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Western New York, January 2013

Business Expansions

New this Month

Erie County Medical Center has received New York State approval to move ahead with a $15 million expansion. The project calls for two new operating rooms to be built on the second floor of the new medical office building on the campus that also houses the Regional Center of Excellence for Transplantation & Kidney Care. The project will coincide with several other major construction projects taking place in 2013 at the Downtown Buffalo (Erie County) campus.

Mighty Taco has struck a deal with property owners at a Kenmore Avenue site to open its newest Buffalo (Erie County) location. The restaurant will occupy a 1,700 square foot former CDL Truck Driving location and will include a drive thru and seating for 60 people. The restaurant will be the 22nd Mighty Taco location and will open later this spring.

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency is considering granting Falls-based Covanta Energy a 15-year Payment-in-Lieu-of Taxes, or PILOT agreement, pending comments from a public hearing. Officials from Covanta have told the NCIDA that the company plans to spend $30 million to allow it to take deliveries of waste by rail-primarily from New York City- to build a natural gas furnace used as a backup for waste incinerators and to build a steam expansion line. The expansion will lead to the creation of 23 new full-time jobs, and allow it to retain the 86 employees that already work there. In addition, the project will create 160 temporary construction jobs. There is no word on when construction will start.

Bank of America is selling branches, but not in Western New York. The bank is expected to trim 30,000 jobs across the country and 59 branches have already been identified for closure. Bank of America is the sixth largest bank in the region.

Ellicott Development has acquired one of the largest tracts of available land in Orchard Park, paying $1.69 million for the 50-acre former Saville Farms Inc. site. Development plans are underway and will likely include a residential component as well as ones based on office and retail uses.

Trader Joe’s, one of the nation’s most sought after retailers, is coming to a plaza in Amherst (Erie County). The California-based chain is planning a retail store in the Boulevard Consumer Square and will be the first Buffalo area location. Construction will begin in the next few months and will open sometime later this year.

Just a few months after opening its first area restaurant, LongHorn Steakhouse opened its doors on its second area location in Cheektowaga (Erie County) on January 14th. . 100 full-and part-time jobs were created at the new restaurant.

The Village of Farnham (Erie County) has signed a contract for the sale of its corner property to a developer who plans to open a Dollar General. The purchaser plans on closing the sale by May 1, with the prospect of having the store built and ready to open in 60 days.

Ford Motor Co. plans to hire 2,200 salaried workers in 2013, primarily positions in product development, manufacturing and information technology. It is not immediately known whether the Ford Stamping Plant in Hamburg (Erie County) would be among those hiring. Currently, over 600 people are employed at the plant.

Harper International is going ahead with plans to move its local operations into the former Quebecor plant in Depew (Erie County). The move and the accompanying $5.5 million expansion at the site are moving forward with the help of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency incentive package. The company had hoped to expand elsewhere in Lancaster but the deal fell through during lease negotiations. Once the move is completed, Harper is expected to add 16 workers to its 106-person workforce.

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency has approved $4.9 million in incentives for Catholic Health System’s planned $46 million headquarters in Buffalo (Erie County) after a lengthy debate. Uniland Development will build the six-story headquarters and regional training center, consolidating hundreds of employees from several locations in to one building in Downtown Buffalo. Employment is also expected to rise by about 50 employees, to 652 at the building two years after the project is completed.

Niagara Blower has bought a vacant building and adjacent property in Tonawanda which will become its new world headquarters for Niagara Blower and Kathabar Dehumidication Systems, one of its subsidiary companies. The 100,000-square-foot, $2 million new facility, will enable the company to meet increased demand for their products, especially in growing markets such as natural gas processing and refining. The company currently employs 130, but will hire additional engineers, technical and skilled personnel over the next three to five years.

The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency has granted a $275,000 loan to Rae Enterprise Inc. The company is opening a food-processing plant that will employ 15 workers under the name of Nowinski Pierogies in Westfield (Chautauqua County).

Basil Volkswagen of Lockport (Niagara County) plans to open this summer in the vacant former home of Basil Toyota-which recently moved into a refurbished location next door. This will be the fourth Volkswagen dealership in Buffalo Niagara, but the only one in Niagara County. The dealership will employ about 25 people initially and expects that number to double within five years.

