The worker shortage is the top concern identified by Buffalo Niagara Partnership members.
For employers, one issue is dominant these days.
“Western New York, and our entire country, needs more people working,” said Dottie Gallagher, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.
No surprise, then, that helping solve the worker shortage tops this year’s edition of the business advocacy group’s agenda, which was rolled out Thursday.
While employers are trying to recruit more workers, the Partnership is calling for legislative solutions to get more people trained for jobs.
The region’s largest business group backs federal legislation that would expand Pell Grant eligibility to students who are enrolled in short-term education and training programs that lead to employment in high-demand sectors or careers, including health care and skilled trades.

It’s a new year, but a lot of the economic challenges look awfully familiar. A worker shortage. Inflation. Supply chain disruptions. Even so, prospects for growth this year remain strong after a bounce-back year in 2021, said James Glassman, head economist for commercial banking at JPMorgan Chase.
The Partnership also supports providing financial assistance to help people access registered and unregistered apprenticeships, along with other programs that train workers. The group is also calling for creation of and access to child care.
In November, a record 4.5 million Americans left their jobs voluntarily.
“That is a stunning number, when you think about it,” Gallagher said. “So we are advocating more aggressively than ever before for policy that can help employers find and retain qualified talent.”
Western New York faces the added challenges of lower-than-average workforce participation rates and “too many people trapped in poverty,” she said.
“To unleash that talent in this community, it is going to require training for jobs that actually exist and supports to effectively upskill the underemployed,” she said. The region also needs to find ways to break down barriers to employment, to make it easier for people like formerly incarcerated individuals to get hired.

Creating a new approach to using and disposing of city-owned vacant lots is the top item in the Partnership for Public Good’s community agenda this year.
The Partnership’s agenda includes a number of pro-business ideas, including protecting employers from a potential hike in unemployment insurance rates.
The state owes $9 billion to the federal government, stemming from funds loaned to the state during the pandemic to pay for unemployment benefits. The Partnership argues the state should use some of its American Rescue Plan funds to repay what it owes.
“Employers did not cause the unemployment crisis – they were forced to close or reduce operations by government,” said Grant Loomis, vice president of government affairs. “They should not be forced to shoulder the burden for increased (unemployment insurance) use.”
The Partnership also supports a public-private partnership to fund a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills, to secure the franchise’s presence here for the long term. Gallagher said successfully negotiating a new deal for a stadium is an important test for Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Gallagher said having a governor in office who is from upstate New York is a “significant opportunity” when it comes to economic issues.
“We remain very hopeful that Gov. Hochul will leverage her power in a way that benefits Western New York and upstate by making our economy more competitive, capitalizing on our resources and ensuring our employers and taxpayers do not get bogged down in one-size-fits-all, New York City-centric policy that is not needed or appropriate for our communities,” Gallagher said.
Matt Glynn
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Joseph Carubba – former owner of Carubba Collision – is teaming up with J.B. Earl Co. of Utah to bring 85 new residential apartments to South, Vandalia and Hamburg streets, next to the new Mutual Riverfront Park

The Mercy Ambulatory Care Center’s emergency department in Orchard Park has been closed since Nov. 9.

“Once complete, this project will catapult the city forward and create an immediate downtown core similar to what North Tonawanda has done,” architect Michael Conroe said.

Buffalo biopharmaceutical company Athenex announced a transaction that has big implications for a state-funded $200 million drug manufacturing facility in Dunkirk.

The grants were funded with a $1 million block grant approved by the state, but the money originated with the CARES Act, the first federal Covid-19 economic stimulus bill, passed in March 2020.

A federal judge in Rochester could decide within weeks whether to allow prosecutors in Buffalo to continue pursuing criminal mortgage fraud charges against developer Robert C. Morgan.

Health care providers are concerned the state’s booster mandate, which requires workers to get a booster within two weeks of becoming eligible, could worsen staffing challenges. As it is, only 26% of the state’s hospital employees have gotten the booster, though not all are eligible yet.

Krog Group had already received a package of tax relief, but lenders pulled out of the project because of fears that the hospitality industry would be devastated by the impacts of the pandemic.

Workers at the Cheektowaga store on Dec. 9 voted 15-9 in favor of the union, but there were seven challenged ballots – none of which were opened and counted. NLRB spokesperson Kayla Blado said Monday those challenges were sustained, keeping the final vote at 15-9 and giving the union the win.

Ford officials said the updates will help the plant remain competitive with other production facilities.
The worker shortage is the top concern identified by Buffalo Niagara Partnership members.
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