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Northwest Bank to open regional headquarters, add 70 jobs in Amherst

Northwest Bank plans to add 70 jobs within a few months when it opens a New York region headquarters and operations center in Amherst.

The office at 375 Essjay Road will have a total of 100 employees, including 30 existing jobs that the bank will consolidate there from other locations in the Buffalo Niagara region, said John J. Golding, Northwest's New York region president. The bank has a 10-year lease with Ciminelli Real Estate for space in Centerpointe Corporate Park.

Northwest hopes to open the office in June.

It's a significant step for Northwest, which bulked up its presence in the region last year by acquiring 18 First Niagara branches. Northwest had said it would open a regional headquarters here, but until now had not specified where or how many jobs it would have.

"It is a very big market for us," Golding said. "It's a very important market for us, but it's also a market we like very much."

Pennsylvania-based Northwest moved up to No. 4 in deposit market share in the Buffalo Niagara region after acquiring the 18 First Niagara branches. It had previously been No. 7.

The new office will have a call center, as well as an education and training center, Golding said. The office will also hire Bank Secrecy Act and compliance employees, a local community development officer, as well as employees for areas like risk management, loan operations and investment services.

Northwest will lease 25,000 square feet of space, and it has the right of first refusal on an additional 15,000 square feet on the same floor, Golding said. The bank liked the building's central location in the market and wanted space "that could potentially grow with us."

"If and when we feel the need to grow with it, we have the ability to be able to expand and not go out and find another spot," he said.

Golding said he did not yet have a dollar estimate for the project.

"There's not a whole lot of work to do. It's mainly the technology, build some offices out and get everything set up," he said.

Northwest recently applied for regulators' approval to open two additional branches in the region, at 1219 French Road in Cheektowaga and 827 Hopkins Road in Amherst. But Golding said it's not a certainty the bank will open branches at those two sites.

Northwest's facilities, technology, marketing and construction representatives are taking a close look at the two properties before any decisions are made, he said.

"We certainly have an interest in those two locations," he said.

Northwest is creating an advisory board for the Buffalo market, and expects to have that rounded out during this quarter, Golding said. The bank will maintain a separate advisory board in Jamestown.


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