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City of Buffalo Press Releases

Posted on: February 22, 2018

Mayor Brown Delivers His 12th State of The City Address

SOTC 2018 headshot of mayor

Buffalo, NY – Mayor Byron W. Brown today delivered his 12th “State of the City” Address at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Proclaiming ‘This is Our Time’, Mayor Brown, joined by business, civic and community leaders, outlined his plan to build on the momentum to ensure that Buffalo’s progress continues, and that opportunity is abundant for everyone.
“Together we have spent the last twelve years leading our City out of the past, and now, it is up to all of us to work together to determine our future,” said Mayor Brown. “The future is what I want to talk about today. I am proud of the way that we have re-imagined a City where people want to live and work and gather and celebrate, once again. Over the next four years I will ensure that our progress continues and that opportunity is abundant in our City of Good Neighbors - that everyone has a chance to succeed, to make a difference and to make their dreams a reality.”
He continued, “I am proud to report that the State of our City is strong. I have no illusion that the next four years will be easy. To ensure our City’s growth we must continue to build and sustain modern buildings and infrastructure, as we revitalize the historic masterpieces and industrial sites that are scattered throughout the City of Buffalo.”
Enhance efficiency through our use of technology and public private partnerships
• Mayor Brown announced an exciting and innovative public-private partnership with Kaleida Health, the largest healthcare provider and employer in WNY, that will transform the way that the City manages our information systems.
• Mayor Brown hired Dr. Luis Taveras as the City’s new Chief Information Officer. Taveras is joining the City after a long tenure at IBM, a partner at Accenture, CIO at Hartford Health and then Senior Vice-President for the Office of Integration at Barnabas Health.
• Mayor Brown announced that Open Data Buffalo has successfully launched a portal designed to empower the City to use data to further improve the quality of life for our residents and enhance the efficiency and transparency of our operations; he also announced that the City is partnering with AT&T on the ‘Buffalo Civic Innovation Challenge’. This competition will inspire innovative, technological solutions to overcome challenges.
Leading the way with the next generation of development and job growth
• Mayor Brown highlighted how Buffalo is leading the way in manufacturing, energy, medicine, education, entertainment and culture through major projects including, the new Oishei Children’s Hospital, the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the new Explore & More Children’s Museum.
• Tesla’s Factory at Riverbend has begun manufacturing solar roof panels and its partner, Panasonic, began building solar cells and modules. The two companies now employ over 500 local workers and expect to spend an additional $5 billion over the next decade.
• The Albright Knox’s $155 million expansion, marked by the gift of one extraordinary benefactor, Jeffrey Gundlach’s $52.5 million gift, and will bring a world-class architectural team from O-M-A to design the new expanded facility.
Developing new ways to revitalize with affordable and safe housing
• Mayor Brown has invested $450 million in affordable housing projects since 2006; there are currently over 40 affordable housing projects underway across the City
• Development teams for 201 Ellicott, Women’s & Children’s Hospital and Gates Circle have committed to work with the City to incorporate affordable housing units in projects
• The Brown Administration in partnership with Empire State Development, the NYS Affordable Housing Corporation, SONYMA, M&T Bank, and Habitat for Humanity developed a new program for creating homeownership in Buffalo’s abandoned properties; single and double family homes sold by the City will be eligible for a new type of mortgage from SONYMA that will include the cost of purchase and rehabilitation. Where rehab costs exceed the amount of the mortgage, the Brown Administration has secured grant money from the State to cover the difference. Finally, those properties with the greatest rehab challenges will be tackled by Habitat for Humanity, ensuring that local homeowners will benefit from their investments
Neighborhood Recovery
• Mayor Brown announced that Northwest Savings Bank is coming to Jefferson Avenue; this center will open in 2019. Northwest is also partnering with Belmont housing to open a Financial Education Center. The new center will offer workshops and one-on-one counseling, as well as online course offerings, in financial and credit counseling.
• Mayor Brown reported that JEF-FREE WIFI will be expanded by ten blocks in the Jefferson Avenue Business District to include hotspot access points from East Ferry Street to Best Street. JEF-FREE WI-FI is the next phase of Buffalo’s public wireless network.
• Dr. Daniel Alexander is submitting plans for a new community center for the Seneca-Babcock neighborhood. He will purchase land from the City of Buffalo to build a 2.6 million dollar, privately-run and funded community center. The City made the initial investment to prepare the site for sale, and will use the proceeds from the purchase to improve Mullen Park.
• The City will invest $350,000 dollars to preserve the historic elements of the former North Buffalo Library as it transforms into an Italian Cultural Center.
• The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency will lead a community engagement strategy that tailors solutions to neighborhood needs. The “Complete Community Initiative” is the next step in the Housing Opportunity Strategy. This complements the work of ‘One Region Forward’ - that’s right - this will be a neighborhood strategy integrated into a regional agenda.
• Mayor Brown announced that he and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz entered into an agreement - where for the first time in 40 years - the City and County are collaborating on a joint strategy for alleviating barriers to fair housing choice and enhancing affordable housing opportunities.
Public Safety
The Buffalo Police Department has worked very hard for the 40% drop in crime that has been achieved since Mayor Brown took office. It has removed over 15,600 illegal guns from City streets.
• Mayor Brown announced that he has nominated Interim Police Commissioner Byron C. Lockwood to permanently lead the Buffalo Police Department as Commissioner. Lockwood is a 34-year veteran of the Department who has served as Deputy Commissioner since 2006. He has been tasked Commissioner Lockwood with achieving full accreditation by New York State within the year.
