Mayor Byron W. Brown and The City of Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning are pleased to launch Reopen Buffalo as an online resource for businesses and the community. Reopen Buffalo enables businesses and consumers to see critical reopened business information, including hours of operation, services offered, contact information, etc. Additionally, Reopen Buffalo serves as a communication tool between businesses and City Hall, providing businesses with the latest information about the COVID-19 emergency and the City of Buffalo’s response to adequately restore economic activity swiftly and responsibly.
The City of Buffalo has and continues to be responsive to the needs of our business community. While the COVID-19 emergency is unsettling, Mayor Brown wants our business owners to know that our commitment to them is stronger than ever. Mayor Brown and OSP will be following Governor Cuomo’s New York Forward guidelines to ensure that our City residents can go to work without renewing the spread of COVID-19. Governor Cuomo's new Micro-Cluster Strategy aims to identify outbreaks and implement mitigation measures in order to limit COVID-19 spread. As we transition to an Orange Warning Zone, the City will continue to offer innovative and alternative methods for conducting business, and our planned infrastructure and development projects will continue to move forward.
Reopen for Business - Map and Directory
Mayor Byron W. Brown has launched a Reopen for Business map and directory to support small businesses in the City of Buffalo.
- If you are a business that is open or reopening, please consider filling out a Registration Form to be featured on our Reopen for Business map and directory.
- Important business updates will be provided from the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning. Please select the option to sign up to receive these updates on our Registration Form.
- NEW! Visit our Blog to see our latest Reopen Buffalo Bulletins.
- The City of Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning (OSP) remains virtually operational Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, offering guidance and support with the emerging and immediate needs of the business community. If you wish to update your business information or have other business-related questions, please contact 311 or, if outside the City limits, 716-851-4890. Please give up to 36 hours for any business information changes.
- If your business is already listed in our directory and you have not filled out a registration form just yet, do not contact 311. Please submit a Registration Form and we will update your information.
- If you are looking for open businesses in the City, please make use of the directory and map below.
New York Forward: COVID-19 Micro-Cluster Focus Zones
Governor Cuomo's COVID-19 Micro-cluster Strategy directly targets areas in New York State with the highest transmission of COVID-19. The initiative will divide clusters and the areas around them into three categories with successively higher restrictions within each one: Red Zone - cluster Itself; Orange Zone - warning zone; and Yellow Zone - precautionary zone. Find more information here.
Effective November 20th, 2020, the City of Buffalo transitions to an Orange Warning Zone. The previous Yellow Precautionary Zone is expanded to include new parts of Erie County seeing upticks in new cases, positivity, and hospital admissions. Click Here for a Map.
- For information on zone restrictions, please reference New York Forward's Cluster Action Initiative Guidance and Empire State Development's Guidance for Executive Order 202.68.
- Where permitted to operate within the cluster action initiative, businesses and other entities must continue to follow the relevant industry-specific guidelines provided by Department of Health as available on the New York Forward Website for their applicable operations and activities.
- Please reference New York State’s Regional Monitoring Dashboard for up-to-date public health metrics in Western New York and other regions in New York State.
Business Health and Safety Guidelines for Reopening
- New York Forward has industry specific reopening guidance for employers and employees.
- Per NYS Department of Health, re-opening business and essential businesses must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- A business may fill out the business safety plan template to fulfill the requirement, or may develop its own Safety Plan. This plan does not need to be submitted to the state for approval, but must be retained on the premises of the business, and must be made available to state and local health authorities in the event of inspection.
- Please incorporate New York Forward’s reopening guidance when developing your business Safety Plan as well as standards applicable under federal law, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Please reference OSHA’s standards for COVID-19 page.
- The Buffalo Niagara Partnership (BNP) launched Keep Buffalo Niagara Working: A Guide to Reopening Your Business.
- The BNP’s Compliance with Interim NYS Safety Guidance Video Tutorial provides a step-by-step guide for affirming your business’s understanding of New York State’s Interim COVID-19 Guidance and completion of a business safety plan.
- Social distancing requirements make day to day business more difficult. Buffalo Niagara Partnership's (BNP) It’s Our Job Digital Business Kit provides a spectrum of printable signs, social tools and other materials. This branded signage will help you send a clear message of safety in a consistent and inclusive way.
- According to executive order 202.16 issued by Governor Cuomo, any employees who are present in the workplace shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. Businesses must provide face coverings to employees at their expense.
For additional health and safety tips, please visit our Health Resources tab.
Small Business Social Distancing Initiative
Mayor Byron W. Brown formed a working group, chaired by Council member Joel Feroleto, for the City to facilitate the use of public outdoor spaces by small businesses and restaurants so they can implement physical distancing protocols to reopen quickly, safely and in compliance with pertinent guidelines. On November 10th, 2020, the City of Buffalo Common Council approved an extension of the Small Business Social Distancing Initiative through May 1, 2021. Please reference the Common Council Agenda Item: Ordinance Amendment- Chapter 415 Small Business Distancing Strategy. If you are a small business or restaurant seeking to use streets, sidewalks, and other public or privately owned outdoor space to meet social distancing requirements and operate your business, please fill out a Small Business Social Distancing Exterior Premises Use Application.
