The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has been the site of more than $1.5 billion in investment over the past 11 years, generating considerable political support and hope that it will change Buffalo’s economic fortunes.
But an analyst by Business First has indicated, the major moves have amounted to a regional reshuffling of educational and health-care facilities, paid mostly by taxpayers.
The idea that hundreds of new jobs would be created has not panned out in fact; there has been a net loss of jobs to the region which has resulted from consolidation of jobs.
Future building projects on the campus are coming up short on funding and facilities like the former Millard Fillmore Hospital on Delaware avenue are becoming eye sores to residents.
Local business in the area around the old Millard Fillmore hospital have seen their business drop which has resulted in the loss of jobs.
As residents and businesses around the Elmwood Village wait for the closure of Children’s Hospital on Bryant street anticipation is that some business will close and home prices will drop with such a large facility vacant in the neighborhood.
“We haven’t done anything yet,” said Patrick Whalen, COO of Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc., which acts as a broad administrator for the direction of the campus. “Moving assets around is not economic development.”
Isolating just one goal for the medical campus is impossible, given the varying motivations of the entities involved. Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University at Buffalo are focused on institutional quality, from health care to education.
But there is no denying the macro expectation: the creation of life sciences and technology companies, complete with thousands of private-sector jobs and the wide range of benefits those would bring.
The growth of the medical campus has thrust Buffalo into a national race to become the next Pittsburgh, a city that performed relatively well during the recession on the backs of educational and health-care institutions. Intense competition exists for federal research dollars and venture capital and for students across the national and international spectrum.
“Everybody is gunning for this business,” said Aaron Renn, an urban affairs analyst who writes at urbanophile.com. “It’s hypercompetitive. As long as the sector keeps expanding as a whole, you don’t get into a winners-and-losers situation. But if the pie stops growing, you can’t keep growing like this forever.”