Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Mayor Byron W. Brown delivered the 2012 State of the City luncheon address before more than 1000 business and community leaders Wednesday at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, saying the state of the city is strong, with investment building in Buffalo.
“I am honored to stand before you at a time of remarkable change in Buffalo,” Brown said. “We accomplished big things in 2011. We have even bigger plans for this year. I believe strongly that Buffalo is the economic engine for our region, bringing together the right people, in the right place at the right time.”
Mayor Brown highlighted a number of the city’s achievements including Governor Andrew Cuomo’s billion dollar investment in Buffalo, the securing of an additional $100 million in state funding through the Governor’s Regional Economic Development Council, the continued revitalization of Buffalo’s waterfront, the restoration of two-way traffic along downtown Main Street, safer neighborhoods, and the completion of over $6.7 million in park improvements, representing the largest investment for parks in 20 years.
Mayor Brown highlighted other accomplishments during his speech, including:
Investment in Buffalo’s Future
o Cut residential property taxes by over 15% since 2006
o The city’s credit rating is at its highest level in 30 years – with Fitch giving Buffalo an A+ for the past two years!
o Created property tax certainty by pledging not to raise property taxes through 2014
o Buffalo has its lowest tax rate in 20 years
o Mayor Brown worked regionally to help secure $100 million in state funding for 96 projects; 24 Buffalo projects received $41 million in awards; employed 1,876 youth from the Mayor’s Summer Youth Program
o Strengthened the downtown core by securing $15 million in federal grant funding for Cars Sharing Main Street; Committed an additional $12 million to downtown development
o Will complete and roll out the Buffalo Green code in 2012, the first major overhaul of the city’s zoning ordinance in sixty years
Strengthening Public Safety
o Overall crime continues to drop in Buffalo, a 16% reduction since 2006
o Buffalo’s homicide rate dropped to its lowest level in more than a decade, down by almost 40% from 2010
o A new class of 44 new police officers will join the department this year, bringing the total new officers hired since 2006 to 175
o 778 illegal guns removed from city streets in 2011, more than 8,400 illegal guns seized since 2006
o 42% decrease in arson fires since 2006, 29% increase in arson arrests
o A new class of 32 firefighters will be sworn in this year, bringing the total number of new firefighters to 150 since 2006
Improving Quality of Life
o Committed more than a half million dollars over the next three fiscal years to Say Yes to Education
o Stabilized and strengthened neighborhoods across the city through a new place-based development strategy, for instance, a more than $26 million revitalization investment in the neighborhood near Martin Luther King Jr. Park
o Completed over $6.7 million worth of improvements to parks city wide, representing the largest investment for parks in 20 years
o Opened several important housing projects, including Holy Family Senior Apartments, and St. Martin Village
o Removed 4,500 blighted structures since 2006, rehabbed and improved over 1,200 units
o Launched a new single stream recycling program, designed to initially save Buffalo $700,000 with increased savings after the city takes ownership of the totes
During his State of the City Address, Mayor Brown also challenged the development community to help re-invent a prime piece of city-owned land, known as the Webster Block. This 1.9 acre site, located directly across from First Niagara Center, is the most sought after piece of land in the city. Later this month, Mayor Brown’s administration plans to issue a request for proposals for developers to present ideas on how to redevelop Webster Block, building off of the success of the waterfront.
Mayor Brown also unveiled a new initiative to help improve Buffalo’s employment picture.
‘Hire Buffalo’ is modeled after a nationally recognized program created in Atlanta that successfully put people to work.
“Too many city residents are struggling to find work,” said Mayor Brown. “That’s why today I am issuing a challenge to all companies in the Buffalo area to hire at least one new full-time Buffalo resident in 2012. Imagine if Erie County’s 22,000 companies each hired just one full-time Buffalo resident. That’s 22,000 new jobs for Buffalo residents.”
Mayor Brown lauded Buffalo Business First for partnering with the City of Buffalo on this new initiative. Buffalo Business First plans to recognize those companies that hire a full-time city resident in a weekly ad, both in print and on the Business First web site.
“Investment in Buffalo is building,” said Mayor Brown, as he concluded his speech. “Buffalo continues to move forward as a great American City – with the right people, in the right place, at the right time!”