Businesses, Towns, Nonprofits Join Congressman Higgins in Stressing Far-Reaching Economic/Job Impact of Williams Street Shutdown
A number of Western New Yorkers are lending their voices to the growing chorus of those stressing the devastating economic consequences of closing the Buffalo Mail Processing facility on William Street. Local business owners, nonprofit leaders and Town Clerks joined Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) to outline the impact to local companies and jobs.
“Closing the Buffalo facility is about more than the 700 jobs at William Street; a shutdown would create an enormous economic ripple effect that can take out jobs and businesses across the region reaching every aspect of Western New York’s economy,” said Congressman Higgins.
In particular, the competitive landscape for the local printing and mailing industries will be permanently changed by closing of the Buffalo plant. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is telling local mailers that there will be no change to the Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU – area of postal facility where mailers present bulk/permit mail for acceptance) and Sectional Center Facility (SCF) rate during “transition” period but USPS personnel won’t define “transition” period. In Pennsylvania, the promise of keeping BMEU open lasted just 6 months after Wilkes Barre facility work was transferred to Scranton. If this were to occur in Western New York, the demand for local companies to do printing and mailing would be greatly reduced and private sector jobs would be lost.
Zenger Group, headquartered in Buffalo, employs 118 local residents and prints and prepares on average over 4 million pieces of mail each month. Zenger Group President and CEO Stephen Zenger stressed Buffalo’s unique position as the gateway to the U.S. for Toronto and the golden horseshoe of Southern Ontario: “The Buffalo Processing and Distribution Center handles a significant volume of mail from Canadian companies, both mail produced in Canada and trucked across the border and mail produced here by Western New York area printers. We believe much of this volume will disappear if the Buffalo Center is closed. First, additional costs of trucking mail from Canada beyond Buffalo will preclude much of this work from being done in this fashion. Second, much of the mail produced here for Canadian customers by Western New York printers is done so because it is logistically convenient for printer/customer interactions such plant visits and press checks. When the mail ceases to be processed here, the logistical benefits will cease as well and the work will cease shortly thereafter.”
"Mail service providers like DXO Communications are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the mail,” said Dan Bailey operator of DXO Communications of Buffalo. “The number of people in our community whose professional lives are based on conceptualizing, planning and executing all aspects of a mailing program is really quite large. Most citizens only identify with the letter carrier who puts the mail in the box, but that's just the final leg of a very long journey from concept to mailbox. Losing our local postal processing facility in Buffalo will be a significant blow to the people who make their living creating mail."
Printing Industries Alliance represents the graphic communications industry in New York State, Northern New Jersey and Northwestern Pennsylvania. Printing Industries Alliance President Tim Freeman noted that the economic damage that would occur by closing the USPS Buffalo Processing and Distribution Center would extend far beyond the loss of jobs at the Center itself. “The United States Postal Service is a critical element in within the national economy. Additionally, it is the backbone of the extensive American printing and mailing industry. Over half the material printed in this country ends up in the mail stream. As such, discussion about the negative impact of closing a mail processing and distribution facility will have a commensurate negative impact on the regional printing and mailing industry. In the case of Western New York, over 5,000 people are directly employed in the printing industry with many thousands more employed in supporting occupations. As such, it can be anticipated that there will be a significant negative employment impact far beyond the USPS employees immediately impacted by the proposed closure”
Buffalo area nonprofits are already stretched thin due to decreasing government assistance and a struggling economy. Many organizations rely heavily on mail for contributions, volunteer efforts and outreach. The loss of the mail processing in Buffalo would drive up those costs and pull money away from organizations doing important work in our community.
"Local charitable organizations are already facing economic challenges and rising costs to raise a dollar, and the proposed closing of the William Street mail facility would add a significant additional hurdle for fundraisers to overcome," said Cindy A. Eller, Executive Director of the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. "Direct mail is a primary way to communicate with and seek critical support from donors for important causes across our community. For Roswell Park, the impact of having mail run through Rochester could be staggering--as high as thousands of dollars in additional charges per year. That's money straight out of our donors' pockets that should instead be going to its intended cause--helping researchers find cures, and providing programs to help improve the lives of patients and families facing cancer. Such a decision would be a disservice to donors from across our community and to research so needed to save lives."
Western New York’s Town Clerks are weighing in too. The Town Clerks who often serve municipalities as tax receivers, are concerned the closing would cause delays in the delivery of town, county and school tax bills; license renewals; and other urgent government mailing notices.
David J. Shenk, Boston Town Clerk & Tax Collector stated, “Closing the Buffalo Processing and Distributing Center would not only delay timely postal delivery, but it would delay the revenue stream of our towns, cities, and villages thus shortening the time available for investing funds as well as delaying payments to our vendors. This closure will hurt the bottom line of local government and business.”
Financial Services Industries
Congressman Higgins also argues the Buffalo area has become a hub for back-office financial services operations and delays in mail would cost them dearly. Existing financial services back-office operations in Buffalo include: M&T Bank, HSBC Bank , Chase, Citigroup, First Niagara Bank, GEICO, Key Bank, the IRS, the Small Business Administration and a number of large debt collection firms. For each business and agency “time is money.”
The Buffalo Niagara region is within 500 miles of 55% of the U.S. population and 62% of the Canadian population. The USPS recently reported 30 million pieces of mail from Canada are processed at the William Street facility every week. If the Buffalo plant closes it may no longer be efficient or economical for Canadian companies to do business in the region.
The public still has time to weigh-in on the U.S. Postal Service closing plan. Written comments may be sent to:
Manager, Consumer and Industry Contact
Western New York District
1200 William Street
Buffalo, NY 14240
All comments must be postmarked by January 20, 2012.