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Pancake Breakfast

By Press Release

Come and join us for our January 16th Pancake Breakfast at the WNY Gas & Steam Show Grounds Club House. 10294 Gillate Rd., Alexander. Serving 7:30am-12pm. We will have all of your favorites; pancakes, sausage, eggs, french toast, home fries, coffee and juice.

$10 for Adults 

$5 for children 5-12

Toddlers 4 and under are FREE.

Event Date and Time

Report shows how loss of factory jobs has hurt WNY wage earners

By Howard B. Owens

As factory jobs have moved overseas, Western New Yorkers are making less and less money, according to a recent study from the University of Buffalo.

From 2004 to 2008, low-paying jobs -- those paying less than $30,000 per year -- increased 17 percent, while mid-wage jobs ($30,000 to $70,000) decreased 10 percent.

From the press release:

"These findings portray a new economic reality for Western New York that's in stark contrast to decades past, when the region paid some of the highest wages in the country," said Kathryn A. Foster, economics institute director. "It raises a host of questions about how to build and sustain economic security for Western New Yorkers."

During this same period, good-paying jobs -- above $70,000 -- have increased 6 percent. Those jobs comprise about 8 percent of the workforce, and the other two sectors are split evenly at 46 percent.

The federal poverty line for a single person is $10,830. For two people living together, it's $14,570. According to the report, Penn State’s Living Wage Calculator (meeting basic expenses), a single person should earn $18,300 in Buffalo. A single parent with a 5-year-old child needs $36,000 annually to meet basic needs.

A full-time, minimum wage job pays $15,000 annually. The median income in WNY is $31,080.

In 2008 dollars, a typical factory job from the 1970s might pay $60,000.

The report uses a fictional three-generation family to illustrate how the loss of good-paying factory work has forced both parents in a family of four to work and that family has less to fall back on.

But WNY is not alone. Low-paying service-sector jobs have been growing at about the same rate across the country, according to the report, though those jobs comprise just 43 percent of the work force.

As factories have closed, fewer and fewer workers enjoyed the benefits of organized labor:

"As both cause and reflection of the changing economy and wage structures, the percentage of workers represented by labor unions dropped steadily since the 1950s, from a national high of 35 percent to a current level of 12 percent. Unionization levels in the Buffalo Niagara region have mirrored national trends, particularly as manufacturing jobs have fallen. Yet the region’s unionization levels are consistently above national averages. Metro Buffalo’s 17-percent unionization rate in 2009 for private-sector workers was more than two times the 7-percent private-sector unionization rate for the nation."

Clearly, although the report concentrates on Buffalo as "Western New York," these issues do appear to be regionwide.

Full report available for download (pdf).

Entrepreneurs will lead Western New York's renaissance

By Howard B. Owens

Libertarian blogger/columnist Megan McArdle has deep roots in Western New York.

I love western New York, which may be the most beautiful place on earth.  I love the old cities, the Victorian shells that whisper of much happier days, and the broad, rolling hills, and the broad flat accents of the people who live on them.  I love waterfalls softly falling downtown and the Buffalo City Hall.  I love the place as you can only love somewhere that your family has been living for 200 years.  I would save it if I could.

But I can't save it.  Pouring government money in has been tried . . . and tried, and tried, and tried.  It props up the local construction business, or some company, for a few more years, and then slowly drains away.  Western New York has been the lucky recipient of largesse from a generous federal government, a flush state government, and not a few self-made men with happy memories of a childhood there.  And still, it dies.

Megan's post is arguing against using taxpayer money to stave off the failure of the Big-3 automakers in Detroit.

It's sounds like, though, she is against any number of government programs to help businesses start and grow, and there's a libertarian case to be made that government props get people overly dependant on handouts, killing entrepreneurial spirit

But what I really thought about as I read her piece was how the businesses that once employed so many people in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, as well as Batavia and LeRoy, didn't get their starts because Congress allocated a wad of cash to finance factories and office complexes.

These businesses got up and running because of the energy and vision of entrepreneurs -- often men, and some women, with little means, just an idea and the determination to see it become something worthwhile. They didn't look around Western New York and see obstacles or excuses. They saw opportunity.

