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Western New York, April 2006

Business Expansions

New this Month

An Illinois-based video chain plans to open as many as a dozen new stores in the Buffalo area. Family Video, the nation's third largest video rental and sales company, will open its first store in the Town of Tonawanda (Erie County) in July of this year. The company is planning additional stores in Amherst (Erie County), Lockport and Niagara Falls (Niagara County), Jamestown (Chautauqua County) and Olean (Cattaraugus County).

The Army is planning to build a $30 million Regional Readiness Center for local Reserve units at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (Niagara County) in 2008- a move that could help ensure the base's future. The new facility would house two Reserve units already based nearby at Niagara Falls International Airport. Hundreds of army troops would be moving here and would bring major construction jobs to the region. The Office of Management and Budget and Congress will have to approve the project, but base supporters said getting the Army's support would be the most important step in getting the facility built.

Tops Markets unveiled its plans to upgrade several stores in Western New York (Erie & Niagara Counties). The chain plans to spend $20 million this year on improvements to 11 stores. The stores will remain open during the renovations and expects to add some employees in the stores as a result of the upgrades.

The Walden Galleria mall in Cheektowaga (Erie County) is moving ahead on a $50 to $60 million renovation that includes two new buildings, the gutting of a section of the mall and a new five-story parking garage. The current plans are undergoing site plan and environmental reviews, but officials plan to open some of the new stores this year.

Heritage Manor LLC, an $80 million retirement community has been proposed to replace an empty housing project on Buffalo's East Side (Erie County). Planned is a three-part project on the 17-acre site to accommodate senior citizens at any level of nursing care. About 700 jobs would be created at the campus, which would include a day-care center. Pending all regulatory approvals, construction on the project would begin this summer and completion of the entire facility by 2008.

Wal-Mart is planning a new supercenter in the Brierwood Square shopping center in Hamburg (Erie County). Plans call for the project to be completed in the summer of 2007.

Fiserv Lending Solutions, parent of RSA Mortgage Solution in Amherst (Erie County), is adding 50 new full-and part-time mortgage lending jobs locally as a result of growth in its mortgage and home equity services. The company is also adding 30 jobs to its Fiserv Automotive Solutions group in the unit’s vehicle title processing, accounting, customer service and collection areas.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Japanese drug maker Astellas Pharma Manufacturing Inc. is phasing out the only product its Grand Island (Erie County) plant makes and moving production to Japan. The consolidation has begun and is expected to take up to three years to complete. The plant which has 105 employees makes Protopic ointment for the U.S and Canadian markets. The status of the plant's future is currently unknown.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Delphi Corp's Lockport (Niagara County) plant is one of the eight U.S. plants that Delphi plans to keep open pending the approval of a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge. The Lockport plant which now employs 3,800 may still face job cuts, as well as restructuring to boost productivity and refine product lines. The plant was able to survive, in part, because its main products- radiators, air-conditioner components and ventilation modules-are among the climate control and powertrain cooling products Delphi plans to focus on.

The University at Buffalo (Erie County) plans to stop outsourcing its custodial work to private companies and return to using unionized employees. Currently, four private firms provide about 135 custodial workers, compared to the 70 or so employees still represented by the Civil Services Employees Association Local 602.

The state's highest court has upheld a ruling affirming the city control board’s power to freeze the wages of police officers. The State Court of Appeals refused to hear an appeal by the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association (Erie County) in an attempt to exempt officers from the citywide wage freeze. Nearly 20 months ago a judge ruled that the control board could not block raises they were scheduled to receive, but the decision was overturned and the Court of Appeals announced that it would not hear the case.

A downtown Buffalo (Erie County) office building is drawing the attention of local building trades unions for use of non-union workers. Laborer's Local 210 members began picketing the site protesting the Amherst developer Uniland Development Co.'s decision to open its bid process to union and non-union members. Some 100 unionized construction workers, representing several different unions have been gathering at the site continuing a protest which began last week when Uniland broke ground.

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