The Buffalo Niagara Enterprise is becoming Invest Buffalo Niagara.
The economic development and marketing group, which was founded in 1999, is changing its name to better reflect its role in helping to attract investment and new businesses to the Buffalo Niagara region through its marketing initiatives and by acting as a clearinghouse for information about Western New York and its economy.
“We tried to be very simple and better define what we do,” said Thomas Kucharski, the group’s president and chief executive officer.
The group’s new name and logo come at a time when the region is riding a wave of new investment in a series of state-backed projects, from the SolarCity solar panel factory in South Buffalo to an IBM Innovation Center in the Key Center and a 1366 Technologies silicon wafer factory in Genesee County.
“We wanted something that would represent the new day in Buffalo,” Kucharski said.
The notion of a name change first arose in discussions with the group’s investors two years ago, and got the formal go-ahead last June. The group worked with Block Club, a Buffalo branding and strategy agency, to develop the new name and logo, said Jenna Kavanaugh, Invest Buffalo Niagara’s marketing and communications director.
The new name mirrors the approach that Visit Buffalo Niagara took with the rebranding effort four years ago at the former Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitors Bureau, although Kucharski said that was more coincidence than intentional.
With the rebranding initiative, Invest Buffalo Niagara plans to redesign its website with a new economic development guide to better highlight the economic and demographic data that it has compiled on the region. In April, the group is preparing to release a Buffalo Niagara Relocation Guide to focus on quality of life and cost of living advantages for the region, Kavanaugh said.
“As the community is evolving, the organization charged with attracting companies to the region has to evolve, too,” said David W. Anderson, HealthNow’s president and CEO and an Invest Buffalo Niagara board member.
Kucharski, who joined Invest Buffalo Niagara in 2000, said the group’s mission has changed from putting the Buffalo Niagara region on the map for site selectors and other economic development officials, to focusing on attracting investment in targeted sectors, such as agribusiness, clean technologies and advanced manufacturing. The group, which recently moved to new offices in the HealthNow building at 257 W. Genesee St., also has developed a focus on small to midsized companies, with 50 or fewer employees.
Since its founding, the group said it has been involved with 340 project “wins” that have created or retained 42,622 jobs and led to a total of $4.4 billion in investment in the region. The average project, Kucharski said, brings about $11 million in new investment to the region.
Anderson said many of the companies that Invest Buffalo Niagara works with are too small to fit within high-profile initiatives, such as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development initiative, which is providing financial support for the SolarCity solar panel factory in South Buffalo and development projects on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
“We’re too reliant, in my opinion, on large projects with public money,” Anderson said. “We’ve got to get the 20-employee company to come here.”