business first

Over the last seven years, Jim Fink of Business First has been tracking business investment in the region with his annual Economic Development Overview. He's monitored an uptick in development activity in recent years and this year he's tabulated over $20 billion in local development investment. That list includes expansion projects at Moog and Rosina Foods which will total over $100 million.

The winning concept in the competition to re-design the Skyway is prompting widespread conversation. Jim Fink of Business First wonders about the proposal's ambitious timeline. "You cannot flip a switch and take down the Skyway," Fink said during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass. Still, Fink believes the pledge of Howard Zemsky, Chair of Empire State Development, that this "will not be the son of the Peace Bridge where it drags on and on."

With $10 million in state dollars on the way, officials in Niagara Falls are hoping private investment will follow into the city's Bridge neighborhood. As Jim Fink of Business First points out, this move differs from the recent public spending which has been centered on boosting the city's tourist industry. During his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Fink lays out how Niagara Falls appears to be following the development template established over the last decade in Buffalo.


File photo

Millions in private investment dollars are on the way to Niagara Falls, NY. As Jim Fink of Business First points out during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Niagara Falls, ON has enjoyed years of growth while its American counterpart has decayed and declined. The  recent change, Fink maintains, can be traced to a new attitude among city leaders.


The economic news continues to be promising for Buffalo. According to Jim Fink of Business First, three ventures will bring 1,300 jobs to downtown. The job surge can be credited to M&T Bank's development of a high-tech hub, the new office of London Stock Exchange and the downtown relocation of Canon Design. "Plus, there's been a smattering of (other) companies hiring," Fink said during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass.

The closing of Women and Children's Hospital on Bryant Street had a negative effect on many of the  nearby retail businesses along Elmwood Avenue. That trend appears to be reversing. During his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Jim Fink of Business First discusses the hopeful signs emerging throughout the neighborhood.


As more consumers shop online, brick-and-mortar retail outlets are struggling. That impact is being felt at the Boulevard Mall, which has been looking for a new owner to help it move forward. As Jim Fink of Business First points out during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, the receivers controlling the mall are now searching online for that new owner.


A promising trend is emerging, one that may reverse the familiar flow of young people leaving the Buffalo area in search of other opportunities. According to research by Realtor.com, more millennials are choosing to purchase their first homes in affordable markets like Buffalo. Jim Fink of Business First sees evidence of that trend throughout the city's robust housing market.


Bidding wars have become common for real estate purchases in the city of Buffalo over recent months. While the demand is obvious, the rising costs are startling. On WBFO's Press Pass, Jim Fink of Business First cites a recent example: in the month of December, the new homes in North Buffalo's Colvin Estates sold at an average cost of $395,000. 

Development projects in downtown Buffalo are likely to be numerous in the coming year. That's the view of Jim Fink of Business First who provided updates on some key projects during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass. At the top of his list is the former site of the AM&A's department store on Main Street. The structure has been mostly vacant for years, but Fink believes the current owners will move forward in 2019 on renovating the complex into a massive hotel.

A recent study offered two options for the future of the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center: the razing of the current facility with new construction on the current site, or a space near KeyBank Center. Jim Fink of Business First has been looking at an option offered by Mark Croce, owner of Statler City, which calls for expansion of the Convention Center. An additional floor would be added and attached across Franklin Street into Statler City. While the proposal isn't perfect, Fink points out how it would avoid the costly expense of land acquisition associated with the other plans.

Almost since its opening four decades ago, there has been debate over the limitations of the Buffalo Convention Center. The conversation moved to another level recently with the release of a feasibility study which identified two potential locations for a much larger convention center.  During his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Jim Fink of Business First says the study's results aren't sitting well with some in the local business community.


Before falling on hard times, Seneca Street once stood as the hub of commerce and entertainment in South Buffalo. That could be changing. During his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Jim Fink of Business First highlights some new developments that will bring new vitality to the neighborhood.


In reporting the recent good news about the Buffalo economy, Jim Fink says he feels like a "broken record, but it's a good broken record." During his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Fink notes the $75 million investment by Ellicott Development into its 500 Pearl project. "Wasn't all that long ago that collectively ALL of the development in downtown Buffalo might have equaled $75 million."

