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First Niagara and Larkin District on the grow

First Niagara President John Koelmel
photo by Joyce Kryszak
First Niagara President John Koelmel

By Joyce Kryszak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-966759.mp3

Buffalo, NY – The population of "Larkinville" is about to grow. First Niagara Financial Group announced Monday it is adding another 500 jobs over the next five years throughout the company's four-state franchise.

Company officials said most of those jobs will be in Buffalo.

Since moving its headquarters to Howard Zemsky's Larkin building a few years ago, First Niagara has added about 300 jobs locally. Another 200 have been added at branches throughout the company's franchise with a total workforce now of about 5,000.

Company President John Koelmel said they will continue to invest first in the company's home in what he calls "Larkinville."

"This part is really a bit of the domino theory in terms of making clear what our commitment and our investment will be here in Larkinville that in turn enables Howard and his team and us collectively to further invest and build out in this neighborhood," said Koelmel.

He said an announcement with more details will come within the next couple weeks.

Zemsky, the building owner and person who first envisioned the Larkin District, would not give specifics of those plans. But Zemsky said First Niagara's investments in infrastructure and housing are making a big impact.

"The fact that they adopted, if you will, the Larkin District as their headquarters and the neighborhood bodes very well, not just for them having more employment in the area, which is very important, but in them continuing to play an important role in advancing this as a mixed-use district," said Zemsky.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown also applauded First Niagara's efforts. He said they are leading by example.

"That by partnership and by making strategic investments that you can grow the city of Buffalo and your business can grow and jobs can be created," said Brown.

The latest jobs expansion at First Niagara is being fueled in part with $5.6 dollars of tax credits through the Empire State Development Corporation. The jobs are expected to pay an average of $75,000 a year, including benefits.

A salary range was not available, but Koelmel said some positions would be in the six figures.