W.N.Y. Economic Development Projects Win Assembly Funding

January 28, 2004

Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry, announced today that the Assembly has just recently finalized the 2003-04 state budget restoration process, providing funds for a number of economic development initiatives in Western New York.

Schimminger said, "We have succeeded in including special funding in the budget for an array of projects aimed at creating and preserving jobs in our community. These Western New York-specific budget items will supplement funding for the state’s various economic development programs that offer low-cost financing and venture capital to businesses as well as grants and loans for new facilities or expansions, productivity enhancements and job training."

Buffalo Niagara Enterprise ($300,000). For the fifth consecutive year, the Assembly has allocated funds for the BNE’s regional business marketing initiative. The BNE’s advertising campaign and trade show and other promotional activities are designed to expose the Buffalo Niagara region to site selection professionals and corporate decision makers as a desirable location for new or expanding businesses.

American Axle & Manufacturing Tonawanda Forge ($400,000). American Axle’s Tonawanda Forge again won Assembly backing for its multi-year training initiative. Over the previous six years, AAM/Tonawanda has received a total of $4.2 million for a training program jointly developed by labor and management to address a nearly 80% turnover in the facility’s workforce in the wake of AAM’s purchase of the plant from General Motors.

N.Y.S. Center for Engineering Design and Industrial Innovation ($250,000). Launched at the University of Buffalo three years ago with Assembly funds, NYSCEDII will receive continued Assembly support. The industrial outreach, training and education, and research missions of NYSCEDII provide the potential for the establishment of Western New York as a cluster for high-end visualization and design engineering, which will be a big help to local manufacturers in developing new products and improving production processes.

IAmBuffaloNiagaraJobs.com ($25,000). This year’s funding will continue the Assembly’s support for the region’s job search Web site. IAmBuffaloNiagaraJobs.com is intended to help stem Western New York’s "brain drain" of young people leaving for job opportunities elsewhere by linking job applicants with local employment opportunities. Through this collaborative effort that Schimminger initiated involving a dozen private sector organizations and government agencies, employers can list local job openings on one, central Web site, while job seekers in the area and those seeking to return home to the region can post their resumes.

WNY Works ($50,000). An initiative of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s Workforce Development Council, WNY Works again will receive funding from the Assembly to continue to survey employer skills needs. The semiannual survey is now utilized by the Workforce Investment Boards in Erie and Niagara Counties to ensure that training programs are tailored to meet the current and projected needs of area workers and employers.

World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara ($24,338). The WTC promotes and supports business growth opportunities from international trade through education, networking and trade development services and is the primary clearinghouse for international trade assistance in the region. The Assembly funds will enable the WTC to upgrade computer technology and enhance trade information services.

National Tooling and Machining Association ($35,000). The Buffalo Chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association will expand its ISO certification program for local machine shops, which was begun in 1999 with Assembly funding. ISO 9002 is a documented quality system required by the auto industry as well as in the European market, and the comprehensive training will allow additional NTMA member companies to become more competitive nationally and internationally.

Canisius College External Business Programs ($15,000). Canisius College will again receive Assembly funding for its Wehle School of Business entrepreneurship and professional development initiatives. The funds will support training, consulting and mentoring programs for women entrepreneurs and small business owners offered through the school’s External Business Programs.

Western Erie Canal Planning Commission ($50,000). The Western Erie Canal Heritage Corridor Planning Commission will again receive funding through the Assembly. The commission will be able to complete a management plan aimed at revitalizing the Erie Canal’s five-county western corridor from the Tonawandas to Wayne County by attracting increased tourism, recreational and economic development opportunities for the region.

"I am, of course, pleased that I was able to help secure state funding for these important economic development initiatives in Western New York," said Schimminger. "Improving our region’s economy and job creation climate continues to be my top priority."