The Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau could have a new president and CEO before Christmas.
It has been conducting a national search for the top post since Richard Geiger resigned in late May, ending a 14-year reign. Geiger is currently a hospitality industry consultant.
He earned $189,401 in 2007 as CVB president and CEO.
Geiger's departure forced the organization to begin a search. It retained Sharon Randaccio and her Performance Management Partners to lead the search.
"They have been able to isolate a good number of candidates," said Dr. Gary Praetzel, CVB interim chairman and dean of Niagara University's College of Hospitality & Tourism Management.
The CVB has 19 full-time employees and a 2009 budget of $4.1 million, with virtually all of the budget derived from its share of Erie County bed tax receipts. Next year, the budget is slated to be $5 million.
Praetzel said the list, which he would not call a short list, is a mix of those with CVB backgrounds and others with a more marketing-based resume. It includes both local and out-of-town candidates.
One person who is not on the list - by his choice - is the current interim president, Drew Cerza. While many had hoped he would throw his hat into the ring, he opted not to do that.
Cerza, founder of the National Buffalo Wing Festival, was a CVB board member when Geiger resigned. He assumed the post on a strictly interim basis because he wants to focus on his promotions business, which includes the local wing festival and others around the country.
"When Drew took the job, he stressed it was just on a temporary basis and he wasn't looking for it as a full-time job," Praetzel said. "Drew, I think, is too much of an entrepreneur."
Praetzel said he hopes the CVB search committee and Randaccio's firm can pinpoint Geiger's replacement by early December and have a candidate at the bureau by early January.
"We're looking for that one candidate who can bring in a range of abilities," he said.
The new official will have a full plate waiting on his or her desk.
Buffalo, in 2010, will host three major sporting events, including the Empire State Games, the NCAA men's basketball regional finals and ice hockey's World Cup championships. The following year, the city will host the annual meeting of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.