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I was born on the East Side of Buffalo and have lived in this neighborhood for most of my life. I am currently unemployed and have been looking for work since funding ran out last year for the non-profit where I was employed. I am concerned about how my unemployment will affect my daughter, who is in college, and how my family will continue to pay our mortgage.
I have been unable to find many job openings in the Buffalo area. It seems like our main local job creation tool, IDAs, primarily subsidize the creation of low wage jobs in the suburbs, where it is difficult for people who rely on public transportation to get to. Very little investment goes into the East Side.
HSBC recently closed a branch in my neighborhood, affecting many people in the community, including my uncle, who is 88 years old. He had conducted his financial business at that location for the last 40 years. He used to be able to walk to do his own banking, but now someone has to drive him across town to the nearest branch.
HSBC received millions of dollars in IDA funding to expand a data center outside of the city. Local IDAs gave HSBC millions in tax breaks and bond financing, but HSBC moved operations of the data center to Chicago, despite all of the handouts. When companies like HSBC take public money and fail to live up to their promises, they should have to give that money back.
I remember when the East Side had a vibrant business district with several businesses within walking distance. People could work in the communities where they lived and not have to travel out to the suburbs for work. This is the kind of economic development we need to create walkable communities and healthy neighborhoods, where people have good jobs and can afford to meet their basic needs.