Western New York is getting $62 million for approved projects in the latest round of state spending from the regional economic development councils. The projects benefiting range from rebuilding a section of Niagara Street to a culinary arts training program in Cattaraugus County.
The pages of spending programs show wide variance in costs and purposes, reflecting the wide variation in economic and government activity in the region.
Much of the money is going to rural and agricultural projects, but there also is money for tourism, including $834,000 for expansion of the National Comedy Center in Jamestown. Additional money is going toward making government operations more efficient by helping mergers of water systems across the region.
Empire State Development Regional President Sam Hoyt says there is no one silver bullet grant.
"In the Allentown community, we're going to be investing real money to improvements in the Allentown historic district," he says. "There are significant projects in Jamestown, in Olean, not only in Buffalo. In Niagara Falls, the Aquarium is receiving a significant grant to make major improvements there."
Hoyt says $300,000 will help build the new Humboldt Penguin Exhibit for the Aquarium. Allentown has been affected by the massive construction of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and is getting improvements for better movement of people and cars.
He says other money will build upon earlier successes.
"Niagara Street is just another amazing example of the great comeback the city is enjoying right now," he says. "All of these different corridors, where we've seen stagnancy over the years are now becoming hot spots. Niagara Street is a perfect example and it's government's responsibility to help with the infrastructure improvements which we look for as a catalyst for private investment."
Hoyt says more projects in the Buffalo area may show up in the next round of projects coming out of the Buffalo Billion.
"The whole bottom-up approach, where we ask each region to submit a plan and to rely on people on the ground, in the trenches to tell us what's in the best interests of their community, of their region, rather than Albany or Manhattan telling them we know what's good for you is a good approach," he says.