Restaurants offering outdoor dining can utilize propane heaters as part of the continued commitment of the City of Buffalo to assist small businesses in the City during the COVID-19 crisis. Per New York State Fire Code, businesses are allowed to use portable propane heaters on sidewalks, parking lots and patios so long as the areas are not enclosed, which the City defines as a structure with walls and a roof. Spaces with roofs made of metal or other non-combustible material may utilize portable heaters so long as there are no walls enclosing the space. Roofing made with canvas, awning or other combustible material are not acceptable. Businesses must contact the City of Buffalo Office of Fire Prevention at 716-851-5333 ext. 750 to obtain a permit to use the outdoor heaters. All spare propane cylinders must be stored outdoors.
Please reference the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)’s Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery page as you design exterior spaces for physical distancing. The guide includes an introduction to using streets for recovery and response (pdf) and detailed implementation information about street strategies such as Outdoor Dining, Markets, and Pick Up and Delivery Zones.
Please complete the Small Business Social Distancing Exterior Premises Use Application below:
Small Business and Restaurant Support
Effective January 14, 2021, restaurants in the City of Buffalo can return to Yellow Zone Restrictions.
Please reference Erie County Department of Health's Statement related to NYS Micro-cluster Guidance Enforcement HERE.
Please reference New York Forward's Cluster Action Initiative Guidance Page.
- Gyms, fitness centers or classes operate at 25% capacity.
- Barbershops, hair salons, personal care services can provide services so long as employees performing services are tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.
- Dining: Indoor and outdoor dining permitted, 4 person maximum per table, and bars and restaurants close at 10:00 PM for on-premises consumption.
- New York Forward: Food Services Guidelines for Employers and Employees
- New York Forward:Outdoor and Take-Out/Delivery Food Services Guidelines for Employers and Employees
- All licensed establishments with on premises privileges (e.g. restaurants, taverns, manufacturers with tasting rooms, etc.) shall not serve alcoholic beverages unless such alcoholic beverage is accompanied by the purchase of a food item which is consistent with the food availability requirement of the license under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. New York State Liquor Authority has guidance here.
- Guidance for Outdoor Spaces: New York State Department of Health’s interim guidance for outdoor and take-out/delivery food services and New York State Liquor Authority’s guidance on outdoor expansion of licensed premises.
- If you are a restaurant seeking to use streets, sidewalks, and other public or other outdoor space to meet social distancing requirements and operate your business, please complete the Small Business Social Distancing Exterior Premises Use Application.
- See our Business Assistance Page for additional resources.
The Department of Public Works is moving forward with planned infrastructure and capital improvement projects for 2020:
This year, the City is devoting approximately $3.5 million in CDBG funds to improve our parks, curbs and sidewalks, and City facilities.
City of Buffalo’s 2020 Residential Street Paving season is currently underway. As part of a nearly $10.5 million investment, 120 streets will be paved citywide.
Buffalo Water is investing $29.5 million in capital improvement projects this year to continue to ensure that we are delivering safe and clean water.
Buffalo Sewer is in its 6th year of its 20-year long term control plan and has spent $170 million on capital improvements to the City’s sewer system and the Bird Island Treatment Facility.
The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA) is currently overseeing $73.4 million worth of affordable housing projects with $3.9 million in funding coming directly from BURA HOME dollars. These projects include Jefferson Avenue Apartments, Fillmore Avenue Apartments, Trinity One Apartments, Westminster Commons, Mt. Aaron Village, and Polly Jean Suites. We are very excited to see the longstanding impact these affordable housing projects will have on our community.
The Broadway Market
The Broadway Market is an essential business and remains open accordingly. The Market has instituted precautionary measures to facilitate social distancing. For more information on these precautionary measures, hours of operation, and other updates, please visit the Broadway Market website.
City Permits and Licenses Available Electronically
The Department of Permit and Inspection Services (DPIS) is open to the public on an appointment basis only. DPIS strongly encourages the public to use our digital plan submission and online permitting services:
- The Department of Permits & Inspection Services (DPIS) developed a new web-based application in conjunction with idtPlans to manage our projects for plan review. You may register and send in your applications for electronic plan review here.
- For permits that do not require plan review, you may access the City’s epermit page here.
Please visit Permit and Inspections Services for more information.
Connecting Businesses to Resources
To help employers navigate the reopening of the economy post COVID-19, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership has developed the BNP Business Link, a question and answer forum for and by the Buffalo Niagara business community. BNP has dedicated a team of experts to address individual questions and concerns of business owners throughout the region.
The NY Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF), announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, will begin accepting pre-applications. The $100 million fund is a new economic recovery loan program aimed at supporting New York State small businesses, nonprofits and small landlords as they reopen after the COVID-19 outbreak and NYS on PAUSE. New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) has additional guidance here. If you are a small landlord, please visit this page for more information.
This is a time for communication and collaboration between our economic development community. We are participating in the Erie County Business Taskforce, which has been formed to provide immediate and targeted business assistance to local businesses struggling to respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The task force has collaborated with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership to release a Business Impact survey. Data and information from this survey will help inform our team on what actions are needed to move forward to best help our impacted businesses. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership has released the results of the survey here.
Our economic development office continues to work with microenterprise groups throughout the City of Buffalo such as the Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI), LISC WNY, Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at SUNY Buffalo State, Pursuit Lending, and others. We encourage our small local businesses to reach out to these organizations as they are providing various types of business assistance and guidance during these troubling times.
Mayor Brown stays committed to serving Minority and Women-Owned Enterprises(M/WBE) in our community. During the ongoing pandemic, the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center will operate virtually to assist our small businesses on Buffalo’s East Side and throughout Western New York. You can contact the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center by email: email@example.com and by phone: 716-342-3620.