Below is the letter to editor written by Jeanenne Petri of West Side Stories. Jeanenne and West Side Stories are members of Buffalo First! a powerful partner in the Canal Side Community Alliance.
Thanks Jeanenne for your powerful works on the need for local business to anchor the development of our historic waterfront.
When plans for the redevelopment of Buffalo’s historic waterfront were first introduced to the public, the priority was given to a subsidized mega-retailer to serve as an anchor. This retailer often received significant public funding, while consistently failing to deliver on its economic responsibilities that justified the subsidies in the first place.
Since that time, we have seen the plans modified, but not entirely devoid of the prospect of a mega-retailer. However, through good-faith negotiations, the Canalside Community Alliance has pushed the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. to think local first.
When a community agreement is finalized, there will be provisions in place that make local business the backbone of real economic development at Canalside. First, the goal for locally owned businesses at Canalside will be set at 50 percent. Next, mechanisms will be put in place to monitor compliance with local hiring and minority and women-owned business enterprise goals. And, lastly, an individual will be hired to perform outreach with local and MWBE firms to ensure that they have the tools necessary to bid directly on ESDC contracts.
As a business owner on the West Side who knows firsthand how a neighbor-hood prospers from the investment of local business, I support the provisions. They embody the desire to see our tax dollars used for the purpose of real economic development—a local economy built on hard work, not subsidies, by those who live in the community, not outside of it, for the good of all, not just a few.
Local business and the entrepreneurial spirit should be the cornerstone on which all other development rests. I urge the ECHDC to swiftly negotiate an agreement that will make local business the anchor tenant at Canalside.
Owner, Westside Stories Used Books
Make local business anchor at Canalside