Buffalo Main Streets Initiative Update

Since the fall, we’ve been working with two organizations to provide technical support for the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative. It’s a program funded by the Better Buffalo Fund and it’s intended to foster the transformation of the city’s neighborhoods and facilitate economic development and job growth in targeted areas. It’s similar to the New York Main Street grant, which we are familiar with through our work on South Clinton Avenue in the City of Rochester.

Our client is the University of Buffalo Regional Institute, but we’ve also been working closely with staff from New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) and the City of Buffalo.

Our first task was to develop this toolkit for the program. The program has a lot of requirements and it can be overwhelming for new grant recipients. The idea was to create templates and procedures that could be used by all recipients for the program. So far, the feedback from the BMSI recipients from last year has been positive.

The technical assistance process started in September, and led me to get to know two great people, Mary Ann Kedron from Black Rock Riverside Alliance who is writing an application for Niagara Street, and Sydney Brown from Black Chamber of Commerce and Citizens Alliance, who is writing an application for Jefferson Avenue.

Our technical assistance process included outreach to property owners and business owners, an analysis of potential projects and target areas, support in the development of a list of Strengths Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT), the development or refinement of strategic goals and objectives, and, of course, helping each organization master the trickier aspects of the BMSI program.

We’ve provided lots of information, and have now transitioned into the important role of cheerleaders. Grant applications are due Monday March 28th by noon. Fingers crossed for all the applicants, but especially BRRA and Black Chamber of Commerce. We’re rooting for you!

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