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Western New York, July 2006

Business Expansions

New this Month

Praxair Inc. the Town of Tonawanda (Erie County) industrial gas maker, wants to renovate nearly 30,000-square-feet of underused manufacturing space in its facility to create a new engineering and design operation focused on meeting a sharp increase in U.S. demand for hydrogen and other gases. This would make the third expansion at the facility in the past three years.

ENrG Inc. will unveil a $1.1 million manufacturing plant in the Town of Tonawanda (Erie County), its second plant in the area. The company makes postcard size ceramic wafers that are coated with layers of chemicals that generate electricity from natural gas and air. When the wafers are stacked together you have a fuel cell, a generator of clean energy. The small company hopes to grow its workforce to about 80 or 90 in a few years as fuel cells catch on with buyers.

Olympic Management Systems, (Erie County) moving to expand its tourist transportation services, has acquired two more motorcoach tour companies. The acquisitions of Coach USA and Kemp’s Bus Service will allow Olympic Tours to offer a broader range of services to Buffalo-Niagara tourists. The Olympic Tours division has 200 workers and expects to double that in the next few years.

Olin Corp., a Niagara Falls (Niagara County) chemical maker, announced it will spend $6.5 million at its plant to double the production of chlorine bleach. A rebuilt production operation will allow the plant to make bleach continuously, instead of batch by batch. The upgrade should be complete in 2007. In addition, the company is receiving state-subsidized power, creating at least 160 jobs.

Time Warner Cable will receive $6.65 million in sales tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, with the expectation that Time Warner will protect about 1,000 local jobs. Time Warner is completing its acquisition of bankrupt Adelphia’s assets in the region. The local jobs are expected to remain intact for at least five years.

Astronics Corp. plans to more than double its manufacturing capacity at its East Aurora (Erie County) factory. The company has filed preliminary development plans with the village for a $7.5 million, 57,600-square-foot expansion that would lead to the creation of an additional 200 jobs.

The Seneca Nation of Indians acquired an 18.9-acre splash park in Niagara Falls (Niagara County) Thursday, July 13, through the state’s power of eminent domain, clearing the way to develop most of the land promised for the Seneca Niagara Casino. The Seneca Nation now owns four-fifths of roughly 50 acres of downtown property pledged by Gov. George Pataki in a 2002 gaming compact that allowed the Senecas to operate a casino in Niagara Falls. A master plan disclosed by the Seneca Nation shows the Seneca Gaming Corp. plans to add two more hotels with interconnected gaming floors, entertainment, restaurants and other attractions to its complex.

An Amherst company is looking to build the largest townhouse project in the town of Ellicottville’s (Cattaraugus County) history; a 54-unit, $30 million resort community. Amherst investment group, AWSC, LLC, is working with town officials on a proposal to build the Morningside Estates Complex. The complex would be built in phases over the next five years, bringing an estimated 100 construction jobs to the area and once completed, there could be as many as 20-24 house keeping and maintenance positions.

RiverWright Energy LLC, a new Buffalo-based alternative fuel company, will be building an ethanol production plant in Buffalo (Erie County). The $80 million ethanol project, which starts with a September groundbreaking, will be located on a 23-acre parcel along the Buffalo River. When the plant is up and running-in about a year- it is expected to produce 110 million gallons of ethanol annually and create 65 full-time jobs.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Freezer Queen Foods, the 50-year-old maker of frozen dinners in Buffalo (Erie County), closed suddenly on Thursday, June 6th, leaving 175 workers unemployed. The plants demise has been looming for some time, but picked up steam when it failed a food safety inspection in mid-June. The company chose to stop production rather than correct the violation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Quebecor World Buffalo will cut 200 jobs, after losing production of AAA TourBook travel guides to a sister plant in Mississippi. The Depew (Erie County) plant notified workers about the job cuts July 20, but the cuts are not expected to begin until December.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

About 50 people from Nurses United Communications Workers of America demonstrated outside the National Labor Relations Board office in Buffalo (Erie County) Thursday, July 20, to draw attention to a board decision in Washington that may strip union cards from millions of workers. The pending decision-called “Kentucky River” expected later this summer- could broaden the definition of supervisory workers, who aren’t eligible for membership. The decision would affect about 100,000 people statewide, including “charge” nurses, factory foremen and possibly other skilled workers.

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