Founded in 1999, Invest Buffalo Niagara represents the eight counties of Western New York. We are the region’s nonprofit,
privately funded economic development organization focused on job creation.
Our mission is to attract new employers to the Buffalo Niagara region through outreach to growing companies around the world.
To support business attraction, expansion and entrepreneurship, Invest Buffalo Niagara collaborates with local businesses, universities, nonprofit
organizations and elected officials to deliver a unified response to regional economic development opportunities.
Our team of professional economic development consultants provides free
and confidential services to companies considering the Buffalo Niagara region, particularly for the first time.
Invest Buffalo Niagara serves as a single point of entry for economic development inquiries and offers a comprehensive suite of
client-driven project management services to companies and consultants evaluating the market area:
Confidential and custom site location assistance
Detailed, comprehensive site/building information
Labor market analysis and demographics
Tailored market research
Facilitation of state and local incentive programming
Personal community and site tours
Introductions to professional service providers and partners
Meetings with community and business leaders
Assistance with workforce and recruitment training needs
Meet the Invest Buffalo Niagara Team
Our on-site staff brings a wide range of expertise in areas of business development, client service, real estate, finance, research, marketing, event planning, graphic design, and public/Investor relations. Each individual staff member brings a vital set of skills to the team. Get to know us! We are currently seeking to add a Senior Administrator to the team.
Thomas A. Kucharski has served as President and CEO of Invest Buffalo Niagara since 2000. Under his leadership, Invest Buffalo Niagara has grown from a start-up initiative to an innovative regional economic development organization that has secured more than 400 successful project wins representing $4.4 billion in investment in the region and over 42,000 jobs created and/or retained. From the onset, Tom helped Invest Buffalo Niagara form strong, enduring partnerships with business, development and academic leaders throughout the Buffalo Niagara region. Today more than 150 organizations work with Invest Buffalo Niagara to provide support and expertise to companies from the U.S., Canada and other parts of the world looking to set up shop in Western New York. Within Invest Buffalo Niagara, Tom has championed initiatives such as compiling business data that is tailored to specific industry sectors within the region and building an advanced research department offering innovative, state-of-the-art data and GIS mapping capabilities through the Buffalo Niagara Commercial Listing System (CLS). The Invest Buffalo Niagara Business Development team has, under Tom’s tutelage, made major strides in improving the economic service delivery system, including a one-stop, client oriented business development system and the first ever Uniform Development Incentives Policy agreed to and applied across the region. The creative Marketing Department at Invest Buffalo Niagara has been recognized nationally, regionally and state-wide for its PR, promotional, industry-based, social media, advertising and web-based marketing by winning over 175 awards including a majority at the Gold and Best of Class level. The pinnacle of these efforts came at the 2014 International Economic Development Council’s annual meeting where Invest Buffalo Niagara was recognized with the inaugural “Best in Show” award for its “Are You Right for Buffalo” video that was selected from over 600 entries world-wide. Tom has been a Certified Economic Developer since 1992. Before joining Invest Buffalo Niagara, he headed up the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation in Eastern Pennsylvania, and prior to that served as executive director of the Horizon Council of Southwest Florida, a regional public/private partnership that included Sarasota, Ft. Myers and Naples. He is recognized nationally for his work in the economic development industry and is often quoted and referenced in national publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Newsweek, as well as numerous trade and industry publications. Tom has participated in several significant initiatives in the states that he has worked. In Florida, he participated in Governor Chiles’ fifteen-member commission that eventually privatized economic development, foreign direct investment efforts and tourism into Enterprise Florida. While representing the state on the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC), Tom was named the 1990 Florida Economic Developer of the Year. In Pennsylvania, he applied his Florida experience to assist Governor Ridge’s twelve-member committee that privatized these same functions into Team Pennsylvania. For those efforts, he was gain honored as the 1998 Pennsylvania Economic Developer of the Year. In New York State, he has assisted Governor Cuomo’s administration with the formation of the successful Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) model. He serves as an active member of the Western New York REDC where he Co-Chairs the Global New York Foreign Direct Investment initiative. . His other professional accomplishments include serving as a Board Member and Chair of various committees of the International Economic Development Council for over ten years. He is also an Executive Committee Member of the New York State Economic Development Council (NYSEDC) and was selected by his NYSEDC colleagues as the 2014 Economic Developer of the Year. In 2007, he received the Meritorious Service Award from the Western New York Chapter of the New York State Commercial Association of Realtors.
“This is a region where life works both professionally and personally. The quality of life and the people are unmatched by any others I’ve experienced elsewhere. And where else could I have sailed in the morning, played golf in the afternoon and skied in the evening – all in the same day?”
