BN360 Spotlight Series:
Creating Messages Your Audience Wants to Hear

BN360’s February Spotlight Professional is Taylor Gahagen, Marketing Manager at Pegula Sports and Entertainment. He is an integral part of the marketing team that led the marketing and brand launch for Pegula Sports and Entertainment, One Buffalo, HARBORCENTER, (716) Food and Sport, Academy of Hockey, Buffalo Marriott HARBORCENTER, IMPACT Sports Performance, and The Rinks at HARBORCENTER. Gahagen is a Buffalo local who obtained his education at Canisius College and the State University of New York at Fredonia. Below you will find his insight into the ever-changing world that is marketing today.Feb_spotlight

Innovation and technology are changing the future of business and our day-to-day lives at a rapid pace. Businesses and consumers are adapting to these changes and it is creating new company strategies and customer shopping experiences. Marketers are faced with navigating these changes to reach targeted customers with custom messages through the most effective platforms. Consumers are getting better at filtering advertising that is not (and sometimes is) relevant to them. That is why businesses need to 1) identify who the audience is, 2) determine what platform(s) will be used to reach the audience, 3) develop individual campaigns for each audience, and 4) measure results.


Identifying who the audience is sets the stage for every other decision about how the business can effectively deliver content that customers want and need. Think about watching a TV commercial, listening to a radio ad, scrolling by a Tweet, or reading an email that is promoting a product that has nothing to do with you. Neither the business nor the customers want irrelevant messages. Businesses want to reach the right audience so that their marketing initiatives are maximized for converting prospects into customers. Likewise, customers are not looking to be bombarded with advertisements for products and services that are not of use to them. Identifying the target audience will continue to play an increasingly important role in the overall success of companies in 2016.


Understanding the audience and their consumption patterns plays a key role in developing an effective campaign. Businesses can mitigate and maximize marketing budgets in this step by comparing forecasted conversion rates for each medium. If projections show organic or paid social media advertising will yield the highest results for a generation Y audience, then businesses can forego some traditional advertising mediums that may be better fit for baby boomers. It is beneficial for consumers to have businesses better track and target customer information, so that businesses then can deliver relevant messages.


Tailoring campaigns and messages to each audience, and across each platform, is essential to achieving short and long-term sales, marketing, and branding objectives. Effective messaging will communicate benefits of the product or service and trigger want/need recognition. Once customer and business goals are aligned, customers want to easily identify the purchase action they need to take. This action can vary across all mediums; print advertisements may be more likely to list a phone number and instruct customers to “call,” whereas a social media post, which may include a shortened hyperlink to “purchase online.”


Post-mortem insights, analytics, and reports provide businesses with the feedback and results needed to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. Identifying and comparing campaign strategies, objectives, and results enable businesses to make better decisions about how they reach their audiences more efficiently and effectively. Managing and understanding customer data will continue to be vital to an organization’s ability to make strategic marketing and branding decisions.

The aforementioned steps provide a framework for marketers to navigate the rapid pace of innovation and deliver messages to specific audiences. Technology is furthering businesses’ ability to reach these audiences and as marketing becomes more targeted, both consumers and companies will benefit from advertisements specific to consumers’ wants and needs

About the Author: Taylor Gahagen is the BN360’s February Spotlight Professional. Taylor is the Marketing Manager at Pegula Sports & Entertainment


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ATHENA Young Professional Finalist: Kellena Kane

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is pleased to introduce the finalists who have been selected for the 2016 ATHENA® Awards. The awards are dedicated to promoting and honoring the valuable contributions being made to advance the status of women in the Buffalo Niagara region. The awards are given to individuals demonstrating support for the goals of women professionals, and providing significant and selfless assistance on their behalf.

Each week leading up to the awards ceremony luncheon on Tuesday, March 15th, we will be highlighting the finalists for the ATHENA Leadership Award® and the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award®. Our first young professional finalist profile is Kellena Kane.


Kellena Kane
Real Estate Development Manager
Uniland Development Company

Kellena has worked at Uniland for nine years and is currently the Real Estate Development Manager, responsible for pursuing new development opportunities and coordinating all subsequent development phases, including preliminary due diligence, concept, feasibility, pre-development, design, construction, and financing. She says she loves working in real estate development and the personal satisfaction she receives from being challenged both creatively and analytically; using ingenuity to come up with new development ideas and vision to see beyond the current state of a place or building.

Career Highlights
One of Kellena’s biggest career highlight so far has been winning development rights to a project she led, including giving a pivotal presentation to state and local representatives. She was also asked to join University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning as an adjunct professor in its new real estate development master’s program, a role in which she can share her passion for real estate development and assist women, not unlike herself ten years ago, with starting their careers in this industry.

