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Western New York, April 2011

Business Expansions

New this Month

Kaleida Health has finalized a deal that will allow it to end operations at the Waterfront Health Care Center, while keeping the facility open under new owners. An acquisition agreement was reached with The Centers for Specialty Care Group that will see the downstate company take over operations at the long term care facility open, beginning on May 1st. The site has about 200 employees, members of SEIU and about 150 residents.

Yahoo intends to expand its data center in Lockport (Niagara County) with an eye on making Western New York a hub for its East Coast operations. The data center will add about 20 jobs to its data center with an allocation of low cost hydropower to help facilitate the expansion. The data center is projected to create 125 positions when the facility fully ramps up its operation.

APP Pharmaceuticals is moving forward with a $30 million expansion of its Grand Island (Erie County) facility. The company will receive low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority to help facilitate the expansion. The maker of injectable pharmaceuticals will add 90 jobs to its existing workforce of 575.

Graphic Controls will add 12 jobs to its 259 member workforce with a $1.5 million expansion of its Buffalo (Erie County) operation. The company manufactures printing materials such as medical charts and casino machine tickets for national and international markets.

Darien Lake Theme Park in Genesee County is looking to fill 2,000 positions for the summer season. Throughout the month of April park officials will be attending job fairs at college campuses throughout Western New York.

A spring job fair at the Seneca Niagara Events Center in Niagara Falls was held on April 13th. The Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel has about 40 job openings for servers, table game dealers and information technology specialists.

Liazon Corp., a Buffalo (Erie County) employee benefits firm expects to hire 100 new workers and expand its offices with help from a $12.6 million round of funding. Liazon provides online benefits management, allowing clients to shop for insurance, healthcare and other services. The hiring of the 100 new workers for inside sales, customer service and operations will take place over the next 12-18 months.

Lake Erie Regional Health System is opening a temporary site in Gowanda (Erie County) in May while it continues plans to replace the shuttered Tri-county memorial hospital. The $2.3 million project calls for leasing a space until the new hospital is opened in nearby Perrysburg in late 2012 or early 2013.

Harper International, a Lancaster (Erie County) company, has secured a $12 million contract from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee to create a carbon fiber processing line that will be used by researchers. Carbon fiber is a strong material that is gaining favor for greater use in automobiles and other applications. Scientists see potential for the material to be used more extensively, given its appealing combination of strength and light weight. Harper has about 80 employees and expects to add a couple of positions tied into the Oak Ridge project, and about 10 other openings in its workforce.

Taylor Devices in North Tonawanda (Niagara County) is planning to expand its factory to accommodate growth in the shock absorber manufacturer’s construction and aerospace products business. The $2 to $3 million project would add manufacturing space and machining equipment. The project will bring 10 to 20 new jobs to the current workforce of about 100.

The start of the demolition process of the Lockport Mall has begun. Walmart purchased the mall property more than two years ago and has fought legal challenges to build the proposed supercenter on the vacant site. The 185,290 square foot supercenter will replace the current Walmart location. Over 200 employees working at the current store will move to the new location and will need to hire hundreds more.

DirectBuy, whose Buffalo (Erie County) location abruptly closed its doors in early March, plans to reopen today, April 26th, in the same location. The store, which was being run by a franchisee when it closed, will reopen as a corporate-operated location, with plans to be converted back to a franchisee-owned operation in the future.

A former A.J. Wright location in Niagara Falls (Niagara County) has reopened as a T.J. Maxx. Parent company TJX earlier this year closed all 162 stores in the A.J. Wright chain.

Rich Products Corp. plans to invest $3.4 million in upgrades to its Niagara Street headquarters in Buffalo (Erie County). The work comes shortly after the company investing more than $14.3 million in recent years on a series of renovations in many of the buildings it own along Niagara Street. The company has 643 full-time workers along the Niagara Street Campus.

Trek, a manufacturer of high-voltage amplifiers, electrostatics measurement instruments and other high-tech, industrial projects, has agreed to lease 12,400-square-feet of office space in a building in Lockport (Niagara County). The company will create 22 jobs with the move from Medina to Lockport.

