2015 Power 250

Buffalo Business First’s Power 250 recognizes the 250 most influential people in Western New York.

The list, limited to people who live and work in Western New York, was announced in five installments. The last announcement went out on Friday, Feb. 13.

We are honored and proud that our own President and CEO, Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, came in at No. 24 in the list.

43 north photo of buffaloWe are also proud to recognize a number of Buffalo Niagara Partnership members and board members that, according to Buffalo Business First’s definition of the Power 250, “wield the most clout in our eight-county region”.

Partnership Board members:

  • Art Wingerter, President, Univera Healthcare
  • Cathy Walker, President/CEO, Seneca Gaming Corp.
  • Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President/CEO, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
  • David Anderson, President/CEO, HealthNow New York Inc.
  • David Nasca, President/CEO, Evans Bancorp Inc.
  • Dennis Elsenbeck, Buffalo/Niagara Regional Director, National Grid
  • Dennis Penman, Executive Vice President, Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.
  • Donna Fernandes, President/CEO, Zoological Society of Buffalo Inc.
  • Father James Maher, President, Niagara University
  • Frank Curci, President/CEO, Tops Markets LLC
  • Gary Crosby, President/CEO, First Niagara Financial Group Inc.
  • Gary Quenneville, Regional Sales Executive, New York State Region, KeyBank N.A.
  • Jody Lomeo, President/CEO, Kaleida Health and Great Lakes Health System of Western New York
  • John Hurley, President, Canisius College
  • John Scannell, Chairman/CEO, Moog Inc.
  • Kent Frey, CEO, Frey Construction Corp. Inc.
  • Kevin Murphy, Buffalo Market President, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch
  • Kevin Quinn, Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Banking, HSBC Bank USA N.A.
  • Kimberley Minkel, Executive Director, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
  • Mark Czarnecki, President/CEO, M&T Bank
  • Mark Hamister, Chairman/CEO, The Hamister Group Inc.
  • Matthew Enstice, President/CEO, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
  • Michael Cropp, President/CEO, Independent Health
  • Michael Keating, Senior Vice President/Buffalo Division, Wegmans Food Markets Inc.
  • Michael Montante, Vice President, Uniland Development Co.
  • Michael Weiner, President/CEO, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County
  • Paul Snyder, Chairman, Snyder Corp.
  • Randall Clark, Chairman, Dunn Tire Inc.
  • Robert Gioia, President, The John R. Oishei Foundation
  • Satish Tripathi, President, University at Buffalo
  • Thomas Kucharski, President/CEO, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise
  • Warren T. Colville, President/Publisher, The Buffalo News

Partnership members:

