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After Schumer Lobbied Commerce Secretary Raimondo Directly To Advocate For Buffalo, WNY; Advanced Manufacturing Proposal Was Selected For Final Round To Compete For Up To A $100 Million Grant To Transform The WNY Economy

With Major Tech Hub Funding From Schumer’s U.S. Innovation & Competition Act In The Works, Senator Says WNY Must Strike While The Iron Is Hot To Bolster Its Tech Infrastructure and Workforce To Bring Manufacturing Back to the U.S.

Schumer: WNY’s Selection As One Of Nation’s Regional Challenge Finalists Is A Game Changer—Now It’s Time To Bring It Home And Ramp Up Push To Make WNY A Global Tech Hub!

Following his direct advocacy that secured the Western New York Advanced Manufacturing Cluster’s spot as a finalist for up to a $100 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) Regional Challenge grant,  U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today continued this momentum by launching a major push for the feds to select Western New York’s project. Schumer explained that as a Phase 1 awardee, the project has already received $500,000 in technical assistance funds to develop their Phase 2 application. Schumer said that since receiving these funds, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council (WNYREDC) has been able to form a broad coalition of public and private sector partners committed to bolstering Western New York’s advanced manufacturing infrastructure and next-generation, skilled workforce. Schumer also revealed how new programs in his bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), like the $10 billion regional technology hub program and significant investment in strengthening domestic manufacturing, shoring up our supply chains, and boosting research and tech education and training is uniquely suited to support Buffalo and Western New York in scaling up advanced manufacturing and connecting more workers to good-paying jobs. Receipt of the Regional Challenge Grant funding, Schumer said, would elevate the region as an emerging global tech hub and make Buffalo a more competitive candidate for further federal investment, fundamentally reshaping the WNY economic landscape.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Western New York’s legacy as an industrial powerhouse into an advanced manufacturing and tech hub that helps bring manufacturing back to America and create good-paying jobs across the region. This federal investment would help revitalize Buffalo’s East Side for new investment, make sure key technologies are made in Western New York instead of overseas, and train thousands of workers for good-paying tech and manufacturing jobs. Now, it is time for the nation to see what I’ve long known: Western New York has all the right ingredients to be the nation’s next tech hub!” said Senator Schumer. “When I led the American Rescue Plan to passage, which created the EDA’s Regional Challenge, I had at the forefront of my mind places like Buffalo and the world-class workers who are ready to take up these advanced manufacturing jobs to rebuild our economy, shore up our supply chains, and bring manufacturing back to America. The potential funding from this program, in tandem with the significant investment in domestic supply chains, American manufacturing, research, and tech education and training from my U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, can transform Buffalo’s economy and I will not stop fighting to make sure that Western New York workers are the ones who secure the good-paying jobs building our nation’s future.”

“Senate Majority Leader Schumer has long been a champion for the important collaborations across business and industry, nonprofits, k-12 education and higher education,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi. “The University at Buffalo is an integral part of creating the new Western New York regional economy and we are so grateful for the Majority Leader’s efforts to bring this funding to the region.”

Schumer made a personal call last year to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to advocate for the selection of Western New York as a finalist to compete for this opportunity. The senator explained that the $1 billion EDA Build Back Better Regional Challenge Program, created by the American Rescue Plan, received 529 Phase 1 applications from across the United States, and the WNY Advanced Manufacturing Cluster was one of only 60 proposals selected as a Phase 1 awardee allowing them to receive $500,000 in technical assistance to strengthen their project and compete for a Phase 2 final award. Now, with a national spotlight on Buffalo and Western New York as a rapidly growing advanced manufacturing and tech hub, the proposal for the exclusive Phase 2 award has been submitted. Phase 2, Schumer said, will award 20-30 regional coalitions between $25 million and $100 million in grant funding for their project, if selected.

Schumer explained that the Western New York Advanced Manufacturing Cluster proposal, submitted by the WNYREDC, would help train over 1,600 individuals for careers in tech over a three-year period. The project would also work to fill gaps in the Western NY innovation ecosystem that will enable the region to become a national hub in key industries like vaccine production, utility infrastructure components, industrial gases, and precision motion control. The project would also reverse environmental degradation left by the region’s industrial past by cleaning up and revitalizing properties, including parts of Buffalo’s East Side, to attract new investment and create new jobs. The proposal also focuses on developing a more diverse, highly skilled workforce to meet the needs of growing employers and expand opportunity for more workers to access high-paying and union jobs. The project is supported by a vast coalition including the University at Buffalo, Invest Buffalo Niagara, Launch NY, Buffalo Manufacturing Works, Northland Workforce Training Center, Goodwill of Western New York, SUNY Alfred, the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, and many more.

In addition, Schumer highlighted bold new federal investment slated for research and development (R&D), entrepreneurship, tech training and education, and domestic manufacturing as a part of his U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) that can also benefit Buffalo and Western New York in their ongoing pursuits to expand the advanced manufacturing sector and make the region into a tech hub. 

Specifically, Schumer highlighted that his bill would:

  • Create a new $10 billion Regional Technology Hubs through the Department of Commerce to support regional economic development efforts to build hubs around the country to not only research and innovate technologies but also manufacture them here in America. Schumer said that this initiative aligns itself with the goals of the EDA’s Regional Challenge Program, as well as with Western New York’s advanced manufacturing cluster proposal and would create further opportunities for the region to compete for more federal investment. The technology hubs would carry out efforts on strengthening manufacturing and domestic supply chains, workforce training, business and entrepreneur development, technology transfer and commercialization, and infrastructure improvements to boost innovation and manufacturing across the country.
  • Increase investment for National Science Foundation (NSF) Research and Development Programs and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and training programs. Schumer said that research institutions like the University at Buffalo and technical training schools like Erie Community College are in a strong position to compete for these federal funds. The legislation also incorporates a series of new programs, including programs for STEM education for underrepresented populations and skilled technical education to prepare workers for tech jobs.
  • Scale up federal investment in supply chains and American manufacturing, $2.4 billion for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and $1.2 billion for the Manufacturing USA program. This investment would nearly quadruple the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which funds centers like Insyte Consulting in Western New York to assist small and mid-sized manufacturers, including companies in the region like Sumitomo that is already being helped by Schumer’s bill also includes $52 billion in federal funds to expand domestic semiconductor manufacturing, including at sites like STAMP in Western New York, and the bill creates a supply chain resiliency program to bring manufacturing back to America and help address supply chain vulnerabilities that are driving up costs on working families and disrupting the economy.
  • Launch a new Directorate of Technology and Innovation at the NSF to support R&D in key technologies, increasing STEM education to enhance the domestic STEM workforce, building regional innovation centers, and supporting technology transfer and entrepreneurship programs.

Schumer led USICA to Senate passage in June of last year. The House passed its companion legislation, the America COMPETES Act this past January. Last week, Senator Schumer took an important step to the bill advancing to final passage, announcing Conferees to the Conference Committee to reconcile differences between the Senate- and House-passed bills in order to send final legislation to the President to sign into law.