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Buffalo's West Side: a Rust Belt neighborhood in transition

Daniel Robison
Refugee Zaw Win is one of thousands of Burmese on Buffalo's West Side. He couldn't find a job, so he started his own business with the help of a microloan.

Buffalo's West Side is the embodiment of a Steel Belt neighborhood that's now a hollowed out version of its former self.

But a trickle of economic development, started by non-profits working with young residents and refugees, is beginning to bear fruit. 

In a three-part series, the Innovation Trail's Daniel Robison looks at what this progress looks like by following the neighborhood's past, present and future.  

Part I: "It's going to take a while to get out of this"
Fifty years ago, Buffalo’s west side was thriving. Local stores were supported by a neighborhood full of people with good jobs at factories, mills and shipping yards. When the jobs left, so did the people. As the city’s economy declined, so did its housing stock. In the first part of a three part series, the Innovation Trail looks at how the remnants of the old days are inspiring a new group of community leaders to bring the West Side back.  Read the story.


Part II: "The capacity, the will, the skills to rebuild"
Buffalo’s west side is symbolic of where the city’s been in the last half-century.  It’s gone from a crown jewel of a thriving city, to one of the poorest neighborhoods in one of the poorest cities in the country. As we report in the second of a three-part series, community organizers are trying to create a formula to jumpstart the West Side’s economy.  Read the story.


Part III: "A little leg up on prosperity"
As an iconic Rust Belt city, Buffalo has seen half of its population leave since 1950. But now, thousands are moving in: refugees from Burma, Sudan and other remote and conflicted places. In the last of a three part series, we take a look at community leaders who are trying to turn relocation into a renaissance.  Read the story.



WBFO/Western New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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