  • Allegra Jaros, President, Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo
  • Anne Curtis, President/CEO, UBMD
  • Anthony Conte, President, Shea’s Performing Arts Center
  • Barbara Carr, Executive Director, SPCA Serving Erie County
  • Barry Snyder, Director, Seneca Gaming Corp.
  • Brenda McDuffie, Chairman, Erie County Industrial Development Agency
  • Candace Johnson, President/CEO, Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  • Carl Montante, President/Managing Director, Uniland Development Co.
  • Cheryl Klass, Senior Vice President for Operations, Kaleida Health
  • Chris Sansone, Quality Systems Manager, Keller Technology Corp.
  • Christopher Koch, CEO, New Era Cap Co. Inc.
  • Daniel White, Athletic Director, University at Buffalo
  • David Hart, President/CEO, Hart Hotels Inc.
  • David McNamara, Managing Partner, Phillips Lytle LLP
  • Dennis Black, Vice President for University Life and Sciences, University at Buffalo
  • Dennis Walczyk, CEO, Catholic Charities of Buffalo
  • Dottie Gallagher-Cohen,President/CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership
  • Doug Swift, Developer/Partner, Larkin Development Group
  • Doug Whaley, General Manager, Buffalo Bills
  • Frank McGuire, Chairman, The McGruire Group
  • Gary Miller, Co-Chairman/CEO, Cannon
  • Howard Zemsky, Managing Partner, Taurus Capital Partners LLC
  • Jack Quinn, President, Erie Community College
  • Jake Schneider, President, Schneider Development
  • James Allen, Executive Director, Amherst Industrial Development Agency
  • James Dentinger, President, McGuire Development Co.
  • James Klyczek, President, Niagara County Community College
  • James Newman, President, Noco Energy Corp.
  • James Wadsworth, Partner, Hodgson Russ LLP
  • Janne Siren, Director, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
  • Jeremy Jacobs, Chairman, Delaware North
  • Jerry Jacobs Jr., co-CEO, Delaware North
  • Jim Kelly, Former Quarterback, Buffalo Bills
  • Jim Toeliner, President/General Manager, WGRZ-TV
  • JoAnn Falletta, Music Director, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
  • John Amershadian, President, Hodgson Russ LLP
  • John Koelmel, Chairman, New York Power Authority
  • John Percy, President/CEO, Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp.
  • John Walsh III, Chairman/CEO, Walsh Duffield Inc.
  • Joseph McDonald, President/CEO, Catholic Health System
  • Katherine Conway-Turner, President, SUNY Buffalo State
  • Kevin O’Connell, Chief Weather Anchor, WGRZ-TV
  • L. Nelson Hopkins III, President, Gates Vascular Institute
  • Lisa Wilson, Executive Sports Editor, The Buffalo News
  • Lou Billittier Jr., Owner, Chef’s Restaurant
  • Louis Ciminelli, Chairman/CEO, LPCiminelli Inc.
  • Louis Jacobs, co-CEO, Delaware North
  • Mark Croce, President, Buffalo Development Corp.
  • Mark Mortenson, President/CEO, Buffalo Museum of Science
  • Mary Jean Jakubowski, Director, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
  • Maureen Hurley, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Rich Products Corp.
  • Merle Whitehead, President/CEO, RealtyUSA
  • Michael Cain, Vice President for Health Sciences, University at Buffalo
  • Michael Connelly, Editor/Vice President, The Buffalo News
  • Nick Sinatra, President, Sinatra and Co. Real Estate
  • Patrick Whalen, CEO, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
  • Paul Cambria, Senior Partner, Lipsitz Green Scime, Cambria LLP
  • Paul Ciminelli, President/CEO, Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.
  • Paul Iskalo, President/CEO, Iskalo Development
  • Peter Bergmann, President/CEO, Sisters of Charity Hospital
  • Peter Gundermann, President/CEO, Astronics Corp.
  • Peter Hunt, Chairman/CEO, Hunt Real Estate Corp
  • Peter Marlette, Managing Partner, Damon Morey LLP
  • Rene Jones, Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer, M&T Bank
  • Rex Ryan, Head Coach, Buffalo Bills
  • Rhonda Frederick, President/CEO, People Inc.
  • Richard Cleland, COO and Interim CEO, Erie County Medical Center
  • Richard Malone, Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Buffalo
  • Rick Hoagland, Regional Vice President, Geico
  • Rick Smith III, Owner, Rigidized Metals Corp.
  • Robert Brady, Former Chairman, MOOG Inc.
  • Robert Kresse, Counsel, Hiscock & Barclay LLP
  • Robert Stevenson, President, Eastman Machine Co.
  • Robert Wilmers, Chairman/CEO, M&T Bank
  • Rocco Termini, President, Signature Development Buffalo LLC
  • Rod Watson, Urban Affairs Columnist, The Buffalo News
  • Ronald Raccuia, President, AdPro Integrity Office
  • Ronald Silverio, President, Evergreen Health Services
  • Ronald Tanski, President/CEO, National Fuel Gas Co.
  • Russ Brandon, President, Buffalo Bills
  • Samuel Savarino, President/CEO, Savarino Cos.
  • Scott Bieler, President, West Herr Automotive Group
  • Shelley Drake, President, M&T Charitable Foundation
  • Steven Weathers, President/CEO, Erie County Industrial Development Agency
  • Ted Black, President, Buffalo Sabres
  • Ted Nolan, Head Coach, Buffalo Sabres
  • Thomas Beecher Jr., Chair Emeritus, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
  • Thomas Montante, CEO/Principal, TM Montante Group
  • Tim Murray, General Manager, Buffalo Sabres
  • Timothy Tevens, President/CEO, Columbus McKinnon Corp.
  • Tony Masiello, President, Masiello, Martucci, Calabrese & Associates
  • Virginia Horvath, President, SUNY Fredonia
  • William Gisel Jr., President/CEO, Rich Products Corp.
  • William Joyce, Chairman, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
  • William Lawley, Jr., Managing Partner, Lawley Insurance
  • William Paladino, CEO/Chairman, Ellicott Development Co.

Congratulations to all of our members!

To join the ranks of the Power 250 and become a member of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, email Molly McGowan, our New Business Development Manager, or call her at (716)541-1703.

To view the entire list of businesses that were recognized, visit Buffalo Business First.

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Member Spotlight: Wegmans

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership represents nearly 2,000 members and a quarter of a million employees in the Buffalo Niagara region.

To celebrate our members and their accomplishments, we have started a Member Spotlight blog series.