• Mayor Brown will be joining students from across our nation in the March For Our Lives; he will sponsor buses so that young people from Buffalo can attend.
• As Buffalo grows in size and popularity and the number of large-scale events and visitors increases, Mayor Brown directed the BPD to enhance its focus on quality of life issues, including increasing traffic enforcement activities, doubling truck enforcement detail and implementing new measures to ensure public safety at large events.
• Mayor Brown announced that there is a class of new firefighters in training, and under new leadership of Commissioner Muscarella a recruitment campaign for the next class is now underway. Applications for the Fire Exam - which will be administered on May 1st - are available right now.
Improving Essential Services
• Mayor Brown announced that a site will be announced for a centralized Public Works Campus that improves service delivery – including snow removal, paving and garbage collection - while achieving cost savings and energy efficiency
• Mayor Brown announced that his Administration and the Buffalo Police Athletic League have reached an agreement to supplement programming at city-operated recreation centers, as well as to extend programming for evenings, during summer break and on weekends year-round.
• Mayor Brown announced, in partnership with Council President Pridgen and others, that a one-stop resource center for educational, recreational and vocational programs will be available to the Fruitbelt community at Public School 37.
• Mayor Brown committed to leadership at the local level in the area of climate change; he also committed to the US Climate Mayor’s Pledge to develop a Climate Action Plan for Buffalo.
• Mayor Brown reported that the City has reached his 2018 Bicycle Master Plan goal of installing 150 miles of bike lanes.
Enhancing Our Cultural and Recreational Activities
• In the coming months, the Buffalo Arts Commission will bring more artwork to Allen Street, Niagara Street and the Northland Corridor.
• In celebration of Black History Month, Mayor Brown reaffirmed his support for the installation of an African American Veterans Monument at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval Park
• Mayor Brown congratulated BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York as a finalist for the prestigious Corporate Social Responsibility Award for its partnership with the City of Buffalo on ‘Summer City Fitness’.
Expanding Educational Resources for Youth to Excel
Mayor Brown highlighted the City of Buffalo provides significant support to the Buffalo Public Schools and ‘Say Yes Buffalo’, and their work has resulted in the successful matriculation of 65% of public school graduates who apply for two and four-year colleges and universities.
• Mayor Brown announced that, in partnership with the ‘Sprint 1Million Project’, Internet access is expanding to Buffalo Public School students who didn’t have it before. Wireless devices are being distributed, and free high-speed Internet services are also being provided to students.
• Mayor Brown announced the launch of the new Environmental Champions Program. This is another partnership between the City and the Buffalo Public Schools, encouraging students and teachers to become Environmental Champions, by creating effective recycling campaigns at school.
Redeveloping Northland Corridor as an expanding Opportunity Hub
• Another new component of the Northland Corridor will be a 10,000 square foot facility that will be used for training stagehands and theatrical employees who work in all forms of live theater, motion picture and television production
• Project Rainfall will be a food system social enterprise at Northland; the partners in this coalition are led by the P2 Collaborative, and include the City of Buffalo, ECMC, UB and Buffalo Urban Development Corporation. The facility will provide fresh produce to the community, and training and employment opportunities for residents, with a focus on health and wellness.
• Mayor Brown in partnership with Empire State Development established an agreement with a national leader in designing industry-specific courses to meet our region’s IT needs, who will then provide professional development training to students at the ‘Coding School at Northland.’
Ensuring Opportunity
Mayor Brown recognized the City’s Office of New Americans for its continued and valuable work to ensure that every new resident of our City has dignity, hope, opportunity, and security.
• Mayor Brown announced that we will be utilizing a new electronic tracking system that provides data to track contractor utilization of minority- and women-owned businesses on City projects. We’ve entered into an agreement with LCP Tracker – a labor compliance software company.
• Thanked Ms. Maria “Apple” Domingo and her new American students from Angola, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Columbia, Congo, the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Mexico, Moldova, Sudan and Syria for their performance during the opening of the State of the City Address.
Building Community
• Mayor Brown announced the formation of Buffalo LIT (a Landmark Illumination Team), a new coordinated effort to illuminate Buffalo’s skyline at night.

• Mayor Brown congratulated the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy on its 150th Anniversary, the Erie County Medical Center on its 100th Anniversary, as well as the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s historic trip to Poland to perform at the prestigious Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Poland.
In Memorial
• Mayor Brown announced that he posthumously promoted Officer Lehner to the rank of Lieutenant in the Buffalo Police Department in recognition of his outstanding service as a Buffalo Police K-9 Officer and a member of the Underwater Rescue and Recovery Team; he also announced that Lieutenant Lehner’s beloved K-9 Shield has a new partner in the Buffalo Police Department, and that the Buffalo Police K-9 Training Facility on Louisiana Street will be named in memory of Lieutenant Lehner.
Key to the City
• Mayor Brown concluded his State of the City Address by posthumously awarding the Key to the City of Buffalo to Robert G. Wilmers, stating, “A great City honors and remembers the legacy of our visionaries, our leaders, our benefactors, and our champions.”
Mayor Brown’s State of the City Address luncheon is a benefit for Mayor Brown’s Fund to Advance Buffalo, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2006 to improve the quality of life for children and families in the City of Buffalo.

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