Jack Connors, who helped launch Business First of Buffalo and has served as its publisher since 1986, plans to retire Jan. 31.
"I just decided it was time for a little changing of the guard," said Connors, who is 68. "I think it's healthy at this point. The paper's doing extremely well. It just felt like the right time."
Connors has spent 45 years in the news business. He worked at the Courier-Express from 1972 until it closed in 1982, and then at the Niagara Gazette starting that year. When Connors learned that American City Business Journals was going to start a weekly business newspaper in Buffalo in 1984, he interviewed for a job and was hired on the spot as editor. The first edition came out Oct. 29.
In late 1986, he was promoted to president and publisher.
Connors has led Business First, which is based in downtown Buffalo, during a time of dramatic change for the industry. The paper has shifted from producing only a weekly print edition that hit the streets each Friday, to an expanded digital presence. The paper, including the Buffalo Law Journal, has a staff of 30 people.
Connors has also watched the Buffalo economy undergo sweeping change. He worked at Bethlehem Steel while a student at Canisius College, and he saw the shift to more of a service-based economy.
"One of the things I've always pushed for whenever I spoke to anybody or spoke to groups was that we needed to create an environment here that was supportive and encouraging to entrepreneurs," he said. "That seems to have come about," he said, through development of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and business incubators.
Connors said he doesn't know who will succeed him as publisher. "They're going to take their time and find the right person," he said.
He plans to continue living in the region. Connors is chairman of the Library Foundation of Buffalo and Erie County and president of the Hamburg Library Board. Connors is also a member of the Workforce Investment Board, but he expects to give up that role, once he retires, to whoever succeeds him as publisher.