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Senate Committee Approves UB 2020 Bill

Buffalo Building and Construction Trades Council Offers Support

By Lois Baker

Release Date: May 20, 2009

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The UB 2020 Flexibility and Economic Growth Act moved closer to passage today when the bill was approved by the New York State Senate Higher Education Committee.

The bill, sponsored by Senator William T. Stachowski, now goes to the Senate Finance Committee for review and then to the full Senate for a vote before moving on to the Assembly for consideration.

"It is very gratifying that members of the Senate committee believe, as we do, in the critical importance of UB 2020 to the Western New York economy," said UB President John B. Simpson. "This brings UB one step closer to fulfilling our ambitious goals for UB 2020: to build a great public research university that is the catalyst for a thriving knowledge-based economy in our region.

"We appreciate greatly the support this bill has received from Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith, from Senator Stachowski, in his critical role as chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee, and from Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), chair of the Higher Education Committee."

"This pilot program will help transform the University at Buffalo into an engine for economic growth in Erie County and Western New York," Stavisky said. "The vision of the UB 2020 plan creates an extraordinary marriage of the business and academic communities to improve both the quality of education and the economic health of the region. With the leadership of Senator Stachowski and Senator Smith, we are committed to exploring innovative ideas to improve the economic climate in Western New York."

"I firmly believe that the UB 2020 plan can help address the single most important issue: the need to create jobs and spur development," Stachowski added. "After years of planning and discussion, thanks to this legislation, UB will be in the forefront of the economic revitalization in our community."

The UB 2020 Flexibility and Economic Growth Act proposes changes in state policy that can be implemented quickly, without cost to taxpayers, and which will allow UB to move forward with its plans to expand and grow, particularly in downtown Buffalo. The bill would provide UB with a rational tuition strategy, flexibility in spending and contracting, access to capital markets and the ability to lease and purchase land and facilities.

These reforms would give UB the financial flexibility needed to pursue growth strategies commonly used by other large research universities nationwide.

Achieving UB 2020 is projected to increase UB's economic impact on Western New York from $1.7 billion to $3.6 billion annually, and will create well over 10,000 jobs in a variety of sectors -- in information technology, maintenance/custodial/trade, clerical, faculty and professional administrators, and technical and research support.

More than 30 of New York State's most prominent and influential business, labor, community and university groups support the UB 2020 initiative as the region's best strategy for economic development and regional job creation.

Paul Brown, president of the Buffalo Building and Construction Trades Council, which is a leading proponent of the legislation, said: "The Building Trades believes strongly that UB 2020 will be a pivotal catalyst for economic growth in Western New York and calls on the State Assembly and Senate to pass the UB 2020 Flexibility and Economic Growth Act in this legislative session.

"This legislation will lead to the building of new world-class research facilities, expanded research capabilities for new high-tech and green jobs, attract high-tech business to the area, increase investment in our community, revitalize and expand the downtown campus and dramatically increase student enrollment. In short, UB 2020 will become a regional economic engine."

Also supporting the UB 2020 efforts are the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Amherst Chamber of Commerce, the City of Buffalo, Erie County, Town of Amherst, United Autoworkers, Kaleida Health, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the Board of Block Clubs, United Way, Oishei Foundation, the UB Undergraduate Student Association, UB Faculty Senate and UB Parent Association.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.