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GEICO’s partnership with WNY has created 2,500 jobs – so far

GEICO Corp. has been good for Western New York, and it just keeps getting better. Think back to December 2003, when the company announced its entrée into this area. The goal a decade ago was to create a regional headquarters and hire at least 650 employees in the first three years, and employ 1,800 by 2012.

Despite a disastrous economic downturn, GEICO has far exceeded its original employment goals and established higher marks that it continues to shatter. At this point, the company employs more than 2,500 in Western New York and the Buffalo office is among its largest facilities in terms of the number of associates.

GEICO is a model of what can happen if the right company is lured to town, and an example of how a company can flourish when it taps into the local workforce.

The insurer is housed in Uniland Development Co.’s CrossPoint Business Park off North French Road in Amherst. Last year, an official said the $40 million, 251,000-square-foot facility can handle as many as 3,800 workers. Western New Yorkers will be only too happy to fill the rest of those spots.

In the interest of full disclosure, both GEICO and The News are owned by Warren Buffett’s Berskshire Hathaway. Buffett is the newspaper’s chairman, and GEICO’s decision to locate here was the result of years of intense lobbying by Stanford Lipsey, then publisher of The News.

A couple of years ago GEICO CEO Olza M. “Tony” Nicely attributed the company’s success to its people here and around the country. In a recent statement, Buffett and Nicely said, “By all measures, GEICO’s associates in Buffalo rank among the best in the country.”

The pat on the back for GEICO may sound self-serving on our part, but GEICO’s work deserves to be recognized. Thanks to the judicious use of economic incentives and a committed company, thousands of our neighbors have good-paying jobs.

The success of GEICO deserves to be celebrated and emulated by other companies looking for dedicated workers. Indeed, this region has plenty of qualified job candidates.

GEICO’s faith in Western New York has paid off for the company, its customers and the people it employs.