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Western New York, February 2003

Business Expansions

New this Month

Wygert Group (Cattaraugus & Niagara Counties), plans to create up to 500 jobs at two facilities it wants to build. The company has reached an agreement with Niagara Falls official to build a facility there. That plant will employ between 75 and 100 people. The other, site still under consideration, the West Valley Demonstration Project Plant, would employ between 350 and 400 employees.

Penninox Corp (Niagara County), proposal of building a $150 million steel plant that would bring 400 new jobs to the area, recently resurfaced at a NCIDA meeting. The proposal has gone before several agencies over the pass two years without any results, but the company has submitted a renewed application for tax breaks, which will be brought up this month at the NCIDA board meeting.

Two contractors hired to test and ship engines built at the General Motors Powertrain (Erie County) plant plan to create 135 jobs. Johnson Matthey is working with local employment firms to hire as many as 90 workers. The additional 45 jobs will be with Speed Transportation.

Charter One Bank (Chautauqua, Erie & Niagara Counties) plans to open 25 supermarket branches in area Tops Friendly Markets, a program that will expand the bank's workforce by 125 jobs. The branch openings will begin this month and proceed at a rate of one per week throughout the year.

Summit Park Mall (Niagara County) The NCIDA recently approved a series of incentives to transform the mall into "Niagara's Christmas Wonderland." The mall currently has about a 16 percent occupancy rate.

East side residents could see $5.7 million in renovations at the ailing Central Park Plaza (Erie County) beginning this summer. A Williamsville-based construction manager and the plaza property manager want to take over and revitalize the 270,000-square-foot plaza.

UPDATE: National Fuel Gas Company (Erie County) has signed a letter of intent to lease most of the space in the Tops Markets office building in Amherst for use as its new headquarters. Formal announcement is expected within a few days.

UPDATE: The Manhattan bankruptcy court overseeing Adelphia Communications (Erie County) has cleared away a potential hurdle to the sale of the Buffalo Sabres. An order by the judge blocks the company's creditors from having a say in future deals to sell the hockey team.

UPDATE: Congress is expected to give $7.5 million to the University at Buffalo's Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics (Erie County) program. The appropriations for UB are well below the $12.3 million requested, but could have been far less.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Ethan Allen Interiors (Chautauqua County) will close its Mayville plant, eliminating 216 jobs. The company plans to close the factory over the next 60 days.

Bethlehem Steel's (Erie County) sale to International Steel Group (ISG) will terminate the health care benefits of 8,200 western New York retirees and about 4,000 additional family members on March 31. Union officials and other retiree representatives are working to negotiate a later termination date. The board of Bethlehem Steel and ISG approved the sale of the company, but final disposition of the retiree benefit plans rests with U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Buffalo Weaving & Belting Co. (Erie County), a weaver of industrial belts has closed its factory, leaving 30 workers without jobs.

Faced with a budget deficit that has grown to about $65 million, Buffalo Public School (Erie County) officials propose closing two elementary schools, ending leases for two rented facilities and consolidating the Olmsted Schools from three buildings to two. Additional closings will be recommended within a month.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

West Valley Demonstration Project (Cattaraugus County) The state and federal agencies in charge of project have argued over the site's future and the state recently informed the federal agency that it considers the negotiations at an impasse. But, three western New York members of Congress introduced a bill that calls for the federal agency to take full responsibility in exchange for a one-time payment from the state. The federal government would be responsible for the long-term stewardship of the waste, saving the state more than $200 million. If the dispute is not settled, jobs at the facility could be in jeopardy. 500 workers are currently employed at the facility.

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