Buffalo thrives on local business diversity

Lauren Cifra , Reporter

Buffalo, an all-American city, as the sign on the I-90 reads, is home to an array of diverse businesses.  Ranging from mom and pop shops to the New Era headquarters, Buffalo fosters all types of businesses.

While the businesses of Buffalo are diverse, so are the people employed throughout the city. According to immigrationpolicy.org, the Buffalo-Niagara area alone has seen substantial change in the growing community. They claim, “immigrant entrepreneurs not only contribute to large innovative companies, but to small business formation in local communities. In cities across New York, immigrant family-owned small businesses contribute to the vitality of their local communities. Although initially aimed at other immigrant customers, many businesses quickly see an expansion of their clientele to include a diverse array of immigrant and native-born customers alike”.

Immigrants and refugees alike have come from all over to reside here in Buffalo. Recent studies have shown that because of an increase in foreign residents, the city’s West Side, along with its businesses, have experienced revitalization, which in turn have helped to better traffic and the local economy.

Non-profit organizations such as Catholic Charities offer Immigration and Refugee Assistance Programs to help individuals adapt and understand the ways of Buffalo. They provide assistance on an immigrants road to resettlement for an array of ethnicities. Examples of these ethnicities include Bosnians, Croatians, Czechoslovakians, Iranians, Nigerians, Rwandans, Ukrainians and more.

One such individual who has foreseen the growth of immigrants and refugees in the area has initiated a movement to help these individuals obtain creative sewing opportunities. SUNY Buffalo State senior Robin Collier, an apparel and design major from Montreal, is in charge of officially launching One World Threads, a sewing collective located in Buffalo.

What does One World Threads offer? They currently are manufacturing different sizes of purses, pillowcases, bags and scarves. According to its website’s description, One World Threads also offers, “Contract piece work to companies who have a need for high quality sewn work.”

As the sole proprietor of One World Threads, Collier is working to generate more sewing jobs that allow for creative manufacturing in the Buffalo area. Collier is hopeful that by the time of the official launch date of One World Threads on Feb. 1, the business will transition from a sole proprietorship and official business entity to a worker owned cooperative.

Globally, manufacturing workers are subjected to poor working conditions and unfair wages. Collier is working to establish One World Threads as a program in Buffalo where there are fair wages and satisfactory working conditions. She hopes to empower refugees in an engaging and democratic work atmosphere.

“In terms of the manufacturing space, I would like to offer child care, and a community food prep (and) break area. In terms of products, along with the current home and personal accessories we are making, I would like to eventually offer an apparel product line (or two),” Collier says. With that in mind, Collier added, “Although the business is functioning within the current economic and political paradigm, the goals are to show that a non-exploitive, egalitarian, worker owned model can function very well, even help communities to thrive.”

Collier is optimistic that workers and their families will promote positive change within the local community.