Jenna Kavanaugh serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Invest Buffalo Niagara. Jenna sets the strategic direction of the organization, manages and directs the day to day operations, and is focused on driving continuous improvement to advance their economic development approach. Jenna raises profile of the Buffalo Niagara region as a viable place to operate and grow a business through market intelligence research and industry outreach strategies. Prior to becoming Chief Operating Officer, Jenna was Invest Buffalo Niagara’s Director of Marketing & Communications. Jenna also designed and managed the inaugural 43North Business Plan Competition entrepreneur experience and awards ceremony. She’s an experienced story teller and has showcased Buffalo’s renaissance by producing videos such as Are You Right for Buffalo?, Next Things Now, and The New Buffalo. In 2016, Jenna championed the Rise of the Rest Tour (Steve Case) as the Community Liaison to showcase the area’s startup scene; recognized by Rise organizers as top visit. Jenna has more than 20 years of marketing management experience focused on brand and business development. Prior to joining Invest Buffalo Niagara, she was Marketing Director for Visteon Aftermarket, where she was responsible for brand management, strategic development, and communications for underhood automotive aftermarket product lines. Jenna earned a bachelor’s degree in Literature with concentrations in Theater Arts and Writing from Canisius College. Jenna is a Say Yes Buffalo Mentor and a graduate of Leadership Buffalo. In 2019, Jenna was named one of North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers.
“Whether meeting friends and family for coffee on unique and historic Elmwood Avenue or in the quaint village of East Aurora, you feel the same strong sense of community and tradition. Buffalo Niagara is a great place to receive an education, raise a family, build a rewarding career and cultivate friendships that last a lifetime.”
Kari Bonaro is a project manager for Invest Buffalo Niagara, providing operations and project management. As founder of Dahlia Insights LLC, Kari is a not-for-profit leader who works in partnership with organizations to provide strategic communications; project management and leadership for collaborative, multi-stakeholder initiatives; and organizational strategy and development. She led communications, public relations, and external affairs for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. for 12 years.
Prior to moving back to Buffalo, she provided communications leadership and support to foundations, universities, and not-for-profit organizations in Washington, DC and New York City. Kari is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
She is the president-elect of the Advisory Board for the Women’s Business Center at Canisius College; Advocacy and Communications Committee Member of Western New York Women’s Foundation; and a member of the Communicator’s Network. She also volunteers for her children’s (many!) sports and clubs. Kari and her family live in Buffalo, NY.
Kim Grant started her career in telecommunications and then pivoted to advanced manufacturing, medical devices and biotechnology when she was repatriated to Buffalo from Columbus, Ohio in 2007. Since then she has been actively involved in the Western New York start up community, working with 43 North, the Western New York Venture Association, and UB’s Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships.
Kim was recruited to UB in 2013 as the Business Development Executive for the Center of Excellence Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. In that capacity she was responsible for the NYSTAR Center for Advance Technology (CAT) and the Bright Buffalo Investor Forum. In 2018 she transitioned over to the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences UB RISE (Research, Innovation, Simulation, Structure, Education and Engineering) Center to help entrepreneurial minded clinicians develop and test new products as well as facilitate a testing and training facility for industry partners to collaborate with clinical experts and stakeholders.
During her tenure at UB, Grant was responsible for engaging industry partners and cultivating academic, public and private collaborations to generate economic development. These efforts included attracting firms to relocate to Western New York, connecting companies to potential grant funding, state programs and investors as well as leveraging her professional network to catalyze innovation and growth.
Over the last decade, Kim has served on the Buffalo Public School Policy Board, the Western New York Invention Convention board and was President and Treasurer of the International Society of Automation – Niagara Frontier Section. After ten years, she retired from the National Ski Patrol
Kim received her bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State College and is a 2011 graduate of Leadership Buffalo. Kim and her husband Robert live in East Amherst.
Olivia Hill proudly serves as a member of the Business Development team at Invest Buffalo Niagara. In her role as a senior business development specialist, Olivia is responsible for managing a pipeline of new business expansion inquiries, generating leads to recruit key businesses to the region, and assisting the business development staff in their business attraction efforts. Before joining the team at Invest Buffalo Niagara, Olivia served as the Deputy Director of the Hamburg Industrial Development Agency, where she managed the financial incentive component for businesses seeking tax exemptions for new facility construction or existing business expansion in the town of Hamburg. Olivia has always had a love for the Buffalo Niagara region which pairs well with her BA in Urban Studies and Sociology from Canisius College. Although she loves many things about this region, the food scene tops her list. Like many Buffalonians, Olivia is not afraid of the cold and can be found enjoying an ice cream cone no matter the weather when she’s not in the office.
Rob began his career during the Great Recession, which started a continuous thread of supporting our community to persevere and prosper. An Americorps term with John R. Oishei Foundation provided Rob with a first-hand perspective on the great diversity of WNY’s economy and its people. Taking this foundational understanding of his community to higher education, Rob has worked with UB and SUNY Erie to create new economic opportunities for WNY, and to prepare our workforce to match our employers’ needs. Rob spent most of 2020 in Chicago where he worked to educate future essential health care workers. Drawn to Be In Buffalo, Rob returned to Buffalo-Niagara to support yet another WNY perseverance story as the region kicks back in gear after the COVID pandemic.
