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Fatta named chairman of Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus board

Angelo M. Fatta, a veteran entrepreneur and community volunteer long involved in efforts to build a life sciences economy in Buffalo, has been named chairman of the board of directors of the organization that oversees the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The board voted Thursday morning to appoint Fatta to succeed William L. Joyce, who had served since 2008 as chairman of the nonprofit umbrella organization, which represents Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the University at Buffalo and the other anchor institutions on the 120-acre Medical Campus.

“He’s obviously a public servant of very considerable stature,” Joyce said. “He has a gravitas in the community, a respect in the community, for how he’s gone about that. He’s considered a collaborative person, and that was one of the key criteria.”

Fatta takes over at a time of explosive growth for the Medical Campus, where a new Children’s Hospital and UB medical school are now under construction, and where lucrative incentive programs have lured new research and business projects to the campus. The campus is a hub of clinical, research, educational and entrepreneurial activity and is spurring new development in the neighboring Allentown and Fruit Belt communities.

The umbrella organization for the Medical Campus was formed in 2002 to bring together the main institutions that operate on the campus along with representatives of the surrounding neighborhoods.

The board chairman – first Thomas R. Beecher Jr. and then Joyce – works with organization staff to encourage cooperation among the member entities on transportation, parking, workforce, community interaction, security and other issues.

During Joyce’s chairmanship, the Innovation Center and its dig, or design innovation garage, co-working space opened on Ellicott Street as spaces where companies and entrepreneurs can set up shop; the Conventus medical research building and a joint Kaleida-UB clinical and research building opened; and work began on the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and Roswell Park Clinical Sciences Center projects.

“Over the last 15 years, we’ve been building critical mass, and look at the results,” Fatta said in an interview before the board vote. “What we have today, against where we were 15 years ago? It’s just phenomenal. To be part of that, to come back in and be part of it, and be working with the members of the BNMC to take it to the next level? That would be very gratifying for me, and I think I can be helpful.”

Much of the construction taking place on the Medical Campus is fueled by the government or nonprofit sector, and much of the employment growth is coming from the shifting of workers from other locations in the city. A point of emphasis for Fatta is creating new jobs, whether from a startup spun off from promising research, an out-of-town company drawn to the area or an existing local company encouraged to grow.

“So, I want to focus on that, but this is not a one-man crusade. It’s bringing all of the members together of the BNMC to say, OK, how can we do this? What do you need from us?” he said.

A chemist by training, Fatta was co-founder and CEO of ACTS Testing Labs, the international consumer products testing company, which he sold in 1998, and of ANESCO Group, another consumer products testing laboratory with locations in Buffalo and Hong Kong that he sold earlier this year.

In 2001, he co-founded and served as president of the nonprofit BuffLink, an organization meant to boost the region’s life sciences economy, and he briefly was part of the Medical Campus organization when the group was formed.

Fatta, 71, is deeply involved in community affairs. He currently serves as vice chairman of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, is a member of the State University of New York board of trustees and is a founder of the Fatta Foundation, which supports the welfare and development of area children.

He said he was willing to get more involved in the affairs of the Medical Campus because of its importance to the region and because he had just sold off his ANESCO Group.

“This is a good time for him,” said Matthew K. Enstice, president and CEO of the Medical Campus organization.

Joyce said he informed the Medical Campus board at the beginning of this year that he was ready to step down, after eight years as chairman, because he thought it was time for new leadership. He, Enstice and other board leaders gathered a list of potential successors before reaching out to candidates and gaining a commitment from Fatta.

Joyce, who will serve as chairman emeritus, remains active in the community as a member of the Cummings Foundation board and as chairman-elect of the board of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.