This month, we are proud to spotlight a member that was recently recognized for their incredible reputation, Wegmans Food Markets.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Mike Keating, Senior Vice President at Wegmans’ Buffalo division, and Michele Mehaffy, Consumer Affairs Manager at Wegmans’ Buffalo division, to learn more about why they’re proud to be a Partnership member.

Wegmans Michele headshot

Michele Mehaffy

Q: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. I am thrilled to have the chance to speak with you to learn more about the mission of Wegmans and how you’ve been able to grow into such a successful organization.

A – Mike: We just had a meeting on Monday to talk about the next ten years to discuss our success, to make sure we understand it, so that we can perpetuate it as we continue to grow.

We’re probably going to add half as many stores as we currently have in upcoming years, which works out to opening a few stores per year.

However, we’re very careful about our growth because it’s a challenge to maintain the culture that you enjoy across all of our stores.

We’re a third-generation family-owned business. The Wegmans family is very involved in the day-to-day of the business and they do it out of a sense of love and commitment to the business. The family sets the example and the values that they model flow through the rest of the organization.

Q: That’s really nice to hear. It’s been great to see Wegmans grow and transform throughout my eight years living in the region. I have Celiac disease, so it’s been amazing to see Wegmans expand their product offerings, and even venture into making their own brand of gluten-free products, in recent years. It’s certainly made my life easier!

gluten-free section at Wegmans

gluten-free section at Wegmans

A – Michele: We’re proud of what we’ve done with our gluten-free offerings. We’ve actually been offering gluten-free products since the early ’90’s.

As you know, we’ve expanded our offerings. We know that 1 percent of the population has Celiac disease and the demand for food that accommodates that diet has dramatically increased since “gluten sensitivity” affects about 5 percent of the population.

We offer more than 2,000 products and over 500 recipes if you go to our website and search “gluten-free.” Also, we do offer vendor gluten-free products as well as our own private label.

The great thing about our own private label is our wellness keys that not only identify “gluten-free,” but also high fiber (HF,) vegan (V,) low calorie (LC,) lactose-free (LF) and many other categories.

We want to give customers that easy access to know what they are purchasing, and our team of nutritionists investigates and verifies all ingredients.

Aside from offering gluten-free products on our shelves, we’ve started making gluten-free baked items in recent years. We’ve gone out of our way to create some of those popular items such as brownies, cookies, cupcakes, etc. And there’s more to come, so stay tuned!

Essentially, we want people with Celiac to still be able to enjoy all of the great food that everyone else can. Our gluten-free baked goods are something everyone can enjoy, whether or not they have Celiac.

Q: I am eager to see what you introduce next! I’ve always loved the atmosphere when shopping at Wegmans. With multiple locations throughout the country, and plans to continue expanding, how do you keep the organizational culture so intact throughout stores across different states?

A – Michele: Our company philosophy is that we’ll only be successful if we fill the need of our people first. It’s all about taking care of your employees first and foremost, so they in turn can take care of your customers.

Wegmans Market Cafe

Wegmans Market Cafe

Q: That’s great to hear. I definitely agree.

A – Michele: You often hear “the customer comes first,” at many stores. It’s an interesting concept to think of because, in Wegmans world, our employees are our most important asset.

If our employees are happy, they’re taking care of our customers. This value is really established the moment people start working.

We have five different values: caring (about the well-being of our people,) high standards (that create a climate of excellence,) making a difference in the communities we serve, respecting and listening to our people and empowering our people to make decisions to improve their work environment to benefit our customers and the company as a whole.

These values are what guide us in our daily operations and are what keeps our culture as strong and recognizable as it is.

Q: I know that you’ve been a member of the Partnership since 2007. What about your relationship with the Partnership has changed over the years? Are there any specific benefits or services you’ve seen evolve since when you first joined as a member?

A – Mike: Honestly, while we’ve been members since 2007, we have only recently become active members. Until recently, we didn’t necessarily see that the culture of the Partnership was one that fit with ours.

Wegmans storeWhat I’ve seen now, in the last few years, is much more inclusive; big businesses, small business, retail and manufacturing. The Partnership suits business across all sizes and sectors, and with Dottie’s leadership we are excited to be members.

This is a very exciting time for Western New York and it’s all born from a new cooperative spirit of enterprise where people are partnering and collaborating.

I think the Partnership is one of the organizations that’s taking a lead on that, and that stems from the leadership of your organization.

Q: Thank you. It’s extremely rewarding to hear that you can see and feel that change in perception. Mike, I know that you’re actively involved in one of our councils. What inspired you to get involved and what has your experience been like?

