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Western New York, August 2007

Business Expansions

New this Month

A company looking to invest $2 million and create 35 new manufacturing jobs was granted tax breaks in Niagara County. Ascensions Industries, which already employs 100 people, is seeking to purchase a 40,000-square-foot vacant industrial building. The company manufactures industrial filtration equipment and engages in metal working.

A partnership comprised of BPU, Praxair Inc., Ecology and Environment Inc. and the Dresser Rand Group wants to bring cutting-edge carbon capture and sequestration technology to the BPU coal power plant in Jamestown (Chautauqua County). The so-called “oxy coal” process developed by industrial gas manufacturer Praxair Inc. will produce carbon dioxide pure enough to be buried underground, reducing emissions of the greenhouse gas at the Jamestown plant. The facility could become operational in 2012. The project could create 3,500 jobs, including 300 construction jobs, and add $900 million a year to the region’s economy.

A growth in national accounts is fueling the largest physical expansion of the Perry’s Ice Cream Co. Inc. in Akron (Erie County) The manufacturer is adding 30,000-square-feet of warehouse and storage space. Perry’s will add jobs, but the exact number has yet to be determined. The company currently has 280 full-time workers at the plant.

More than 1,300 Blue Cross and BlueShield employees and consultants moved into their new corporate headquarters in downtown Buffalo.(Erie County) The new $100 million office complex, at 469,000-square-feet, has attracted attention not only for its size, but has also cleaned up a former Brownfield site, and the fact that it is keeping a major employer in the city. The construction project was announced in late 2004.

UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s second largest health insurer, has announced a major expansion of its Tonawanda (Erie County) operation, saying it will add 130 jobs this year. The Minnesota based health insurer will hire about 100 customer service employees and 30 additional nurses, adding to the 550 employees already on site.

Uniland Development Co. is welcoming the first tenants to its new $10 million, five-story office building in downtown Buffalo. (Erie County) M&T Bank, the buildings anchor tenant, will start moving in 300 to 350 staffers. Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, one of the area’s largest environmental services, began moving 83 of its staffers and plans to add another 30 over the next two years. This marks the second time in a month a new office building has debuted downtown.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, a Pennsylvania retail chain, will open its first New York State store in Cheektowaga. (Erie County) The Walden Avenue store will employ 50 to 60 full and part-time workers.

The Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel in Salamanca (Cattaraugus County) plans to build a second hotel tower with additional gambling space. The hotel tower, which is expected to offer 200 guest rooms, will join the current 11-story, 212-room hotel that opened in late March of this year. The new hotel tower and expanded gambling area are slated to open in mid-2009.

Tyson Foods Inc. hopes to increase production at its meat processing plant in Buffalo (Erie County) and add about 150 workers to the current 450. The plant, operating below capacity, processes deli-style meats.

Klein Steel Service has revived a former Gibralter Industries warehouse in the Town of Tonawanda (Erie County), and plans to add jobs at the steel distribution and processing center. The company employs 37 people at the site and expects to add more jobs this year and next year.

The first wave of M&T Bank employees have started moving into downtown Buffalo’s (Erie County) newest office building. Employees from M&T Securities are moving from their offices in Cheektowaga into the recently opened Delaware St. building. M&T will have 244 workers on three floors in the 116,800-square-foot building.

A private-sector operator is moving forward with plans to build a brand-name hotel in Salamanca (Cattaraugus County), for the first time since Seneca Gaming Corp. opened its 212-room hotel. Owner of the Mountain View Hotel will tear down their current hotel and construct a three-story, 58-room Microtel Inn and Suites in its place. Construction will begin in late September or early October, and guests are expected by the spring of 2008.

Business Contractions

New this Month

American Axle & Manufacturing will pay buyouts of up to $100,000 per worker at its Buffalo (Erie County) plant, where production is scheduled to halt by year’s end because of falling orders from General Motors Corp. Beginning in September, the 650 workers represented by the UAW will have a choice of several buyout or retirement packages, depending on their length of employment.

Packaging Corp. of America closed its doors abruptly on Monday, July 30th, laying off 25 workers with virtually no notice. The 40-year-old box-making plant in Buffalo (Erie County) is the only one of the company’s four paper mills and 68 corrugated product plants in 26 states that is being closed.

Univera has decided to close its home health care unit in Williamsville (Erie County). The service, which employs 80 full and part-time workers, will close its facility on September 21.

General Motors Corp. Tonawanda (Erie County) engine plant will lay off up to 145 hourly workers for as long as 24 months. Production of a new V-8 gasoline engine is scheduled to start in the third quarter of 2009 and on a diesel engine in the fourth quarter of 2009. The pending layoffs are keyed to how long the transitions to the new product lines are expected to take. Also as part of the transition, 112 hourly people have been placed on layoff until September 24. The brief furlough is so the plant floor can be redesigned for the inline 4-cylinder as engine assembly, which has been temporarily suspended.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

A blue –collar union at Niagara County Community College is approaching its third anniversary without a contract and the sides seem to be at some distance from agreement. The contract between the school and the Technical Support Personnel Association expire on August 31, 2004. One of the key sticking points is health care. The union represents about 25 members.

Niagara County and its blue-collar employees union have reached a tentative contract agreement after five years of battling. Local 182, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which has about 350 members, has been working under terms of a contract that expired at the end of 2002.

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