By Carl J. Montante
Stan Lipsey has been best known as the publisher of The Buffalo News, a position from which he recently retired. These have not been easy times for the newspaper business as papers around the country are under attack by competition from all sorts of electronic media. Many major newspapers have, in fact, closed. Nonetheless, Lipsey has successfully led The News through turbulent times and has now handed the reins to Warren Colville.
Lipsey is also known for his love of architecture and his pursuit of preserving many of the icons that make Buffalo the envy of preservationists throughout the United States. His work with the Darwin Martin House and the Richardson Complex are just two examples of projects that have benefitted from his interest and knowledge.
What many do not know about Lipsey, and what is perhaps his greatest contribution to Western New York, is his continued personal impact on economic development of the region. He has always stood ready to promote the positive aspects of Western New York and its people. In fact, he was a prime mover in a project that has proved to be the largest generator of net new jobs to Western New York in the past decade.
In the spring of 2004, nine executives from the GEICO insurance company visited our offices. The company was intent on locating a new facility in the mid-Atlantic region and negotiated with several states, including New York, for various economic incentives. At the time, Buffalo was one of 11 locations that were under consideration for a facility that promised up to 1,200 new jobs.
It was Lipsey and his close relationship with Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway (owner of The News and GEICO) that made the difference. His dogged pursuit tipped the scales in our favor. He made the case for the well-educated, quality workforce of the region and the work ethic of its people.
By the fall of 2005, Uniland entered into a long-term lease with GEICO and completed construction of a quarter-million-square-foot facility at the CrossPoint business complex in North Amherst. Today, 2,400 Western New Yorkers (soon to increase by another 800 to 1,000) owe a debt of gratitude to Lipsey for his effectiveness and persistence in steering GEICO to Buffalo.
Oftentimes, successful organizations enjoy each others’ company. Today many have followed GEICO to CrossPoint, where more than 7,000 Western New Yorkers work for companies such as Bank of America, Citigroup, Atto Technology, NCO Financial and others. The vast majority of these jobs are new to our region. A large part of this success is a result of Lipsey and his willingness to step to the plate and promote Buffalo, Western New York and its people. We hope, in his retirement, that he stays active and aggressive and continues to promote our region.
Carl J. Montante is managing director of Uniland Development Co.