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Western New York, August 2008

Business Expansions

New this Month

A site on the East side of Buffalo (Erie County) will get a new life as a high-tech commercial campus. The Buffalo Urban Development Corp. voted Tuesday (August 6th) to acquire the former Buffalo Forge plant property as a “shovel ready” development venue. No specific end-users have been identified for the site, but it could provide space for firms from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to develop manufacturing space.

Mercy Hospital in Buffalo (Erie County) has received a key decision of approval from the state that likely assures that a $32 million emergency department expansion will begin later this year. The hospital plans a 46,999-square-foot addition that will triple the size of the current emergency room, one of the busiest in the region. The new ER is expected to open 18 months after the start of the construction.

Planners have confirmed Tuesday (August 12) that they are tweaking a final design for the five-acre “Aud Block” that will see a canal wind past a Bass Pro Shops store, museum, various retail shops and a public green. Planners will also consider whether there could be underground pathways that would take pedestrians beneath the canal and confer with Bass Pro designers on potentially joining the outdoor waterway with the store’s indoor water features. Remediation of asbestos inside the Aud is now 70 percent complete and on schedule. Razing of the structure should begin in October and be completed by late spring. The Donovan building is approximately 40 percent cleared of asbestos and is also on track for its planned December completion, with demolition to follow. Under the current Canal side timetable, construction of the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store will get under way by next summer with an expected spring 2010 debut.

A Buffalo (Erie County) company built on debt collection is looking to create as many as 700 new local jobs through a new credit card servicing operation. Capital Management Services L.P. has established a new, independent business, Center One Capital, which is operating as a customer service center. The Empire State Development Corp approved a $500,000 training grant to assist Center one in it growth. Training funds are based on company projections that it will employ 355 workers by 2011.

In addition to the previously announced vascular center, construction is expected to start next year on an office building and a skilled nursing facility at The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Kalieda Health and Ciminelli Development Co. unveiled a plan for the buildings on the north end of the medical treatment and research campus in Buffalo (Erie County). The $200 million worth of new projects construction will begin next year with the building ready to welcome its first patients by March 2011.

Tops Markets announced that the grocer is continuing its pledge to increase the size of its workforce as part of its transition to a locally managed and operated company by creating 40 new, local accounting jobs at its headquarters in Williamsville (Erie County). Since the beginning of the year, Tops has already added 60 jobs in Western New York.

Business Contractions

New this Month

The University at Buffalo has put in place an immediate hiring freeze and moratorium on large purchases as an initial response to Gov. David A. Paterson’s order that state agencies trim 7 percent of their current year’s spending plans. It is uncertain what impact the cuts will have on the university’s ambitious UB 2020 plan to transform its campus into a major research institution.

Sherwood Valve announced it will close its Town of Wheatfield (Niagara County)plant in three to six weeks; leaving about 140 people without jobs. The plant, which assembles and tests items including valves and scuba products, will shift its operations to facilities in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

About 50 workers at Ford Motor Co.’s Buffalo Stamping Plant in Hamburg (Erie County) are on temporary layoff for two weeks as the automaker adjusts its production to match demand in the marketplace. The workers are scheduled to return to work the week of August 25th.

The Buffalo News announced it will offer voluntary resignation incentives to about 10 percent of its workforce in an attempt to reduce operating expenses. 107 eligible employees across most departments were delivered letters and must decide by October 3 whether or not to take the buyouts. Those taking the incentives will be off the payroll by December 31.

The Seneca Nation of Indians Wednesday (August 27) suspended construction activity for two of its high-profile construction project, including the controversial Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in downtown Buffalo (Erie County). Work was also halted on a hotel at the Seneca’s Salamanca casino. While the Seneca Nation pinpoints the decision on a weakened economy, others suggest the decision concerning the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino may be related to on-going litigation from anti-casino forces. The suspension of the projects comes just one day after U.S. Federal Judge Skretny enforced an earlier ruling that gaming operations in Buffalo were being run from a previous “arbitrary and capricious” decision by the National Indian Gaming Commission. Skretny ordered the NIGC to make its final determination about the fate of the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino soon. The shut down impacts nearly 150 union, construction workers at the two sites.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Verizon Communications negotiators and two labor unions representing 65,000 workers nationwide and about 1,300 in Western New York, who had threatened to strike within hours, agreed Sunday (August 10) on a new three-year contract that would provide 10.5 percent wage increases and changes in retirement benefits.

A rare banking strike in Western New York has ended, as workers at Lockport (Niagara County) based Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union ratified a new contract and returned to work on August 27, 2008. The 10-day strike by 73 members of Local 212 shut two branches and put contract negotiations on hold. Cornerstone is the largest credit union based in Western New York. The strike came just days after Cornerstone said it would open its fourth branch in September.

The United Steelworkers and ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, agreed to a tentative four-year contract. Steelworker’s Local 2604 represent 217 hourly workers at the galvanized steel mill in Lackawanna (Erie County) that makes corrosion resistant sheet steel. Also affected by the contract talks are thousands of retirees from Bethlehem Steel, some of whose benefits are paid by ArcelorMittal.

About 70 rank and file members of the CSEA in Olean (Cattaraugus County) could vote as early as today on a tentative three-year contract with the City of Olean. The contract expired on May 31st and negotiations began March 12th.

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