Monthly Archives: March 2014

Life in the City

Before I tell you about my recent move into the city, I wanted to share with you that more than half of the BNMC,Inc. team lives in the city. Yes, that’s right more than half – with many walking, biking or taking public transit to work. Increasing the number of Campus employees who live near the Campus is a strong priority for us. Our team has been working very hard on our current housing initiative. Ekua Mends-Aidoo on our team has taken the lead on this initiative and is working closely with BRicK,LLC to help ensure this happens. Read her latest blog post to learn more.

cfiles21085Fifteen years ago when my wife and I moved back to Buffalo from New York City we decided to live in the suburbs.  We made that decision because we wanted a change of pace from the hustle and bustle of urban life.  Our time in the suburbs was enjoyable but it became clear to us that the core of the region was the city, and it was where we needed to be. The influence of the city over our lives in the suburbs was becoming stronger and stronger. Nearly everything we did was related to the city. School, entertainment, socializing, work — they all were almost exclusively rooted in the city.

Summer-BNMC-Banner-copyOn the medical campus we encourage people to move into the city because we believe it is the people that make a community — and the city of Buffalo, in particular — great.  The more people that live within the city limits, the greater opportunity Buffalo will have to best utilize the assets it possesses. In its prime, Buffalo built an infrastructure to accommodate over 500,000 people. Over time the number of people has declined but the infrastructure is still in place. Imagine what could happen if Buffalo once again approached its past population numbers and reinvigorated its tax base. That infrastructure could flourish once again and take its people to new heights.

OlmstedDelawareParkMy family recently moved into the city, and we couldn’t be happier. We ride our bikes through a beautiful Olmstead park on our way to world class art galleries and then later pedal along the breathtaking waterfront. We walk to restaurants that surpass those we’ve encountered in our travels across the country. Our children have made friends from among the numerous kids in our new neighborhood and their peers share stories and culture from all around the globe — from Finland to Liberia to Peru and beyond.  And there’s less I look forward to on a sunny Saturday morning than hitting up the local farmers market just around the way.

Our family has been energized by life in the city. As nice as the suburbs are, there are things that are unique to an urban setting like Buffalo.  It shares some of the assets of a city like New York City but at a fraction of the cost and a multiplication of the charm. As many have remarked Buffalo possesses big city resources but retains its small town feel.

The BNMC is committed to encouraging the growth of the city of Buffalo by encouraging residency within the city limits. We feel strongly that population growth in Buffalo is what will make our city and region prosper as the core drives the region. Many hands make light work is how the famous saying goes; at the BNMC we believe that many new city dwellers will make the revitalization of Buffalo occur.

 

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“Good luck, this will never happen.”

IMG_3164 (2)When we were starting the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in the early 2000’s, that was a common phrase that we often heard while talking about building on our collective strengths and developing a world class medical campus. Our community had seen many grand plans developed (if I stacked the plans next to me they would go three feet high) with few successes.  Most did not believe it was possible to implement the big ideas that community leaders and the founding BNMC members – Kaleida Health, UB, Roswell Park, Hauptman-Woodward Institute, and Buffalo Medical Group – were planning.

So how is that today we have more than doubled the employees on campus, become a magnet for high tech and life sciences companies to locate to Buffalo, nurtured ideas to become new and growing companies, all while becoming a model in energy, alternative transportation and entrepreneurship?

We were not different from many urban cities looking to build on its strengths. What was different this time was our approach – support from a diverse mixture of strong volunteer and private sector leadership; a vision that, while bold, was based on realistic goals; a willingness for inclusiveness; a desire to engage the surrounding neighborhoods; and political leadership to support where needed and to take away roadblocks. Frankly, it was also a little bit of stubbornness to show all of those people that said, “Good luck, this will never happen” that those words need to be erased from our vocabulary.  Our common goal of building upon our shared geography and core competencies came together, thanks to the solid support of a local foundation. It was a powerful combination.

BNMC Staff Photos 0102 004 (2)Still, it took time and a commitment that, as we developed a vision and plan, we better make sure there is a viable implementation strategy attached so that the stack of plans doesn’t just grow to 3ft. 4in.  Momentum was built with small wins – from putting in new signage, to obtaining funding to create a more walkable campus , to building a virtual model of our vision together – that all started to build some much-needed trust.  The big breakthroughs came when ground was broken on the new research facilities where multiple parties collaborated to build something three times the size of what would have ever been envisioned in the past.

Since 2002, we will have grown our campus from 7,000 to 17,000 employees, from 3 to over 75 companies, and 4.5 million sq. ft. to 9 million sq. ft. of space to by the end of 2017.

Change is not easy. The resistance that we faced was strong. But our approach has been, and will continue to be, to think and act differently.  These successes have fueled optimism in Buffalo that we are headed in the right direction, and a belief that collaboration is our way to make our community seen as a leader in innovation across the globe, again.

I plan to share with you more of the details about the BNMC, Inc., our partners, and what we are doing to create opportunities and build on the optimism in our community today.  Moving forward is what we are all about. I will write about all of the pieces of the whole, and more importantly, I am going to introduce you to the leaders from our team and our partners responsible for making it happen. I am interested in any input or questions that you might have about the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and our goal to holistically revitalize our community together.

Matt

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC, Inc.) today is a self-sustaining social enterprise successfully combining innovation, job creation, and urban revitalization.  The BNMC, Inc. serves as the umbrella organization of the anchor institutions located within the 120-acre campus bordering Allentown, the Fruit Belt and downtown Buffalo, NY. The BNMC, Inc. fosters conversation and collaboration among its member institutions, its partners and the community to address critical issues impacting them including entrepreneurship, energy, access and transportation, workforce and procurement, healthy communities, and youth and culture with the goal of increasing economic development and building a strong community.