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Western New York, March 2004

Business Expansions

New this Month

Definity Health Corp. (Erie County), a Minneapolis-based insurance company is considering the Buffalo area for a customer service center that would employ as many as 600 workers. Definity is targeting the Town of Tonawanda as its site. Definity would acquire North American's 235-employee service unit and use it as the foundation on which to add about 400 jobs by 2007. The health plan provider is expected to move into its new quarters in 2005.

Upstate Farms Cooperative is deciding where to build its new plant. The Erie County Industrial Development Agency has approved an incentive package valued at $27 million to secure the plant in the county. Upstate Farms, which employs 120 people, has outgrown its current plant and plans call for a new processing plant and warehouse. The plants makes cultured dairy products.

Casino (Erie County) Seneca Nation of Indians officials confirmed on March 13 that a deal to purchase a 45-acre site in Cheektowaga for a third casino is close to completion.

Sukida (Erie & Niagara Counties), a Chinese motor bike manufacturer based in China, sent a group of executives to Buffalo to look at potential sites for an assembly plant in the Buffalo Niagara region. Sukida makes a range of motorbikes, motor-powered scooters, all-terrain vehicles and other small engine products.

Fairgrounds Gaming & Raceway (Erie County), an $8 million facility with 990 video gambling machines opened on the Hamburg Fairgrounds on March 17. The facility employs 225 people.

Mueller Services of Amherst (Erie County), which provides support services to the insurance industry, will redevelop the long-vacant Grant Building in the City of Tonawanda with state assistance. In addition to the 100 existing workers, the redeveloped property will bring 100 new jobs to the region within a year to 18 months after moving to the city.

Catholic Health Systems (Erie County) has assembled its construction and development team to handle the transformation of the former Our Lady of Victory Hospital into a senior housing and care facility. The project is expected to start later this year creating 230 jobs.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Trico Products Corp. (Erie County) The end came on March 26 when the last 11 blue-collar workers were let go, marking the final chapter in Trico's 87-year history as a local manufacturing giant. The company, except for a small office staff in Amherst, ended its local presence in Buffalo.

The New Era Cap Co. will shut down its Buffalo plant (Erie County) on June 30 eliminating about 250 of its 339 production jobs. Plans were announced in January to consolidate work at the Derby plant. About 87 workers will follow the work to Derby. The remaining 252 production workers will receive severance package.

UPDATE: Buffalo China (Erie County) reopened March 15 as Niagara Ceramics Corp. The company stands to receive $2.1 million in taxpayer-backed grants and loans for preserving the plant, which was targeted for closing by Oneida Ltd. The supplier will have 210 employees.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

UPDATE: Over 1,500 American Axle (Erie County) workers ratified a new tentative four-year contract on March 7. Structured in the deal is a guarantee that none of the six American Axle plants will be closed. An agreement was reached on February 27, ending a one-day strike.

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