McDonalds Corp. held a nationwide hiring spree on April 19th, with the company’s goal to hire 50,000 workers in one day. In Western New York, about 400 to 500 jobs will be available.

U.S. Renal Care has started construction on three new dialysis centers in the Western New York area. This will be the company’s first presence in New York State. The centers will be located in Cheektowaga, Amherst, and the Town of Tonawanda. (Erie County). The three centers will cost approximately $4 million to build and be completed by the fall. More than 60 medical and administrative employees will work at the three facilities.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Kaleida Health announced it will close the Judge Joseph S. Mattina Community Center on Niagara Street in Buffalo (Erie County) later this year. The center employs about 200, many of them represented by the Communications Workers of America. Employees have the option to use seniority to bump into other positions at Kaleida health.

West Valley Environmental Services, a New York State owned site that specializes in radioactive waste management and facility decommissioning, will run out of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in the coming weeks, resulting in the layoffs of about 65 workers. The cuts will leave the contractor with about 260 jobs at the Cattaraugus County operation. Additional reductions could follow when a new prime contractor takes over this summer and decides how many employees it needs at West Valley.

School districts in Western New York are facing tough choices with the massive cuts in state aid. Six school boards have adopted their 2011-12 budgets that all include cuts in staff. Under their new budget, Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda is cutting instructional staff by 56.4 positions and support staff by 17. Orchard Park is cutting 37 positions, including 29 teaching positions. Sweet Home is cutting four elementary teaching positions and 3.4 high school teaching positions. Williamsville will eliminate 25 full-time equivalent positions, mostly through attrition. Depew district was able to keep staff reductions to the equivalent of about 16.2 people instead of 26. Lancaster school staff has agreed to concessions as to not have to reduce any personnel. Other schools districts have not adopted budgets yet, but are still facing cuts and raising taxes. Hamburg Central could eliminate 56 positions.

The Niagara Falls School Board (Niagara County) has adopted a budget calling for elimination of 101 staff positions, including nearly 50 teachers. Some of the job cuts will be direct layoffs, others will be retirements.

221 food service employees will be let go at the end of May when Sodexho’s contract with Buffalo State College runs out.

The Clarence Central School Board (Erie County) will cut 40 positions within the district after passing its budget. About a dozen teachers will actually be laid off.

HSBC Bank USA cut about 65 local jobs as part of the bank’s ongoing efforts to balance its customer service and business support needs. The affected jobs were primarily in technology support and finance roles, across locations and business lines in the Western New York area. Affected employees will have priority eligibility when applying for other HSBC jobs.

About 400 local workers will lose their jobs by year’s end when Quad/Graphics closes its plant in Depew (Erie County). The printer of magazines, catalogs, paperback books and other graphic media announced its plans to shut down plant operations, less than a year after acquiring the plant from its former owner, Worldcolor Press.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Members of the union representing workers at Luvata Buffalo (Erie County) voted to approve a three-year contract. The United Steelworkers Local 593 represents about 450 workers at the brass and copper plant.

Health-Care workers rallied against Kaleida Health’s planned closing of the Judge Joseph S. Mattina Community Health Center on the Lower West Side in Buffalo (Erie County). Kaleida confirmed last week it will end operations at the site on Aug. 1, regardless of whether another organization steps up to take over the facility. The rally, organized by union officials representing the 55 workers at the site was held on April 4th.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York (Erie County) locked out 390 of its union workers at its downtown office April 26, 2011, after negotiations failed to yield a new contract before the old agreement expired the night before. The workers, represented by Local 212 of the Office and Professional Employees International Union, were urged by union officials to report for work and planned a protest outside the health insurer’s office. The company has enacted a plan to avoid interruption of service by filing in with staff from Buffalo and other divisions in the company. Temporary workers may also be hired in some instances. The union had been warning its members since mid-April that a lockout was possible. A ratification vote of a new contract was held on April 28. Union employees overwhelmingly rejected the proposal by BlueCross BlueShield on and remain locked out of their jobs.

Workers at Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk (Chautauqua County) have approved a new labor contract agreement for 215 of its workers. The contract covers members of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. The three-year contract takes effect May 1.

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