WNY is a great place to raise a family and run a business. What's going to save it isn't government programs, but a new generation of entrepreneurs.

Batavia is doubly blessed because it already has a model for building new businesses with a track record of success -- the Harvester Center -- Joe Mancuso's sacred structure of entrepreneurship. To this day, as we reported yesterday, the Mancuso Business Development Group is already leading the way in helping new businesses get started.

I've toured the Harvest Center -- there is plenty of space available for any enterprising individual who wants to start a new business.

Also, Alice Kryzan may have lost the Congressional race, but her push for developing green industries in Western New York shouldn't be forgotten. In fact, we should encourage Alice to carry on with the effort.  She doesn't need to be an elected official to be an effective leader in bringing together business owners and bankers to help create new jobs. In fact, it would probably be preferable to promote the effort without, or very little, government assistance.

When I look at things like the Harvester Center, or parts for wind turbines being hauled down Main Street, or local farmers experimenting with alternative energy sources, or an increase in shipping on the Erie Canal -- when I see and read these things, it gives me hope for the future of Western New York.

There's no reason not to expect WNY's best days are ahead.

Notes: Though I occasionally read Megan's blog, hat tip to Buffalo Pundit for pointing out the post; Also, Megan uses a photo of the Kodak Building from Flickr credited to SailorBill.  Ironically, SailorBill is my boss. The picture at the top of this post is one I took myself two years ago.

Snow, Oct. 21, 2008

By Bea McManis

I looked out my window a few minutes ago and was surprised to see that snow covered the cars in the parking lot. This morning's weather forecast hinted to snow mixed with rain, but not enough to accumulate. The winds carrying that cold air over the warm lakes should have been the first clue that we would see more than a dusting. I don't think I'll ever get over the thrill of the first snow. It seems to waken some primative need to stock the larder and bring out the heavier comforters and quilts for the bed. I wonder if others have this same urge. So today was a day to make apple butter; Harvard beets; roasted yam with roasted apples and corn relish. All staples that will hold over the winter. The apple butter is spiked with a good shot of maple syrup. The beets rest in a thick sweet sauce. The corn relish offers a blend of sweet and sour that is delicious on crackers for a snack or used as the base for sweet and sour chicken over rice and other recipes. The combination of roasted yams and roasted apples laced with brown sugar, butter, and apple pie spice freezes well. It makes a great side dish or a super stuffing for acorn squash. This is a dish that should be made when no one else is about. I find that friends like to spoon it on crackers and eat it as a snack. I put the light comforters away today. The heavier quilts now rest on the bed. Most likely, for the next few nights, I'll just kick them off because it will be too hot. But, it is nice to know they are there when needed.

Prodigals returning to Western New York

By Howard B. Owens

The story is about young people returning to Buffalo, but it probably could apply to any Western New York town, including Batavia.

The Buffalo area has lost a huge share of its younger population to other places, as U. S. Census numbers routinely show. But Burns is part of a segment of the population heading the other way, looking to return as their priorities change. Often they are people in their late 20s or early 30s who want to be near family, familiar places they grew up around, and crave a lifestyle with a pace different from larger metro areas.


A recent story in New York magazine is calling attention to the area’s low cost for living space and how it has helped persuade some Buffalo expatriates living in New York City to come back. As of late last week, the article was ranked the most read, commented on and e-mailed story on the magazine’s Web site.

Part of the article dealt with the price chasm between New York City and Buffalo for homes and apartments, as well as the difference in the amount of living space that comes with those costs. One couple gave up a tiny Brooklyn apartment for $1,300 a month for a spacious place in Buffalo for $795 per month.

Realtors interviewed said the region’s home prices could be a draw for young people who have tried living somewhere else but now want a place where they can afford to settle down.

“The crucial thing is the lifestyle,” said Phil Aquila, general manager of M. J. Peterson Co. “You can have a lifestyle here because you can afford to live here.”

Are there prodigal sons and daughters returning to Genesee County?

While jobs are not in abundance, there are jobs here, and it's never been easier to work from home or start you're own business.  When compared to most major metro areas, you can't beat housing prices and it's a heck of a lot less crowded, smoggy and crime-ridden.

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