UB Institute For Local Governance And Regional Growth Plans Oct. 16 Open House

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: October 3, 1997

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth at the University at Buffalo will kick off a full fall season of events with an open house to be held on Thursday, Oct. 16, in its new home: historic Beck Hall on the UB South (Main Street) Campus.

The open house will be held from noon to 5 p.m., with an informal dedication set for 2 p.m. New York State Sen. Mary Lou Rath, chair of the senate’s Local Government Committee; UB President William R. Greiner, and UB Provost Thomas E. Headrick will join institute Director John B. Sheffer, II in making remarks.

Created to support and promote regional collaborations throughout Western New York, the institute provides an umbrella for new and existing UB programs relevant to regional issues. It also offers a clearinghouse for related regional information and provides a wide range of training opportunities for local government and school officials, as well as other service providers in the region.

“We are hitting the ground running,” said Sheffer, UB professor of law and planning who formerly was a New York State senator and assemblyman, as well as mayor of Williamsville. “There is a growing interest in regional collaboration throughout the region’s urban, suburban and rural communities. Our goal is to collaborate with every geographic and organizational sector of the region in a very practical, useful manner.

“Our job is to help make area leaders, citizens and organizations more aware of possibilities for exploring and furthering regional collaborations and issues, and to help them connect with UB and other resources.”

One of the institute’s first assignments is to coordinate a conference on Nov. 25 at UB to follow up on this spring’s Chautauqua Conference on Regional Governance. Focusing on specific issues, challenges and action steps for Western New York, the conference will bring together many stakeholders from throughout the region.

Another institute priority is the development of an innovative, statewide collaboration program for school districts and municipalities, based on a regional program piloted and overseen by Sheffer last year, in cooperation with the senate Committee on Local Government.

The institute’s location in the recently renovated Beck Hall is particularly significant, Sheffer noted.

“The South Campus location -- just off Main Street, within an easy drive of the Thruway, the 290 and Route 33 -- makes the institute readily accessible,” he said. “It is located on the border of the city and suburbs -- a great symbol of the work we do here.”

“Beck Hall is also an appropriate location for the institute because of its history,” he added. “It was designed by (prominent Buffalo architect) E.B. Green and modeled on the original Holland Land Company office in Batavia, which opened in 1815.

“Since the Holland Land Company helped to define the Western New York region as we know it, and since the institute is here to help the region position itself for the next century, we think a building modeled on the land company offices is a good place for us to be.”

The Holland Land Company bought more than 5 million acres of land in New York and northwestern Pennsylvania in the 1790s and sold it to homesteaders until about 1840. Joseph Ellicott, the land company’s chief surveyor and resident of the Batavia office, surveyed and sold the company’s 3 million acres in Western New York.

In announcing the creation of the institute this summer, UB President William R. Greiner said that the “ultimate objective” of the initiative “is to ensure that the Niagara Frontier is a vibrant region with a growing economy, positioned to compete and win in the global marketplace, along with our friends and partners in Southern Ontario.”

The institute, created by Greiner to further UB’s regional service priorities, has three primary goals, according to Sheffer. It will coordinate existing UB programs focused on governance in the region, including the Governance Project, the Regional Information Network and the School-Municipal Collaboration Initiative. It also will extend those programs through cooperative arrangements with other area organizations, both public and private. In addition, it will offer practical training and informational services to area localities and school districts, officials, and public, non-profit and private entities.