Buffalo, New York

In 1950, Buffalo, New York stood as the nation's eighth largest city, with a population of 580,000. In 2011, the U.S. Census estimated a population of 261,000 - 50% white, 38% black, 10.5% Latino, and 3% Asian. Similar to other Rust Belt cities, like Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh, Buffalo has experienced decline as manufacturing companies, steel industries, and blue-collar jobs have disappeared. However, to fill this gap, the City and its residents have initiated new approaches and ideas to tough problems, revitalizing their city from both the top-down and the bottom-up. Many of these initiatives account for the fact that Buffalo is a weak market city and that returning to its peak population is not the primary goal. Instead the focus is on redefining the city by developing abandoned and vacant lots and by reinvigorating dilapidated neighborhoods and commercial areas.

Buffalo's "Green Gold Strategy" aims to transform it from a declining Rust Belt city into an international center for businesses whose products and services solve environmental problems. Spearheaded by City Council President James W. Pitts, the Green Gold Development Corporation was established in 1999 to help initiate the strategy. One of GGDC's main goals is to redevelop the former Buffalo Forge plant into an Eco-Industrial Park, featuring an incubator for environmental technology companies.

Community-initiated organizations, such as Buffalo Re-Use and Urban Roots Garden Cooperative, have taken a more bottom-up approach to improving the city of Buffalo. Buffalo Re-Use is tackling the city's issue with abandoned properties from a fresh perspective. Although its primary focus is to demolish buildings in a environmentally friendly way, reducing the amount of waste by recycling materials, Buffalo Re-Use has engaged block clubs and community associations in dialogue about how to use the vacant land for productive uses, like urban agricultural and green spaces.

Another organization, the Urban Roots Garden Cooperative, was founded by concerned city residents, who wanted to spend their money locally within the city, develop community gardens and a source of local produce, and work to beautify the city. Now boasting more than 400 member owners, Urban Roots Garden Cooperative works with the neighborhood to encourage urban renewal and serve as a model for other communities and cities.

An overview of community wealth building efforts follows:

 

Community Development Corporations (CDCs)

Belmont Shelter Corp.

Founded in 1977, Belmont Shelter Corp. has been working to provide individuals, families, seniors, and people with disability-based needs with affordable housing and other housing services. To date, Belmont manages 14 residential properties, including three properties – consisting of 71 apartment and 30 housing units - within the city of Buffalo proper. Read more about Belmont Shelter Corp....

Forever Elmwood

Founded by a partnership of business owners and residents in 1994, Forever Elmwood is a not-for-profit, whose mission is to create a strong sense of community by working with businesses and residents to preserve the historic nature of Elmwood Avenue. In its efforts foster an economically sustainable commercial district, Forever Elmwood utilizes a four point approach that centers around enhancement, consensus, promotion and economic restructuring. Read more about Forever Elmwood...

Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo

Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo (GGB) is a non-profit community gardening program working to revitalize neighborhoods and improve the quality of life in the city by targeting vacant land for reuse and beautification. Acting as a liaison between the City of Buffalo administration and community gardeners, GGB establishes leases with the city and indemnifies the properties, enabling gardeners to focus on gardening without the added burden of liability. Read more about Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo...

PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing)

People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo), first founded in 2005, is a membership-based community organization dedicated to affordable housing, equitable jobs and ecological sustainability for the West Side of Buffalo.

PUSH has four main arms: Read more about PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing)...

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)

Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit Union

Established in 1979 as a non-profit cooperative financial institution, the Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit union is owned and operated for the benefit of the members who use its services. Providing low-cost financial services and loans to its members, BCFCU keeps money working within the community. Read more about Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit Union...

Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation - CLOSED

Founded in 1978 by the City of Buffalo, the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation is a public-private partnership organization, placing an emphasis on the development of small businesses ands strengthening neighborhood businesses. Read more about Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation - CLOSED...

Cooperatives (Co-ops)

College Street Gallery

Originally founded in 1997 by freelance photographer Michael Mulley, College Street Gallery became a co-op in November 2008. Providing local artists greater freedom in showcasing their work, this small art gallery has displayed more photography than any other art form but has come to include more painting and sculptures in recent years. Read more about College Street Gallery...

Energy Cooperative of New York

The Energy Cooperative of New York (CNY) is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative, established in 1997. Providing electricity and natural gas to every corner of New York State, CNY has over 2,000 members including over 9,000 service accounts around the state. CNY also provides a 100% renewable energy option to its customers, allowing them to receive energy that is 44% hydro, 29% biomass, and 27% wind power. Read more about Energy Cooperative of New York...

