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Western New York, October 2007

Business Expansions

New this Month

AES Corp. plans to build a $25 million dock reaching into Lake Ontario to receive ships carrying coal and limestone to supply its power plant in Somerset in Niagara County. The 3,200-foot-long dock will also be made available to other companies in Western New York that want to use freighters to import cargo by way of the Great Lakes. Construction of the dock is expected to begin next year and the first shipment of coal and limestone is scheduled to arrive at the plant in the fall of 2009. The project will employ more than 100 construction workers and help retain more than 150 union and management jobs at the plant.

The Seneca Nation of Indians unveiled plans for the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo (Erie County). The upgraded plans for the nine-acre site now include a 22-story; 206-suite luxury hotel to complement a three-story, 90,000-square-foot casino will have 2,000 slot machines and 45 table games. The addition of the hotel nearly triples the original $125 million budget for the casino project. The $333 million casino/hotel complex is believed to be the most expensive private structure ever built in Buffalo. Construction will begin this fall, with completion of the casino slated for spring 2010, and the hotel in summer of 2010. The Senecas expect to hire more than 1,000 employees. Currently, the temporary casino is a 5,000-square-foot, single-story facility, which houses 124 slot machines and employs 50 people.

Local waterfront planners unveiled revised plans for a Buffalo (Erie County) Bass Pro Store on October 10. The updated plans call for a new Bass Pro Outdoor World store to be built on the site where Memorial Auditorium now stands. The store is expected to cost at least $60 million to construct. The redrawn plan-the third in the past four years-positions the sporting goods store as the anchor for Canal Side, a mixed-use development that will encompass nearly 20 acres around and including the historic Erie Canal Harbor site. Under a preliminary timetable, demolition of the Aud and the Donovan Building will open the door for the sites to be shovel-ready by mid-2009, with the earliest the store could debut in mid-2010.

Local control is returning to Tops Markets, the region’s largest supermarket chain, under the new owner’s plan to bring the company’s corporate headquarters back to the region. Morgan Stanley Private Equity acquired the 71-store chin for $310 million. The new owner will honor agreements with the previous owner, protecting more than 600 union jobs at the Tops warehouse in Lancaster. The company also expects to add about 100 corporate jobs over about a year.

The University at Buffalo will erect a new building in downtown Buffalo (Erie County) next to former M Wile building, which UB acquired last month to relocate several community outreach programs. The building will be home to UB’s Educational Opportunity Center- which provides training, college preparation and related services to about 2,500 people a year. The new building will cost about $30 million and will be constructed in about 2 years.

The City of Buffalo (Erie County) will administer a firefighter’s exam on March 22nd 2008, for the first time in eight years. Buffalo hasn’t hired new firefighters since 2002 and currently has more than 40 unfilled positions. Over the next few years, the city will need to hire 100-200 firefighters just to offset retirements.

Globe Metallurgical Inc. announced its intention to reopen its facility in Niagara Falls, as soon as January 2009. (Niagara County) Globe shut down its Falls site, which made silicon metal products, in September 2003 due to a slow market and global competition. About $17 million would be invested in updating the factory, with the facility expected to provide 105 immediate jobs plus 50 potential manufacturing jobs later on.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Vesuvius USA plant in Hamburg (Erie County) will close by the end of next year and shift its work to a factory in Mexico, as part of its British owner’s push to cut costs by moving production to cheaper markets. The move will eliminate about 100 jobs at the factory, which makes crucible used for melting metals. Production will be phased down throughout next year, with the final shutdown by the end of 2008. .

Labor Disputes

New this Month

United Auto Workers Local 774 at GM’s Tonawanda (Erie County) Engine Plant have voted in favor of the contract presented by GM. The proposed contract, by guaranteeing continued production at U.S. assembly plants, secures the future of supplier plants-both within GM and at other companies. Under the “buy-down” provision, the senior workers will also receive lump-sum payments totaling $105,000 over three years.

The Adams Mark Hotel in Buffalo (Erie County) has signed a contract with the Operating Engineers union, ending one of the longest running labor disputes in Erie County. Talks for a contract have been held without success since the group of hotel maintenance workers voted to unionize seven years ago. The group now numbers 17 workers. Area unions joined the Operating Engineers boycott of Adam’s Mark in 2002, putting the hotel out of bounds for more than 100,000 union members in the area.

Union members at Eastman Machine Co. in Buffalo (Erie County) have approved a new contract, ending an impasse with the company after their previous agreement expired three years ago. Members of the United Auto Workers Local 936 has about 37 production workers remaining at the plant, which makes industrial fabric-cutting machines. The union struck the company for 19 weeks in 2005, but returned to work without a contract. Under the new contract, newly hired workers will be paid at a lower rate of $14, compared to $18.39 for current workers. They will also take on half the burden of their health insurance costs.

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