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MASIELLO, AMHERST OFFICIALS TO PITCH AREA TO SITE CONSULTANTS

Mayor Masiello and Amherst development officials will travel to New York City on Monday to make some important sales calls.

They'll be pitching the so-called ABCorridor -- the Amherst-Buffalo Corridor -- to some of the nation's top site-selection consultants who help companies pick new plant locations.

Masiello said local officials plan to stick their feet in the doorways of five site-selection consultants during the two-day trip, hoping that some of the consultants will recommend Buffalo and Amherst as places to do business.

"They know we're coming. . . . My job is to promote Buffalo and Amherst. We're going to sell Buffalo and Amherst," Masiello said Friday, rattling off a list of local business advantages that range from geographic location to water and rail access.

Last fall, officials launched the ABCorridor campaign to showcase the area's development possibilities. Since then, the campaign has logged more than 20,000 hits on its Internet site.

Why contact the consultants?

Officials claim that as many as 70 percent of companies seeking to relocate now rely on site consultants to help them select target locations. They think that many of these same consultants might be unaware of business opportunities in the Buffalo area.

"Right now, I don't think we're even in their universe, but we've got a lot to promote," Masiello explained.

The local group will be armed with marketing brochures and statistics claiming the Buffalo area is the "fifth-busiest trade city in America," with a work force "up to 50 percent more productive than its West Coast counterpart."

The next step in the campaign could be to invite the consultants to Western New York for a firsthand look at the area's strong points, Masiello said. Accompanying the mayor on the trip will be Amherst Industrial Development Agency director James J. Allen, Empire State Development regional director Luke Rich and John E. Foels, associate director of the Amherst IDA.

While the Amherst-Buffalo Corridor label seems to lock out other local communities, Masiello and his aides say they will market the entire area to relocating companies.

"There's a story to be told, and it doesn't always get out there. It's about the advantages of the Buffalo area," said Stephen T. Banko III, Masiello's communications director.

Given the mayor's well-known enthusiasm for Buffalo, will he find it difficult to also pitch the benefits of suburbs and surrounding communities such as Niagara Falls?

"Not at all. A job in Buffalo is a half a job in Amherst, a quarter of a job in Cheektowaga and an eighth of a job in Southern Ontario," Masiello answered.

"I learned that at Harvard," he added, referring to a Harvard University seminar for new mayors that he attended after first being elected mayor.

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