For the first time since 1987, General Motors Co. Tonawanda Engine Plant is looking outside the company to hire six electricians to meet the need for the new engine lines that will be manufactured for pickup trucks, Corvettes and other vehicles.

Niagara Lutheran Health System has opened Greenfield Terrace, a $6.5 million addition to its GreenFields Continuing Care Community in Lancaster (Erie County).

Zoom Tan LLC, a Florida-based chain of tanning salons, is planning a major expansion across upstate New York. Officials have said that the firm may open at least 20 new locations in the coming months. Additionally, the company just signed a partnership deal with the Buffalo Bills to be the team’s “official tanning salon”.

Empire State Development has cleared the way for public funding for Unifrax I LLC’s expansion project at its Tonawanda (Erie County) facility. The project, completed in December 2012, will create 50 new jobs and retain 180.

The Postal Service in Western New York is looking to hire 300 city carrier assistants (CCAs), a new category of non-career employees. CCAs are appointed for a term of 360 calendar days and may be reappointed for another term, and possibly to future employment as a career letter carrier.

Geico plans to add at least 800 new jobs in the Buffalo (Erie County) region this year, and possibly fill up to 1,000 positions. The jobs come on top of the 2,400 new jobs created since Geico opened its facility in Getzville in 2005. The new jobs will range from sales and customer service to claims and support.

CentriLogic continues to grow its downtown Buffalo (Erie County) data center, a result of European clients. The company has invested more than $1 million in 2012 and plans to invest $1-1.5 million in 2013.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Ralcorp Holdings will close a pair of plants in Dunkirk and Silver Creek, (Chautauqua County) eliminating 375 local jobs just months before the St.Louis-based company is set to be acquired by ConaAgra Foods. The company acquired the Carriage House in Dunkirk in 2000 as part of its purchase of Red Wing Co. and Petri Baking Products in Silver Creek in May 2012. Ralcorp, which has 40 manufacturing facilities across the county, will continue to operate Carriage House’s plant in Fredonia, along with Sugar Cake Cookies in the Town of Tonawanda.

The New York State Thruway Authority is looking for ways to cut costs after the proposed toll hike failed to go through. 3.000 employees have been told about plans to streamline, eliminate vacant positions and a hiring freeze. As many as 360 jobs could be on the line, bust some reductions have been accomplished by retirements. Automated tolls are also a possibility. A meeting later this month is expected to further outline the cuts that may take place.

DRS Technologies, the former Sierra Research, will close its Cheektowaga (Erie County) location by year’s end. The company, which makes defense electronics, cited the negative impact of “market conditions and the industry environment” as the reason for the closure. The Cheektowaga operations will be relocated among several other DRS sites in the United States over the next several months. The actual number of job losses would not be disclosed.

Closure Systems in Randolph (Cattaraugus County) is closing part of its plant later this year. The plan manufactures plastic and aluminum bottle caps and closures. 18 employees will be lose their jobs due to the closure on May 1st.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

The three month lockout between the National Hockey League and its players has come to an end. Business owners and employees of Buffalo (Erie County) area bars and restaurants have struggled financially since the lockout began. Home games generate thousands of dollars in revenue for the local businesses.

The Buffalo Teachers union and district officials reached an agreement on a teacher-evaluation plan Tuesday, January 15th, staving off the loss of $33.4 million in state aid. Buffalo was one of 13 districts statewide late Tuesday still needing to modify and resubmit its plan to earn state approval. Districts that did not have a plan in place by Thursday, January 17th-forfeitted this year’s increase in state aid.

A teacher evaluation talk between the Hamburg School District and its teachers union fell through and is one of the only districts in the state that has not submitted an evaluation plan to New York State, resulting in the district losing about $450,000 in state funding.

A federal mediator has joined the talks between Niagara Lutheran Home & Rehabilitation and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. Negotiations between the two began in August 2012 and to date, the union says that the company has yet to offer a wage or benefit proposal or agree to basic non-economic language. The health and rehabilitation center is part of the Niagara Lutheran Health System. 92 certified nursing assistants are affected by the agreement at the Buffalo (Erie County) site.

The city of Dunkirk Police Benevolent Association members have a new contract that will cover the periods between January 1, 2012-December 31, 2015.

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