Region has to spend scarce dollars wisely

Among Erie County’s highest priorities is to negotiate a new eight- to 10-year lease with the Buffalo Bills at a huge cost of $220 million. This is for only seven games a year. I love the Bills, but is this a wise way of spending huge sums of money for one of the poorest areas in the country with a continuing, shrinking market per the state’s Labor Department?

Down the road a few years when the next lease is up, what then? Probably an additional billion dollars or so for a replacement of this then half-century-old stadium to meet the NFL’s high standards. There will be no major long-term job growth creation, as demonstrated in Orchard Park during almost the last 40 years.

Shouldn’t our government leaders, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the governor’s Regional Economic Development Council and others be debating how we should be investing our scarce dollars over the next 15 to 20 years so we have a plan to maximize the bang per dollar invested in creating new jobs and area growth?

These mega dollars might be better invested in other projects such as:

A state-of-the art convention center to replace our obsolete, almost 40-year-old center that continues to handicap our convention opportunities.

Our peer cities would kill to have a world-known wonder like Niagara Falls nearby. A new approach would further expand our convention/tourism industry, creating thousands of new jobs at all income levels and bringing new outside money into our area.

Speeding up our waterfront development is another area to be explored for long-term, expanded job creation.

We must have a debate now.

Sergio Fornasiero