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Western New York, June 2012

Business Expansions

New this Month

Plans to construct a C-130 flight simulator facility at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station in Niagara Falls (Niagara County) have cleaved a major milestone. Congress’ Military Constructions Appropriations bill includes a $6.1 million allocation for the simulator. Approval from House of Representatives and the Senate are needed before funds are officially allocated. The investment would provide for a full-motion simulator in addition to other special structural and electrical systems to support simulator operations. The Niagara Falls Air Reserve C-130 simulator would be the only one in the Northeast, serving six Air Wings across the region.

The Angola Travel Plaza (Erie County) on the New York State Thruway has opened four new restaurants. Moe’s Southwestern Grill, Cinnabon, Auntie Ann’s Pretzels and Carvel replace a Denny’s that had operated there.

The Seneca Nation of Indians officials announced a series of 15 grants totaling $764,879 for things such as exterior improvements to homes and businesses in the Old First Ward area in Buffalo (Erie County). The Seneca’s committed the money to fund improvements near the 9.5-acre Buffalo Creek Territory. Groundbreaking on the permanent casino is slated for next month.

A new Walmart store will open in North Tonawanda (Niagara County) in August. The store will employ about 300 employees for both full and part-time work. The majority of associates will be hired immediately to help prepare the store for its grand opening.

A Rochester barbecue restaurant may soon be expanding into Buffalo (Erie County). Sticky Lips BBQ is working with a possible franchise operator to bring the chain to the area.

The City of Lackawanna’s (Erie County) proposed budget for 2012-13 would expand the city’s payroll by adding 7 new jobs: a police officer, two firefighters and four public works employees. The final budget must be in place by June 30th.

Five Star Bank has completed the first four of eight branch purchases from First Niagara Financial Group, adding four offices in Western and Central New York.

Police union representatives in North Tonawanda (Niagara County) have asked the common council to hire four officers to help make up for moving the dispatch center from the Police Department to the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office next month. Under the mayor’s budget plan, approved earlier this year, the dispatch department was moved to save the city about $448,000 a year in employee costs and upgrades of equipment. The police are concerned about being short-staffed at the station, where there will now be only one person manning the station. Other alternatives, such as hiring a civilian employee are also being looked into.

Niagara Wheatfield School District Voters (Niagara County) passed a budget for the 2012-13 school year the second time around. The budget will spend 3.83 percent less than the previous year.

The Buffalo Sabres have proposed building two indoor ice rinks, a 200 room hotel, retail space and a sports bar as part of a plan to redevelop a prime piece of real estate near Canalside. Sabres owner Terry Pagula and his wife submitted a bid to the city, one of three bids the city received, for the redevelopment of a 1.7-acre city-owned parking lot on the Webster block, just east of the First Niagara Center. The city hopes to select a developer by August 15 and would like construction to begin next spring.

An old Mobil Station in Gowanda has been transformed into Red’s Dogs & Cones in Gowanda (Erie County), a 1950’s themed hot dog stand. The renovated building opened in April 2012.

The two finalist’s proposals for the reuse of the Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital property were revealed at a community forum on June 20th. The first, by developer Chason Affinity, proposes a new School Veterinary Medicine that would incorporate adaptive reuses of existing structures on the site. The $65 million plan would use about half of the existing facilities and would preserve the property, including the original 1911 hospital building. The company projected a 24-30 month development window. The second, by developer Uniland, calls for a complete demolition of all 11 buildings on the site and the creation of a mixed use, residential neighborhood called Chapin Place. The $107 million project would include residential housing; including apartments, townhomes, condominiums and senior living units, as well as retail space and a boutique hotel and restaurant. Gates Circle hospital closed in April 2012.

Kay Dara Noodle Bar will open in late July in downtown Buffalo’s Sidway Building. The restaurant will employ 20 full and part-time employees.

The latest generation of Dupont’s Corian product is now being manufactured at the company’s Tonawanda (Erie County) plant. The company invested an about $6 million to make the transition.

Intvlac, an Ontario-based maker of equipment for physical vapor disposition, will invest $1 million in machinery and equipment over the next three years and hire 20 new employees for a new facility it is leasing in Niagara Falls.

KMI Pulp Machines Inc., a maker of paper pulp machinery from Ontario, will invest over $750,000 and create 10 jobs for its new facility in Dunkirk (Chautauqua County). KMI’s machines recycle paper products into pulp and then into other new products such as egg cartons or other packaging materials.

Aldi grocery store is holding a job fair on July 2nd to hire cashiers and shift managers at their stores in the Buffalo area. Eight to ten positions are available.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Westfield Memorial Hospital has cut six positions. The positions have been cut from the hospital during difficult changes that the hospital is facing. The cuts will not affect services offered there.

Verizon Communications Inc. is offering buyout packages to 1,700 union employees on the wireline side of its business, as the company is seeing a decline in that business. Verizon has about 1,400 employees in the Buffalo area.

Two catholic schools in Western New York will close at the end of the school year. Holy Family in LeRoy and Catholic Academy of the Holy Family in Jamestown (Chautauqua County) will be shutdown due to declining enrollment.

Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District posed the possibility of closing one of the district’s 13 schools for the 2013-14 school year. A request for proposals will be created this year to do a study on mid-to-long-range consolidation or redistricting.

Voters in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District (Erie County)once again failed to pass a budget for 2012-13 school year. The school district must now find and additional $180,000 to cut from its spending.

The Ascena retail group recently completed its $900 million acquisition of Fashion Bug stores and has decided that they will close the women’s clothing chain by early next year. Nine sites in Erie and Niagara Counties are among the more than 600 locations nationwide. A small number of these stores will switch to another Ascena retail format.

Harper International is pulling the plug on a planned $5.5 million expansion at its Lancaster (Erie County) plant. The company is looking for new space elsewhere in Erie County, or possibly outside of Western New York.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Nursing home workers at four McGuire Group homes OK’d a new contract. More than 800 workers at Autumn View, Garden Gate, Northgate and Seneca Health Care are affected. The union members are represented by 1199 SEIU United Healthcare workers East.

The Buffalo Teachers Federation has OK’d an evaluation plan for its members that will restore $5.6 million in state aid to six low-performing schools. The State Education department had suspended the aid because of inadequacies with the teacher-evaluation agreement.

Mercy Hospital and the CWA Local 1133 reached a tentative agreement on June 6th but e union members voted down the contracts on June 18. Union officials and the hospital are still trying to negotiate a deal. The two contracts represent RN’s and the service, technical and clerical workers. Union officials say they now have the right to strike, but have not set a deadline.

The Town of Evans and the Evans Police Benevolent Association have ratified a new five-year pact. The PBA members made several concessions to help ease the financial burden on the town. The old contract expired on December 31 of 2011.

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