The local controversy concerning tax breaks for Delaware North Cos. has caught the eye of out-of-town site selectors, some of whom have started making their pitches to one of the region's largest, privately held companies.
Among those: David Griggs, vice president of business investment and research for Greater MSP in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Greater MSP is the Twin Cities' economic development marketing and recruiting agency, much like the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise.
What makes it interesting is that Griggs spent nine years working for BNE as one of its business development officers and, according to several sources, is one of six short-listed finalists for the Erie County Industrial Development Agency's chief executive officer position.
Griggs is pitching a Buffalo company that, if he lands the ECIDA job, he will have to turn around and help craft an incentive package for Delaware North -- the same company he is trying to lure to the Twin Cities.
When reached by phone, Griggs would neither confirm nor deny that he had applied for the ECIDA job.
Griggs did confirm, however, that he made the Minneapolis-St.Paul pitch to a top-level Delaware North executive.
"I just did the same thing I did in Buffalo," Griggs said. "I am not trashing Buffalo in any way. I only want to make Minneapolis-St. Paul available to Delaware North."
Delaware North already has a foothold in the Twin Cities. The company provides concessions to Target Field, home to the Minnesota Twins baseball team and the Target Center, home to the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves as well as retail at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
"Delaware North is a fabulous company," Griggs said. "Any community would be lucky to have them."
For their part, Delaware North officials have repeatedly said they are not interested in moving their corporate headquarters to another city. Buffalo has been its home since 1915.
Delaware North employs 350 people at its Key Center headquarters. The company leases 110,000 square feet in the complex and its lease expires in 2015. It has been scouting Buffalo sites for a new location for nearly two years.
The company will be the anchor tenant of a proposed $80 million, 12-story building proposed by Uniland Development Co. Incentives being sought separately by Uniland and Delaware North have become the source of controversy in recent weeks.
"When you see a company in the news, you reach out to them," Griggs said.