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Western New York, June 2004

Business Expansions

New this Month

UPDATE: Casino (Erie County) Justice Joseph G. Makowski ruled on June 16 that if a casino is built by the Seneca Nation in Erie County, it must be built in Buffalo. The decision permanently enjoined the state from releasing funds for the project and prohibited Uniland Development Corp. of Amherst from selling a 57-acre parcel near the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga to the Seneca's for the casino. If the Seneca's do not meet an August 2005 deadline to start casino construction, Buffalo could start negotiating with other Indian tribes.

Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse (Erie County) expects to open its first store in the region by the end of the year. The new store will open in Orchard Park with 174 jobs. Plans for two additional Lowe's in Amherst are moving forward.

Algonquin Studios (Erie County), a Buffalo based web and software solutions company, announced June 7 that it signed a 10-year agreement with Coldwell Banker Europe that is expected to add up to 125 jobs in Western New York during the next five years. The deal awards Algonquin Studios the exclusive rights to provide technology services and operational support to Coldwell Banker Europe's master franchises and real estate offices in Europe. Algonquin Studios also plans to build a technology and training center in downtown Buffalo.

Greater Buffalo Savings Bank (Erie County) plans to double the number of branches it currently has in Western New York. Construction is expected to begin shortly on additional branches in East Amherst and Cheektowaga. Greater Buffalo Savings Bank plans to hire 50 more employees over the next nine months for lending, operations, and human resources jobs. The new branches are expected to open by 2005.

Praxair (Erie County) is filling 81 jobs at its technology center in the Town of Tonawanda, bolstering its existing work force of about 1,000. The positions are a mix of newly created jobs and existing jobs that were vacant.

Redline Recovery (Erie County), a collections agency that opened in Amherst last summer and has grown to 135 workers, is planning to hire another 100 employees to handle its expanding work over the next 9 months.

Mueller Services Inc. (Erie County) is requesting a $1.8 million bond package from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to help finance its move and expansion from Amherst to the City of Tonawanda. Mueller expects to add 70 jobs, giving it nearly 150 workers after it moves later this year. A public hearing on the Mueller bond is set for July 12.

UPDATE: Geico Corp. (Erie County) has opened for business in Amherst. It has hired the first group of employees at its new sales, customer service and claims center.

Business Contractions

New this Month

UPDATE: City of Buffalo (Erie County) The Common Council approved a revised plan June 22 that will shift all maintenance duties in the city's 180 parks to the county on July 1. Buffalo will pay the county $1.8 million a year and allow it to retain about $700,000 in parks' revenue. The change will save the city about $3.4 million a year. In addition, on June 29, Buffalo firefighters overwhelmingly rejected the city's proposal for a single health insurer, possibly putting a $6 million hole in Buffalo's 2004-05 budget.

Wilson Greatbatch Technologies (Erie County) confirmed it handed out layoff notices to about 100 people at its plants in Cheektowaga and Clarence. Greatbatch makes batteries and related technology for pacemakers and other medical devices. Some may be recalled to produce a new generation of devices in October

New Era Cap Co. (Erie County), maker of baseball caps, is set to close on September 30. The closing eliminates 265 production jobs.

The Niagara County Legislature voted to sell Mount View Health Facility (Niagara County). The resolution, recommended by County Manager Gregory Lewis, call for the county-owned nursing home to be closed if it is not sold within a year, and 220 employees would be let go.

Kaufman's Bakery (Erie County) shut down on June 21, leaving 109 employees out of work.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

UPDATE: Communications Workers Local 1133 members at Mercy Hospital (Erie County)and its off-site clinics ratified a four-year contract during a vote on June 21. The original contract expired June 3. Both management and union officials agreed that the new contract would optimize efforts to attract and keep more workers.

Curtis Screw Co. (Erie County) autoworkers have voted down a contract proposal, sending negotiators back to the bargaining table under a contract extension that expires August 1. The United Auto Workers Local 55 represents about 220 workers at the company's two plants in Buffalo. The previous three-year contract expired at the end of May, but autoworkers agreed to continue working under the terms of the expired agreement for 60 days. New bargaining sessions have been scheduled for July 15 and 16. Curtis Screw makes parts for transmissions, radiators, and other auto components.

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