Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 16, 2013

ROOT: W.N.Y. will get better, believe it!

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Western New Yorkers’ predisposition to be negative is starting to get out of control.

I was reading Facebook today and one of the news outlets announced that the University at Buffalo is finally ready to break ground on its $325 million medical complex that the school has been talking about for years.

Just so everyone understands, this is an incredibly good thing for Western New York. We already have nationally recognized medical facilities in Women & Children’s Hospital and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and UB is really starting to assert itself in the medical research and training industry. If this keeps up, the people of Western New York will literally enjoy (as the sign on MASH said) the best care anywhere.

Now, I understand that there are a few empty hospital buildings in the downtown Buffalo area. But that has nothing to do with UB. It is also not an indication of the direction in which our local healthcare industry is headed. Metropolitan Buffalo is rapidly becoming a hub for significant medical research and treatment in the United States. There are even some parts of our medical community that are becoming world-famous.

Our medical community is something that we should take great pride in. It is a beacon of hope in an otherwise dismal economic picture, promising to bring jobs, recognition and prestige to our area. It is an accomplishment that every person who lives in this part of the world should be proud of.

That is why the first run of comments on this particular news story was so depressing. Off the top, someone insisted that building a medical campus is useless because Obamacare is destined to eliminate the healthcare industry completely. It wasn’t put exactly in those words, but honestly, I cannot dumb down my writing enough to better paraphrase what was said.

No. 2  lamented the fact that there is an empty hospital facility downtown and suggested building more medical buildings is a waste of time and money.

Now, it seems to me that that UB is going to have to look outside of our area to recruit students and researchers to this new campus. I do not see the current citizenry taking up the medical profession anytime soon. Well, let me qualify that: I do not see any of the current citizenry that comment on Facebook taking up the medical profession anytime soon.

It is OK to be proud of our region once in a while, Western New Yorkers. I know that we sometimes make bad decisions (Niagara Falls), and we don’t always put ourselves in the best light when we’re on a national stage (Buffalo Bills), but it’s not all negative. Some things are actually worth getting excited about ...

Like the new sports and business complex that Sabres owner Terry Pegula is building down by the F’N Center. Pegula has no idea how to own a hockey team, but the guy is still a brilliant businessman. Building a sports complex that can host international hockey tournaments so close to the Canadian border is brilliant. There is much more to HarborCenter, so I encourage you to do some reading and see for yourself exactly what T-Pegs has up his sleeve.

Let’s stop identifying our area with our sports teams. Not just because they’re a laughing stock, but because there is so much going on here that people are missing while they’re complaining about the Bills and the Sabres. Our teams not having winning seasons does not mean that everything in this area is dismal.

Let’s celebrate HarborCenter and UB’s new medical campus and huge achievements for our area. Remember that Children’s Hospital does amazing work and that Roswell Park is an internationally recognized cancer research and treatment center.

Years from now, the Bills may be gone and the Sabres will probably still be terrible, but we will all still be here. Let’s latch onto the good things and trust that life in Western New York will get better.

George N. Root III is a Lockport resident and UB graduate. His column is published every Wednesday and is probably not read by Terry Pegula. Contact him at georgeroot@verizon.net.