VIDEO: M&T's investment in downtown's tallest building defies simple explanation

By Dan Miner
Buffalo Business First

M&T Bank’s decision to become an anchor tenant at Seneca One Tower defies simple explanation.

The formerly moribund skyscraper, which is being reanimated by Washington, D.C.-based developer Douglas Jemal, gave Buffalo’s biggest bank an opportunity to make a transformational real-estate investment. M&T gets to oversee a 21st century tech facility that befits the fast-moving, agile work done by its software personnel.

And by being near other technology firms – from startups to growing corporations – the bank is seeking proximity to cutting-edge infrastructure and product ideas.

For M&T Chief Information Officer Michael Wisler, the conversation inevitably boils down to one factor: talent.

Keeping home-grown technologists here, and attracting top-notch workers from other places, is key to M&T’s future, he said.

“Cities like Buffalo are in a race for relevance, and that relevance is all about talent,” Wisler said. The bank is looking “for those who are not necessarily just solving complicated problems, but are out looking for problems to solve.”

M&T's investment in downtown's tallest building defies simple explanation
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M&T will occupy 330,000 square feet of the building, including 11 floors of the tower and two more floors of its annex building. Workers are expected to start moving in next year. Jemal even added 200,000 square feet to the 1-million-square-foot building.

"Douglas changed the nature of the building," said Rene Jones, M&T Bank CEO and chairman. "He took a building that many thought was too large and made it larger. Who does that?"

By making a downpayment on downtown’s technology economy, bank workers see their business goals aligned with the community. The bank has already been joined in Seneca One by other anchor tenants such as Odoo, 43North and Serendipity Labs.

“If you take a look at other cities that are well on their journey right now (in creating a thriving technology economy), they all have something in common,” Wisler said. “They have a corridor, if you will. A place where this type of activity is happening. Where people eat, live, work, play and educate. That’s what we’re trying to build.”

This article originally appeared in Buffalo Business First.