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Former Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul is joining M&T Bank as vice president of government relations. She says her new job is all about what her old one was: bringing jobs to Western New York.

Hochul, who lost her House re-election bid in November in a close race against former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, will represent M&T in building relationships with local, state and federal officials, the bank said Wednesday. She will work out of M&T’s headquarters in downtown Buffalo.

“M&T has been a large presence in our community. It is a leader in helping small businesses to have opportunities to expand and grow, and this is really a continuation of my efforts as a member of Congress,” Hochul said. “It’s really a perfect fit for me.”

Federal law will bar Hochul from lobbying her former congressional colleagues for two years, but she will be free to reach out to other officials on the bank’s behalf.

Nevertheless, she said she did not see her new post as primarily a lobbying job.

“This is being part of a team that is absolutely immersed in the fabric of Western New York and upstate New York, and I will be involved in whatever levels they need me to be,” Hochul said. “It’s not limited in speaking to people in government. It’s also carrying on their mission with community organizations and community leaders as well.”

Hochul said that M&T Chairman Robert G. Wilmers approached her in December about joining the bank and that she decided to do so after completing her work in Congress and a vacation with her husband, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr.

“The reputation of the bank is just so stellar,” she said. “It’s a much larger presence in Washington, Baltimore, the whole East Coast than I think many people in Western New York realize. There wasn’t a person I spoke to in Washington that wasn’t familiar with their reputation and their small-business lending.”

Hochul, a Democrat, represented New York’s 26th Congressional District in the House for most of the past two years after winning a special election that followed the resignation of Rep. Chris Lee, R-Amherst. Previously, she served as Erie County Clerk from 2007 to 2011.

“Kathy brings a broad range of government knowledge and experience to M&T Bank,” said M&T Bank President Mark J. Czarnecki. “As a company employing more than 15,000 people and as the nation’s sixth largest U.S. Small Business Administration lender, it’s important for M&T Bank to maintain continuing dialogue with our local, state and federal government leaders to help them understand our vital role in creating jobs and economic growth in communities we serve.”

Hochul agreed, noting that M&T’s work will be important to the revitalization of the Buffalo area.

“They’re very much linked to the destiny of Western New York,” she said. “Their efforts in supporting the redevelopment of Buffalo and Western New York are critical.”

email: jzremski@buffnews.com and jepstein@buffnews.com