagher discussed an idea that has been at the forefront of political discussion for several years at this point.

"At the statewide level, the thing we're most concerned about right now is single payer healthcare, which essentially is government healthcare," she said. "We don't believe that's in the best interest of the consumers or businesses, and it would create a tremendous tax burden to all of the citizens of New York State."

Gallagher indicated that the Partnership goes through a lengthy process to determine how to prioritize projects and pieces of legislation to advocate for or against.

"We have a whole process where all of our members get surveyed, and our members are businesses, about their priorities," said Gallagher. "Then, the Partnership manages a series of economic councils, so the results of that survey go to the councils, they weigh in, and then we formulate our priorities based on that."

She also discussed how the organization uses its influence in attempting to push through their agenda.

"On the federal level, we have a coalition that includes Detroit, Cleveland, Grand Rapids," she said. "We work our relationships, and we make certain that when elected officials are making decisions, they understand the implications of those decisions from an employers perspective."

Hear more from Gallagher and the entire program below:

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