Empire State Development Board Meets and Approves Buffalo's East Side Commercial District Program

$2 million in funding will revitalize four main commercial corridors: MLK Park, Jefferson, Fillmore, and Bailey avenues

September 19, 2019

The Empire State Development (ESD) Board of Directors met today and authorized ESD to move forward with the East Side Commercial District Program, a new initiative for the City of Buffalo as part of Governor Cuomo’s previously announced $50 million East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund (ESCEDF). The program will provide $2 million in funding to four business districts for building renovations for small businesses in some of the East Side’s most vital commercial corridors. Funding will help to revive traditional main streets and commercial corridors through the preservation of historic buildings, funding of capital improvements in neighborhood assets, and expansion of commercial opportunities in these neighborhoods.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “With this significant investment in Buffalo’s East Side, we are revitalizing businesses in underserved neighborhoods, adding to the city’s overall livability, vitality and character and inviting the East Side to join in the economic recovery happening across Western New York.”

"Since the launch of the Buffalo Billion, we have made a commitment to ensure every neighborhood takes part in Buffalo's renaissance," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This funding will jump-start ‎critical projects across the East Side to improve walkability and quality of life. For generations, we saw neglect and disinvestment in areas across the city. Today, we are changing that trajectory and building a brighter future."

The Governor’s Buffalo Billion 2 program focuses on ensuring that all Western New Yorkers have an improved quality of life, and includes programs targeted at revitalization in the City’s most underserved neighborhoods. As part of this strategy, Governor Cuomo invested $60 million in Buffalo’s East Side, of which $50 million is targeted towards making transformational capital investments in nine investment areas along four East Side Commercial Corridors – Michigan, Jefferson, Fillmore, and Bailey avenues.

ESD is establishing this new $2 million Commercial Districts program to expand neighborhood-serving businesses, including retail, restaurants, and other services; and increase mixed-use opportunities along strong commercial districts along Jefferson, Fillmore, and Bailey Avenues.  ESD will partner with non-profits who have successfully implemented similar programs in the past in each of these corridors to administer the program.   

The ESCDP, which will be more responsive to community and business-owner needs than other existing “Main Streets Initiatives” will provide up to $500,000 each in funding for exterior and interior building renovations in the following four neighborhoods, which were selected because they represent traditional mixed-use commercial districts and there is demand from building owners:

  • Kensington-Bailey, administered by the University District Community Development Association
  • Jefferson Avenue, administered by Citizens Alliance, Inc. in partnership with the Black Chamber of Commerce
  • MLK Park District and Broadway-Fillmore District, both administered by Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood Housing Services


The City of Buffalo's East Side, which comprises more than 40 percent of the City's total land area, over 40 percent of total residents, and about 30 percent of total jobs and businesses, has not been on par with the rest of the City throughout Buffalo's revitalization. As part of the effort to improve the economic future of the East Side, ESD led community outreach meetings on each of the four corridors. The East Side Commercial District Program was developed as a result of the critical information gathered from community engagement.

The East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund booklet is available Here

About Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NEW YORK,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

Pamm Lent (Governor’s office) | [email protected] | 716-846-8309
Laura Magee (ESD) | [email protected] | 716-846-8239