Says $707 Million in Projects to Soon Create More Than 33,000 Jobs
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Saying that Buffalo and Western New York are poised to see dramatic increases in construction and related industry jobs during the next 36 months, Congressman Brian Higgins (27th District – Erie & Chautauqua Counties) today released his first annual Labor Day Construction Jobs report for Western New York, noting that existing projects and new funds secured for additional projects will result in job growth over the next few years.
Citing federal highway/employment formulae which stated that 47 on-site construction or materials industry jobs are created for every $1 million in federal funds spent, Higgins noted that these formulas indicate that more than 33,000 local jobs will be created over the coming months and years as a result of the dozens of existing projects as well as planned projects approved in the recently completed transportation authorization bill (commonly known as TEA-LU). The formula also notes that for every $1 million spent, there is a resulting $6.2 million of economic impact felt in the local economy.
Higgins indicated that because federal highway aid is distributed to state and local governments for implementation of projects, he maintains a responsibility for coordinating local efforts to see projects through from start to finish. The report’s findings are bolstered by his commitment to work cooperatively with elected and appointed government officials, labor, management and other stakeholders to hold officials’ collective feet to the fire to ensure that projects reach design and construction phases quickly, and secured funds do not languish unspent as a result of disagreements about how to proceed.
“The simple fact is, when projects move forward, people work, and the resulting economic activity make the region more attractive for private sector investment,” said Higgins, a member of the House’s Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “Beyond the need to enhance safety for our nation’s motorists, the federal transportation bill has one clear objective, and that is to create real projects where real people can have real jobs. But accomplishing this in the transportation bill is only half the battle, and it’s now up to us to make sure these projects move forward – and these jobs are created – as quickly as possible,” Higgins added.
Mark Kirsch, President of Buffalo’s Local 17 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) noted that the efforts of Higgins and other officials in securing, allocating and spending these funds on design and construction is welcome and great news for Buffalo’s labor workforce. Kirsch notes that Buffalo’s labor workforce is among the most highly qualified in the United States, and that the job creation figures cited in Higgins’ report will go a long way toward providing greater opportunities for Western new York to work together to get these projects moving.
“Congressman Higgins has told us that he wants these long-stalled projects to move forward quickly, and he has demonstrated his seriousness about this time and time again,” said Kirsch. “We are committed to working with the Congressman to keep these projects moving and to keep Western New Yorkers working as these projects go from the drawing board to reality,” Kirsch added.
In his report, Higgins released a detailed list of projects for Erie and Chautauqua Counties – some of which were included in the federal transportation bill, and others, such as the expansion of the Peace Bridge, which have been on the drawing board for several years but are now moving forward thanks to Higgins’ admonition that he will reprogram funds away from languishing projects and dedicate funding instead to projects that are ready to proceed immediately. A brief outline of these projects is as follows:
• FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION BILL PROJECTS – $61.25 million total project costs; $379.75 million in total economic impact; expected job creation: 2,879.
• EXISTING BUFFALO WATERFRONT PROJECTS – $183 million total project costs; $1.13 billion in total economic impact; expected job creation: 8,601.
• PEACE BRIDGE EXPANSION -- $340 million total project costs; $2.1 billion in total economic impact; expected job creation: 15,980.
• BASS PRO PROJECT – $123 million total project costs; $762 million in total economic impact; expected job creation: 5,781.
• TOTALS: $707.25 million total project costs; $4.3 billion in total economic impact; expected job creation: 33,241.
Higgins goes to great length to point out that it was not he who secured all funding for these projects, and that federal officials – including Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer -- as well as state and local officials have been responsible for putting the funding in place to move projects forward. Higgins says the process and will take on added significance at the end of September, when he meets with newly-appointed state Transportation Commissioner Thomas Madison, whom Higgins has known since his days as a member of the State Assembly.
“Western New York continues to lag behind other regions of the state in terms of job creation and economic development, and I will let Commissioner Madison know in the strongest possible terms that we need state DOT to work with us to get these projects to where they belong – to design and construction phases,” said Higgins.