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Western New York, February 2011

Firm Expansions and Contractions

Business Expansions

New this Month

UnitedHealth Care plans to add at least 50 new employees to its Tonawanda (Erie County) facility. The new hires will be in customer service and claims. The center opened in 2005 with 300 employees and has since grown to more than 500 at the site.

An international chain of secondhand thrift stores is opening its first Western New York site in Hamburg (Erie County). Savers hopes to start work on the site in March and open in late June or early July. The company will likely employ 35 to 45 workers at the store.

The City of Buffalo Police are taking to the streets of Buffalo (Erie County) as part of a unique campaign to find the officers of the future. Instead of waiting for police candidates to come to them, they are searching out the candidates. Buffalo Police are hitting the streets with their mobile unit looking for their new class. The police exams are set for April 23rd and the deadline for registering is March 16th.

The Seneca Nation of Indians has created a company to handle diverse energy development, including its effort to win the Kinzu Dam hydropower project relicensing in Pennsylvania. The Nation’s Council formed the new subsidiary, Seneca Energy LLC, to evaluate, invest in and seek partners for various “renewable energy” projects utilizing Nation territory and the many advantages that using Nation sovereign territory offer. The new company will emphasize creating energy through green programs.

Home Depot Inc. is looking to hire 250 seasonal workers in the Buffalo (Erie County) area to help with its busy spring season. The workers will be hired in and trained in February and March.

Projected growth by Medina’s Trek Inc. is prompting the high-tech manufacturer to shift two of its departments to a historic building in Lockport (Niagara County). The top two floors of the three story 57 Canal Street Building, located near the Erie Canal, is being leased to Trek. The company will use the space for its research and development and engineering departments and expects to have as many as 45 people employed there. Trek will be keeping its manufacturing operations in Medina.

Quaker Crossing, one of the largest shopping centers in the Western New York area, has landed two new tenants. Weight Watchers and Children’s Place have both signed leases with the developers. The shopping plaza, which has over 700,000-square-feet, is more than 90 percent leased.

Verizon Communications is seeking to complete its purchase of land for a data center in Somerset (Niagara County) and has asked a court to speed up the appeal of a lawsuit blocking the deal. An Amherst woman has appealed a court decision that upheld the Town of Somerset’s approval of Verizon’s plans. The oral argument is scheduled for September, but Verizon would like it to be moved up to April or May.

IMMCO Diagnostics, an Amherst (Erie County) based diagnostic products and services company that bought a laboratory division from Upstate New York Transplant Services, has now spent $1 million to relocate that business to the Buffalo Medical Campus. The move allows the company to expand the operations and broaden its services, while also freeing up space in its Amherst location to expand manufacturing so it can meet demands for its diagnostic testing kits.

Metalico Inc. has purchased a portion of the former Bethlehem Steel/Mittal complex in Lackawanna (Erie County) including an abandoned galvanizing mill. The New Jersey-based scrap metal recycler expects to make a capital investment of more than $10 million for the property acquisition and add 15 to 20 jobs in addition to construction and installation work. In addition, to boost work at the facility, Metalico is looking to add two more scrap-buying centers in the area.

California-based manufacturer Professional Plastics has acquired a vacant Orchard Park (Erie County) industrial building. The company, which manufactures high-performance plastic sheets, rods, tubes and film, including plexiglass, currently operates a facility in Cheektowaga that employs about 30 people, is relocating to the new facility to expand and accommodate the company’s growth.

Business Contractions

New this Month

National Fuel Gas Co. expects to transfer 20 to 30 workers from Amherst (Erie County) to the new office it is opening outside Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for its oil and natural gas drilling business. The transfer will cut the staff of the Amherst office by roughly two-thirds as the local company looks to bring its exploration and production office closer to its fast growing drilling operations in the Marcellus Shale region.

Ultimate Electronics has filed for bankruptcy and plans to close all of its stores. The Cheektowaga (Erie County) location opened in the fall of 2010. The retailer is asking a bankruptcy judge to approve its plan to hire a liquidator and launch a going out of business sale. The retailer had previously announced that it would be opening its second WNY location in Amherst. If the liquidation plan is approved, Ultimate Electronics would be the second electronics retailer in the region conducting a going out of business sale, joining Rosa’s Home Stores.

More than 100 employees at Amherst Systems Inc. in Cheektowaga (Erie County) will lose their jobs at the end of the month due to a decline in new orders. Layoff notices were sent to 119 employees. Last June, the company laid off 54 employees at its Amherst site. The reduction will leave 383 total employees left at the facility.

An Olean (Cattaraugus County) call center is working to line up new work to keep 164 employees on the payroll. Data Listing Service LLC, doing business as The Connection, filed with the state Department of Labor, that it would lay off the workers May 20. The Olean site has a total workforce of about 326, with another site in Jamestown employing hundreds more.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

The members 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East at Our Lady of Peace Nursing Home in Lewiston (Niagara County) have ratified a new labor agreement. The new three-year contract agreement covers 313 certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses and service and maintenance workers at the nursing home. (February 8, 2011-Business First)

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