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AMHERST-BUFFALO BUSINESS MARKETING EFFORT TO BE EXPANDED

A joint marketing effort between Buffalo and Amherst to try to bring new jobs to the region will be expanded in the coming year, with coordinators hoping to attract other public and private-sector partners.

As the promotion known as "AB Corridor, a Strategic Path" moves into its fourth month, organizers are poised to commit more resources and add new elements to the initiative.

The Amherst Industrial Development Agency is proposing a 1998 budget that would boost marketing expenditures from $90,000 to $150,000, with a substantial portion of the increase targeted to promotional efforts aimed at courting companies from outside the region.

"We plan on spending money to attend trade shows and take other proactive steps in our efforts to promote economic development," said James J. Allen, executive director of the Amherst IDA.

Allen also disclosed a plan to create a new advisory group of area business leaders who would help to promote the AB Corridor during their travels abroad.

"These CEOs would become our ambassadors as they spend time in Europe, the Far East and other regions," Allen said.

He also expressed hope that other municipalities will become active partners in the AB Corridor initiative, singling out industrial development agencies in Clarence, Lancaster and Hamburg as logical participants.

Paul McCarthy, the outgoing supervisor in Clarence, is convinced that towns could reap long-term benefits from getting involved in the marketing blitz.

"We all have to realize that we're working towards a common goal," McCarthy said. "The AB Corridor is a great start, but I would love to see it someday become the ABC Corridor, with Clarence becoming an active player."

The supervisor credited Allen for helping to foster a new spirit of cooperation between economic planners in various towns.

Ironically, the new marketing effort was spawned by a bitter feud between Buffalo and Amherst. Lawsuits were filed accusing the town and some Amherst developers of luring downtown Buffalo businesses to suburban office parks.

In September, city and town officials trumpeted the arrival of a new era of cooperation, noting that the parties had agreed to split $185,000 in costs to advertise the region, particularly in trade journals targeted at high-technology companies.

The effort also includes a two-minute video that is showcased on a page on the World Wide Web (abcorridor.com). Officials say the web site has logged more than 14,500 inquiries since its debut in mid-October.

Allen said he's pleased with the early response, but he noted that the marketing campaign is still in its infancy.

"We're finally getting the word out that we have this impressive technology corridor in what some people still view as a Rust Belt region," Allen said.

The AB Corridor program promotes the fact that Buffalo and Amherst are home to many manufacturers that produce "21st century products" and are actively involved in solving challenging business problems.

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