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RUDNICK'S CONTRACT EXTENDED FOR 3 YEARS BY PARTNERSHIP

Andrew J. Rudnick has received a three-year contract extension, a raise and a "strong vote of confidence" from the board of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, despite growing public frustration with his leadership.

The business organization's 69-member board of directors passed a resolution Tuesday granting Rudnick the contract extension as president and CEO.

Buffalo Niagara Partnership Chairman Mark E. Hamister said Rudnick still enjoys widespread support with the group's board.

"The support for Andrew's leadership at our board meeting was overwhelming," Hamister said.

Rudnick helped lead the merger of the former Greater Buffalo Development Foundation and the former Buffalo Chamber of Commerce into the Buffalo Niagara Partnership in 1993 and has been the only president in the organization's history.

Rudnick's critics have been more vocal in recent years as the region has struggled to forge urban redevelopment projects for Buffalo and Niagara Falls and continues losing private sector jobs and population. The Partnership has also been dealing with a stagnant member base and significant staff turnover.

Rudnick scored poorly on a widespread community leadership survey conducted by The Buffalo News this summer. Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello recently suggested the area's largest business group may need to consider new leadership.

Hamister said this is no time to switch horses, because the Partnership is focusing its agenda behind the Buffalo Niagara Now initiative.

"Andrew has acted as its catalyst, identifying symptomatic problems in the region. He is the chief architect of Buffalo Niagara Now," Hamister said.

Buffalo Niagara Now is an economic development initiative designed to improve the "product" being sold by the $27 million Buffalo Niagara Enterprise regional marketing initiative.

To make the initiative successful, the Partnership will have to convince the New York Power Authority to allocate the region more cheap hydropower, find developers to invest large amounts of capital in Buffalo and Niagara Falls and get state and local governments to continue reducing upstate New York's notoriously high tax burden.

Hamister would not disclose Rudnick's salary, but said he was granted additional pay and benefits for the "mutual three-year commitment" to lead the Partnership.

e-mail: cbridger@buffnews.com

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