On Buffalo Niagara
A native of Lockport, Kellena resides in Buffalo with her husband and three children. She notes that her father instilled in her the utmost optimism about the Buffalo Niagara region and she is glad to be a witness to, and play a role in, the exciting renaissance underway. “I love living and working in a tight-knit community where the more people I meet, the more connections are realized between other family, friends, and colleagues,” Kellena says. “I believe it makes for a more efficient and fun business environment.”

Best Piece of Career Advice She has Received
What would you do if you knew you could not fail? (It came from an inspirational quote her mom taped on her mirror growing up.)

About Being an ATHENA Young Professional Finalist
“I am honored to be selected by representatives of our community and recognized among these other outstanding women. Being named a finalist acknowledges that my contribution to women in our community is meaningful and along with the other finalists we are improving our region by cultivating an environment of success for women.”


Interested in attending the ATHENA Luncheon on March 15th? Click here to register.

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Impacts of $15 Minimum Wage

The Partnership has been quite vocal about opposing a $15 minimum wage in New York State, and for good reason. Drastically increasing the minimum wage would make it much more difficult for employers to retain their workforce, which is already a challenge for many key industries in Western New York. In response to the proposed increase, the BNP has joined on as a coalition member of the Minimum Wage Reality Check group.

This increase would hurt workers as well, not just the business community. Consider the example of area manufacturers: manufacturers pride themselves on paying family sustaining wages that start well above the minimum level, which is currently set at $9/hour in New York. In addition to paying several dollars per hour more than the minimum, manufacturers also often provide full benefits and retirement accounts to their employees.

Furthermore, manufacturing employees are hired with the intention of growing within the company – that is, progressing from their entry-level position to higher up the ladder over several years, with increases in pay corresponding with each level increase. Manufacturers provide careers for their employees, not just jobs. If the minimum wage increased to $15/hour, the starting wage for manufacturers would have to increase several dollars above that. It would also bump up each level’s wage in the career chain, exponentially increasing the costs of hiring each additional worker.

Now, think about recruitment for these positions. As a potential employee, currently, manufacturing may seem more attractive given the benefits and above-minimum pay. However, if working at a fast food restaurant (without benefits and career advancement opportunity) can provide a similar starting wage, potential employees would be less-inclined to pursue a training program to get into a manufacturing career.

It’s no secret that manufacturing is facing a workforce shortage already. By reducing the pool of potential workers, many of our local manufacturers that have driven Buffalo Niagara’s economy for decades will be forced to cut jobs, ship production overseas, or possibly close their doors for good.

The combined effects of this minimum wage increase – exponentially increasing the costs for employers, and reducing the potential labor pool – would have devastating effects on local companies, particularly manufacturers.

We are asking you to join us in helping to educate people about the negative economic impact of a $15 minimum wage by sharing your story.  We are currently collecting testimonials from small business owners as part of the Minimum Wage Reality Check Coalition. Please consider lending your voice to this effort and stand up against a 67 percent increase in the minimum wage and the resulting job losses and higher prices.

For more information, please contact Grant Loomis, Vice President, Government Affairs

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Back by Popular Demand
Google Street View Team Returning to Buffalo Niagara

Imagine grabbing the attention of more customers with a high quality, interactive virtual tour of your place of business? Your prospects can get a flavor of your brand, products and services before ever stepping foot into your establishment.  The chances of them becoming customers increases dramatically. Watch a video by WIVB Channel 4 on what one of our members has to say about signing up.Google_2015_logo.svg

The Google Street View team was here last month photographing member businesses and, due to incredible demand, is returning in a few weeks – sign up here. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is helping deliver Google Street View inside local businesses on February 11, 2016.  The photography team has the tools and the talent to turn photos of your business into 360 degree panoramas. Partnership members will enjoy a 16-25% discount on this technology.  This represents the lowest prices in the region. There are multiple packages available, starting at $199.

Your virtual tour has many other marketing benefits.  It will appear to customers on Google Maps, Google Plus local, your company website, your business Facebook page and on an organic google search. The synergistic effect of all of these tools maximizes your marketing and helps further engage your customers.


Businesses that participate will also be included in our all new Virtual Business & Area Guide.  This is a mobile/multi-platform designed portal that lets people discover Partnership member businesses at that crucial spending-decision moment.  Are you a law firm, hotel, restaurant, college or university, retail shop, architectural firm, publisher, technology company, engineering firm, resort, school, medical office, hospital, CPA firm or serve customers on any level?  If yes, this technology is for you.

