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Top Delaware North executives from around the world gather in Buffalo

Delaware North has brought 350 of its top executives and managers to Buffalo for a leadership summit to help the Buffalo food service and gaming company anticipate changes in its worldwide markets and how they might be changing in the future.

The three-day gathering of high-ranking executives from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States is being held in Buffalo for the first time since the company started holding its global summits more than 40 years ago, said Jeremy M. Jacobs Jr., Delaware North’s co-CEO. The event runs through Tuesday.

“Our company is spread out,” Jacobs said. “Every time you get everyone together in one room, you get to feed off each other’s experiences and expertise. It’s very important for the CEO of one subsidiary to know what’s going on in the others.”

The summit includes presentations by Salim Ismail, the founding executive director of Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, and CBS Sports broadcaster James Brown.

One of the main topics are the trends that will be shaping Delaware North’s food service, gaming and sports markets in the future, and how the company can respond in anticipation of those changes, Jacobs said.

“We really have a desire to drive a level of innovation,” he said. “Things are changing at such an alarming rate ... our whole aim is to stimulate a level of innovation throughout our company.”

That includes discussing how innovations like Google Inc.’s self-driving car could affect how fans get to the sporting venues that Delaware North now serves and their parking preferences once they arrive. Or how the development of drinkable meals could affect the company’s food service business. Or how popular games, such as Candy Crush, could affect its gaming business.

“We need to get in front of that, or our whole gaming market might shift,” Jacobs said. “We need to become a 21st century company.”

Delaware North holds its Global Leadership Summit every five years. With the opening of several new hotels in downtown Buffalo, and the completion of the company’s new headquarters building at 250 Delaware Ave., Jacobs said the city now has the hotels, restaurants and amenities to support this type of gathering.

“There are more hotels. With our new headquarters, we can handle receptions,” Jacobs said.

Once the leadership summit breaks up on Tuesday, about 50 additional people will arrive for two days of meetings that focus on each of Delaware North’s individual subsidiaries. In all, the two gatherings, which are taking up rooms in five local hotels and include events in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center and Buffalo RiverWorks, are expected to pump more than $1 million into the Buffalo Niagara economy, said Victoria Hong, a company spokeswoman.

The one thing that wasn’t ready for this week’s summit was the 119-room Westin Buffalo hotel in Delaware North’s 12-story headquarters building. The hotel isn’t scheduled to open until later this summer.

email: drobinson@buffnews.com