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.
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.
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.