Partnership hires local marketing veteran [The Buffalo News, N.Y.]
(Buffalo News (NY) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 25--A longtime marketing veteran from economic development, real estate and business circles has joined the Buffalo Niagara Partnership as a senior executive.
The Partnership has named Therese J. Hickok as its new vice president of marketing and engagement, luring her away from her role as senior marketing manager for Uniland Development Co. She will work with new president and CEO Dottie Gallagher-Cohen to achieve the organization's mission.
Gallagher-Cohen said Hickok will work to communicate the extent of the Partnership's work, which the CEO acknowledged is not well-understood by most people.
"It's about helping me bridge the gap in the community between what the Partnership's brand is and the work we actually do," Gallagher-Cohen said. "The product is better than the brand here. The work that we do is just better than what people know."
As a result, despite its achievements, the group has suffered some image problems, with some questioning what it really does.
"The Partnership has a very strong reputation and we certainly enjoy a lot of support from our members. But I think there are very few people that understand the depth of all that we are involved in," she said. "And we have not done a very good job of communicating that."
Hickok's new job is a return of sorts to one of the first stops in her career. Prior to Uniland, she served as director of communications at Buffalo-based health insurer HealthNow New York, but previously she was director of marketing and communications at the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise -- the private-sector-funded economic development organization that shares space and staff with the Partnership. She has also worked at E-3 Communications and for the City of Buffalo.
"I have had Therese on my radar screen for over a decade," Gallagher-Cohen said. "Therese is the kind of person that just gets it. She understands marketing and communications and has a very good network. Because of her background, she understands economic development at a level that not many people do."
The hiring also comes at a critical time for business groups like the Partnership and the area's chambers of commerce, which are trying to find new ways to work together, while justifying their continued existence. The Partnership, as a regional group, has more heft to advocate for its members at the state and local level, and to assist members with business development or training. But changes in the regional economy, business community and demographics have made membership in local groups less relevant for many businesses.
Smaller chambers, in particular, are re-evaluating their missions and functions, now that healthcare reform laws are taking away a key part of their business: selling group health insurance to sole-proprietors and small businesses that can't get it or afford it on their own. In the past, they joined chambers so they could purchase coverage through the group.
But with the advent of the state's health insurance exchange, that revenue source -- as much as half the budget for some organizations -- is going away.
"We are all undergoing changes in our business model, because of healthcare reform," Gallagher-Cohen said. "So for many of us, we're sort of figuring out how we do business in the new economy."
That could include more collaborations, and possibly eventually mergers, though Gallagher-Cohen said nothing like that is being discussed right now. "One of the things we are talking about internally here is how can we support these chambers," Gallagher-Cohen said. "They provide a vital role in the community and we don't want to see them disappear."
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