Lexington Real Foods Cooperative

Formed in 1971 by members who wanted better access to whole foods at more reasonable prices, Lexington Real Foods Cooperative is a consumer co-operative with a full time paid staff. With more than 4,000 members, the Co-op is democratically operated, electing a Board of Directors annually. Read more about Lexington Real Foods Cooperative...

Nickel City Housing Cooperative

Founded in 2000, the Nickel City Housing Cooperative consists of two member-owned houses. Each house has about thirteen members, who make decisions about food and chores by consensus and give back to the local community by purchasing locally grown food. Each week NCHC holds a potluck that is open to anyone to attend, providing of course that you bring some kind of dish. Read more about Nickel City Housing Cooperative...

Upstate-Niagara Cooperative, Inc.

Upstate Niagara is a full-service, member-owned dairy cooperative located in Western New York. In 2006, Upstate Farms Cooperative, founded in 1965, and Niagara Milk Cooperative, founded in 1931, consolidated to form Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc. Owned and operated by approximately 420 dairy farmers and employing more than 1,000 people, the Co-op's 2006 revenues exceeded $500 million. Read more about Upstate-Niagara Cooperative, Inc....

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Osmose

Osmose is a majority employee-owned private corporation specializing in all areas of wood preservation technology as well as Utility and Railroad asset management. With more than 1200 employees, Osmose maintains a network of supplies and customer throughout the United States and in more than 70 countries around the world. Read more about Osmose...

Green Economy

Buffalo ReUse

Buffalo ReUse is a not-for-profit organization, established in 2006 in response to the city of Buffalo's plans to develop deconstruction as a competitive alternative to the demolition of abandoned housing stock. There are an estimated 23,000 vacant structures in Buffalo, a city that once housed a half million people, but whose population is now only 290,000. To date Buffalo ReUse has deconstructed two entire structures, salvaged more than 25 additional abandoned structures, and initiated part-time sales of used materials. Read more about Buffalo ReUse...

Buffalo's Green Gold Development Corporation

Incorporating a diverse Board of Directors including local environmental business leaders, environmentalists, and City Council President James W. Pitts, the Green Gold Development Corporation strives to create sustainable development, meaningful jobs, a better environment and a prosperous local economy. Established to help implement Buffalo's "Green Gold Strategy" – a strategy that seeks to transform Buffalo into a international center for companies whose products and services solve environmental problems - to date, GGDC lists 45 businesses considered Green Gold Companies. Read more about Buffalo's Green Gold Development Corporation...

Local Food Systems

Urban Roots Garden Cooperative

Founded in 2005, Urban Roots is a consumer cooperative garden center on Buffalo's West Side; its goal is to revitalize Buffalo through beautification efforts and urban renewal. Owned by more than 650 individuals, Urban Roots sells flowers, shrubs, trees and vegetables and originally grew out of planning and revitalization efforts of the West Side Community Collaborative. Read more about Urban Roots Garden Cooperative...

Social Enterprise

Massachusetts Avenue Project

The Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) has two core projects — Growing Green, a youth development and urban agriculture program and Food Ventures, a food-based micro-enterprise development program. The Growing Green programs helps low-income, at-risk youth in Buffalo develop life-skills and provide meaningful work on MAP's urban farm. In 2006, Growing Green Works, a youth enterprise run by urban youth on the west side of Buffalo, was founded to sell the organic local made food products to help offset the cost of employment and training of youth year around. Read more about Massachusetts Avenue Project...

State & Local Investments

Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC)

Focusing on urban and high impact project development in Erie County Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC), a not-for-profit local development corporation chaired by the mayor, has had notable success with the development of Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park. This 200+ acre Smart Growth" urban commerce park, one of the largest (in acreage) brownfield reclamation projects in New York, includes LEED-certified buildings, preservation of over 23 acres of freshwater wetlands, and 20 acres of public green space. Read more about Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC)...

Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA)

The Niagara Region Ventures Fund, a component of ECIDA Financing Group, helps capitalize private investment that expands or retains employment in Erie County, New York. Prioritizing technology-based companies, the Fund considers funding for start-up, early stage and expansion stage companies that offer above average opportunities for economic growth and that will contribute to the long-term growth in the regional employment base. To date, the Fund has helped finance 28 local entrepreneurs with more than $6.5 million. Read more about Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA)...

