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Robert Gioia chosen to head ECHDC

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There is a new head of the state agency developing Buffalo's waterfront. Governor Andrew Cuomo has nominated civic leader Robert Gioia to the board of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and recommended he be chairman.

Gioia is the president of the John R. Oishei Foundation, chairman of the Great Lakes Health System, and a former chairman of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.

The development corporation post has been vacant since Jordan Levy resigned and has been filled on a temporary basis by Empire State Development Corporation Regional President Sam Hoyt.

"He just wants to continue to see a process that is inclusive and benefits and continues the excitement down on the waterfront," Gioia said of the governor.

The harbor corporation has major construction activity underway at the old Aud site and City Hall has just approved construction of an ice rink and hotel complex across Main Street from Canalside.

Gioia says he can see waterfront progress from his office window in the HSBC Tower that wants to see continued.

"I think we'll continue to see progress and I think people will get even more excited and when next summer comes around, it'll even be even more accessible," Gioia told WBFO and AM 970.

Gioia says Sabres owner Terry Pegula's planned new complex on the Webster Block is a great addition to the burgeoning waterfront. The former Donovan State Office Building is also being converted into an office and hotel building across the street.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.