Buffalo State has submitted a proposal seeking $19.6 million in capital funding through the NY SUNY 2020 Round IV Challenge Grant to create the International Center for Great Lakes Research, Education, and Entrepreneurship on the college’s waterfront campus.
Buffalo State owns more than five acres of waterfront property on the Black Rock Channel, where the college’s Great Lakes Center Field Station is located. The grant would enable Buffalo State to expand the facility’s research space and add classrooms to accommodate place-based experiential learning for students, especially through expanded collaborations with Erie Community College and the Buffalo Public Schools. An earlier study suggested a facility containing 24,015-square-feet of assignable space would meet this expanded mission.
“Building on a 144-year history of teacher education, our existing Great Lakes Center, and the college’s Small Business Development Center, the proposed International Center for Great Lakes Research, Education, and Entrepreneurship will add to the many ways that Buffalo State exposes, energizes, and promotes the fields of science beyond our borders at 1300 Elmwood,” said Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner. “By leveraging our strengths and partnering with community organizations such as Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, Erie Community College, Buffalo Public Schools, and others, I am optimistic that this SUNY 2020 grant proposed would have a long-lasting impact on the Western New York community for years to come.”
The International Center for Great Lakes Research, Education, and Entrepreneurship would expand existing collaborations with many Great Lakes stakeholders including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. The Great Lakes Center is currently collaborating with researchers from SUNY institutions as well as institutions throughout the United States and around the world. International partners include scientists from Argentina, Germany, Canada, Ireland, and Belarus.
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Buffalo State has been a leader in developing and supporting entrepreneurs since 1984. The SBDC recently added a social enterprise business development center to provide support to entrepreneurs seeking benefit corporation status. Benefit corporations are for-profit businesses that incorporate social and/or environmental benefits into their business plans. The SBDC is also the driver for Buffalo State’s “Blue Economy” initiative, which capitalizes on Western New York’s most important natural resource, its water.
The proposed project would also support the addition of an online hub, leveraging the capabilities of Open SUNY, to serve as a resource for blue economy and social benefit enterprises statewide. Susan McCartney, director of the SBDC and special adviser to the provost for academic development, said, “We are excited because this project aligns with the goals of Western New York’s Regional Economic Development Council priorities. We will also be able to offer partnering businesses the opportunities created by START-UP NY.”
Buffalo State’s School of Education has demonstrated strong community partnerships through many programs including the Community Academic Center on Buffalo’s West Side; the Center for Urban and Rural Education; the Professional Development School Consortium; and the New York State Master Teacher Program.
Area leaders have been enthusiastic in their support of the proposed International Center for Great Lakes Research, Education, and Entrepreneurship.
Jill Jedlicka, executive director at Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, wrote “Riverkeeper has enjoyed a long term working relationship with Buffalo State,” citing joint research and special projects with Buffalo State faculty and Riverkeeper’s use of Buffalo State interns. She noted, “An expanded research capacity at Buffalo State’s Great Lakes Center will be a great asset to our community, as well as attract new collaboration and partners in our region's blue economy.”
Congressman Brian Higgins, '85, wrote that the project “certainly helps leverage the significant investment by the federal government to clean, restore, and protect our water resources through the GLRI (Great Lakes Restoration Initiative)…” He expressed his confidence in the project’s success because “it is based upon Buffalo State’s exceptional strengths—aquatic research, educational experience, and small business development.”
The Great Lakes Center will host a Field Station open house on Friday, May 8, 3:00–6:00 p.m.
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