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Western New York, July 2011

Business Expansions

New this Month

Seneca Gaming Corp. held a job fair on July 13 at the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel for information technology specialists. Most of the positions will be based out of the Niagara Falls location.

Benderson Development Co. is building a new CVS Pharmacy store in Orchard Park (Erie County). Demolition is of the building on the site is expected to begin soon to prepare to build the new pharmacy.

The Walden Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga (Erie County) has signed seven new tenants to its shopping center. Upscale clothing stores Free People, Arden B, Michael Kors, and White House/Black Market will open over the next few months. Restaurants Gordon Biersch, Quick Fire Grill and Pomegranate will all open by October.

Ground was broken for the Wal-Mart Supercenter in North Tonawanda (Niagara County) on July 11th. The project had been stalled for years after residents spearheaded an environmental campaign against the company. The supercenter will bring 300 new jobs to North Tonawanda.

Joe’s Crab Shack held its grand opening in Amherst (Erie County) on July 11th. The restaurant is the first Joe’s to open in New York State. The new restaurant created 250 new jobs.

Taylor Devices, the North Tonawanda (Niagara County) maker of shock absorbers, plans to add operations at the new buffalo Bolt Business Park. The company plans to renovate three old buildings nearby to create a manufacturing center. The expansion will create about 25 new jobs over the next three years.

M&T Bank Corp. announced it will buy HSBC Bank USA’s former data center in Amherst (Erie County). The bank will use the site as its primary data center supporting future growth. The bank will add 75 jobs, as well as retain 45 current jobs. Plans call for renovation work to begin on September 1, and for M&T to occupy the building by June 1 of 2012.

The Lancaster IDA has approved sales tax breaks for Progressive Insurance. The company is renovating a vacant 4,000 square-foot section of its offices in Lancaster. Progressive plans to hire 28 claims adjustors and retain seven other employees, bringing total employment at the office to 45.

The Empire State Development Corp. has approved $500,000 in economic funding for PCB Piezotronics in Depew. The company was granted the money to acquire land in Lackawanna (Erie County) and install machinery and equipment, having outgrown its current facility. The company develops, manufactures and markets integrated sensors for the aerospace, defense, and automotive industries. The company will retain 513 jobs and create 50 new ones.

The Tokyo II Seafood Steakhouse is preparing to open at a former IHOP location that closed last year in Buffalo (Erie County). The new restaurant will open later this summer.

The RemTronics Corp. is shifting its manufacturing operations to Dunkirk (Chautauqua County) from Silver Creek, after a contemplated move to Ohio. The new facility is 8,000 square feet larger than its previous one. The company manufactures electromagnetic and electromechanical products for the aerospace, medial and military industries. 20 new employees have been hired, bringing the company’s employment to 65.

Development of the Buffalo (Erie County) waterfront, Canal Side is moving forward. The 21-acre mixed-use waterfront development was in trouble after Bass Pro Shops pulled out after nine years of talks. Benderson Development Co. was given the green light to redevelop the former Donovan State Office Building, with the Phillips Lytle LLP law firm confirming it will occupy the top four floors of the eight-story building. The $30 million project, expected to break ground in December and be completed by January 1, 2014, marks the first private investment in Canal side. Construction of a historically accurate re-creation of a portion of the Erie Canal is set to begin in December as well. Completion is planned for December 2012. Canal Side Market, a 25,000-square-foot commercial and retail hub is scheduled for construction to begin in March 20113, with a June 2014 opening. Construction of granite and cobblestone streets and an underground parking garage below the public market is also in the works beginning in March 2012 and March 2013, with openings in the summer of 2013.

New Era Cap co. Inc. is expanding its product lines and offerings globally and will add at least 70 jobs at its downtown Buffalo (Erie County) headquarters. The company is embarking on a five-year strategy to add new products that go beyond its core line of headwear. The new focus will be on New Era’s accessory and apparel division. With the new jobs, New Era will have 375 people working at its headquarters, plus 500 more at its manufacturing plant in Derby (Erie County).

First Niagara Financial Group agreed on July 31 to buy 195 branches of HSBC Bank USA across upstate New York and Connecticut, possibly becoming the No. 1 bank in Western New York and adding thousands of employees and customers. The bank will pay $1 billion in cash to acquire almost all of HSBC’s retail banking presence, including 71 in the Western New York area. The bank will likely have to close nearly half of the locations after the deal closes, and most of the 1,900 people who work in the branches are expected to be retained by it and banks that buy divested branches.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Seven state prisons, camps and work release facilities will close to save money as New York’s inmate populations decline. The Buffalo Work Release in Erie County will close in 60 days (from June 30).

New York State has issued another round of layoffs, this time to 321 employees. The laid-off workers are primarily members of the Public Employees Federation. PEF, the second largest union of state workers, is negotiating with the state, but has not yet reached a new agreement.

The American Axle Plant in Cheektowaga (Erie County) could close its doors if its union cannot agree to concessions to greatly reduce labor costs. The UAW contract with American Axle is set to expire in February, the same time the company plans to close another plant in Detroit.

Borders book stores will close all 399 of its remaining stores including its two locations in Cheektowaga and Orchard Park (Erie County). In addition, the company has a WaldenBooks location in Lakewood (Chautauqua County). The company filed bankruptcy in February and closed more than 240 stores at that time.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Union health care workers at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville (Erie County) and the Jennie B.Richmond Nursing Home, held an informational picket as they continue efforts to settle a new contract. Contract negotiations for the 200 workers have been underway for several months. The majority of the workers are represented by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, while 25 RN’s are represented by the New York State Nurses Association.

Almost 400 Blue Cross-Blue Shield workers will be back to their jobs on August 1st for the first time in more than three months. The health insurer and its union leaders reached a deal that was ratified by union members on July 13th, ending a lockout that began in April at the Buffalo (Erie County) site. (July 13, 2011-Business First) More than 100 registered nurses at the Lockport branch of the Eastern Niagara Hospital have been working without a contract since April 1. Members of the SEIU 1199 in Lockport organized a picket on July 12. The two sides are set to resume negotiations Tuesday, July 19.

Kaleida Health union members have ratified a new two-year labor agreement. All bargaining units ratified the contract, which provides for three percent annual raises and some minor concessions on benefits. The agreement covers almost 8,000 workers.

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