Press Pass: Buffalo Billion program falling short of jobs target

Aug 23, 2016

Depending on perspective, some of the programs funded by Governor Cuomo's Buffalo Billion are either ambitious or fanciful. During WBFO's Press Pass, Charlotte Keith of Investigative Post provided details of one initiative that is falling short on its promise of job creation.

In 2013, state officials announced that $4.5 million would be used to "create this training program in visual effects at Daemen College" which would partner with a new private company, Empire Visual Effects.

"People who completed the (Daemen) training program could go straight into jobs at this company," Keith said.

She reports that over 50 people paid the tuition to enter the program. Only six graduates are among the 12 full-time employees at Empire Visual Effects.  The plan calls for 150 full-time jobs by 2019.

"When I asked economic development experts what they made of this, a lot of people said it's just very risky and difficult to try to create an industry from scratch," Keith said. 

"A lot of economic development thinking says you should play to your strengths. And certainly some of the state's policy is geared towards that."

"But a lot of what we are seeing with some of these Buffalo Billion projects and other economic development efforts across Upstate is...trying to build industries where none currently exist."