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The Greater Buffalo Association of Realtors contributed more than one million dollars to the area economy, donated more than 7,200 hours of volunteer service and spent more than $150,000 on education for its members last year, said Mary Ann Kustich, president of the Greater Buffalo Association of Realtors.

Kustich made the announcement in connection with the release of a national report entitled, "The Value of Associations to American Society."

The report, conducted by the Hudson Institute, an Indianapolis-based think-tank, found that national associations annually employ more than 500,000 people (almost as many as the airline industry), contribute $48 billion to the national economy, donate more than 100 million hours of community service and spend $8.5 billion on higher eduction (an amount larger than most states spend).

The report's figures are a conservative estimate based on the 5,500 national associations included in the survey and don't reflect the total contributions of the thousands of associations that actually exist.

Kustich said, "The Greater Buffalo Association of Realtors is proud of the contributions we've been able to make to the WNY community. Our goal, as an association, is to serve our members by helping them improve their skills and representing their interest, while at the same time, advancing America, by contributing to and improving the states and communities in which we serve."

She said, "Associations, by voluntarily establishing guide lines, ensure the high quality of many professional services and products and, therefore, have an impact on the economy."

The study, which examined national associations of all kinds -- professional societies, business groups, fraternal organizations, advocacy and cause related groups, charities and others -- was the most extensive study of its type on associations.

The study asserted that associations such as The Greater Buffalo Association of Realtors benefit their members in numerous ways, including by sharing news on trends, breakthrough and events; by offering avenues of higher education that allow members to improve their skills; and by representing members' collective interests before legislative and regulatory bodies.

The Greater Buffalo Association of Realtors offers a variety of publications, conferences, educational opportunities and public affair programs to the members and their communities.

According to the study, associations benefit society by establishing and enforcing professional ethics and standards; by conducting research and public-awareness campaigns; by educating members, politicians and other decision makers on issues; and by providing community service and volunteer projects.

The Greater Buffalo Association of Realtors is one of more than 1,800 boards of realtors nationwide that comprise the national Association of Realtors, the nation's largest trade association and the voice for real estate. It represents more than 800,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.

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