Familiar name may be next harbor canal chair

May 17, 2012 Updated May 17, 2012 at 7:12 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink

...
May 17, 2012 Updated May 17, 2012 at 7:12 AM EDT

John R, Oishei Foundation president Robert Gioia may be in the line to serve as the new chairman of the board at the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.

Sources said that Gov. Andrew Cuomo may make the formal announcement in the next few weeks.

If selected, Gioia would replace Buffalo businessman Jordan Levy, who resigned from the ECHDC board earlier this year. Sam Hoyt, Empire State Development Corp. regional president, is currently serving as interim chairman of the state agency charged with overseeing the development of Buffalo's waterfront.

Gioia could not be reached for comment.

"It is too early and inappropriate to speculate," Hoyt said.

Should he be tapped for the ECHDC post, Gioia will be following his brother, former U.S. Ambassador Anthony Gioia, who served as the agency's first chairman.

Gioia would be stepping into the ECHDC post during a busy time for the agency. More than $75 million worth of projects are under construction inside downtown Buffalo's Canalside footprint and a deal may be in the works that could see 384 acres of prime waterfront lnad transferred from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to the harbor development agency.

Ironically, Gioia was NFTA chairman for eight years, between 1990 and 1998. Under his tenure, the authority saw the Buffalo Niagara International Airport terminal reconstructed.

A Buffalo native and resident, Gioia began his career in 1970 as a part of the third generation operating the Gioia Macaroni Company. From 1992 to 2007, he was a principal with the Food Group of Strategic Investments and Holdings. Established in 1983, Strategic Investments and Holdings is one of the most experienced equity acquisition firms in the nation.

Gioia has served as president of the board of trustees of The Nichols School, president of the Martin House Restoration Corp., and chair of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. He also served as chair of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, director of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and as a trustee of St. Lawrence University.

In 2007, Gioia was appointed president of the John R. Oishei Foundation, Western New York's largest private, charitable foundation. Also in 2007, Gioia was elected chair of the Western New York Health System, now Great Lakes Health System of Western New York.

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