Press Pass: Children's Hospital serves as a symbol of economic rebound

Dec 15, 2015

There was initial concern over Kaleida Health's decision to build a new Children's Hospital and vacate the current Bryant Street location. Now, five developers have plans to re-use the site. Jim Fink of Business First sees that as a sign of the region's economy getting its "swagger back."

During WBFO's Press Pass, Fink recalled the public response when Kaleida Health shared its intentions to open a new Children's Hospital in a new location.

"There was a very emotional plea from the community. They had (former Buffalo Sabres star) Pat LaFontaine. ((former Buffalo Bills quarterback) Jim Kelly. Hillary Clinton, when she Senator, sitting there vowing Children's was going to stay there. Don't worry. Kaleida's not going to be able to move Children's."

Over a decade later, construction is well along at the new John R. Oishei Children's Hospital on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Five successful developers are eager to take control of the massive Bryant Street site.  The initial outrage, for the most part, has faded.

Fink gives credit to Kaleida Health officials for working with community stakeholders to build "a stronger level of comfort."

The health care giant recently went through a similar process while exiting the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital.

Another positive local development, Fink believes, is the return of the World Junior Hockey Championship to Buffalo in 2018.

"This is a major calling card that Visit Buffalo Niagara can use to lure other major tournaments."

When the event was in Buffalo in 2011, Fink says, the region's economy received a $6 million boost.

Now, with the availability of HarborCenter, and the use of the 72,000-seat Ralph Wilson Stadium for an outdoor game, Fink believes larger benefits will be coming to the local economy.