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Western New York, May 2012

Business Expansions

New this Month

Laks Honda will move from its longtime home in West Seneca to a new site in Orchard Park (Erie County) due to growing customer demand. Construction is expected to start within the next few weeks on a 28,000-square-foot building for the Honda dealership. Laks is the busiest of the region’s four Honda dealerships. Between 10 and 15 new employees will be hired once the move takes place, bringing its employment up to 55 people.

A new Crosby’s convenience store and gas station will open in Amherst (Erie County) on May 11th. The 24-hour store will feature a pizzeria, Sub Shoppe, and a Tim Hortons café and bake shop.

Edwards Vacuum officially unveiled its new North American Headquarters in Sanborn (Niagara County) on May 3rd. The United Kingdom-based company consolidated its operation from four different locations into its $3.5 million Sanborn location. The manufacturer of vacuum and abatement equipment facility will ultimately have 150 jobs.

LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, a British beauty product store, will open its first Western New York store at the Walden Galleria this month. The company has 800 stores around the world, with 108 of them in the United States.

Crews from Cheektowaga’s Dipizio Construction Co. Inc. have started building the first phase of a series of replica Erie Canal waterways that will serve as one of the central elements in the downtown Buffalo Canalside project. The $23.7 million project is expected to take 10 months to complete. The two anchor tenants, Phillips Lytle LLP and a 96-room Courtyards by Marriott Hotel are scheduled for opening in late 2013. Explore-n-More Children’s Museum, currently located in East Aurora, will relocate downtown sometime in 2016.

TLC Health Network in Irving (Chautauqua County) received approval from the state for a $1.9 million expansion. The site’s existing emergency department will add 2,794 square feet, bringing the facility to 7,000 square feet.

Jericho Road Ministries and Jericho Road Family Practice are coming together through a merger to create the Jericho Road Community Health Center. The West Side health care group received approval from the state to build a $1.6 million in Buffalo.

Duff’s Famous Wings plans to open a new location this summer at the Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence (Erie County). The new 5,000 square foot facility will fill vacant restaurant space along Transit Road and expects to open in mid to late July.

The U.S. Postal Service announced it will keep its mail processing center on William Street in Buffalo (Erie County) open for at least three more years, saving over 700 jobs in Buffalo. The processing center had been on a list of postal service sites to be closed with the work shifted to Rochester to help reduce costs.

Noco Energy Corp. is launching a retail gasoline convenience store franchise across New York State. The first Dino-Mart location was opened on May 11th on Grand Island (Erie County). The newly built $2 million store will employ 20 people.

A deal is in the works for an unnamed business to build a manufacturing facility in Lockport (Erie County). Executive Director Charles Bell of the Greater Lockport Development Corporation, an agency has signed a contract to buy 45.2 acres of undeveloped land. The deal is contingent upon the technology-based business to committing to build a factory there.

A developer from CSS Construction Services is working with Buffalo officials on the development plan for the former Fairfield Library Branch that has been sitting empty for more than six years. Tentative plans for the $900,000 project include converting the bulk of the library into a handful of market-rate apartments and possibly one office tenant.

A new Cattaraugus County Bank retail branch in South Dayton is scheduled to open as soon as September. Construction began on the 2,300 square foot building May 11th. When completed, the bank will operate eight branches and be the 15th largest bank in Western New York.

All Cover Portable Solutions, a Canadian company that specializes in making unique retail displays is working with Buffalo (Erie County) area economic development officials on its plans to open a U.S. home for its OutFront Portable Solutions affiliate. The company has selected the 55,000-square-foot former Buffalo Metal Fabricating Co. building to renovate. All Cover is expected to invest $.5 million and have as many as 57 workers, including 49 new hires in the Buffalo plant.

One of the largest architectural firms in the country has been selected to design the University at Buffalo’s proposed $375 million medical school in downtown Buffalo (Erie County). HOK was announced on May 16 as the chosen team to design a new School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building. A final plan will be created over the next several months and officials hope to break ground in fall of 2013 with completion of construction in 2016.

A former city school in Buffalo’s Black Rock neighborhood is being eyed by Rochester developer DePaul Properties Inc. as a site for apartments aimed at the special needs and low-income families. The $13.4 million development project plans to begin in August and be tenant-ready by late fall 2013.

West Herr Automotive Group has acquired the assets of Glen Campbell Chevrolet in Williamsville (Erie County). With the acquisition, West Herr now has three Chevrolet dealerships. The location employs 44, and the workforce may rise to 65 as store volume increases.

Alliance Innovative Manufacturing, a Lackawanna (Erie County) precision machine company, has been awarded a grant from Empire State Development for its $2.3 million expansion project. The expansion has already added five jobs to the 33 it already has and will create six more new jobs by the end of the year.

