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Katie Couric visits Buffalo for ‘Rebuilding America’ series

[For the most recent version of the story on Katie Couric’s visit to Buffalo, click here]

Katie Couric and a film crew were in Buffalo Tuesday to highlight the city’s revival as part of a new series for Yahoo News.

“Rebuilding America” will look at six cities on the rebound, with the 10-minute piece on Buffalo kicking off the series on Jan. 15.

“I really didn’t realize the renaissance that is happening in Buffalo until I started to look into it,” Couric said. “I think probably most people in Buffalo were aware and excited about it, but I think most people are unaware, and that’s why I’m excited to bring the story to a national audience.”

Couric’s stops included the West Side Bazaar, where she had a chance to see immigrant businesses; 43North, where she learned about the city’s business innovation efforts; and Canalside, where the waterfront has become an engine for growth and civic pride.

Couric, the news anchor at Yahoo News, was a longtime host of NBC’s “Today” show and a former anchor for “CBS Evening News.”

At the West Side Bazaar, Couric talked to vendors, sampled foods and huddled with Ben Bissell, executive director of the Westminster Economic Development Initiative, which operates the bazaar.

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“I have to say it was a very moving experirence for me to see so much multiculturism in Buffalo, and to see that so many refugees and immigrants have been embraced and are finding a lot of solidarity and comfort and are able to share their cultures with longtime Buffalo reisdents, and how it is really transforming the West Side in a way that is extremely positive,” Couric said.

“I think at a time when there is so much negativity about immigrants and about refugees, Buffalo should really be proud of the way they have welcomed and embraced immigrant communities, as far as I can tell,” she said.

After the bazaar, Couric and her team visited 43North, and interviewed John T. Gavigan, 43North’s executive director, and the founders of several of the winning companies from the 43North business idea competition. Peter Burakowski, a spokesman for 43North, said a Yahoo News producer reached out after seeing coverage of Buffalo’s revival and the business plan contest in the New York Times and USA Today.

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“This is a huge megaphone that Katie Couric carries and Yahoo carries to trumpet the rebirth of our city,” Burakowski said.

Couric was ending her visit at Canalside, along the waterfront, where she will interview Robert Gioia, chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.

With Couric’s visit coming a little over three months after AOL founder and venture capitalist Steve Case brought his Rise of the Rest Tour to Buffalo, Empire State Development spokeswoman Pamm Lent quipped, “We’re the required stop — the coveted place to be.”

email: swatson@buffnews.com

msommer@buffnews.com