Rob was brought to UB to coordinate the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences’ NYSTAR Center for Advance Technology (CAT) and STARTUP NY programs. In this role, he supported entrepreneurs and business leaders to convert innovation and incentives into economic opportunity. With these new opportunities top of mind, Rob was recruited to SUNY Erie to manage multiple Career & Technical Education grants which funded curricula updates to better prepare students for work.
In recent years, Rob has pursued extensive training in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This education began with programming sponsored by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, and was expanded upon with his participation in the national Education Pioneers fellowship. Rob holds a strong belief that an equitable community will expand the economic prosperity in every corner of WNY.
Rob received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Economics from UB in 2009. He also completed his master’s degree in Education from UB. He is an alum of Americorps and Education Pioneers. Rob calls Buffalo’s Elmwood Village home, and is a fond patron of its many cafes.
Buffalo native Matthew Hubacher serves as Research Manager at Invest Buffalo Niagara. He works diligently to provide timely economic, industry, and community information that is critical to businesses looking to expand their operations or relocate to Buffalo Niagara. The data are also used to support and enrich the marketing and business departments of Invest Buffalo Niagara for lead generation efforts. Matthew’s other responsibilities include company identification, data mining, and researching, developing, and maintaining multiple databases. Before joining Invest Buffalo Niagara, Matthew worked on Capitol Hill as a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Congressman Tom Latham for five years. Matthew holds a master’s in Education Policy from the University of Maryland-College Park and a bachelor’s in Secondary Education from Niagara University.
“My life works where I was born and raised. I’m proud to be from Buffalo Niagara, a region that has all of the attractions of a large metropolitan area without the exorbitant cost of living. I moved from the region after college and returning home and being close to family and friends was a dream come true.”
Sarah Larson was named Marketing Manager for Invest Buffalo Niagara (InBN) in July of 2017. Her role is a mash-up of brand marketing, lead generation, and project management, with expertise in graphic design, website development, creative campaigns, and injecting innovation across digital platform strategies. Sarah has the privilege of leading a smart, talented, three-person marketing department, its operations, budget, and effectiveness. Sarah previously served as InBN’s Senior Graphic Designer and eventually focused on Website Management, where she led the 2015 site re-launch and initiated proactive, multimedia lead generation efforts. She has supported partner campaigns, marketing materials, and events. Sarah enjoys building relationships and solving problems. Most importantly, she enjoys translating goals into successful online strategies. InBN’s most recent recognitions are for it’s Relocation Guide and accompanying social media outreach, earning the 2017 PRSA Excalibur Gold Award, and its Economic Development Week Campaign, receiving the silver award from the International Economic Development Council. InBN’s website – BuffaloNiagara.org – has been recognized with several awards and is now the second largest lead generation source for InBN’s project pipeline. Before joining InBN in 2004, Sarah spent more than five years at WKBW. She served as a Graphic Designer handling brand visuals, promotional materials, advertising, and event design. Sarah also contributed to on-air graphics, animated promotions, and talent photography. Sarah has a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She channels her creative energy through volunteerism. In particular, Sarah has spent many years serving her childrens’ Parent Teacher Organization board, using her passion for education and children in the community. When not working or volunteering, Sarah can be found spending quality time with her husband and three children.
“My life works both downtown, where my career allows me to put my talents to work for the region, and with a quick drive back to the suburbs, where I experience the joys of motherhood for hours a day. Here works because my family creates memories year-round with a rich balance of the region’s seasonal activities.”
Greg Pokriki is the Be in Buffalo & Public Relations Specialist with Invest Buffalo Niagara. He is a St. John Fisher College graduate, Leadership Buffalo class of 2019 graduate, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 2020 Rising Star, and recipient of AAF Buffalo’s 2020 Future Star Award given to an outstanding young professional in advertising and marketing. He volunteers with Seneca Street Community Development Center, Family Promise of WNY, and Say Yes Buffalo. Greg is passionate about watching baseball and building a better Buffalo for all. He also writes his own bios.
Casi Hall is a graphic designer, photographer, and artist. She divides her time designing a broad range of materials for Invest Buffalo Niagara, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and Invest Buffalo Niagara’s partner organizations. She is passionate about sharing her love for the region with others through art and design, and works to make it a better place every day.
When she is not working she enjoys traveling, painting, going for walks with her dog, or volunteering in the art and design community. Casi has volunteered on the board of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) for around 4-5 years as the secretary, statewide programming director, and local programming coordinator. She also participates in Creative Mornings Buffalo, AAF Buffalo, and is a member at the Western New York Book Arts Center.
President & CEO Thomas A. Kucharski, Invest Buffalo Niagara
Chair Douglas W. Dimitroff, Phillips Lytle LLP
Vice Chair Kenneth Kujawa, National Grid
Secretary Becky Gandour, Buffalo Urban Development Corporation
Treasurer Michael O’Brien, Key Bank, N.A.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Empire State Development Corporation, Angela Rossi
State University of New York at Buffalo, Christina Orsi