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'BUF Homecoming' aims to lure expats, spur new investment

Participants will go through 2.5 days worth of tours and other programming to see all that's changed in recent years.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — That Western New York pride stays with you, no matter where you go.

There are a lot of expats who still have a soft spot for their former home, and the goal of 'BUF Homecoming' is to bring dozens of them back to look at investment opportunities.

Jack Connors, the former publisher of Buffalo Business First, and John Tebeau, the current publisher of Buffalo Business First, hope the event -- which goes from Sept. 11-13 -- will harness that hometown affection. The two men are co-directors of BUF Homecoming.

It's a pretty simple concept. People will go through two and a half days worth of tours and other programming to see all that's changed in recent years:

  • How the region benefited from more than $18 billion in investment last year.
  • How advanced manufacturing is growing again, supporting almost 60,000 jobs.
  • How our millennial population has grown more than 7 percent.

Margie Hempling McGlynn is one of 50 expats already signed up.

"I was really excited when I heard about the Buffalo Homecoming event," she said.

Margie grew up in South Buffalo and planned to follow in her father's footsteps and take over the family pharmacy.

Credit: Provided Photo
Margie Hempling McGlynn, seen here years ago with her father, is one of the expats who will be part of the 'BUF Homecoming' event. She thought she would take over the family pharmacy but instead became an executive with Merck.

But after getting her pharmacy degree and Masters of Business Administration from the University at Buffalo, she started at Merck, eventually becoming president of the company's global vaccines business.

She lives in the Philadelphia area and now works in the non-profit sector.

"I think there's an economic development opportunity, and certainly some of the new businesses and some of the new industries we've seen come into Buffalo to replace the old steel plants, the old auto plants," she said via Skype.

BUF Homecoming is modeled after what Detroit started in 2014.

To date, the yearly 'Detroit Homecoming' events there have had a $450 million financial impact on the Motor City.

And just like in Detroit, the stops on the Buffalo tours will be as diverse as the expats themselves.

The tours will show where there are opportunities and where there is still work that needs to be done.

The East Side tour will highlight the $65 million in state money dedicated to investment at places such as the Northland Workforce Training Center, the Bailey Green project, and the iconic Central Terminal.

Detroit has its own version of our Central Terminal, the Michigan Central Train Station. In 2017, it hosted the Detroit Homecoming opening dinner. Just months later, the Ford Motor Company bought the train station for $90 million. It will become a research and development hub for the automaker.

"If you put smart business people and put opportunities in front of them, they're going to see them pretty clearly," Tebeau said. "We saw that happen in Detroit, and we believe that will happen here as well."

In addition to the East Side, Buffalo Homecoming stops will include UB's new medical school, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and a guided boat tour of the waterfront, among many others.

When it's all done, expats will get a prospectus, listing many opportunities here in Western New York.

"There's a lot of opportunities for investment, and we want to make sure that they see all of those opportunities," Connors said.


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