Citigroup a Job Creator in Amherst

February 11, 2013 Updated Feb 11, 2013 at 8:27 AM EDT

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First

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Citigroup a Job Creator in Amherst

February 11, 2013 Updated Feb 11, 2013 at 8:27 AM EDT

Aided by state incentives first offered six years ago, Citigroup Inc.'s Amherst site has added 650 jobs since 2007, giving the financial industries giant more than 1,300 local workers.

And more hiring may be on the way, the company said Friday, including an estimated 175 jobs that need to be filled as soon as possible.

Citi officials confirmed the number of new hires during Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy's visit to Citi's CrossPoint Business Park facility.

"This is an important milestone," said Nassir Salim, head of Citi's Amherst site and director of Citi Transaction Services.

While Citi's New York roots go back to 1812, the firm has had a Buffalo area presence since 1976 when it opened a small office with just 10 employees.

Citi's local job growth, fueled by a $1.75 million Empire State Development Corp. grant approved in 2007 and incentives offered through the Amherst Industrial Development Agency, comes against a backdrop where major, global financial industries firms have retrenched.

The Citi employees in Amherst work in 25 different departments for the bank. The Amherst operation is run on a 24/7 schedule because it feeds into Citi's overall global operations.

"We want to keep that upward (job growth) trajectory," Duffy said.

Mark Bell, Citi managing director of finance, said it is not a back-office operation, but a key cog in the bank's worldwide network.

"It is an integral part of our North American operations," Bell said. "It is as much a strategic center as our New York City operation is. This isn't a peripheral operation. It is central to us."

Duffy praised the close-working relationship Citi has with local colleges and universities to fill its positions. That, he said, is a poster child for partnerships between the public and private sectors.

"Key investments are being made," Duffy said. "Promises made are promises being kept."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who previously served as the county comptroller, noted the county issued more than $100 million in Citi-backed bonds in recent years.

More importantly, Citi's local growth can serve as an economic development and growth model, Duffy said. The state will be using its Amherst growth as a marketing tool to encourage others to invest in the Buffalo area.

"We've had a great return on our investment," Duffy said. "They are infusing this economy in many different ways.

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