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Western New York, August 2012

Business Expansions

New this Month

Nearly four years after work stalled on the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in downtown Buffalo, (Erie County) construction crews have officially restarted the project. The $130 million, 65-square-foot casino is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013.

A New York City-based investment management firm is considering building a $37.5 million data center in Amherst (Erie County). BlackRock has three different site options in and around Amherst where it would build a 50,000-square-foot center to serve as a primary communications and processing hub for its investment operations. The company would employ 25 people.

Graphic Controls plans to build customized space to meet clean-room requirements to make syringe filters for medical and pharmaceutical processes. The $760,000 expansion would add 25 jobs to the company’s workforce of 265.

Kinex Pharmaceuticals, a Buffalo-based drug development company, has received an investment from an Asian investor that will boost its growth plans. Kinex, which employs about 15 people, is located in the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The company is currently developing drugs that could be used to treat various types of cancer.

Theodore’s Red Hots will open their second WNY location in Amherst around Labor Day weekend. The first location was opened on Grand Island last year. The owners are also eyeing locations in North Buffalo and Hamburg.

The Senate subcommittee passed a bill on July 31st that includes funding for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station next year. The 107th Airlift Wing and about 800 jobs have been in jeopardy due to defense cuts. The bill still needs to pass a full committee before going to the Senate.

Amherst Stainless Fabricating LLC has officially filed paperwork with the Amherst Industrial Development Agency for its planned 14,000-square-foot expansion. The company is seeking an incentive package to help aid its $1.3 million expansion that will add a few employees to its current workforce of 42.

Perry’s Ice Cream, the Akron-headquartered ice cream maker, is looking to add 30 employees to its more than 300-person workforce in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and the Southern Tier. The open positions include merchandising, sales delivery and warehousing. The additions are needed to keep up with the growth resulting from Perry’s partnership with UTZ snacks, based in Hanover PA. The positions are field-based, with employees working from their homes and store locations.

Years after clearing many legal hurdles, a new Walmart Supercenter opened on Niagara Falls Blvd in Tonawanda on August 15th. The new store helped create 300 jobs in the area.

Former Buffalo Sabre Rob Ray is set to open a restaurant and grill in the former location of Country Deli in Springville (Erie County). The eatery, which has yet to be named, will open in the spring of 2013 and will employ 6-7 people.

Erie Community College plans to hire nine full-time faculty members and a librarian this fall in one of the largest pushes to hire full-time staff at the college in years. The college set aside money in its 2012-13 budget to fill academic positions after the trustees decided to trim 44 vacant jobs from the budget to make up for rising expenses.

The Village Beer Merchant, a gourmet beer and food store, will open a second location in mid-September. Construction is currently underway on the site of a long-vacant former law office on Hertel Ave. in Buffalo (Erie County). Three employees will be added to handle the new store, while the store’s five current employees will receive an increase in hours.

Gordon Cos. Inc will acquire the former Rosa’s location and nearby warehouse in Cheektowaga (Erie County). Both closed when the retail chain shut its doors two years ago. The company will use the warehouse to store and distribute mostly Christmas and holiday-related items that the company sells online. The company has recently struck a deal with to distribute Christmas items on the retailing giant’s website. The $2.133 million deal is expected to close this fall and add 20 new full-time workers and 100 part-time seasonal employees to staff the new warehouse.

Advanced Alarm and Advanced Home Theater will be moving later this year from their longtime home on Niagara Street to a larger site in Tonawanda (Erie County). The move is being fueled by a growing list of clients and will more than triple the space that they currently occupy. Between the two companies, there are currently 16 employees, but with the expansion, at least another 10 employees will be added.

UnitedHealthcare is continuing to expand at its Tonawanda customer service call center (Erie County). The company, part of UnitedHealth Group has more than 38 million members nationwide, including 3.8 million New York State residents served through commercial employer and government plans, such as Medicare and Medicaid. 80 workers will be hired, bringing the total of new hires to 150 by year’s end at the facility.

Kaleida Health has announced the winning design for the former Millard Gates Hospital site, which closed earlier this year. Chason Affinity Cos. $65 million veterinary school plan includes demolishing about half of the buildings on the 10-acre campus, preserving the original 1911 hospital building and other structures. In addition to classroom buildings and the teaching hospital, resident facilities for about 100 students will be built to accommodate a 600-student population. Cornell University offers the only other doctor of veterinary medicine program in New York State. The timeline for the project is about 24-30 months pending state and local approvals.

The Buffalo Sabres have been selected as the preferred developer of a downtown parcel of land known as the “Webster Block” near the First Niagara Center. The proposal by owner Terry Pegula and the National Hockey league team, formally HARBORcenter Development LLC—the development company affiliated with the Buffalo Sabres, plans to invest $123 million for construction of a multi-use complex anchored by a pair of hockey rinks and a 200-room, full service hotel. The development also includes retail and restaurant components and underground parking for nearly 1,000 vehicles. The complex would be connected to the First Niagara Center via an elevated walkway. Once complete, the facilities are expected to create nearly 350 full-time jobs.

Dunkin’ Donuts has announced it will add up to eight more locations in Western New York, the first being in the Town of Tonawanda, which held its grand opening on August 30th. The additional 7 locations, which will be developed over an unspecified period of time, will open in Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua Counties. All of the eight are owned by franchisee Timothy E. Cloe.

Business Contractions

New this Month

The area’s last Jubilee Food store in the area will close in September, putting 60 people out of work and ending the Jubilee name in the local grocery business. Originally a Super Duper, the Blasdell (Erie County) supermarket has been in business since the 1960s and was profitable, but in the past 2 years, since the opening of the Walmart Supercenter, sales have declined. Supervalu, Jubilee’s wholesale supplier, offered to convert the store to a Shop ‘N Save, but because of costs, the grocer declined. The remaining Jubilees in Gowanda and Angola (Erie County) have converted to the Shop ‘N Save banner.

Sheehan Memorial Hospital, which closed earlier this summer, has filed for bankruptcy, in a move that is expected to clear the way for an auction to sell the property. The company operated the Sheehan Health Network, which announced its closing in March after 128 years. The Upstate New York Transplant Services is currently eyeing the shuttered hospital which sits on 8-acres in Buffalo (Erie County).

Labor Disputes

New this Month

About 750 Registered Nurses at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo (Erie County) are covered by a new four-year pact with Catholic Health. The nurses, members of the Communication Workers of America Local 1133, approved the contract after two previous agreements were voted down.

Dresser-Rand Group and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, announced a new labor agreement. The 350 union workers are members of Moore Lodge No. 1580. Financial terms of the three-year pact were not disclosed.

Erie County government’s largest union, for the second time, has turned down a proposed contract. Local 815, Civil Service Employees Association, overwhelmingly rejected a proposal negotiated with County Executive Mark Poloncarz. The proposal would have given an 11% raise during a five-year period while phasing in health insurance contributions for employees and reducing paid time off. The union has 3,500 members, including county government, Erie Community College and Erie County Medical Center. The union employees have been working under terms of a contract that expired in 2006.

An arbitrator has determined that the Buffalo Public Schools’ plan to move a total of 54 teachers at three schools violates the union contract. The district submitted turnaround plans that called for moving teachers to three schools which are considered by the state to be persistently the lowest achieving schools. The district will now need to hire an outside group to run each of the schools.

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