Reacting to Friday morning's confirmation that KeyCorp is buying First Niagara, local leaders say they will work to preserve jobs that many fear will be lost as part of the deal.
KeyCorp is headquartered in Cleveland while First Niagara's corporate offices are located inside the Larkin Building in Buffalo. The concern is for the jobs that could be lost as part of addressing duplicate services.
While watching developments closely, some local leaders held on to the hope that KeyCorp could be convinced to space many positions, taking note of the Buffalo area's economic growth over the past couple of years.
"Our top priority in state government and at Empire State Development is to look at this as an opportunity, as opposed to a negative, and it is an opportunity," said Sam Hoyt, regional director of the Empire State Development Corporation. "We will be in touch with KeyBank officials immediately. We will impress upon them how incredible the workforce here is in Western New York."
Hoyt added that feedback from both domestic and international banking firms indicates Western New York has a reputation for a low cost of doing business. Congressman Brian Higgins shared Hoyt's opinion about the local banking workforce.
"I like the human infrastructure of the banking industry here in Buffalo and Western New York and I think that's what made First Niagara attractive," said Higgins. "My hope is that will be recognized and that will be part of the transition: retention of employment and growth."
Sen. Charles Schumer, late Friday, issued the following statement, expressing concern over the deal:
“The proposed acquisition of First Niagara by Key Bank, on initial examination, seems extremely troubling because the banks overlap so much and merging may entail significant job losses and reduce competition across Upstate New York. I am seriously considering opposing this merger, but will await getting some details from the CEO of Key Bank, as to the specifics of their plan and how it would affect jobs in Western NY."
The deal, assuming it gains all necessary regulatory and shareholder approvals, is expected to close in fiscal third quarter 2016.