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Prospectus video: Sowing the seeds for a new economy

Sunday's special Prospectus section looked at whether homegrown startups could hold the key to reviving the city's business ecosystem.

Meanwhile, Alphonso O'Neil-White, chief executive officer of HealthNow, was the keynote speaker Jan. 24, 2013 at the 9th annual Buffalo News Prospectus Premiere kickoff dinner in Salvatore's Italian Gardens, Lancaster. The head of the largest health insurer in the region is convinced that the ever-growing health care industry is going to be the key to fixing the ailing local economy at long last. Listen to O'Neil-White's full speech here:

At the dinner, News Business Editor Grove Potter checked in with various businesspeople about their outlook for 2013:

Is the sky really falling on the local job market?

Judging by the latest unemployment and job numbers, it sure looks bleak for local job seekers.

But is it really?

If you're looking for a job, what's your take on the local job market? Email me at and share your experience.

Local economists for months have been saying they think a glitch in the state Labor Department's statistics are making the Buffalo Niagara region's job and unemployment numbers look worse than it really is.

And December's numbers sure don't paint a pretty picture. The local unemployment rate jumped to a three-year high of 8.6 percent last month, the labor department said. And last week, the department reported that the region has lost 2,100 jobs over the past year.

Economists, however, say the numbers appear flawed because of a glitch in the data that, over the past year, says the region has lost nearly one of every seven jobs in a job classification that includes administrative, support, waste management and remediation services workers.

Those economists say they expect that glitch, which now says the region has lost 4,000 jobs within that category during the past year, to be corrected - and the drop vastly reduced - when revised figures are released early in March.


- David Robinson


Quiet science companies and a mall revival

Science cluster

A little-known bio-tech cluster has taken root on Grand Island, where nearly 1,400 people work for five scientific companies making products for medical treatment, research and industry.

Who knew?

The scientific cluster started in 1962, when Roswell Park Cancer Institute researcher Robert Ferguson started a tissue culture company in his garage. Today that company, Life Technologies, employs 582 people. The other companies in the custer are APP Pharmaceuticals, Anda, Rheonix and IsleChem.

It's an organic success story that researchers at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus hope to build on.


A mall revival

Not long ago, the Eastern Hills Mall on Transit Road in Clarence was a premier shopping destination in the region. Then came the Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga, which overshadowed its smaller rival. Not surprisingly, it took a former Galleria executive, Russ Fulton, to bring it back.

Today the Eastern Hills Mall is thriving because of a eclectic mix of national and local stores and a community feel. Fulton talked about how it has happened.


- Grove Potter