A – Mike: I just recently put my interest forth in the Workforce Development council. I think that Workforce Development is an enormous challenge and it’s central to what we do at Wegmans.

A part-time Wegmans job is something like a “prep school” for a full-time job.

Michael Keating

Michael Keating

We believe that we are helping to build the character and basic employment skills that will carry people forward in a successful way throughout their careers. That is why workforce development is so important to us.

Similarly, for over 25 years now, we’ve been working with Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection and have been involved in their work scholarship program that helps the urban youth graduate from high school.

The premise of the program is that if you can put an additional caring adult in their lives to help them with basic skill development, as well as help them overcome the challenges that they typically face, you have a much greater chance at helping these young students succeed.

It’s why I signed up for the council; I’m very eager to help the region move forward with this issue.

Q: It’s so great to hear how committed you are to bettering the educational system, as it definitely is a tremendous workforce development issue for the region. Are there any challenges or opportunities that you currently face that you think the Partnership might be able to assist in?

A – Mike: From a business standpoint, developing the workforce of the future is definitely a challenge as we continue to grow at an ever-increasing rate.

I think that the Workforce Development council will enable me to learn a lot to share with the rest of the company, especially in regards to how we can perpetuate our culture as we continue to grow.

One of the main reasons we, and other companies, decide to become members of the Partnership is relationship building.

You never know when a friend you made in the board room is going to be someone you need to call on to help you with a challenge you’re facing.

wegmanslogoR_largeSo, while there aren’t any immediate challenges that the Partnership can assist us with, I know that I will face challenges in the future that I’ll be able to call on my friends that I’ve made through the Partnership to help me overcome those obstacles.

Q: That’s great to hear. It’s definitely our goal to bring people together because we realize these relationships help to strengthen the overall business climate in the region.

A – Mike: Thanks to the Partnership, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people with different backgrounds, perspectives and challenges.

Most of us end up spending our time caught up in our own sector, networking with people from the same industry. The Partnership, and the Workforce Development council, provides me the opportunity to break out of that.

I look forward to making new friends with broad interests and experiences that I will have the opportunity to learn from.

Q: That’s a great way of looking at it and I couldn’t agree more. Have you had any recent accomplishments that you’d like the community to be aware of? For example, I know that Wegmans topped the list of the 100 most visible companies in Harris Poll’s 16th annual Reputation Quotient Study. Congratulations, that is truly an incredible accomplishment.

A – Michele: The Harris Poll news was really exciting! Having never been on that list before, it was obviously a pleasant surprise.

Wegmans bakery

Wegmans bakery

It’s also really nice to be in good company with these other national companies that were recognized in the poll.

When it comes down to it, it really reinforces what we’ve always thought: it starts with our people.

If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers. It all boils down to treating people with respect and empowering them to make decisions that serve both them and the company as a whole.

I’ve heard in the community that there is a great culture that exists inside the stores. When people find out that I work at Wegmans, they often tell me “everyone looks so happy!”

Q: That must be so nice to hear.

A – Michele: Definitely. In regards to other accomplishments, we’ve been on Fortune Magazine’s “Top 100 list” (of places to work for,) for 17 years. We’re very proud.

A – Mike: Your earn your reputation every day based on the actions of your employees. I think we are so excited about the Harris Poll honor because it’s confirmation that our culture is working.

Our employees have the freedom to do the right thing for the customer in the moment.

We certainly make our share of mistakes but when we do, we own up to it. We’re honest and in front of it. We make sure that we learn from it.

Q: That’s great! Other than putting your employees first, what do you think Wegmans does that has helped it establish such a strong, positive reputation?

A – Michele: We’ve always been one step ahead of the industry as a whole. We’re always thinking ahead and can see where the trends are going in terms of our customers and what they’re interested in.

We aren’t a reactive company; we are forward thinking and always looking to what we think the future of consumer preferences will be.

For example, I don’t know if you saw our recent menu magazine but we have an “eat well, live well” approach to help steer our customers in the direction of healthier choices.

Wegmans prepared food section

Wegmans prepared food section

We do that by offering food that is affordable, and recipes that help people build a healthier lifestyle.

Our latest chapter to our “eat well, live well” program is about cutting adding sugars because we know the dangers of heart disease. This really is our way of helping people have that information about some of the dangers of added sugars in their diet; sugars they might not even think about.

We also know that snacking is very popular. In our latest menu magazine, we have several “power-packed” snacks that are healthy and nutritional. For example, hummus, carrots, etc. It’s filled with easy snack ideas you can make at home.

We want to help our customers by providing great, go-to, healthier options for snacking.

