Tuesday, March 13, 2012

“Talkin’ Proud” for Real: Envisioning “Buffalo’s New Economy”

By Suzanne Kashuba

I remember fondly that catchy “Talkin’ Proud” jingle — the centerpiece of a hugely successful civic booster campaign. It was all over the airwaves in late 1980.

I would hum it unconsciously and sing all the words with an enthusiastic conviction. Always a fan of Buffalo’s potential, I wanted desperately to believe in its upbeat message.

This catchy jingle was the centerpiece of a civic booster campaign in Buffalo, N.Y.

(Go ahead. See if you can listen to it and not have it going through your head for hours – maybe even days.)

Problem was, it became very difficult to sport hometown pride when the old hometown seemed to be fast crumbling into obscurity.

Soon, the “Courier Express” would hold the presses forever, local banks (including Buffalo Savings) would close their doors for good, and iconic retail establishments like AM&As would fade into the history books. Even the behemoth Bethlehem Steel plant would be all but shuttered, reduced to a shadow of its former self.

Everyone knew someone who had lost a job, moved out of town to find a job or (like my dad) “retired” far younger than traditional retirement age. He was just 50, with more than a quarter century of experience at a Chevy plant.

Now, more than three decades later, a new day is dawning in Buffalo. The signs of progress – and the seeds of hope – are evident on the waterfront (finally!), in the medical corridor and in the preservation community. In his State of the State Address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made an intriguing promise to Western New York: a $1.1 billion economic development package, including outright cash, tax breaks and government-backed bonds. Now a plan for using this windfall is beginning to be developed on the local level, through the Western New York Economic Regional Council. This group already has a successful track record, having developed a winning plan that secured $100.3 million to implement projects in Western New York.

As local leaders begin to plan for this potential new infusion of support, the public is invited to hear from the expert tapped to advise the planning process.

Bruce's photos 061Internationally-noted regional development expert Bruce Katz will be the featured speaker at the Buffalo City Forum and buffet luncheon on Wednesday, March 14. His presentation, “Delivering the Next Economy in Buffalo,” takes place in the WNED studios, 140 Lower Terrace, Buffalo. Doors open at noon with lunch beginning at 12:15 p.m.

Katz is the founding director of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, which aims to provide decision makers with policy ideas for improving the health and prosperity of urban areas.

His multiple areas of expertise include competitiveness, demographics, cities, growth through Innovation and opportunity and well-being.

Some may question the value – and expense – of hiring an outside expert, but I say let’s pick his brain for all its worth. And Buffalo City Forum offers a perfect opportunity.


This community speaker series is hosted by WBFO/WNED Station Manager & Director of News Jim Ranney and each hour-long Forum includes a question-and-answer session with the speaker. To purchase tickets ($20 or $15 for members of WNED or Leadership Buffalo) call (716) 849-2626, ext. 17 or email jcrosson@leadershipbuffalo.org.

If you can’t attend in person, listen to the full presentation live on WNED-AM, WBFO 88.7 and wbfo.org beginning at 1 p.m. 

Will this latest plan actually lead to higher employment and a successful future? That’s not a sure thing, as discussed at length in recently published articles.

But it does give this Western New York re-pat some hope. Some have called it a “game changer.” I have to believe Buffalo will win this time—and we’ll have good reason to do more than just talk proud.

What questions do you have for Bruce Katz? What would you like to see included in the plan?

1 comment:

  1. Hurray! Can we have the same hopes for Erie, Cleveland and Detroit, too?