BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo's renaissance is well under way, but what's next?
"We’ve solved a lot of problems we’ve filled a lot of buildings we’ve got a lot of people employed, but we now have a new set of issues if we want to continue the renaissance and the growth of our region," said Thomas Kucharski, President and CEO of Invest Buffalo Niagara.
One of those issues is people. There are plenty of jobs and opportunities, but not enough people to take advantage.
"We unfortunately have a lot of ex-Buffalonians and ex-Western New Yorkers who are scattered across the continent and throughout the world and many of them are not aware of all of the good stuff that’s going on here," said Kucharski.
People like Steve Ratka. He was born and raised in Clarence, but moved to Florida in 2007.
"Companies were laying a lot of the staff off and I wanted to go somewhere that had a warmer climate," said Ratka.
But after 10 years away, he started to miss home.
"We decided to move back to Buffalo, we came back about a year ago. Buffalo's a great place to raise a family," said Ratka.
He now works as a construction foreman for National Fuel.
Invest Buffalo Niagara is looking for more people like Ratka to come back to our area. So they're launching a new campaign to do just that called "A Plan for Tomorrow".
They're having a two-day symposium to commemorate their 20th anniversary. They're bringing 115 regional businesses, experts and community leaders to strategize a way to bring expats back.
"One of the advantages Buffalo has is a competitive cost of living. Our research finds that people care most about being able to find a job so they are willing to move," said Patience Fairbrorther, keynote speaker and national talent attraction specialist.
And there are plenty of openings.
"We need coders, we need programmers, we need engineers, we need mid-level managers, we need nurses, we need welders...we could attract as much as 12-15,000 new jobs to the region," said Kucharski.
And the next step is to get to work. Over the next six months to a year, Buffalo Niagara plans to put strategies to work and expects to see progress and more people come to the area.