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?”