Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Business

September 11, 2009

BANKING: First Niagara moving corporate headquarters to Buffalo

PENDLETON — First Niagara will be moving its corporate headquarters from Pendleton to Buffalo this fall but also will be adding staff to its facility on South Transit Road.

The First Niagara Financial Group announced Thursday it will relocate its headquarters to the Larkin building on Exchange Street in Buffalo. Officials said the move will create more than 300 new jobs in both Erie and Niagara counties by this time next year. First Niagara has been based in Pendleton since 1997.

First Niagara President and CEO John Koelmel said the reason for the move was two-fold, to accommodate the increase in business after First Niagara’s two Pennsylvania acquisitions, and to help consolidate buildings.

“We needed more space, but we weren’t looking to build,” Koelmel said.

First Niagara was already in the Larkin building, where the company already employs nearly 250 employees and houses its Western New York Regional Market Center. The company first leased 64,000 square feet in the 726 Exchange St. building in 2006 and recently began expanding to 89,000 square feet on two additional floors of the 10-story office building. The bank also opened a full-service branch in the building’s lobby in 2007 to serve the Larkin Building and surrounding neighborhoods.

Gov. David A. Paterson and Empire State Development also announced Thursday that the ESD was giving a $1.3 million grant to First Niagara for its expansion.

Koelmel said the regional market center will remain in the Larkin building, along with the executive offices. The Pendleton building will basically remain what it is now, a central office operation center providing support for the local branches. That support includes First Niagara’s public relations, human resources and marketing operations.

“You’ll see the same faces there with the same functions, it’ll just be more dedicated to what it is,” Koelmel said of the Pendleton facility.

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