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Western New York, June 2007

Business Expansions

New this Month

The Seneca Nation broke ground June 11 for its first development outside sovereign territory-a $20 million golf club in Lewiston (Niagara County). The 18-hole public golf course, which will open in about 2 years, will create 44 new jobs.

Five hundred acres of industrial land is now available to attract businesses to Buffalo (Erie County). The land is in 12 parcels, much of it ready for immediate development, with various incentives available. Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park contains most of the land immediately available, with 210 acres. Cobey Inc., a specialty piping systems manufacturer has already built a plant there. The company is bringing 75 jobs to the area.

Officials from Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk (Chautauqua County) and TLC Health Network announced Tuesday- June 12, that they have submitted a plan to the state Department of Health in which they would combine their systems under one governance structure. The consolidation, which has been given a warm reception so far from the Department of Health, also includes affiliation with Westfield Memorial Hospital. The restructuring plan would call for the number of beds at Lake Shore and Tri- County to be reduced and that Tri-County would be converted into an “upgraded diagnostic and treatment center”. A significant part of the plan is that the hospitals have complementary services and very few redundancies. The proposed plan results from discussions among a Hospital Restructuring Task Force convened by the Chautauqua County Health Network, responding to the mandatory enforcement of the Berger Commission recommendations.

General Motors announced that it has selected the Tonawanda Engine Plant in Tonawanda (Erie County) to produce a new diesel engine, a first for the plant and an innovation for the automaker. GM has described the investment to produce the diesel as an $88 million addition to an ongoing expansion of its plant. The new turbo diesel engine will retain about 150 jobs at the plant. Production is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Len-Co Lumber, a longtime Buffalo company, will be opening a second location in Clarence. (Erie County) The new 60,000 square-foot location will open in July.

A total of 31 employees of the Niagara Falls School District (Niagara County) who were mailed pink slips a few weeks ago will be getting another letter asking them to come back to work. The school board members voted unanimously to hire back the staff, stating the rehires are needed to offer lower class sizes. The goal is to have nearly all of the 53 terminated employees back by the end of summer.

The Seneca Erie Gaming Corp. has added to its property in the city with the purchase of a Perry Street building in Buffalo (Erie County). The building, which currently houses Ansel Press, a specialty printer, has 25 employees and has six months to vacate the building. The Senecas plan to use the site to house human resources staff and other non-gaming aspects of the permanent casino.

About 40 jobs will be created in the next year at Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Amherst (Erie County) facility as the result of a defense contract awarded to Northrop and a partner. Over a two-year period, the team of MTC Technologies and Northrop was awarded a $19.3 million contract for the new Joint Threat Emitter system for the Air Force. The system was designed at the Amherst Systems unit of Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems.

Special Metal Corporation in Dunkirk (Chautauqua County) was awarded $108,000 by National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation to help fund the installation of new natural gas pipelines as part of the plant’s expansion. The project will increase the size of the building, purchase new equipment and machinery and create up to 45 high-skilled employment opportunities that will include workforce training.

A surge in new contracts is fueling a $6 million expansion of Moog Inc.’s Space and Defense facility in East Aurora (Erie County). The latest expansion is expected to create 70 engineering jobs, bringing the companies employment in East Aurora to 2,300.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Autoworkers at the American Axle plant in Buffalo (Erie County) have been “unofficially” told that the plant will be idled by the end of this year and shut for good when the union contract expires in March 2008. The Buffalo Gear and Axle plant is one of three American Axle operations in the area. The shutdown of the East Side plant would wipe out 650 high-wage jobs; where currently about 40 workers are laid off. The plant has already cut half of its jobs in the past year.

In an effort to consolidate, major automobile companies across the county have been buying back franchises from their owners. Jim Doyle Ford in Kenmore (Erie County) will close its doors on June 30th. This is the second Doyle dealership to close in a month. The Ford dealer has 63 employees, which will mostly be absorbed into other area dealerships.

Fourteen Catholic elementary schools are closing at the end of this school year in the Western New York area. Come September, more than 1,000 elementary pupils and more than 200 teachers and staff will be looking for new jobs in an already crowded teaching market.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Despite opposition from Union workers at Delphi Corp. in Lockport, (Niagara County) UAW members nationwide approved the contract offered by the bankrupt auto parts maker. General Motors and UAW leaders agreed to a “buy down” that pays high-wage seniority workers $35,000 a year for three years in return for taking a pay cut. Unskilled production wages averaging $27 would drop to between $14.50 and $18.50. High-wage workers could also take early retirement or a buyout of up to $140,000, with no pension. The contract faces approval by the bankruptcy court overseeing Delphi’s reorganization, a process that will take about 30 days. The agreement will go into effect starting October 1.

The City of Buffalo’s 3-year wage freeze will come to an end on July 1st. The wage freeze, which has been in effect since April of 2004, will give thousands of city employees, including teachers, firefighters and police officers, one-step salary increases and longevity payments when the new budget takes effect.

Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO Local 1168, which represents hospital workers, say local emergency rooms are “severely overburdened” and the situation will only get worse if plans to close facilities are not altered. Union representatives spoke June 20th at Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo to criticize the state-sponsored Berger Commission which plans to close DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda, St Joseph Hospital in Cheektowaga, and Millard Fillmore.

A new five-year contract is in place for EMT’s and paramedics employed by Twin City Ambulance Corp. The Tonawanda (Erie County) based company employs nearly 200 EMS workers, which are represented by the International Association of EMT’s and Paramedics Local 394.

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