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Western New York, December 2011

Business Expansions

New this Month

About 65 jobs were put back in to the Erie County budget by the Legislature on December 6. The budget committee voted December 2 to restore about 50 social service jobs, a rodent control program, funding for Operation Prime Time, seven positions in the Comptroller’s office, a deputy commissioner of emergency medical services and an assistant district attorney.

Two new after-hours health clinics opened in the City of Buffalo (Erie County). WNY Immediate Care held a ribbon cutting on December 8 and Buffalo General Hospital’s new behavioral health clinic opened on December 12.

A Long Island law firm specializing in insurance defense and mortgage foreclosures wants to open an office in Amherst (Erie County). Frenkel Lambert Weiss Weisman & Gordon LLP is seeking to expand its presence into Western New York and other markets as it has taken on more foreclosure work in the region and expects to grow further. The firm is currently seeking about 10,000-square-feet of office space, enough for as many as 100-125 employees.

Preliminary work has begun on the construction of a second tower at Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel in Salamanca (Cattaraugus County). The $53 million project will add about 200 rooms, nearly doubling its capacity.

The new Federal Courthouse opened in downtown Buffalo (Erie County) on Monday, November 28th after more than three years of construction obstacles. The $137 million building is the most expensive government building in the city’s history.

UB 2020 is moving forward with their development plan that brings the promise of 3,000 new jobs to WNY. UB has landed a $35 million grant to move the UB Medical School from the Main Street Campus to the Downtown Medical Corridor. The goal is to finish the building of the medical school by 2016. Of the 3,000 jobs created, about half of them would be construction jobs over the four year building process.

The U.S. Postal Service announced it will delay closing the William Street mail-processing facility and 2 other local post offices until May 15 of next year in the wake of pressure from U.S. Senators. More than 250 mail processing facilities and 3,700 local post offices are on the list of closures. The William Street facility was scheduled to close in April 2012.

K&H Industries in Hamburg (Erie County) has acquired Sunlite Safety Products, a purchase that will expand the company’s product line. The new product could result in new jobs at the company adding to its current workforce of nearly 40 employees.

The developers of the former Gen. Donovan Office Building and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. have agreed to a formal contract, clearing the way for the $30 million downtown Buffalo (Erie County) project to proceed. The Buffalo law firm Phillips Lytle LLP has agreed to anchor the building, taking the top four floors of the eight story structure. The building has been empty for more than three years and was originally targeted to be demolished and used as a parking ramp for the proposed Bass Pro store.

The long vacant El Rancho Motel in Hinsdale (Cattaraugus County) may come back to life as an independently run motel catering to Hydrofracking workers along the New York and Pennsylvania borders. The Cattaraugus County Industrial Agency has approved an incentive package for Rte. 9 Travel Center to help finance the $125,000 renovation project. The hotel is slated to re-open next year.

The Empire Development board of directors approved incentives for the renovation of a Holiday Inn in Niagara Falls (Niagara County). Merani Holdings is expected to invest $3.8 million in the project that will retain 40 jobs and create 22 more.

Calspan Corporation is proposing a state of the art Transportation Safety Campus be built at the company’s Cheektowaga (Erie County) location. The expansion would cost $40 million and bring temporary construction jobs and permanent high-paying technology jobs.

Qdoba, a rapidly expanding Mexican food chain, has decided to enter the Buffalo (Erie County) market. The Erie, Pa based franchise will open two new restaurants by early winter of 2012.

The long-discussed project to relocate a railroad line that would open hundreds of acres in the former Bethlehem Steel complex in Lackawanna (Erie County) for development could start next spring. The Erie County Industrial Development Agency accepted a $300,000 grant from National Grid that will further fund the $4.7 million project to move about two miles of railroad lines. The project has already received about $4.4 million in state grant funding.

Calspan has received an abatement package from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency for a series of renovations to its Cheektowaga (Erie County) headquarters and operations center. The company will invest $1.05 million in plant renovations and another $950,000 in new equipment, adding 10 jobs and securing another 205.

Bryant & Stratton College is expected to receive $578,000 in tax breaks for its previously approved $3.2 million project to build a 20,000-square-foot facility on its Orchard Park (Erie County) campus that will serve as a back-office call center for its online education division. The project is expected to create 50 full-time and 15 part-time jobs. The company currently has 75 full-time and 5 part-time jobs.

Mighty Taco has decided to open a downtown Buffalo (Erie County) location after years of requests. The new site, which will employ about 24 people, will be the chains 20th location in the Buffalo area.

Business Contractions

New this Month

An Amherst-based firm with ties to foreclosure specialist Steven Baum is beginning the process of laying off hundreds of employees. Pillar Processing, which focused on document processing, has filed notice that it will be letting go 586 of its workers in Amherst (Erie County) by February 27, 2012. The majority of the layoffs-435- involve processors. A total of 117 paralegals, team leaders, supervisors and legal secretaries are also affected. Baum, the Law firm which is closing and laying off 67 employees in Amherst, founded the Pillar Company several years ago to handle the law firm’s work. The company was sold to private-equity firms, but still shared resources and space with the Baum law firm.

The Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services office in Little Valley will close January 1st. The office is closing due to budget cuts.

American Axle’s closure has been pushed back until September 30th of 2012. The company was expected to shut down in February 2012. 75 full-time jobs will be lost at the manufacturer in Cheektowaga (Erie County).

Gaymar Industries in Orchard Park and West Seneca (Erie County) is shutting down operations a little more than a year after it was acquired by Stryker Corp. The closings of the medical manufacturer will put approximately 160 people out of work. The layoffs will occur in phases beginning in 2012.

Up to 170 positions will be eliminated after the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority voted to “right size” the local transit system to fill a $14.7 million deficit. Passengers of Metro Bus and Rail will encounter dramatically reduced service when the new budget takes effect April 1, 2012. The board opted against a fare hike in favor of the service reductions. While only 50 positions, including 20 transit police jobs are slated for elimination, the loss of service will precipitate a total reduction in the job force by about 170 positions.

New Era Cap Co. handed out pink slips to half of the plant’s workforce on December 23rd. A few hundred people are being laid-off on a temporary basis. They are expected to return to work shortly after the New Year.

275 remaining employees are out of work as of midnight, Thursday, December 22nd .The presses stopped forever at Quad Graphics in Depew (Erie County) when the Wisconsin-based company closed the plant on George Urban Boulevard.

Sears Holdings Corp. announced it will be closing 100-120 Sears and Kmart stores across the country. Sears has a substantial presence in the WNY area, with stores in all of the major suburban malls. Kmart stores are located in 6 WNY towns. The locations of the closings are still undetermined.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Leaders of Niagara County’s Unions protested the elimination of incremental pay increases in the proposed 2012 budget. The budget eliminates 63 jobs, nine of them currently filled. The union leaders were most concerned about the workers annual moves form one step to the next on their contractual pay scale.

Workers at General Motors Lockport (Niagara County) plant will vote January 10 on a local agreement that is a supplement to the national agreement approved last year. The local agreement would put the site in a better competitive position to bid for future work.

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