By Louis P. Ciminelli
Among those who proudly call themselves Buffalonians are some common traits. We are friendly. We are loyal. We have a fierce dedication to our community. And we stand ready to pounce on anyone who would dare say a negative word about our beloved city.
We also do our best to project confidence and optimism to outsiders, but often, in the back of our minds, we have a nagging suspicion that whatever can go wrong for our great city, will.
And who can blame us? No matter how old you are, you can remember “the silver bullet” that was meant to be the turning point, but never happened. I’m not going to go through the litany of letdowns (though I do still have my baseball hat from one of the Bass Pro press conferences) but our psyche has taken a hit more than a few times.
Well, it’s time for us to shed the self-doubt and allow ourselves to dream and to appreciate living in the moment that saw this community head down the right path. We are at the beginning of something great and it’s time we embrace it – and thank Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for making it happen.
Unlike previous leaders who would blow into town to announce some pie-in-the-sky initiative, usually around election time, and then leave to never be seen again (at least not until the next election) Cuomo laid out a vision and then actually followed through.
The Buffalo Billion initiative was met with skepticism in some corners. But then the governor came back to town … again and again and again. He remained committed to creating a new, sustainable economy in Buffalo. And now it’s happening.
Buffalo is now on the cusp of becoming a national leader in several emerging market sectors. From the Medical Innovation and Commercialization Hub at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, to the IT Innovation and Commercialization Hub anchored by IBM to the High-Tech Innovation and Commercialization Hub at RiverBend, this is real economic development that many business leaders and economic development professionals long hoped for but seemed to happen only in other places.
I can attest as I travel across the state and nation, people are taking notice of what Cuomo is doing. Maybe that’s why companies not only on the other side of the country but on the other side of the globe now want to be in Buffalo.
Perhaps the easiest way to judge progress is to count the number of cranes. Right now, there are three large tower cranes in Buffalo working day and night on projects. There could be two more by year’s end. To those outside construction, that might not mean much, but trust me, it’s a big deal.
So, fellow Buffalonians, allow yourselves to get a little excited. Things are happening. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion is delivering and there is more to come.
Louis P. Ciminelli is chairman & CEO of LPCiminelli, Inc., the region’s largest construction firm.