Now is the time to act.  Fill out and submit this online form and our Google team will call you to discuss the program details.  You should sign up right away as there is limited availability on their itinerary for February 11.  It will be on a first come-first served basis.

Sign up now to be included in this Partnership member benefit opportunity! Register Here or email Liz Benkovich at

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ATHENA Leadership Finalist: Amy Habib Rittling

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is pleased to introduce the finalists who have been selected for the 2016 ATHENA® Awards. The awards are dedicated to promoting and honoring the valuable contributions being made to advance the status of women in the Buffalo Niagara region. The awards are given to individuals demonstrating support for the goals of women professionals, and providing significant and selfless assistance on their behalf.

Each week leading up to the awards ceremony luncheon on Tuesday, March 15th, we will be highlighting the finalists for the ATHENA Leadership Award® and the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award®. Our first finalist profile is Amy Habib Rittling.


Amy Habib Rittling
Partner; Co-Practice Group Leader of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice Group; Chair of the Labor and Employment Practice Group
Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP

Amy is a partner in the Buffalo law firm of Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP. She concentrates her practice in employment and general business law and litigation.  Her employment law experience includes counseling and advising employers on all aspects of employment relationships and employment practices and policies. She also assists employers with self-audits and workplace investigations.

Career Highlights
Amy notes that a highlight of her career was being invited to apply for a position on President George W. Bush’s Domestic Policy Council to advise on labor and employment issues.  She was one of two finalists.  While she was not selected, Amy says it was an incredible honor to be considered in the first instance and to have remained a competitive applicant.  “Walking down the driveway of the White House into the West Wing and walking down the steps of the Old Executive Office Building are memories I will not forget,” she says.

On Buffalo Niagara
Amy was born and raised in Western New York, but has traveled to many locations throughout the world, and for about 14 years resided outside of this region.  She notes that of all of the places she has visited and lived, the Buffalo Niagara region is her true home.  “There is a genuine warmth to our community and to the people who live here – we also live in an extraordinarily giving community,” Amy says.  “Working in the Buffalo Niagara region today is exciting.  You can feel the pulse of the region and the energy surrounding us.”

Best Piece of Career Advice She has Received
Be passionate about what you do and surround yourself with talented people with whom you enjoy working and spending time with!

About Being an ATHENA Leadership Finalist
“It is quite an honor to be named a finalist for the ATHENA Award and to be in such great company with prior finalists and honorees whom I very much admire and respect. I am proud to be a part of this process and readily acknowledge that I am part of it as a result of all of those who have mentored me since I was just a young girl.  I am a grateful beneficiary – and reflection – of many supportive, talented, and inspiring mentors.”

Interested in attending the ATHENA Luncheon on March 15th? Click here to register.

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Zehnder Rittling Opens Its Doors

Scott Pallotta, and his team of about 150 employees at Zehnder Rittling, hosted two exclusive, behind-the-scenes tours last week.  The two groups, comprised of Dream It, Do It (DIDI) students and participants in our Manufacturers Council Tour Series, were fascinated by innovate techniques for manufacturing heating and cooling systems. IMG_7108_resized

The Partnership is actively involved in the coordination of DIDI’s Adopt-A-School by helping to match our members with schools.  Zehnder Rittling was one of the first companies to volunteer and has adopted the HVAC and plumbing students from McKinley High School in Buffalo.

As a result, 18 McKinley seniors and three educators came to the facility for a presentation and plant tour. When asked if the students had ever been on a manufacturing plant floor before, not a single hand was raised. After the tour, the group was enthusiastic about their hands-on experience.

There is only so much to learn about manufacturing in the classroom; at some point, you have to see how the processes work on the factory floor. Zehnder Rittling was able to provide valuable real-life experiences for these students interested in manufacturing careers. They were also able to start establishing relationships with potential future employees.

IMG_7269_resizedThis is just the beginning of the relationship between Zehnder Rittling and DIDI. By taking an active role in growing the pipeline now, manufacturers will be able to inspire and develop the workforce of tomorrow.

The following day, some of the Partnership’s manufacturing members walked through the plant as part of our Tour Series. The series focuses on best-practice sharing and showing off some of the world’s most innovative companies, located right here in Western New York.

Zehnder Rittling was able to provide insights for our manufacturing members, and was also able to show young people about manufacturing careers. If your company would like to engage with DIDI students or Partnership manufacturers, contact Barrett Erbe today to discuss hosting a tour.

