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Partnership to raise funds with auction of CEO time

Want an exclusive meeting with the Buffalo Niagara CEO of your choice? No problem. Just bid high enough.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership will once again hold its annual CEO Silent Auction as part of its "The HobNob" networking party, offering an opportunity for participants to win an in-person meal or meeting with one of 14 area executives.

The meetings are to be used for relationship building, business advice and career guidance, not to ask for a job or sell a product or service. The event is a fundraiser for the business group to support its mission of advocacy, business development and networking.

Last year, Kamdon Flaherty, an entrepreneur who started Carrier Dynamics in 2009, "won" a meeting with Columbus McKinnon Corp. CEO Timothy Tevins after duking it out with another bidder. Ultimately, he said, Tevins took both bidders.

Flaherty said he wanted to understand Columbus McKinnon's buying processes, and also received feedback on his startup company's mission statement, website and marketing pitch. "He gave me a keen insight into the 'C-suite' and helped me understand how I should structure my business," Flaherty said. "He continues to be a huge help."

The event will be held Tuesday, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., on the eighth floor of the Larkin Center of Commerce, 701 Seneca St.

Bidding starts at 5:30 and ends at 7:30. There is no advance online bidding, unlike in past years.

"The Partnership is in a great position to help people make meaningful connections at events like 'The HobNob' because its own networks are so wide and so deep," said Dr. Donald L. Trump, president and CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, who has been "auctioned off" in each of the last three years. "I think the Silent Auction is a really creative way to match people with community resources, to the benefit of all involved."

Other executives are: Bob Fashano, president and CEO of Alliance Advisory Group; Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara; Robert D. Gioia, president of the John R. Oishei Foundation; William Gisel Jr., president and CEO of Rich Products Corp.; Jim Manno, vice president of sales and marketing at Sonwil Distribution Center; John D. McDonald, president of the Catholic Health System; Jack Quinn, president of Erie Community College; Sharon D. Randaccio, president and CEO of Performance Management Partners; R. Buford Sears, senior vice president of First Niagara Financial Group; Connie Vari, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Kaleida Health; Paul Vukelic, president and CEO of Try-It Distributing Co.; Art Wingerter, president of Univera Healthcare; and Robert M. Zak, president and CEO of Merchants Mutual Insurance Co.

Tickets are $30 in advance for Partnership members or $60 for nonmembers and for tickets purchased at the door. The cost includes beer, wine, hors d'oeuvres and parking. To register and buy in advance, call (716) 541-1770.

The program is sponsored by First Niagara, as well as Delta Airlines, Jaeckle Fleischman & Mugel, Printer Image Printing & Graphics and the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel, and is underwritten by Summer Street Capital Partners LLC.