University & Community Partnerships

Buffalo State University and West Side Community Collaborative

Buffalo State University is using its resources and the West Side Community Collaborative established community infrastructure to help improve local communities and build stronger relationships by integrating service-learning into the Buffalo State curriculum. The University has identified seven specific projects that would best utilize its resources, including assisting in micro-enterprise support and developing a Community Cultural Center. Read more about Buffalo State University and West Side Community Collaborative...

Daemen College, Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement

Claiming the title of the only center for urban sustainability in the United States, the Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement partners students from Daemen College with community-based organizations, businesses and government entities that have the primary goal of developing active, livable neighborhoods in the City of Buffalo. Read more about Daemen College, Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement...

University of Buffalo, Community Linked Interdisciplinary Research Program - ENDED

The mission of the University of Buffalo's Community Linked Interdisciplinary Research Program is to offer undergraduates an opportunity to conduct community research, drawing from the needs of the Western New York community and the expertise of faculty at the University of Buffalo. Courses and research can range from "Slavery and the Underground Railroad" to "Analytical Chemistry of Pollutants" to "Neighborhood Research." Read more about University of Buffalo, Community Linked Interdisciplinary Research Program - ENDED...

Community Development Corporations (CDCs)

Belmont Shelter Corp.

Founded in 1977, Belmont Shelter Corp. has been working to provide individuals, families, seniors, and people with disability-based needs with affordable housing and other housing services. To date, Belmont manages 14 residential properties, including three properties – consisting of 71 apartment and 30 housing units - within the city of Buffalo proper. Read more about Belmont Shelter Corp....

Forever Elmwood

Founded by a partnership of business owners and residents in 1994, Forever Elmwood is a not-for-profit, whose mission is to create a strong sense of community by working with businesses and residents to preserve the historic nature of Elmwood Avenue. In its efforts foster an economically sustainable commercial district, Forever Elmwood utilizes a four point approach that centers around enhancement, consensus, promotion and economic restructuring. Read more about Forever Elmwood...

Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo

Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo (GGB) is a non-profit community gardening program working to revitalize neighborhoods and improve the quality of life in the city by targeting vacant land for reuse and beautification. Acting as a liaison between the City of Buffalo administration and community gardeners, GGB establishes leases with the city and indemnifies the properties, enabling gardeners to focus on gardening without the added burden of liability. Read more about Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo...

PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing)

People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo), first founded in 2005, is a membership-based community organization dedicated to affordable housing, equitable jobs and ecological sustainability for the West Side of Buffalo.

PUSH has four main arms: Read more about PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing)...

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)

Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit Union

Established in 1979 as a non-profit cooperative financial institution, the Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit union is owned and operated for the benefit of the members who use its services. Providing low-cost financial services and loans to its members, BCFCU keeps money working within the community. Read more about Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit Union...

Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation - CLOSED

Founded in 1978 by the City of Buffalo, the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation is a public-private partnership organization, placing an emphasis on the development of small businesses ands strengthening neighborhood businesses. Read more about Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation - CLOSED...

Green Economy

Buffalo ReUse

Buffalo ReUse is a not-for-profit organization, established in 2006 in response to the city of Buffalo's plans to develop deconstruction as a competitive alternative to the demolition of abandoned housing stock. There are an estimated 23,000 vacant structures in Buffalo, a city that once housed a half million people, but whose population is now only 290,000. To date Buffalo ReUse has deconstructed two entire structures, salvaged more than 25 additional abandoned structures, and initiated part-time sales of used materials. Read more about Buffalo ReUse...

Buffalo's Green Gold Development Corporation

Incorporating a diverse Board of Directors including local environmental business leaders, environmentalists, and City Council President James W. Pitts, the Green Gold Development Corporation strives to create sustainable development, meaningful jobs, a better environment and a prosperous local economy. Established to help implement Buffalo's "Green Gold Strategy" – a strategy that seeks to transform Buffalo into a international center for companies whose products and services solve environmental problems - to date, GGDC lists 45 businesses considered Green Gold Companies. Read more about Buffalo's Green Gold Development Corporation...

University & Community Partnerships

Buffalo State University and West Side Community Collaborative

Buffalo State University is using its resources and the West Side Community Collaborative established community infrastructure to help improve local communities and build stronger relationships by integrating service-learning into the Buffalo State curriculum. The University has identified seven specific projects that would best utilize its resources, including assisting in micro-enterprise support and developing a Community Cultural Center. Read more about Buffalo State University and West Side Community Collaborative...

Daemen College, Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement

Claiming the title of the only center for urban sustainability in the United States, the Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement partners students from Daemen College with community-based organizations, businesses and government entities that have the primary goal of developing active, livable neighborhoods in the City of Buffalo. Read more about Daemen College, Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement...

