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PROGRAM AIMS TO KEEP EXISTING FIRMS IN BUFFALO

A new program aimed at keeping existing companies in Buffalo will be unveiled next month, an effort that officials claim will provide a more systematic and comprehensive approach to retaining jobs.

The foundations for the so-called Buffalo One-on-One retention program are already being laid, as officials from the city's main development agency hold regular meetings with a Pennsylvania-based consulting company. Business Retention Technologies has been hired to develop a new outreach system based on programs that have been used in other regions.

"Most of our job growth will come from retaining existing companies," said Alan H. DeLisle, president of the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp. "Retention doesn't have the same kind of sizzle as announcements about landing new companies, but it's an economic reality that retention efforts create more jobs."

Last year's debut of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise has spurred some economic development agencies to refocus their efforts on retention, DeLisle said. While the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise spearheads a five-year, $27 million regional marketing campaign to try to create 50,000 net new jobs, DeLisle said the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp. will be putting more emphasis on business retention. He said the city has already started new outreach efforts, including recent visits to dozens of neighborhood businesses on commercial strips in all parts of the city.

"Within the next two weeks, we will be bringing Buffalo One-on-One to a much a larger audience," said DeLisle. "You're going to see a more systematic, data-driven approach to retention."

The Pennsylvania consulting company has already been
training BERC staffers. The consultant is being paid $60,000 to develop the new outreach process and oversee all critical phases of the program.

As a prelude to the official kick-off of Buffalo One-on-One, Mayor Anthony M. Masiello and other city officials will attend a ribbon-cutting this afternoon at Harold C. Brown & Co.

The financial services company has been in Buffalo since its inception 70 years ago, but was considering a possible move to Amherst from the Lawley Building at 125 Delaware Ave. in downtown Buffalo to accommodate an expansion.

Masiello pushed for a $110,000 sales tax exemption through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to encourage Harold C. Brown to relocate to the HSBC Center's vacant penthouse on the 38th floor. The company currently employs 51 people and plans to hire eight to 10 additional workers.

What about those who might question whether the Harold C. Brown deal should be considered a retention victory when the expansion would have occurred anyway in a nearby suburb?

"I wear the regionalism hat as enthusiastically as anyone else, but I'm paid by the city to try to keep jobs here," said DeLisle. "We won't make apologies for being aggressive."

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