NEW HAVEN, Conn., Feb. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- First Niagara's first Annual Survey of Southwestern New England Business Leaders released today shows more leaders are positive than negative about their local state economies based on the assessment of current economic conditions and their expectations for 2012. A strong plurality of these private business executives are saying that they expect to increase their workforce sizes, and nearly half expect increasing revenues while almost 4 in 10 expect profitability to increase in 2012. By at least a three-to-one ratio, private business leaders in Southwestern New England plan to increase (28%) their workforces in 2012 compared to 9% who expect to decrease. Another 63% expect workforce sizes to stay the same. "These business leaders are telling us that Southwestern New England is open for business," said David Ring, New England regional president for First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (Nasdaq: FNFG), the parent company of First Niagara Bank. "Many are focused on growing their businesses in a financially realistic way by increasing their workforces and investing in fixed asset acquisitions." Responding to the survey conducted by the Siena College Research Institute were 324 leaders of private businesses with $5 million to $200 million in annual sales. Results are available at https://www.fnfg.com/CEOSurveyABOUT FIRST NIAGARA First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank that currently has approximately $33 billion in assets, $19 billion in deposits, more than 330 branches and 5,000 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.fnfg.com. When First Niagara completes its acquisition of the HSBC branches, expected to occur in the second quarter of 2012, the regional bank will have an enhanced leadership position in the Northeast, with nearly 430 locations, $30 billion in total deposits, $38 billion in assets and more than 6,000 employees serving consumers, businesses and communities across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The transaction will also provide First Niagara with number-one retail market share across Upstate New York, virtually doubling its number of branches in New York State to more than 200, stretching from Buffalo to Albany and down through the Hudson Valley.