Frequently Asked Questions
Published April 22, 2013
As a member of the community, the university knows there are very high expectations for the outcome of UB’s growing presence downtown. The university is committed to working with all East Side residents to implement its plans and ensure UB’s presence downtown benefits the entire community.
Over the past two years, UB and St. John Fruit Belt Community Development Corp. have held many community meetings with McCarley Gardens residents, East Side community members and the government leaders that serve them. The conversations and joint planning sessions have been ongoing since the contract to sell McCarley Gardens was announced in 2010.
From these conversations and outreach, an Economic Opportunity Panel (EOP) – made up of representatives from UB and Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp. – developed a set of recommendations for how UB and the corporation could work together to provide residents with better access to jobs and business and educational opportunities created from UB’s growing presence on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Members of the EOP included Dennis Black, vice president for university life and services, UB; Colleen W. Cummings, former executive director, Buffalo Employment and Training Center; June W. Hoeflich, member, UB Council; Brenda W. McDuffie, president and CEO, Buffalo Urban League; Hon. James A.W. McLeod, Buffalo City Court judge; and Paul E. Tesluk, Donald S. Carmichael Professor of Organization and Human Resources, UB School of Management.
Over the past year and a half, the Economic Opportunity Panel (EOP), created as a contingency of the McCarley Gardens sale, met regularly to develop recommendations for creating and improving job and educational opportunities for residents of neighborhoods bordering the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
The EOP was formed as a means for the church and UB to engage community members, listen to ideas and concerns and, from this information, develop a set of recommendations that may be acted upon by UB and the church. The panel spent more than a year listening to a wide range of community members in a variety of settings.
It is important to note that the EOP was not intended to be a community group. The EOP was a working group of UB and SJBC representatives, charged by the university and church to meet with and gather input from community members, conduct research on the economic needs of the community and then report back their findings and recommendations to the university and church.
The EOP first began meeting with members of the community in December 2011. One of the first activities of the panel was a meeting and walking tour of the Fruit Belt guided by residents. During the course of its outreach, the EOP has held several meetings and has met with about 70 community members and community leaders. This group included Fruit Belt residents and McCarley Gardens Tenant Council leaders, major workforce-development officials and providers, human resources administrators and procurement managers from all BNMC institutions, and community leaders and representatives from local developers who have construction jobs on the BNMC.
The university and church very much appreciate the work of the panel and value the many ideas and insights shared by community members during this process. The EOP concluded its work in April with the submittal of its findings in a report to UB and SJBC.
On April 19, 2013, the EOP presented to UB and SJBC a report titled “Opening Economic Opportunity Around UB’s Growing Downtown Presence.”
While acknowledging that UB already meets or exceeds state-mandated targets for minority and women employment and business participation on all of its downtown Buffalo construction projects, the EOP report identified six ways the university could do more to “make economic opportunities more accessible to those in our community who have had too few such opportunities.”
The panel’s recommendations build upon the success of projects and initiatives already underway at UB to increase community access to jobs and business opportunities created by UB’s expansion in downtown Buffalo.
The panel recommended that UB:
The EOP, UB and St. John Baptist Church feel very strongly that the findings are valid and offer real and achievable recommendations for improving economic opportunities for residents of the Fruit Belt and McCarley Gardens.
The EOP was never intended to be a community group. It was an internal group assigned by UB and St. John Baptist Church to meet with various stakeholders – including Fruit Belt and McCarley residents – in order to identify realistic pathways for economic opportunity. The EOP’s report is a result of this work.
The university will take immediate steps to implement the EOP recommendations. Over the next weeks and months, the university will:
Overcoming economic disparity is complex issue that requires a consistent community-wide response. The EOP has done an excellent job in identifying real and achievable ways UB can improve access to economic opportunity to those in our community who have not often had those opportunities.
UB is committed to doing its part, and will work closely with BNMC partners and other community leaders to fully achieve the recommendations outlined in the EOP’s report.
With the submittal of its report, the work of the EOP is finished and the EOP will disband. UB and SJBC very much appreciate the panel’s work on behalf of the university, church and community.
UB will assign responsibility for implementing EOP recommendations to a senior staff person at the university.
The UB 2020 Opportunities Advisory Council will serve as a primary economic development liaison between the university, the community and BNMC partners. The council, established in 2010, will work with the university and community to ensure that the EOP’s recommendations are addressed, and will pursue additional ways UB and BNMC partner institutions can open up new economic opportunities to community residents.
The UB 2020 Opportunities Advisory Council is made up of representatives from UB, local businesses and local agencies. Its members include: chairperson June W. Hoeflich, member, UB Council; Michael Badger, pastor, Bethesda World Harvest International Church; Ravinder Bansal, chairman and CEO, AirSep Corp.; Robert Bragg, vice president, decision support and campus development, Kaleida Health; Deanna Alterio Brennen, president and CEO, Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce; Matt Enstice, executive director, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus; Thomas A. Fentner, senior vice president, human resources and administrative services, HealthNow New York Inc.; Vicki Garcia, vice president, human resources management, Roswell Park Cancer Institute; Laura Hubbard, vice president for finance and administration, UB.
Also, Anthony Johnson, CEO, Empire Genomics; Mary Lou Klee, director of corporate employment and corporate human resources, Kaleida Health; Michael Pietkiewicz, assistant vice president of government and community relations, UB; Michael Sexton, general counsel and chief institute operations officer, Roswell Park Cancer Institute; Brian C. Springer, executive vice president, Roswell Park Cancer Institute; and Paul E. Tesluk, Donald S. Carmichael Professor of Organization and Human Resources, UB School of Management.
UB has already made progress in expanding opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses. For example, $100 million in construction-related contracts have been awarded to minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) over the past four years, and the university has set aggressive goals for MWBE participation in projects on its Downtown, North and South campuses. And the university has begun to streamline its vendor/procurement and job-application processes to make it more accessible to the community.
Recently, business owners, residents, parishioners and Fruit Belt property owners learned how to become more effective leaders in the community through the Active Conscious Communities Training (AC²T) program provided by UB, the BNMC, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Kaleida Health. From this training emerged a Fruit Belt community advocacy group called the Orchard Community Initiative (OCI), which is committed to improving the quality of life in the Fruit Belt. OCI was awarded a $7,500 grant to use toward initiatives that benefit the Fruit Belt. The group’s first effort involves hosting a signature event in the neighborhood to help bring together what can sometimes be a fragmented community. Additionally, some of the graduates also will receive scholarships to attend a Leadership Buffalo program in 2014.
If you have additional questions, please contact:
Office of Community Relations
UB Gateway Building
77 Goodell St. #201
Buffalo, NY 14203