Buffalo Next: What to know about the week ahead |

Welcome to Buffalo Next. This newsletter from The Buffalo News will bring you the latest coverage on the changing economy of Buffalo Niagara – from real estate to healthcare to startups. Learn more at BuffaloNext.com.


A preview of what’s to come and a quick read last week’s news.

The Buffalo-area business community and major area employers have stepped up in many ways to help the families of the 10 who died and those directly affected by the May 14 mass shooting at Tops Markets on Jefferson Ave. These efforts should continue in the coming weeks.

Among the most substantial funds raised are Tops pledging $500,000 to the Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund, the GoFundMe fundraiser established by the National Compassion Fund. The goal of raising $1 million has already been exceeded.

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In partnership with Tops, the National Compassion Fund will provide direct financial assistance to survivors of those who died and those directly affected by the massacre.

Additionally, dozens of local funders, coordinated by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, have come together to create the Buffalo Together Community Response Fund.

The Buffalo Bills Foundation and the NFL Foundation announced Wednesday that each would donate $200,000, for a total of $400,000, following Saturday’s shooting. Half of this money will go to the response fund.

Funds will address immediate community needs, long-term community rebuilding, and systemic issues that have marginalized communities of color. Guiding principles and specific processes for directing the resources of the fund will be developed after discussions with community members.

Hiring, Help Wanted, Employment, Jobs

The state Department of Labor will release its monthly jobs report, and economists will monitor whether the region has been able to maintain the hiring momentum it created in the first three months of the year.

Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News

Tuesday we will see the latest unemployment figures for the Buffalo Niagara region when the state Department of Labor releases them for April.

The unemployment figures come out after last week’s April jobs report. The Buffalo Niagara region posted a modest gain in new jobs over the previous year, but the rate of increase is still below the rate of job growth for the state and nation over the same period.

The region’s unemployment rate in March was 4.3%, which was the lowest for any March since at least 1990, according to Labor Department data. The region’s unemployment rate has been below 5% since September.

Employers in the region continue to face a persistent problem: a lack of available workers to hire and fill their vacancies. These companies are also feeling the economic pressure of inflation and supply chain issues.

Recent unemployment rates for April have reflected the drastic fluctuations the economy has seen since the pandemic hit in March 2020. In April 2020, the region’s unemployment rate was a staggering 21.6% – the highest it would reach in the event of pandemic-induced shutdowns. By April 2021, the rate had fallen to 6%, reflecting the rebound in many industries.

Kaleida Health negotiates the contract: For several weeks now, Western New York’s largest health care provider and the two unions representing about two-thirds of its workers have been meeting three days a week — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — as the two parties are working to iron out a new contract.

They are also back to meet at the 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East headquarters on Main Street in Buffalo. A structural problem in the building had forced negotiations in Buffalo General Medical Center’s Swift Auditorium for about a month.

After two months of negotiations, the two sides agreed to extend the existing framework agreement, which was due to expire on May 31, until June 30. Negotiations from previous contract rounds have also extended well beyond the expiration date.

To date, Kaleida Health has declared this and the unions have reached tentative agreements on 62 articles, 38 memorandums of understanding and six letters of intent, which represent the majority of all non-economic issues in the contract.

Much work remains however.

ShearShare, 43North’s winning company, is hosting a community evening for beauty and hairdressing professionals at 3:30 p.m. Monday at Seneca One Tower, 1 Seneca Street, Buffalo. The event is a chance to network, hear industry advice from ShearShare co-founder Tye Caldwell, and learn how to increase revenue. To register, visit shearshare.com/events.

Steuben Foods will host a job fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at its facility at 1150 Maple Road in Elma. The food manufacturer is hiring to fill a wide range of jobs.


Recent news related to the Buffalo Niagara economy

New York State’s $14 million investment in creating a breakwater for Olcott Harbor is starting to pay off, as a local businessman David Hedley plans to bring a two-storey mixed-use project along the harbor’s East Federal Pierwith shops on the first floor and a boutique hotel upstairs.

New 250-seat facility arrives at Amherst Campus in Canterbury Woods. The community performing arts center is designed to be comfortable and attractive to Canterbury residents and the general public.

Highmark donates $300,000 in honor of Katherine “Kat” Massey, who worked for 40 years for the health plan that is today Western New York’s Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. She was killed in Saturday’s mass shooting at Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue, and the money will go to help those affected by the tragedy. A number of other major employers are stepping up to help in the wake of Saturday’s tragic events.

Buffalo Niagara region employment increased 2.7% in April from a year agobut growth still lagged the state’s 5% increase over this period and the national job growth rate – a 4.6% increase over this period.

Hamburg’s Industrial Development Agency plans to roll back $3.1 million tax breaks from Ford Motor Co. for long-term investments in its Buffalo stamping plant because the company would not commit to maintaining its current employment level under the five-year project.

West Seneca Insurance Company Aebly & Associates seeks tax relief for relocation and expansion project on Union Road which will provide a more attractive space than the two cramped offices where he currently resides on Seneca Street.

Paolini Enterprises Inc. in Sanborn offers build five new buildings using part of the former 42-acre Spaulding Fiber factory in the city of Tonawanda which will be leased to small fixture manufacturers and distribution companies.

Before he could move forward with his plans for a redevelopment project that included an apartment complex along Scajaquada Creek in Buffalo, Savarino Cos. will have a major clean-up job ahead of him after decades of contamination by former users of the site.

Two Buffalo expats, one who founded Zephyr Partners and the other who owns CrossCountry Mortgage LLC, are offering to cover all funeral expenses up to $50,000 for the 10 victims of Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo.

Douglas Jemal pledges at least $100,000 for victims’ families of the mass shooting at Tops Markets on Buffalo’s east side. He said he would try to reach out to other local businessmen to help raise funds or make the donation himself.

KeyBank has pledged to donate $250,000 from the KeyBank Foundation to support the families of the victims of Saturday’s shooting.

CleanFiber expands Blasdell plant after securing $14 million in debt funding from California-based Lapis Advisers LP, as well as $37 million in previously announced funding.

The Tops Markets store on Jefferson Avenue will reopen, but first prioritizes its store employees’ access to the advice and support they may need and its customers access to the food they need while the grocer is closed.

Buffalo Next reporters Jonathan D. Epstein, Jon Harris, Natalie Brophy, Matt Glynn, Janet Gramza and Mike Petro contributed to this roundup.


Five reads from Buffalo Next:

1. Former bull rider Rick Gardner became University at Buffalo’s startup guru: He helps UB pave the way for entrepreneurs with a program called The Cultivator, an incubator for budding startups.

2. Doctor recognized for helping in conflict-torn regions: Dr. Aaron Epstein splits his life between surgical shifts in Buffalo and leading the humanitarian aid group he founded in 2015. Now he’s up for one of the nation’s biggest civilian awards .

3. Rachel’s Mediterranean Grill Expands Beyond Buffalo’s House: Rachel’s has a proven track record in Western New York, and the family business is now trying to expand the concept to the New York Thruway and into larger markets such as Fort Worth, TX.

4. Mickey Rats Gets One More Summer, But Captain Kidd’s Gives Way To Townhouses: William Paladino, CEO of Ellicott Development Co., said the real estate company was trying to get Mickey Rats Beach Club open again for Memorial Day, for what may be its last summer.

5. National infant formula shortage hits home: Parents in the Buffalo Niagara region are feeling the impact of the shortage. Here’s how some local families are scrambling to get what they need for their babies.

The Buffalo Next team gives you insight into the region’s economic revitalization. Advice by e-mail to [email protected] or contact Buffalo Next editor David Robinson at 716-849-4435.

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