Two local companies are planning to expand their home care operations outside of Erie County. Good Samaritan Caregivers Inc. and Heritage Ransomville Management LLC both received preliminary approvals from the establishment of the Public Health and Health Planning Council for home health agency licensing. Good Samaritan Caregivers applied for licensure in nine counties and will operate from offices in Williamsville. Heritage Ransomville Management applied for licensure in Niagara County.

Erie County will hire 72 new deputies and supervisors to work in the county jails by 2015 to meet a directive by the State Commission of Correction. Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard expects that the increase in jail staffing levels should alleviate the problems that have led to the mistaken release of three inmates in three months.

Community Bank N.A. has received regulatory approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to acquire 19 new branches in Western and Central New York. The Syracuse-based bank will now move forward with its acquisition of 16 HSBC Bank USA N.A. branches and three First Niagara Bank Branches. The deals are expected to close by July 20 and Sept. 7.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Capital One has laid off 80 employees who work on the 15th floor of the HSBC Center in downtown Buffalo (Erie County). The company purchased the credit card division of HSBC last August and the sale was completed on April 30th. The local layoffs are the ripple effect of more drastic cuts in Salinas, California, where Capital One is closing the former HSBC facility and laying off 850 workers.

A major business move by HSBC means almost 100 jobs will be lost. 400 HSBC employees form the Depew (Erie County) facility will be transferred to PHH Mortgage, which plans to maintain operations in the area. 200 workers will be displaced and will have to compete for the remaining 104 open positions. The jobs will officially be transferred to the new company during the first quarter of 2013.

City Grill, a downtown Buffalo (Erie County) restaurant specializing in upscale American cuisine, closed its doors abruptly on May 1, 2012.

Dunkirk’s Board of Education adopted its 2012-13 budget with 11 teaching positions being cut.

More than 45 local employees of Hostess Brands Inc. have been notified of layoffs as part of a nationwide notice to 18,000 employees. Three wholesale bakeries or distributors locations in Western New York are affected.

Two of the area’s three Perkins restaurants abruptly closed on May 20th. The financially troubled chain pulled its franchise licensing, leaving about 40 part-time workers without jobs. The chain only gave the owners of the franchises about a week’s notice, leaving no time to go into another business. Perkins filed for bankruptcy last year and was sold, closing more than 70 locations. The area’s other Perkins is in Olean. (Cattaraugus County)

Harper International, which designs and builds complex equipment used at extremely high temperatures in the production of carbon fibers and other advanced materials, plans to expand its Lancaster business—but only if the company receives tax breaks for the project. The company’s request has been discussed at length with the Lancaster Industrial Development agency.

Greatbatch Inc. announced that it plans to relocate its global headquarters to Texas to take advantage of an already-established medical device cluster. The move does not involve a full departure from Western New York. Corporate, manufacturing and research development functions involving 680 employees will stay at the company’s Clarence and Alden facilities.

HSBC Bank USA is laying off 77 employees in its money-laundering prevention unit in Buffalo (Erie County). The cuts will occur between September 18th and October 18th. The jobs will be moved to New York City and Delaware.

The Canadian government will shut down the Consulate General of Canada, a longtime tenant of the HSBC Center in downtown Buffalo, (Erie County) on August 27th. 75-80 employees who provide immigration assistance and business development support will be affected. The closure stems from federal budget cuts and a change in the way immigration processing is handled.

Nine M&T Bank retail branches were closed this month as part of the Buffalo (Erie County) banks recurring evaluation of its multi-state branch network. Locally, one of three branches in Jamestown (Chautauqua County) was closed. No other Western New York branch closures are planned, but the bank constantly evaluates its retail network.

Norse Energy Corp., which at one point had big plans to expand operations in Western New York, is transferring its operations to Houston. The workforce at its company’s headquarters in Blasdell (Erie County) has shrunk from about 45 employees down to 9.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

After multiple rejections, unionized workers at Odd Fellow and Rebekah Rehabilitation Health Care have approved a new labor contract. The settlement was approved by the 110 members of 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East by a margin of 70-1. The union members had voted to state a strike if a contract deal could not be reached. The contract covers licensed practical nurses, certified nurse’s assistants, housekeeping and laundry and dietary workers and will remain in effect until May 2014.

Union nurses and other healthcare workers at Catholic Health’s Mercy Hospital have begun a billboard campaign aimed at raising awareness about ongoing contract issues. The members of Communication Workers of America AFL-CIO Local 1133 unveiled the billboards during membership meetings for the 2,000 affected workers at the South Buffalo Hospital. The current contract is due to expire on June 3.

Employees at the Schoellkopf Health Center in Niagara Falls (Niagara County) approved a new two-year contract. More than 100 workers represented by local 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East ratified the contract that includes raises and increased pension contributions. The contract is will expire on April 30, 2014.

Workers at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo (Erie County) staged an informational picket on May 30th days before their contract was set to expire. The contract talks affect hundreds of nurses, technologists and other healthcare workers, all members of CWA Local 1133.

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