The Buffalo Niagara International Airport scored a victory when Frontier Airlines decided to provide service there. According to Jim Fink of Business First, the discount air carrier was also being pursued by airports in Rochester and Syracuse. Fink says Frontier will fill an area need when it begins flying from Buffalo to Denver.


Business First has released its CORE Strength issue, the fifth straight year the far-reaching findings have been published. "It's the value of all the construction projects that are in the pipeline for the eight Western New York counties this year," explained Jim Fink of Business First during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass. By his calculations, the projects represent $20.6 billion in regional investment, an increase of seven percent over 2016.


Though in its early days, Whole Foods is enjoying great success at its location in Amherst. According to Jim Fink of Business First, company officials are monitoring that activity as they weigh further expansion in the region. "They have an urban supermarket model, called '365.'" That model, Fink said, could lead to a location in the city of Buffalo. It's one of several issues discussed during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass.


Mike Desmond / WBFO News

With 400 garden writers set to visit the region, Buffalo is building a reputation - one that contrasts with the nationally-accepted image of a city that endures endless winters. During his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Jim Fink of Business First outlined how Visit Buffalo Niagara is highlighting  local tourist opportunities for garden lovers.


The announced expansion plans for the Albright-Knox is not only good news for the cultural scene, it will also add to the economic vitality of Elmwood Avenue. According to Jim Fink of Business First, the museum's investment is the latest development for a stretch of the city that is generating major economic activity.

What began as an effort to replace a crumbling, cramped train station on Buffalo's Exchange Street "has evolved into a Peace Bridge-like debate," said Jim Fink of Business First. During his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass, Fink points out that Amtrak typically serves about 400 passengers each day in the Buffalo area. The location of a new station may have little effect on that number. 


For the sixth time since 2000, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament comes to Buffalo this week. The experience has helped tourism officials better plan for the crush of visitors, says Jim Fink of Business First. During WBFO's Press Pass, Fink talks about the tournament and the many development projects that are emerging in some long-forgotten parts of Buffalo.


Two development projects proposed for the Elmwood Village have faced intense criticism from nearby residents. Jim Fink, who covers development issues for Business First, acknowledges the pride that residents have for their Elmwood Avenue neighborhood. But during WBFO's Press Pass, Fink defends the developers, arguing that they have adapted their plans in response to local concerns.

It's been debated and revised for nearly seven years, but Jim Fink of Business First says Buffalo's new Green Code was "worth it." During WBFO's Press Pass, Fink says the city "needed to get into the 21st century from a planning, zoning, development standpoint."


Depending on the time, location and subject, public hearings can be sleepy affairs, or they can be contentious events with opponents and proponents engaged in emotional confrontations. While Jim Fink of Business First decries the frequency of "personal attacks" at recent public hearings, he believes the events are important. Fink cites as the most poignant example the public's role in stopping a Bass Pro superstore, allowing for the dynamic growth of the city's waterfront.


According to an analysis from Business First, there are 1,032 development projects worth $1 million or more underway throughout the eight counties of Western New York. Jim Fink of Business First offers some highlights on WBFO's Press Pass.


While adaptive reuse of Buffalo's historic structures has become common practice in recent years, the plans for the former Pierce Arrow administration building provide insight into an emerging trend. "The money for this is coming from outside the 716-area code," said  Jim Fink of Business First during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass.


Since HSBC Bank abandoned One Seneca Tower, prospects have been dim for the city's tallest structure. "By Halloween, you're going to be looking at a 38-story, almost one million-square foot, empty office building in downtown Buffalo," said Jim Fink. The Business First reporter offered his perspective during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass.


Business First

Construction will be ramping up at the Northtowns Plaza on Western New York's first Whole Foods Market. If all goes according to plan, the 50,000 square-foot store should be open in 2017.

"It's a different Niagara Street, in a good way," said Jim Fink of Business First during his monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass. He cites a number of projects that are changing the prospects for a part of the city that has shown the signs of neglect for too many years.


It has sat vacant along Niagara Square in recent years, but Jim Fink of Business First expects the Dillon Courthouse to play a key role in a changing downtown landscape.


Pages