081104 - mesi camp2

Patrick McPartland/Contributor Amherst, NY - Joe Mesi watches election results with friends and supporters at Loughran's Bar Restaurant in Amherst, NY on Nov. 4, 2008. Mesi is running for the New York State Senate seat in the 61st District.

Despite an increase of more than four points in the first quarter of 2009, the Buffalo region’s overall consumer confidence remains the lowest in New York state, according to a recent study.

The Siena Research Institute at Siena College near Albany recently released a quarterly report on consumer confidence. Overall consumer confidence in the Buffalo region increased 4.3 points, but at 54.4 points it remains last among the nine major regions stidued by the institute; New York City, at 63.4 points, is first. The numbers reflect attituted toward a willingness to spend, as opposed to ability to spend.

Buffalo-Niagara residents also seem down in their feelings about the future. Even with an increase of 2.7 points, Buffalo’s 49.9 points ranked the region last on the future confidence index, which saw increases in all nine of the measured markets.

The statewide average overall confidence of 59.6 points is up from 54.4 points in the fourth quarter of 2008.

“Consumers have taken a deep breath and stepped back from the economic cliff,” Siena College finance professor Douglas Lonnstrom said. “Confidence is up and now moving in a more hopeful direction, but consumers newly programmed to practice caution are hardly ready to storm the mall or car lot.”

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His recent political defeat apparently behind him, Town of Tonawanda native Joe Mesi will make an appearance at a boxing event next month in Belfast, N.Y.

Mesi will appear at an event May 16 at the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame. Belfast is host to many barns that staged such fights, including bare knuckle legend John L. Sullivan.

“He will be the biggest sports hero to attend an Allegany County happening in recent memory,” Scott Burt, coordinator of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame told the Wellsville Daily Reporter. “We are very pleased that Joe and members of his camp will be with us. I’m sure it will also be exciting for him to stand where ‘The Great John L.’ stood, walk the floors that he did and handle some of Sullivan’s original equipment.

Mesi, an undefeated heavyweight boxer, was injured in 2004 and suspended for several years as a result. He came back to win a handful of fights, but hung up his gloves in 2007 and in November lost a race for a seat in the state Senate. He's since taken a job with a regional state Senate office to be opened in Buffalo.

Contact editor Paul Laneat 693-1000, ext. 116.