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2016 TRIP Report Reaffirms Critical Need to Invest in our Region’s Failing Infrastructure

Our regional transportation network is a vital piece of the Buffalo Niagara economy. We rely on roads and bridges to move people and goods around the region and to connect us with the rest of the country – and world. With our region’s position on an international border and the prominence of the local logistics industry; the transportation network plays a critical role in the Buffalo Niagara region. As such, the Partnership has taken a strong position role in advocating for our region’s fair allocation of transportation funds from the state and federal governments, as well as supporting projects that strengthen our infrastructure. Road Condition_2

Recently, the Partnership joined the transportation research group, TRIP, at a press conference to discuss the state of roads and bridges in our region. TRIP released their annual report of New York’s transportation issues and the news wasn’t good for Buffalo Niagara. According to the report, pavement conditions on 47% of the major urban roads in our region were found to be in either mediocre or poor condition. Even more alarming, 9% of our region’s bridges were in structurally deficient condition, while 27% were functionally obsolete. TRIP estimates that an inadequate transportation system costs Buffalo Niagara drivers an additional $1,873 each year.

WNY’s roads and bridges, key elements to our region’s success, are deteriorating and are in need of more funding. However, WNY receives less than 9% of statewide Department of Transportation funding – even though it is home to a higher percentage of roads and bridges. For these reasons, and many others, the Partnership is committed to advocating on behalf of WNY’s transportation needs. The TRIP data is evidence that there is a lot of work to be done and the region needs to be proactive in ensuring that we receive fair funding for local programs.

The Partnership’s Logistics and Transportation Council works on many issues related to transportation advocacy. If you would like to learn more, please contact Daniel Leonard.

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Proposed Budget a Mixed Bag for Employers

Once again this year, Governor Cuomo broke with tradition and combined the annual State of the State with the Executive Budget Address and delivered one speech to the New York State Legislature.  And once again this year, the Governor’s proposals are a mixed bag for Buffalo Niagara employers.

The Partnership is keeping a close eye on several items outlined by the Governor, including:

Transportation Infrastructure:  Partnership members continue to identify the lack of resources to adequately address our infrastructure needs as a major impediment to economic growth and investment in Buffalo Niagara.  The Partnership is a member of the Rebuild NY Now coalition to ensure the Governor and Legislature restore parity – equal funding, dollar for dollar – between the capital budgets of Department of Transportation (DOT) and the downstate Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).  The executive budget proposes funding DOT’s capital program at $6 billion less than the MTA’s program.  Parity between the DOT and MTA had been the norm until 2010.  The Governor is proposing investments in the Thruway and freezing tolls until 2020.

The Partnership is also pushing for Western New York to receive its ‘fair share’ of transportation infrastructure funding.  Our region receives less than 9% of statewide DOT funding, but we are home to a higher percentage of state and locally owned roads and bridges.

$15 Minimum Wage:  As expected, the Governor used his budget address to rally support for his proposal to raise New York’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.  The Governor focused his remarks on big corporations’ failure to pay employees a fair wage.  The problem – as the Governor knows – is that big corporations are far better positioned than small businesses to absorb this massive wage increase.  This proposal also has consequences far beyond those currently making minimum wage.  An increase of this size and scope will force a fundamental shift of the wage scale, putting immense pressure on employers who pay well in excess of the current $9 minimum wage.   The Partnership is strongly opposed to a $15 minimum wage and will continue to push back on this proposal through our active participation in the Minimum Wage Reality Check coalition.

Small Business Tax Cuts: In any other year, the Governor’s small business tax cut proposals would have been widely applauded.  The excitement begins to fade, however, when the proposals are put in context with the potential of a $15 minimum wage.  As the Partnership has long advocated, the Governor is pushing to extend tax relief to small businesses filing via the personal income tax by increasing and expanding a tax break now limited to sole proprietorships.

Paid Family Leave:  The Governor also made an appeal for New York to adopt the Paid Family Leave Act which would provide 12-weeks of job-protected, employee-funded paid leave through payroll deductions.  Employers have a right to be concerned about the administrative costs of such a program, especially since the Governor’s proposal does not exempt small companies like the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does.  While the goal of Paid Family Leave is noble, this is yet another mandate forced on New York’s employers in a state that is already ranked as the highest taxed and overly regulated in the country.

The Partnership will continue to monitor the budget process closely, and advocate for our members and Buffalo Niagara employers.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection Centers of Excellence and Expertise

My colleague Janine Tramont recently sat down with Ann Marie Paul, Director of the Industrial & Manufacturing Materials Center of Excellence and Expertise in Buffalo, NY, to discuss the significance of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection center and how it changes trade in the Buffalo Niagara region and the greater United States.

What are the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Centers of Excellence and Expertise?

