The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

Local News

June 3, 2007

LOCAL ECONOMY: Welcoming the world

He’s got a business that can’t expand or a proposition that can’t be realized without certain key elements: fresh water, access to power and outbound transportation, a labor pool skilled enough to turn his ideas into reality.

Maybe he’s from water-starved California. Hidebound, Germany. Underdeveloped Russia. Where doesn’t matter, just that he’s got something we want.

And we’ve got everything he needs.

All we have to do is get him here, show him the possibilities and let a partnership bloom.

That’s the idea behind Explore Buffalo Niagara 2007, a pioneer business recruitment effort launched by a local labor think tank and backed by entrepreneurial giant Warren Buffett.

From a volunteer group of local labor, business, economic development and academic leaders, invitations to a September forum in the two counties have gone out to about 1,000 businesses worldwide. The invitation is personalized by Buffett, who on a DVD tells businesspeople about the investments he’s made in the region and why they should come see for themselves what he knows to be Erie-Niagara’s bragging points:

“I’m a longtime fan of the area,” Buffett says. Of the Geico regional customer service center in Amherst, which employs 1,150 people and is expected to double the number in three years, he adds, “We could have located anywhere in the northeastern United States — but we chose Buffalo.”

The forum is the genius of David Roll, western New York chapter manager of National Electrical Contractors Association and a member of the Economic Development Group, a not-for-profit effort by organized labor leaders to help create and retain local jobs through various enterprises.

Roll’s vision, having people in the community roll out the red carpet for visitors and show them up-close why Erie-Niagara is the place to invest, is an expression of love for, and worry over, his home turf.

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