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Western New York, October 2004

Business Expansions

New this Month

Verizon has pulled back from plans to sell its upstate New York phone networks, protecting 1,500 jobs in Western New York.

Account Solutions Group LLC (Erie County), a 500-job debt collector in Amherst, has been bought by ICICI OneSource Ltd. of India. The buyer will keep Account Solutions Group in Amherst, with current managers and workers in place. ASG plans to add 60 to 100 jobs this year at its two location.

Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse (Erie County) will open its first store in the region in February 2005 and plans to hire about 175 to 200 employees. The company is planning three stores for the area, all of which will open next year.

Niagara Chocolates (Erie County), the Cheektowaga-based chocolate maker, expects to hire 65 people later this year to work in its manufacturing plant. The company also plans to increase employment at another site to about 100 within a year.

Bush Industries (Chautauqua County), under a recently approved reorganization plan by Bankruptcy Court Judge Carl L. Bucki the company will save 1,500 jobs in Western New York. With the approval of the plan, the company expects to emerge from bankruptcy protection by the end of the month. The company's headquarters and four facilities are located in the Jamestown area.

Geico (Erie County) recently broke ground on a $40 million service center that will ultimately bring 2,500 jobs to Western New York.

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (Erie County) is creating spin-off investment and an increase in employment in the city. The campus consists of the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, which expects to recruit 40 more employees for its research building and should be completed in early 2005; Roswell Park Center, which added 130 staffers; and the University of Buffalo's Bioinformatics Center, which increased staff last April and should employ about 300 when the center opens next year. Both centers are expected to be ready in the fall of 2005.

Save-A-Lot (Erie County) opened its Central Park Plaza store on October 27. The store filled a void in the plaza created a year ago, when Quality Markets closed its store. The company is also looking into opening a store in Lackawanna.

RSA Solutions (Erie County) in Amherst is adding 50 workers, bringing its total to about 500, as the marketer of off-lease autos expands into financial services.

Business Contractions

New this Month

International Steel Group's (Erie County) 250-job mill in Lackawanna will become part of a Europe-based steel maker under a recently announced merger plan. ISG will become part of Mittal Steel if stockholders and regulators approve the merger next year.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

A strike was narrowly avoided when Niagara Mohawk and negotiators for 4,000 union workers reached a tentative agreement shortly before a midnight deadline. The company is the chief electric utility for the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area. The union's bargaining committee has unanimously supported the terms of the contract. The contract runs through March 30, 2008 and was recently ratify by members.

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