Parking has always been a hot topic in Buffalo. Downtown landlords
compete with suburban office parks that have the big advantage of acres of free parking. The downtown landlords have had some help from the city and the Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps, which offer cheaper parking than privately owned lots in the city.
Many of the BCAR lots in the downtown core are full with monthly patrons - aka commuters.
But subsidizing the use of private cars has been a longtime bugaboo of environmentalists and mass transit advocates. If the cost of parking rose to market levels, more people would take the bus, they contend.
Landlords say more companies would move out to the suburbs, further threatening the city.
Two downtown titans squared off over the subject at Wednesday's Buffalo Place meeting. Carl Paladino, the largest private landowner in the city, and Mark Croce, restaurateur and owner of the Statler City,
(both of whom own parking lots) see it differently. Paladino supports building more parking ramps to keep parking cheap, while Croce says let the market determine the price. Having more parking spaces open would boost tourism, he says.
It's a potentially explosive issue. How many firms would bail out of the city if they couldn't afford parking for their employees? Would increases in visitation to the city offset the loss? Would the city be a better place with fewer cars jamming the streets?
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.
That's the hope behind the latest idea to bring visitors to
downtown Buffalo. The Buffalo Brewery District - which has two brewers at present - is being promoted by the Binational Alliance and the founder of the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery. The idea is to coordinate with local hotels to create cross-border overnight packages with winery and craft beer tours.
The two brewers in the district now are the Pearl Street Grill and the Pan-American Grill & Brewery at the Hotel @ Lafayette, and the region has other craft brewers outside the downtown area, including Flying Bison.
Beer and Buffalo..... they might have something there.
Office Depot is downsizing some of its stores around the nation as it struggles with increased competition
from many sources. The Buffalo store opening today on Delaware Avenue at Hertel Avenue is among the first of the smaller venues.
The company was a hot stock until mid- 2007, when things started to go south.
The bottom dropped out in 2008, with share prices falling to under $4, far from its highs of above $40. Since then, the share price has struggled to recover. Competition from other retailers and the Internet has put the squeeze on this speciality store, and so many others.
This is it for many small retailers, the homestretch. Stores can make up to
40 percent of their annual operating profit during the holiday season, with much of that coming in the final week of shopping. Western New York is full of interesting small retailers battling it out with the big box stores. Most stay in business with smart purchasing and clever marketing.
Canada has become prime hunting ground for the Buffalo Niagara region's efforts to attract new businesses to the area. The new man leading the recruiting effort up in Toronto is a real pro. Lee Meister represented New York state in Toronto for 22 years. When the state cut his position, the Buffalo
Niagara Enterprise pounced and hired him. Meister says there are plenty of Canadian firms that want to move here.
The slow whittling away at our region's wage base continues. Although inflation is small now, it still cuts away at a stagnant wage base. News business columnist David Robinson does the math.
Anyone selling a home in Western New York appears to be in a good spot right now. Home sales are up, prices are up, and inventory is down. The latest figures (And I mean LATE.
They're just releasing October sales figures! ) from the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors show a 23 percent jump in the number of homes sold and a 4 percent jump in median price.
Pent up demand, attractive prices and those super low interest rates are forming a perfect storm for home sellers. Of course, it all comes down to pricing. Does your house ever sell for what you think it is worth?