The Project was originally home to Niagara Machine and Tool Works (NM&TW) that built stamping presses and press brakes for sheet metal. Its equipment was shipped to automobile and appliance manufacturers worldwide. NM&TW’s facility consists of three distinct contributing buildings related to specific functions of the manufacturing facility and the factory evolution: 1) The Headquarters and Main Factory (built in multiple building campaigns from 1910-1981), 2) the Pattern Shop (built in 1913) and 3) the Metal Fabricating Plant (built in 1953). The Headquarters, the Main Factory, and the Pattern shop are what makeup Northland Central. The multiple building campaigns consist of a continuous series of irregular masses and volumes that were added as capacity, technology, and manufacturing needs were required. Depending on the time construction took place, the spaces vary in style and design from utilitarian industrial, ceremonial, and purely utilitarian. NM&TW was sold to a London-based international manufacturing company in 1992 and most of the company’s manufacturing activities ceased around 1999 and the buildings remained vacant.
The 683 Northland development involved the stabilization, remediation, and redevelopment of the historic Niagara Machine and Tool Works complex. The Northland Workforce Training Center, an anchor tenant of the development, is the signature workforce initiative under New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” initiative and the centerpiece for the Northland Corridor Redevelopment Area, a 35-acre historic manufacturing district in Eastern Buffalo, New York. This initiative plans to commit $1 billion into the Buffalo area economy to create jobs, spur additional investments, and reinvigorate the area’s rich history in the manufacturing industry.
Manufacturing is now the third-largest industry sector in the region, employing more than 66,000 people and generating $6.3 billion in gross regional product (GRP). Industry estimates indicate over the next 10 years, due to retirements and growth, there will be over 20,000 job vacancies in Buffalo/Niagara’s manufacturing sector. However, the region’s workforce does not currently have the employment skills to meet these demands.
The rehabilitation of the 240,000 square foot industrial facility provides space for developing and maintaining a skilled workforce to meet the needs of the advanced manufacturing and energy sectors and helps innovation-driven businesses excel by partnering with their internal manufacturing, engineering, and R&D teams.
683 Northland houses two co-located training facilities: The Workforce Training Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Electric Utilities and the Utility of the Future & Clean Energy Training Center, to increase the number and quality of local candidates prepared for energy and advanced manufacturing careers. Northland provides for-credit, certificate, and degree programs as core offerings through its educational partners, SUNY Alfred State College and SUNY Erie Community College, incorporating evidence-based placement strategies, such as co-ops, apprenticeships and internships, and an emphasis on permanent employment.
Northland Workforce Training Center (“WTC”) is uniquely designed to reduce all the major barriers that prohibit students from enrolling and completing post-secondary education such as transportation, childcare, academic readiness, and affordability. Northland Workforce Training Center is committed to providing for-credit education at little to no cost to all individuals with financial needs and supporting students throughout the process by providing intensive wraparound and supportive services.
The WTC anticipates 300 annual participants, of which at least 90% are low-income people or residents of the surrounding low-income community. At the WTC, students train for entry-level operator jobs in machinery, welding, and other positions. Program managers will help graduating students secure unionized positions at the local electric utility and other manufacturing companies. The WTC targets high school graduates, current workers who seek to improve their skills, and underserved populations such as unemployed, returning citizens, refugees, and recent immigrants. It also works in partnership with local community and faith-based organizations and public agencies to coordinate wrap-around services, such as GED-support, transportation assistance, child-care assistance, and other soft skills for participants in the training program.
Buffalo Manufacturing Works (“BMW”), one of the building tenants, anticipates that it will partner with at least 100 businesses annually. These partnerships will allow businesses working with BMW to deliver better products, grow, and better compete. At financial closing, the project expected to create and retain 191 quality jobs paying the City of Buffalo’s Living wage with benefits.
Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, the project sponsor, pledged to recruit up to 20 individuals into the Buffalo Building Trades Pre-Apprenticeship Program for the City of Buffalo. The pre-apprentices will be provided paid instruction in a trade of their selection and a direct entry into selected trade upon completing the program.
Achievement of goals
To date, the Project has created 151 construction FTEs, of which 125 (83%) were union jobs and the remaining 26 FTEs were paid at the trade prevailing wage. The Construction Manager took extraordinary steps to encourage M/WBE participation including providing CDI Insurance, bi-weekly payment applications, multiple outreach efforts to the minority and female-owned contracting community, and awarding subcontracts even in instances where the subcontractor was not the lowest bidder. As a result, 31% of total construction costs were sub-contracted to MBEs and 12% were subcontracted to WBEs, which exceeded the initial goals of 25% to MBEs and 5% to WBEs.
At 65% occupancy as of CYE 2019, the Project is well underway to meet its community benefit goals. In 2019, the WTC welcomed 248 students of which 117 (47%) were LIPs; 225 (91%) were minority, and 23 (10%) were women.
BMW offered a Learning Lab, which is a series of afterschool programs in partnership with the Buffalo Public Schools and the Buffalo Center for the Arts and Technology (BCAT) and other partners. These programs engage high school students across WNY to spur interest in manufacturing technology and STEM-related fields. In 2019, the Learning Lab had over 137 participants of which 94 (67%) were low-income community residents, 71(52%) were minority students and 46 (34%) were women.
Manna Culinary Group, a minority-woman owned business, was provided with flexible lease rates to operate a restaurant that provides affordable, healthy meals to residents of the surrounding community and tenant participants. Manna partners with a religious organization to provide groceries dinner for senior citizens once a week and participates in the annual Juneteenth festival. At CYE 2019 all 15 FTEs were minority individuals that are provided job training and advancement opportunities.