Q: So, I know you’re always hiring. Are there any specific job opportunities in the Buffalo Niagara region that you’d like to draw attention to?

A – Michele: We have three different categories we are looking for right now.

One is “front-end service team leaders,” which is the customer service area where you see all of the registers. For this management-training type role, we’re looking for people interested in leading a group of motivated people.

We also need overnight management in various departments depending on the stores.

Our biggest availability is culinary. Culinary is extremely important to us as we grow our prepared foods section of our stores, so having that culinary expertise is so important to us because it helps to set us apart from other stores.

Wegmans prepared foods1

Wegmans prepared food section

We get some very talented chefs but we’re always looking to fill that culinary role in our stores so they can continue to grow. Many of our shoppers are interested in food in another level.

We want to hire people who enjoy food and who enjoy sharing information about food.

Q: That’s wonderful! I definitely have noticed an increase in the prepared foods offerings at your stores. So, what would you say you’re most looking forward to benefiting from as a member of the Partnership in the upcoming year?

A – Mike: In addition to being excited about being a part of the Workforce Development council, it’s the opportunity to build new relationships and learn from folks I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to interact with without the Partnership.

We all want to do our part to move this region forward and I’m hoping we at Wegmans can really help in that regard.

Interested in being a part of our Member Spotlight blog series? Contact our Content Marketing Specialist, Julia Jornsay-Silverberg.

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Buffalo Niagara’s history and future tied to the Great Lakes

The Buffalo Niagara region sits on the shores of two of the Great Lakes. Our geographic location is largely responsible for our history as a center of wealth and commerce, as well as our more recent history of population loss and economic decline.

It’s a story shared by many other cities and regions along the Great Lakes.

While Buffalo Niagara is moving in the right direction again, our future growth and economic outlook will be tied to that of our Great Lakes neighbors.

Recognizing our common interests and issues, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership was a founding member of the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition (GLMCC).

glmcc logoToday, the group is made up of nearly 40 chambers (both large and small) from throughout the Great Lakes, united under a plan for development and job creation in the bi-national Great Lakes region.

Partnership President and CEO, Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, and I recently traveled with other members of the GLMCC to Washington, DC, to meet with Members of Congress from the Great Lakes to push for federal policy critical to the future of our region.

With one voice, GLMCC delegates advocated for base load energy sources, investment and stable funding for transportation infrastructure, and immigration reform with a specific focus on retaining high-skilled employees.

Maintaining and investing in reliable sources of base load energy is critical if we are going to continue the resurgence of manufacturing in the Great Lakes because without reliable base load energy, manufacturers can’t operate.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed emissions caps for both new and existing power plants may be a noble goal, but it’s not today’s reality.

The GLMCC supports the role renewable energy sources can and will continue to play, but Great Lakes manufactures rely on the dependability and affordability of clean coal, natural gas and nuclear power to operate, and Congress needs to block or at least modify the EPA’s proposals.

Washington continues to kick-the-can when it comes to funding transportation infrastructure in our country.

april 23 blog photo of carsThe Highway Trust Fund has run out of money as revenue generated from the ‘gas tax’ shrinks with more fuel efficient vehicles hitting the road every year.

Instead of another stop gap this year, the GLMCC is pushing Congress to pass a multi-year surface transportation re-authorization bill.

The bill needs to include sustainable funding sources to maintain and improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure to ensure the safe and efficient movement of goods and people in and out of the Great Lakes and beyond.

Immigration reform is certainly a hot topic with strong positions on all sides.

The GLMCC sees immigration reform as critical to helping attract and, more importantly, retain high-skilled talent in the Great Lakes.

There is clearly a need. According to career development firm Burning Glass there are 1.6 million STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related jobs that are currently available and unfilled in the Great Lakes region.

To address this skills gap, the GLMCC is advocating for lifting the cap on available visas for skilled workers and establishing High Skill Immigration Zones to not only address urgent workforce issues, but repopulate older urban areas in the Great Lakes.

The future of the Great Lakes depends on us working together beyond our municipal borders and the GLMCC is leading the way.

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Leveraging an international trade economy

The Buffalo Niagara region was built upon its proximity to the water and its location as a hub of international trade.

Our economy thrived on international industries that required a strategic connection to the Midwest and Pacific Ocean.

Last week, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership had the privilege of hosting our Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, and Congressman Brian Higgins for a Roundtable Discussion about the Western New York Trade and Logistics industry.

The event featured a special guest presentation by the administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and former Congresswoman, Betty Sutton.

The roundtable discussion served as an opportunity to discuss strategic partnerships among stakeholders along what is now being termed as a single, international shipping thoroughfare: the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway water system.

