John R. Koelmel is president of HARBORcenter Development, LLC, overseeing the hockey and entertainment complex being developed by Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula on the Webster Block adjacent to the team’s First Niagara Center. The $172 million project will include a full-service Marriott hotel with 205 rooms, an upscale two-story hockey-themed restaurant, two full-size ice rinks, a high performance-training center, street level retail space and a five-level parking ramp with more than 800 spaces. The rinks and restaurant will begin operations in September 2014 with the hotel opening in May 2015.
Koelmel is the former president and chief executive officer of First Niagara Financial Group, Inc. and its principal subsidiary First Niagara Bank N.A. He joined First Niagara as its Chief Financial Officer in January 2004 and was appointed CEO in December 2006. He served on the Buffalo company’s board of directors from 2007-2013.
During Koelmel’s tenure as CEO, First Niagara grew to a top-25 U.S. bank by assets and market capitalization, with almost $37 billion in assets, $28 billion in deposits, 6,000 employees and more than 400 branches serving New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Koelmel has been a regular banking industry commentator for some of the country’s major media outlets, appearing often on CNBC and routinely featured in national and trade publications such as American Banker, The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, Bank Director and Dow Jones Newswires.
Koelmel serves as Chairman of the New York Power Authority, having been nominated as a Trustee of the Authority by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in June 2012. He is also Chairman of the Board of Kaleida Health, Western New York’s largest health care system, and is a member of the board of Great Lakes Health. He also is Board Chair of the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology and a member of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council.
Koelmel has been recognized by numerous organizations for his business acumen, innovative leadership and community service. In 2012, he was named a “Citizen of the Year” by The Buffalo News; “Man of the Year” by The Buffalo Renaissance Foundation; and “Leader of the Year” by Leadership Niagara. In March 2011, he received the Buffalo Niagara Sales & Marketing Executives “2010 Executive of the Year” award; and in November 2010, he was recognized by the University of Buffalo School of Management as its “2010 Buffalo-Niagara Executive of the Year”. In 2009, American Banker named Koelmel “Community Banker of the Year”.
Koelmel began his professional career with KPMG LLP in 1974. During his 26-year career as a Certified Public Accountant, he served a wide-range of businesses and clients and was managing partner of KPMG’s Buffalo office and Upstate New York Business Unit, which included its Rochester, Syracuse and Albany offices.
Throughout his career, Koelmel has been actively involved with, and had leadership roles in, numerous other community organizations in Buffalo and Western New York. A native of the Buffalo area, Koelmel earned a B.A. degree in economics and accounting from the College of the Holy Cross in 1974. He and his wife, Marsha, live in East Amherst, NY, with her three children, Tommy, Lauren and Caroline. Koelmel has two adult children, Jeffrey and Elizabeth.