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Western New York, December 2012

Business Expansions

New this Month

Potential development of the Cockagine Ski resort in Cherry Creek (Chautauqua County), whose main lodge burned in January of 2011, could become a year-round recreational resort due to recent zoning law changes. Before the changes, the grandfathered in ski lodge was unable to be a year-round recreational facility. Except for the ski lodge, the rest of the property’s equipment, including the chairlifts and snowmaking machines are fully operational. Additionally, located on the property is a 40-mile horse riding trail and possibly a water park and other summer activities. The ski resort staffed nearly 200 people during the winter.

Buffalo’s biomedical industry will be boosted by a $50 million research facility that will create about 250 jobs and spur additional private investment. Albany Molecular Research Inc. announced it will expand its operations to Buffalo (Erie County) on December 4th when Governor Cuomo visited the region. AMRI plans to construct a drug discovery research and development center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus with $200 million in private investments. The state funding of $50 million comes as part of Governor Cuomo’s promised Buffalo Billion Investment Plan by the Western New York Regional Development Council. The total $1 billion investment is intended to create thousands of jobs and spur billions in new investment and economic activity.

LongHorn Steakhouse held its grand opening in Orchard Park (Erie County) on December 4th. This is the Atlanta-based chains first location in Western New York.

The Buffalo Sabres’ redevelopment of the Webster Block in Buffalo (Erie County) appears to be moving according to schedule, with a target set for a March 2013 groundbreaking. Preliminary plans that were presented to the Planning Board include two ice rinks, a hotel, sports bar, parking deck and a walkway into First Niagara Center. The two new ice rinks must be ready by September 2014 in order to accommodate skaters during that winter season. The project blends the existing architecture features of the First Niagara Center with the more historic elements Canalside.

Just weeks after abandoning hopes to revive the former AM&A’s department store complex in downtown Buffalo, developer Rocco Termini now wants to shift his focus to North Buffalo and the soon-to-be-vacant FWS store. Plans call for a mixed-use residential, commercial, and retail space. The developer has signed contracts to buy the property as well as a nearby industrial building. The $30 million project calls for 60 apartments and 8,000-square-feet of office space, plus 5,000 for retail use.

A Lockport (Niagara County) pizzeria, The Pizza Oven, became the first private business in the city to win Planning Board approval for a major solar power project. 37 solar panels will be mounted to the south-side roof of the business. The $53,000 project, about $10,000 of which is from a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, will allow the pizzeria to use solar power for up to 60% of its electrical needs. Power generated during the day will be stored in the power grid.

Lennox Industries celebrated the grand opening of its 100th PartsPlus store in Depew (Erie County) on December 6th.

Schofield Adult Health Care Program opened its new site on Fulton Street in Buffalo (Erie County) on December 5th.

Saratoga Springs based Greystone Consolidated Companies, a provider of environmental, health, engineering and management services, will open a separately owned company--Greystone Global in Williamsville in January 2013. The company plans to hire 10 employees who will provide international environmental and safety services for major U.S. firms.

The YMCA will open their new $23 million independent health family branch next to ECC North in Williamsville (Erie County) in January 2013 and is hiring 300 people for full and part-time jobs. Openings include fitness instructors, membership and customer service.

Xpedx plans to move from Cheektowaga to a Depew industrial park with help from the Lancaster Industrial Development Agency. The company, a supplier of packaging products, facility maintenance and printing supplies, currently employs 32 people and plans to add 11 full-time and 2 part-time positions.

Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union based in Western New York, is leasing a former HSBC bank branch in Lewiston, making it its fifth location in Niagara County.

The Town of Lancaster (Erie County) has sold the former Colecraft industrial building to Erie Engineered Products, a North Tonawanda company who plans to move to the site. The manufacturer of shipping and storage containers used in the defense industry will bring its 55 current employees to the new location, but not expand its workforce.

Kittinger Furniture Co. is planning to relocate its manufacturing operations from Buffalo to the Town of Clarence (Erie County) and will add eight new jobs to its existing workforce of thirteen. The furniture maker is seeking an incentive package from the Town of Clarence Industrial Development Agency to help finance the project. The need for additional manufacturing space and the desire to be closer to its main suburban showroom prompted the planned move.

After failing to come to terms with a Lancaster property owner, Harper International is now looking to move its plant and industrial furnace manufacturing operations to the former Quebecor plant in Cheektowaga (Erie County).

Business Contractions

New this Month

HSBC Bank USA N.A. will vacate One HSBC Center in downtown Buffalo beginning early near year. The longtime anchor tenant of the tallest building in Buffalo plans to shift employees to two locations: the HSBC Atrium on Washington St. and its facility in Depew. Renovations at both sites will take place to accommodate all of the workers. No job losses are planned as a result of the shift. More than 2,000 employees occupy 22 floors-over 75% of the building. HSBC’s lease expires in October 2013 and has long been speculated that the bank would leave the building.

Citigroup expects to eliminate up to 2,100 jobs in New York as part of its plan to slash its workforce by as many as 11,000, but the company has not specified how its back-office operations in Amherst (Erie County) would be affected by the cuts. Citigroup employs about 1,300 people at its facilities in the CrossPoint Business Park, and its local operations are a strong source of jobs for business and finance graduates from local colleges and universities.

Medical device manufacturer Stryker will close its West Seneca and Orchard Park (Erie County) facilities on January 25th, in order to complete production for a few orders. The Michigan-based company announced in June 2012 that it would be closing by December 31 of that year. 107 workers at the two sites will be out of work.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Unionized workers at St. Catherine Laboure Health Care Center in Buffalo (Erie County) represented by 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, nearly unanimously approved a new contract on December 5. A planned picket by workers was cancelled with the deal reached. The contract covers 75 certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses and secretaries over the next four years.

Small businesses affected by the NHL lockout may be getting help from the federal government Small Business Administration. Agency representatives will be reaching out to business owners in the 23 cities, including Buffalo (Erie County) that host National League Hockey Teams. The agency has noted that the lockout, which is approaching its fourth month, has affected businesses such as hotels, restaurants, retailers and others that are dependent on hockey fans and crowds, watched business fade away. The Buffalo event is tentatively set for December 14th.

Two employee unions; the CSEA Local 815 County Corrections Officer Unit and Teamsters Local 264 have reached a deal with Erie County. The unions represent workers at the Erie County Holding Center and the Erie County Correctional Facility. The Teamsters contract expired on December 31, 2004 and represents approximately 540 members. The new contract will be effective until 2016 and includes raises and a modest payment for each year they worked without a contract. The CSEA Corrections Offices Unit, comprised of approximately 230 staff, contract expired on December 31, 2006. The new contract covers the years 2007-2017, and members will receive 2% COLA raises in 2013-2017 and will begin to pay a percentage of their healthcare. The ratified contracts are the first approved this year by County employees, following earlier contract rejections by the CSEA white collar unit and the Erie County Sheriff Police Benevolent Association.

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