Freighter aground in St. Lawrence Seaway

Freighter aground in St. Lawrence Seaway; Credit Flickr/CoastGuardNews

Ironically, the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway has been cited by many as a primary factor in our region’s economic demise, as it led to the Erie Canal becoming obsolete as a shipping route.

This event offered the opportunity for Buffalo Niagara and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation to re-evaluate our relationship, potentially as future partners in building a stronger transcontinental shipping industry.

Sutton’s insight allowed us to think outside the box on how we can leverage our collective Great Lakes System.

Locally, much attention has been given to the emerging International Trade Gateway initiative. The initiative aims to establish the Buffalo Niagara region as an inland port for east coast ports that are projecting significant over-capacities as they handle larger ocean vessels arriving from overseas.

The window is open for Buffalo to re-emerge as a major center of commerce.

Establishing our region as a unique, international location with first-class water, rail and roadway infrastructure will be critical to expanding our role as a hub on the Great Lakes System.

To learn more about the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s Logistics and Transportation Council initiatives, please contact me.

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BN360 Spotlight Series: networking tips for introverts

When I found out I needed to write a blog post as one of BN360’s Spotlight Professionals, I wondered what to write about.

How about instructions on tying a bow tie? Everyone needs to know that, right?

I decided against it and thought the best thing would be to write about something more relevant to the BN360 general audience.

Althea Lehursen, CEO of Leadership Buffalo, often says “Buffalo is a big living room!”

I couldn’t agree more and that’s why networking is so important.

360SpotlightPros-HEADSHOTS5

Kevin Hays

You’ll regularly find connections are closer than six degrees of separation and with relationships like that, you never know how close you are to a new mentor, exciting opportunity, or great experience.

One of the biggest draws of BN360 is the networking opportunities.

Networking, a scary word to introverts, is just building relationships.

However, if you’re an introvert who tends to steer away from big events, how can you effectively exercise this important tool?

Here are a few networking tips for introverts:

Volunteer: Get involved with something you’re interested in or passionate about. Volunteering is a great opportunity to build new relationships among people with shared interests in a comfortable setting.

Check out other Spotlight blogs, Evaluating Volunteer Opportunities by Aliyah Schultz and Ryan Taughrin’s Taking Volunteering to the Next Level, for tips on volunteering.

Take a class: Taking a class or workshop is a great way to develop a new skill and/or keep on top of industry trends. Similarly, due to the structured environment, classes and workshops tend to be a more comfortable way to meet people.

Classes that break into work groups are great for introverts who prefer to interact with small groups.

If you’re not sure where to start, try BN360 Skills for Success: Emotional Intelligence 101 on Feb. 19.

Join an organization: BN360 is a great start since seeing familiar faces can help serve as a natural ice breaker.

You can also try Leadership Buffalo, a professional organization in your field, or one of the many groups supporting downtown development like Working for Downtown and ULI WNY.

Our BN360 Spotlight Professionals for 2014-2015

BN360’s 2014-2015 Spotlight Professionals

Whatever organization you choose, it should align with your interests.

Bring in the cavalry: Just because big networking events may not fit your personality, you shouldn’t feel like you have to miss out on them, as they are incredible opportunities.

Instead, try changing your approach. Bring a friend who can help you tie others into conversation.

You know, if I had taught you how to tie that bow tie, everyone would be clamoring to introduce themselves to you.

BN360’s events serve as great places to test out these tips, try something new and connect with different people. 

As an introvert, networking can be scary but don’t forget that you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) act like anyone but yourself.

Give yourself the chance to step outside your comfort zone;  you might be surprised how beneficial it can be.

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Calling all manufacturers: mark your calendars!

As the regional chamber of commerce, it is our pleasure to help advocate for our members and provide them with opportunities to have their voices heard.

We’re thrilled to call your attention to two upcoming opportunities for our manufacturing members:

Both events represent a chance for our manufacturing members to speak to state politicians about the policies that are of most importance to them.

Buffalo Niagara Night in Albany (2014)

Buffalo Niagara Night in Albany (2014)

Buffalo Niagara Night, held at the Merry Monk in Albany just outside of the capitol building, is a public reception event that provides excellent networking opportunities with the local delegation from the State Senate and Assembly.

On March 10, Partnership staff will lead a lobbying tour of the state legislature in order to directly connect our members with lawmakers. This provides the opportunity for face-to-face contact with politicians, where you can discuss issues that are most important to your business.

On March 23, MACNY (the Manufacturing Association of Central New York, based in Syracuse) is hosting its 8th annual Manufacturing Day in Albany at the Hilton Albany General.

