The proposed Better Buffalo Fund that is part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” initiative is expected to target significant projects within the city that would promote smart growth and help make the region more competitive.
Laura Quebral, the associate director of the University at Buffalo Regional Institute, which is helping develop plans for the fund, said the initiative would focus on highly visible projects that would have a significant impact and are advanced enough that they could get off the ground fairly quickly.
“We want significant project sizes of $2 million or more,” Quebral told members of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council during its quarterly meeting Thursday.
While state officials have yet to say how big the fund will be, the idea is to focus on providing financial help to economic- and community-development initiatives within the city. Those investments could cover infrastructure improvements in targeted areas of the city, or upgrades to the Olmsted Parks system, as well as initiatives at colleges and universities or employment centers, she said. The fund also could target “strategic investment areas” throughout the city.
The council, which is overseeing the Buffalo Billion initiative, could start seeking applicants for waterfront or transit-oriented projects before the end of the year, Quebral said. The fund likely will adopt a five-year plan that covers each of its targets.
“This fund is really centered on place-making,” Quebral said.
Brandon Mehaffey, the executive director of the city’s Office of Strategic Planning, said one goal of the fund is to make sure that growth in one part of the city, such as the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, spills over into nearby neighborhoods.
“A rising tide does not necessarily lift all boats,” he said. “Creating that connection is a really strong part of this.”