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University at Buffalo a good partner for local firms

Local businesses are using the University at Buffalo to promote their products, make profits, and find future employees.

Not only do some companies view corporate partnerships with the university as a way to grow their own company, many see them as a way to revitalize the regional market by gaining from young minds and the university's research.

Todd Sokolowski, New Era Cap Co.'s fan business unit director, called the local company's partnership with UB "key." He pointed out how New Era produces all UB headgear, testing the products' popularity among students and gaining a stronghold in a target age group.

Theresa Kazmierczak, vice president of corporate and community events for M&T Bank, talked about the company advertising in the playbill and sponsoring performances. She is now chairwoman of the advisory council for the Center for the Arts.

"In a tightening economy, we need to see a return in our investment and UB delivers," she said.

The two, and others, spoke of their experience with the university at Business Partners Day on Friday. The event highlighted UB's major goals leading into the future: to grow its own community by 40 percent by 2020 and to expand its reach beyond campus.

With sessions for attendants and tables set up representing different schools and campus organizations, every aspect of the conference sought to publicize the variety of ways that corporate partnerships can be mutually beneficial -- from advertising in the sports arenas to mentoring in the classroom.

In the past, many businesses had difficulty getting in touch with the right person at UB and would get frustrated by phone call transfers and the maze of different representatives.

"We're a big, huge, complex university," said Marsha Henderson, vice president for external affairs at UB. "There's so many entrances to the university, so it can be confusing."

To deal with this, Henderson explained that a new Web portal will serve as "a better front door." The portal, www.buffalo.edu/YourBusiness, will hopefully ease communication and provide information about how companies can profit from a partnership, she said.

Another way companies benefit from the students is when they hire them, said Karen Klein, senior talent acquisition coordinator for Invitrogen Corp. "If you come on campus, people will know your name," she said about campus recruiting. "UB is just the interface between the students and the businesses in the area."

e-mail: mrepko@buffnews.com

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