I encourage any and all of our manufacturing members looking for some face time with state legislators to attend.

IMG_4089

Guests enjoying authentic chicken wings at last year’s Buffalo Niagara Night

The goal of MACNY is to dedicate an entire day to manufacturing issues that impact the entire state.

We feel strongly that advocacy is most effective when we have business leaders that demonstrate how and why they are effected by policies.

The opportunities mentioned above allow for direct access to legislators so that our regional manufacturers can communicate their needs and goals.

If you are interested in attending one or more of these advocacy events, please contact me for more information. I hope to see you there!

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NEXUS: the no-brainer, cross-border solution

The Partnership knows how important it is improve the border-crossing experience, which is why we recommend NEXUS.

What is NEXUS?

NEXUS is a bi-national program which expedites the border clearance process for low-risk, pre-approved traveled into Canada and the United States through the promotion of the NEXUS card.

Who uses NEXUS?

The NEXUS program is gaining traction among cross-border travelers, and for good reason.

Flickr/Dougtone

Credit: Flickr/Dougtone

According to The Buffalo News, the number of motorists in Western New York and Southern Ontario enrolled in NEXUS has increased by 23 percent in the last year.

Furthermore, the article states that motorists used designated NEXUS lanes on local bridges on 200,000 more trips in the last year than in previous years.

This summer, NEXUS announced their 1 millionth member. We expect that number to increase drastically over the upcoming years as efficiency at the border becomes increasingly important to travelers from both sides of the border.

Why use NEXUS?

The NEXUS program represents a win-win for the Buffalo Niagara region, as it serves to save time for border travelers into Canada and the United States.

Greater NEXUS usage means less congestion and shorter wait times when crossing the border.

For only $50 for five years of use, a NEXUS membership card is a no-brainer for those of us who regularly cross the border, as it gives access to a dedicated NEXUS lane.

NEXUS-dedicated customs inspection lanes are available at all of the following bridges:

Nexus niagaraYour NEXUS identification card complies with the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requirements that went into effect June 1, 2009, which allow only a passport or other secure travel document as acceptable forms of identification for U.S. and Canadian citizens seeking entry into the United States.

Children 18 and under who are U.S. or Canadian citizens are exempt and only need to show proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.

(Click here for more information on how to apply for a traditional NEXUS application.)

When to get Expedited NEXUS?

We’re thrilled to offer Partnership members with an exclusive opportunity to expedite the formal NEXUS program enrollment process through coordination with local U.S. and Canadian border agencies.

Contact us at CanAm@ThePartnership.org if you are interested in this program or simply email your GOES ID#, Name and Date of Birth and we’ll get the process started for you!

Through use of NEXUS, we help to ensure that Partnership members are provided with the easiest, fastest and most cost-effective way to cross the border so they can focus on their work; not their wait.

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Trade industry: growing job opportunities for students

If you have kept up with our blog, you have read about the importance of college and career readiness and why the Partnership advocates for pathways to graduation that include career and technical education.

Lately, the national conversation has been changing to focus on the millions of high-paying careers that exist in the trade industry.

A recent NPR article explored the job opportunities available in the trades for millennials who are interested in lucrative career paths.

With an aging workforce, there are many jobs opening up in manufacturing, utilities and logistics.

Locally, 60 percent of our manufacturing members are facing a shortage of skilled talent.

While the creation of a Career and Technical Education pathway to graduation was a great first step, the attitude about careers in trades needs to change.

Schools need to bring back and develop new vocational programs. Similarly, parents and students need to be educated about what a career in trades looks like.

The Partnership, through DIDI WNY, brings together manufacturing leaders and Buffalo Public School students to explore industry-specific career pathways

The Partnership, through DIDI WNY, brings together manufacturing leaders and Buffalo Public School students to explore industry-specific career pathways

Programs like Dream It, Do It are working in schools to educate both students and parents about jobs and career pathways in manufacturing.

For example, CNC machinists can make over $32,000 their first year.

As more companies are moving into the region, and more of our skilled workforce is retiring, there will be a higher demand for skilled trade employees.

Employers, educators and parents should work together to educate students on the careers that will be available, and the education needed to succeed, in these industries.

In order for our region to continue on this path of growth and resurgence, we need to close the skills gap and create a talented workforce that not only attracts new business to the area but also helps existing businesses grow.

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Best Practices Should OSHA Come Knocking

What do you do if an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspector arrives at your door and asks you to consent to an inspection of your workplace?

Are you required to consent? And what if you refuse?