In 2011, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began a key initiative to advance U.S. economic competitiveness with the goal to improve efficiencies for both CBP and the trade community and to transform customs procedures to align with modern business practices. One such way to do so was through the introduction of the Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEEs).

Introduced in an effort to reduce costs for businesses and government by streamlining trade processes and systematically enforcing U.S. trade law, the CEEs provide one-stop processing for the trade community using a team of industry-focused CBP experts located virtually nationwide. According to CBP, this approach will “increase the uniformity of practices across ports of entry, facilitate the timely resolution of trade compliance issues nationwide, and further strengthen critical agency knowledge on key industry practices.”[1]

CEEs are aligned by industry sectors and include: Agriculture & Prepared Products; Apparel, Footwear, & Textiles; Automotive & Aerospace; Base Metals; Consumer Products & Mass Merchandising; Industrial & Manufacturing Materials; Information Technology & Consumer Electronics; Machinery; Petroleum, Natural Gas, & Minerals; and Pharmaceuticals, Health & Chemicals.

CBP hopes the introduction of such Centers will allow quicker clearance times while providing additional services to importers.


What does the Industrial & Manufacturing Materials Center of Excellence and Expertise in Buffalo, NY focus on?

On November 27, 2012, the Deputy Commissioner of CBP announced at the East Coast Trade Symposium six new Centers, which included the Industrial & Manufacturing Materials (IMM) CEE in Buffalo, New York.[2] The IMM CEE specializes in plastics, polymers, rubber, leather, wood, paper, stone, glass, precious stones and precious metals, or similar industries, with the highest percentage of their entries comprised of related materials.[3]

How does the implementation of Centers of Excellence and Expertise affect Cross Border Trade?

Under the CEE approach, the process for entry and entry summary will not change. However, the location of CBP processing for post-release aspects of shipments will move from ports of entry to the appropriate industry CEE. [4] Because CEEs work virtually, importers will not need to change where they import. Instead, CBP will leverage technology to bring the work to the CEEs, no matter where the importation occurs.

The primary advantage of this approach is account centralization and streamlining of the documentation process. Importers using multiple ports who participate in CEE will no longer be subject to differing port-specific procedures for post-entry adjustments or protests. The CEE can successfully resolve issues with all 329 ports of entry for the participating importer, providing importers the benefit of a direct line of communication for post entry interactions. This is expected to save both time and money for the importer and the government.

With the United States and Canada moving towards a building a larger trade volume in 2016, it is important to understand the significance of CEEs and how they can accelerate the trade process. The CanAm Council will be focusing on this subject throughout the early part of 2016 in its Council Meetings and signature event, Unleashing the Power of the Mega-Region. If interested in participating or learning more about cross-border economic opportunities, please contact  <a href=”“>Catherine Muth</a>, Manager, CanAm & Government Affairs, at or <a href=”“>Janine Tramont</a>, Manager of Membership Engagement and CanAm, at





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2016 Advocacy Agenda Rollout

On January 7th, The Buffalo Niagara Partnership unveiled its 2016 Advocacy Agenda in front of a capacity crowd. Our dedicated members and more than 50 elected officials and government leaders came together as we rolled out nearly two dozen specific policy priorities the Partnership will be working on in 2016.

NYW_0001While the Partnership has produced a signature advocacy document for many years, the 2016 Advocacy Agenda is more robust and comprehensive than ever before.

This effort is a first for the Partnership,” said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President and CEO. “Our members were more directly engaged in the development of this agenda than ever before. This is also the first time our organization is advancing one central document outlining our policy priorities at the federal, state and local level.”

The policy proposals were determined through a comprehensive issues survey completed by our members in 2015, incorporated the specific policy priorities of our five industry councils and were focused within four policy areas:

      1. Taxes & Regulations
      2. Development & Construction
      3. Transportation & Infrastructure
      4. Workforce Development

Additionally, the agenda aims to provide context and explain why these issues are critical to employers and economic development efforts in the Buffalo Niagara region.

NYW_0003“The Advocacy Agenda rollout is just the start of our advocacy work for 2016,” said Gallagher-Cohen. “This agenda will not sit on a shelf. The Partnership will use it to drive our advocacy work for the year, guide our discussions with elected leaders and decision makers, and focus our Government Affairs programming and events in 2016. We look forward to working with our dedicated members and our elected leaders to accomplish as many of these priorities as possible over the next 12 months to build a better, stronger Buffalo Niagara.”

To learn more about our 2016 Advocacy Agenda or how you can work with the Partnership to accomplishing these priorities, please contact Grant Loomis.


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