University of Buffalo, Community Linked Interdisciplinary Research Program - ENDED

The mission of the University of Buffalo's Community Linked Interdisciplinary Research Program is to offer undergraduates an opportunity to conduct community research, drawing from the needs of the Western New York community and the expertise of faculty at the University of Buffalo. Courses and research can range from "Slavery and the Underground Railroad" to "Analytical Chemistry of Pollutants" to "Neighborhood Research." Read more about University of Buffalo, Community Linked Interdisciplinary Research Program - ENDED...

State & Local Investments

Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC)

Focusing on urban and high impact project development in Erie County Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC), a not-for-profit local development corporation chaired by the mayor, has had notable success with the development of Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park. This 200+ acre Smart Growth" urban commerce park, one of the largest (in acreage) brownfield reclamation projects in New York, includes LEED-certified buildings, preservation of over 23 acres of freshwater wetlands, and 20 acres of public green space. Read more about Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC)...

Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA)

The Niagara Region Ventures Fund, a component of ECIDA Financing Group, helps capitalize private investment that expands or retains employment in Erie County, New York. Prioritizing technology-based companies, the Fund considers funding for start-up, early stage and expansion stage companies that offer above average opportunities for economic growth and that will contribute to the long-term growth in the regional employment base. To date, the Fund has helped finance 28 local entrepreneurs with more than $6.5 million. Read more about Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA)...

Cooperatives (Co-ops)

College Street Gallery

Originally founded in 1997 by freelance photographer Michael Mulley, College Street Gallery became a co-op in November 2008. Providing local artists greater freedom in showcasing their work, this small art gallery has displayed more photography than any other art form but has come to include more painting and sculptures in recent years. Read more about College Street Gallery...

Energy Cooperative of New York

The Energy Cooperative of New York (CNY) is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative, established in 1997. Providing electricity and natural gas to every corner of New York State, CNY has over 2,000 members including over 9,000 service accounts around the state. CNY also provides a 100% renewable energy option to its customers, allowing them to receive energy that is 44% hydro, 29% biomass, and 27% wind power. Read more about Energy Cooperative of New York...

Lexington Real Foods Cooperative

Formed in 1971 by members who wanted better access to whole foods at more reasonable prices, Lexington Real Foods Cooperative is a consumer co-operative with a full time paid staff. With more than 4,000 members, the Co-op is democratically operated, electing a Board of Directors annually. Read more about Lexington Real Foods Cooperative...

Nickel City Housing Cooperative

Founded in 2000, the Nickel City Housing Cooperative consists of two member-owned houses. Each house has about thirteen members, who make decisions about food and chores by consensus and give back to the local community by purchasing locally grown food. Each week NCHC holds a potluck that is open to anyone to attend, providing of course that you bring some kind of dish. Read more about Nickel City Housing Cooperative...

Upstate-Niagara Cooperative, Inc.

Upstate Niagara is a full-service, member-owned dairy cooperative located in Western New York. In 2006, Upstate Farms Cooperative, founded in 1965, and Niagara Milk Cooperative, founded in 1931, consolidated to form Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc. Owned and operated by approximately 420 dairy farmers and employing more than 1,000 people, the Co-op's 2006 revenues exceeded $500 million. Read more about Upstate-Niagara Cooperative, Inc....

Social Enterprise

Massachusetts Avenue Project

The Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) has two core projects — Growing Green, a youth development and urban agriculture program and Food Ventures, a food-based micro-enterprise development program. The Growing Green programs helps low-income, at-risk youth in Buffalo develop life-skills and provide meaningful work on MAP's urban farm. In 2006, Growing Green Works, a youth enterprise run by urban youth on the west side of Buffalo, was founded to sell the organic local made food products to help offset the cost of employment and training of youth year around. Read more about Massachusetts Avenue Project...

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Osmose

Osmose is a majority employee-owned private corporation specializing in all areas of wood preservation technology as well as Utility and Railroad asset management. With more than 1200 employees, Osmose maintains a network of supplies and customer throughout the United States and in more than 70 countries around the world. Read more about Osmose...

Local Food Systems

Urban Roots Garden Cooperative

Founded in 2005, Urban Roots is a consumer cooperative garden center on Buffalo's West Side; its goal is to revitalize Buffalo through beautification efforts and urban renewal. Owned by more than 650 individuals, Urban Roots sells flowers, shrubs, trees and vegetables and originally grew out of planning and revitalization efforts of the West Side Community Collaborative. Read more about Urban Roots Garden Cooperative...