As you can see, even before an OSHA inspector is through the door, there are important questions to answer.

Although many issues and questions may come to mind, there are certain “best practices” that any employer can implement – before, during and after any OSHA inspection.

The first best practice is to start preparing before any inspection occurs. Perform a self-assessment: consider how your organization has been performing in terms of safety.

Credit http://www.safetypartnersltd.com

Credit: http://www.safetypartnersltd.com

For example, have you received any OSHA citations previously? Have there been any workplace accidents? Do you have a written safety and health program?

These are the types of questions to ask.

It is critical to have an effective, written safety program and implement effective workplace protocols that address (at a minimum) the safety hazards your employees are most likely to face.

There needs to be sufficient training, communication and accountability.

Another important best practice is to designate one person (most likely a safety employee) to serve as the company representative for any future inspections. In such case, if an inspector shows up, you will know who to call and there will be one consistent voice for the company.

It’s important to note that an OSHA inspector will usually show up without a warrant.

Although you have the right to refuse consent, it will only be a matter of time before the inspector returns with the warrant.

In certain instances, you might consider withholding consent temporarily, for example, to permit a key employee to arrive at the site. Further, you can condition your consent on negotiating a reasonable scope and conditions for the inspection.

Once the actual inspection is underway, your designated company representative has the right to, and should, accompany the inspector wherever he or she goes during the inspection.

The representative also has the right, during the inspection, to duplicate any tests conducted by the inspector, take side-by-side photographs, conduct his or her own measurements, etc. Your representative should take detailed notes of everything.

In the event that you later receive a citation, there is one critical deadline to keep in mind: you have 15 working days from your receipt of the citation to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director and/or formally contest the citation.

Do not miss this deadline. If you do, the citation will become final.

When receiving a citation, informal conferences are popular because they present an opportunity to negotiate a penalty reduction, extension of abatement dates, deletion of violations, and/or reclassification of violations.

Michael Rubin

Michael Rubin

Note: appearing at an informal conference does not extend your time to contest the citation (the same 15-working-day period applies).

Finally, even if you cannot refute that the alleged violation occurred, one or more procedural and/or substantive defenses may provide a basis to contest the citation. Any decision to contest must be made in good faith.

About the author: Michael Rubin is a Partner with Goldberg Segalla LLP. Mike focuses his practice on complex and high-exposure litigation, New York Labor Law, and OSHA liability and citations and is a frequent author and lecturer on these matters. He is a co-editor of Goldberg Segalla’s OSHA: Legal Developments and Defense Strategies blog.

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LNG program will bring energy to New York’s economy

The Partnership is proud to announce that we can cross another one of our top priorities off the do-list list. Earlier this week, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) finally outlined its program to allow the construction and operation of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities in New York.

For far too long, New York has been the only state in the country without an LNG program, forcing New Yorkers to miss out on the real economic opportunity that LNG offers.

The Partnership has been pushing the DEC to finalize its LNG regulations for the last three years as a top economic development item on our Regional Agenda.

In fact, the Partnership is a founding member of the LNG for NY Coalition – a group of business, environmental and health advocacy groups united in the common belief that LNG is good for New Yorkers.

With this weeks’ announcement by the DEC, New York is now finally open to the economic, health and environmental benefits of LNG.

The dispensing and storage of LNG in New York will help the trucking industry take better advantage of cheaper and cleaner fuel.

highwayMany of America’s top companies, including Partnership members, are in the process of transitioning their fleets to operate on natural gas. Businesses making the switch include UPS, Verizon, FedEx and AT&T.

Using natural gas as transportation fuel helps companies control costs, considering that natural gas is significantly less expensive than traditional transportation fuels, even at today’s lower fuel prices.

However, the economic opportunities of a LNG program in New York go beyond the benefits to the trucking industry.

LNG in New York will spur the creation of thousands of jobs (from manufacturing jobs to construction and station operator jobs) as firms work to support these newly developed infrastructure needs.

With storage and dispensing facilities in New York, we will no longer miss out on the economic benefits that come with contributing to the LNG supply chain.

LNG is both clean and safe, and will not only be a boost to New York’s economy, but its environment.

LNG emission levels are far lower than traditional vehicle fuels, including the reduction of Carbon Monoxide (CO) and particulate matter by as much as 90 percent. Encouraging the use of LNG over gasoline and diesel fuel promotes the use of abundant domestic energy sources, and will help curb our nation’s dependency on foreign oil.

The Partnership commends the DEC for finalizing its LNG permitting program. We look forward to continuing to work with state leaders to remove barriers for businesses and increase our region’s economic competitiveness.

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