Last week, members from the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce visited Buffalo Niagara to study best practices.
The main point of the visit was to learn how to model something like the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) in Phoenix. The campus is nationally renowned and now becoming a prototype for other cities to emulate.
Someone not paying attention to the momentum in Buffalo Niagara might expect the reverse—that a city like Phoenix would be the model. But Buffalo Niagara got to take a breath to celebrate its own accomplishments, of course before returning to continuous efforts to improve.
The BNMC covers 6.5M sq. ft. with 2M sq. ft. more currently under construction. It is a hub of activity and innovation. Over 12,000 people work on the campus with 15,000 expected by 2018. BNMC receives 1.5M patients and visitors per year.
BNMC invited Invest Buffalo Niagara (InBN) President and CEO Thomas Kucharski to sit on a panel with Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and CEO of Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
The three discussed the benefits of collaboration with regional economic development organizations. The benefits of the delivery system come both from the public and private sectors. Kucharski, with two decades of experience in the Buffalo Niagara game, painted a picture of BNMC as just a simple germ of an idea. He remembers 15 years ago when the idea was a pipe dream and was happy to be in the room last week supporting and celebrating BNMC’s accomplishments.
“Our region’s leg up on competition is the willingness of entities to roll up their sleeves and work toward a common goal,” Kucharski said. “The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus exemplifies the collaborative fruits of that labor.”
The visit came at an appropriate time, with Athenex going public on the NASDAQ in the same week. Athenex, a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and treatment of cancer, was formed on BNMC in 2003, just one year after the campus was founded in 2002. Athenex has seen immense growth since, running parallel with that of the campus. They grew up together, in a way. BNMC nurtured Athenex and Athenex has since validated BNMC.
InBN and collaboration with a regional economic development organization was a large part of that success. In 2016, InBN helped secure Athenex’s manufacturing facility. The project pledges over $1.7 billion in capital investment and 450 jobs in the Buffalo Niagara region. It is the poster child for collaboration with economic development organizations. BNMC sewed the foundation for Athenex and, because of InBN’s work, could reap the larger, long-term benefits.
Collaboration with academia is also to thank as Athenex’s core science was development and spun out by University at Buffalo faculty.
BNMC has also seen victories in the startup scene, with co-working and incubator space thriving. It has made strides toward easier and cleaner transportation options. It has connected surrounding neighborhoods. Since its inception, BNMC has practiced what it preaches.
Now BNMC is getting the recognition it deserve. The only thing that might not transition well to the Phoenix desert is the snow. But hey, we can’t give away all our secrets.