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A boost for Bailey Avenue businesses

Bailey Avenue Business Association

Members of the Bailey Avenue Business Association pose along the avenue. Their goal is to create a thriving business district on Bailey. Photo: Douglas Levere

By JOHN DELLACONTRADA

Published December 5, 2013

The Bailey Avenue Business Association, under the leadership of new president Abraham Cissé, is partnering with UB to assist businesses along a four–mile stretch of Bailey Avenue near the South Campus and extending further into the city.

The association’s goal is to create a thriving Bailey Avenue business district, similar to what’s been achieved on Elmwood and Hertel avenues, says Cissé, who owns ABCIS Technology Services at 3163 Bailey Ave. “Everybody tells me how vibrant Bailey used to be,” he says. “We want to bring back that vibrancy.

“UB has the resources to help,” he adds. “The university is an important part of life on Bailey.”

As part of this effort, the UB School of Management's Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) will offer Bailey Avenue business owners a new program to help them be successful. The free program is funded by a $17,000 grant from the Allstate Foundation, a charitable organization funded by subsidiaries of Allstate Insurance Corporation. Allstate has partnered with the CEL and the UB Center for Urban Studies for several years to offer programming for minority and women entrepreneurs.  

The Bailey Avenue program will begin early next year and will be held in a yet-to-be-determined community space on the avenue, says CEL Executive Director Thomas Ulbrich. Participants will learn best practices in business planning, operation and growth. They will be provided with a mentor and learn how to access existing resources for business development.

“We are tailoring the program to the needs of Bailey Avenue businesspeople and we are reaching out directly to them,” Ulbrich says. “Usually, we offer this type of programming on campus only and open it up to business owners throughout the region.”

The Bailey Avenue Business Association hopes to partner with UB on additional programming, Cissé says, and is working with the city of Buffalo to develop collaborative efforts to improve streetscape and infrastructure within the Bailey Avenue district.

There are between 150 and 180 businesses within the district, estimates Cissé, who recently purchased the former Uptown Theater on Bailey.

“I want to reignite their interest in the association by partnering with UB, the city and other partners and stakeholders to offer incentives to join,” he says. “Bailey has a lot of potential, but there are problems, too, which we need to overcome by working together.”