A solution to this area's long-term economic problems, jobs for small business, and as many as 1,000 manufacturing jobs in a waterfront plant. Those were some of the dreams discussed Wednesday night, as Flora Buffalo held a community conversation about pot and processing.
While Albany has been talking since Election Day about legalizing recreational marijuana, there are no dates and no definite plans for what the rules and regulations will be.
A local man, Brad Termini, who has started a major pot plant in California wants to come back here and start Flora Buffalo on the waterfront. It is going to be a vast operation at 1.25 million square feet with Termini in charge, if the new law allows giant complexes.
Flora Buffalo spokesperson Imani Dawson said it is a big deal with great possibilities.
"Five-hundred to 1,000 jobs and we're anticipating high-paying jobs in the cannabis industry and we're also offering training, because I'm sure there are people with industry expertise in the area," Dawson said. "There are also a lot of people with interest, but may not necessarily have the training. So part of what we're doing is partnering with SUNY Erie to ensure that there is training on site for people."
There was a large crowd at the Pratt-Willert Community Center Wednesday evening to hear about what the company is planning, once the ground rules are clear, especially the emphasis on reaching out to the minority community for participation in the bounty, along with jobs in the plant and in the community.
Community Action Organization President and CEO Nathan Hare told the crowd he and other participants at a panel discussion see the marijuana industry as the way to restore the local economy and offer some of the bounty to everyone living here.
"We have been blocked from our shoreline," Hare said. "As a person who cares about Buffalo, I've lived here for almost 70 years, in all of my life, we've had a railroad that cuts us off from our waterfront. We have a Waterfront School that if you stand on the roof, you still can't see the water."
McGuire Development Senior Council Aleece Burgio said pot production and distribution have to be normalized in the community.
"What we like to do is have our government figure out how to not only modify the message to the factory communities, but have been turned on them," Burgio said. "With legalization, we have an opportunity to not only manage the process for which our marijuana is grown, but it needs to become just like an everyday services."