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Western New York, May 2013

Business Expansions

New this Month

Renovations on the former Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant in downtown Buffalo (Erie County) are moving forward. The historic restoration project will convert the building into 25 apartments and 12,000-square-feet of commercial space. The building should be tenant ready by next year.

The New York State Department of Health has given the green light to Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo to open two women’s clinics in the suburbs. The two sites, one in Lockport (Niagara county) and one in Lancaster (Erie County), will offer expanded prenatal and OB-GYN services.

The Western New York Regional Economic Council has agreed to allocate $10 million from the “Buffalo Billion” to help finance a $15 million project to reconstruct the Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls (Niagara County). The one-mile stretch of highway will be transformed from a high-speed roadway into a thoroughfare with pedestrian-friendly medians and attractive landscaping. The allocation of funds is part of a larger strategy to open up the river’s edge, making it more valuable for development. The project could begin as soon as next year.

Two Aldi stores will temporarily close for renovations. Stores in Cheektowaga (Erie County) and Lockport (Niagara County) will be closed for one week while cosmetic and eco-friendly improvements are made. (May 8, 2013-The Buffalo News)

Pole Position Raceway, a chain of indoor sports entertainment facilities, will open a site in the Walden Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga (Erie County). The indoor electric go kart track will cover 40,000-square-feet on the second floor of the shopping mall and employ about 35 people when it opens this fall.

Niagara Hospice will open a second nursing home-based hospice unit this fall within the hospital’s Schoellkopf Health Center on the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center Campus in Niagara Falls (Niagara County). Plans call for spending about $200,000 to renovate, redecorate and equip 14 private rooms that will comprise the new unit.

Sentient Science Corp, a company that develops sensors and software used to test materials and components in the aerospace, defense and energy industries is moving its headquarters to Buffalo (Erie County). The company has maintained its research and development facility in Idaho Falls but opened an office last year at the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs Executive Development Center. Currently, 10 employees work in the Buffalo site with 15-20 remaining in Idaho. In paperwork filed with Empire State Development, Sentient said its local presence could grow to as many as 86 employees.

Duff’s, the chicken wing-based restaurant chain, is expanding to the Pine Plaza in Niagara Falls (Niagara County). The Niagara Falls location is expected to open by early June.

The Boilermakers Northeast Joint Apprenticeship Committee, Local Lodge No. 7, is recruiting apprentices. Applications will be taken through April 3, 2014 for 10 boilermaker apprentices.

The development team behind the proposed transformation of the long vacant H.H. Richardson Towers complex will be seeking an incentive package from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. The $56.4 million project will be home to a new boutique hotel, events center and architectural resource center. Future phases could include a restaurant, catering center and other amenities. Funding is coming through $37.4 million in previously allocated funds and $19 million in historic and New Market Tax Credits. The initial work will put more than 500 construction workers on site and create 90 full-time permanent jobs.

The recently revived former Spaulding Fibre industrial site in Tonawanda (Erie County) has landed its first tenant. Simmers Crane Design and Service has agreed to build a 20,000-square-foot building on a nearly five-acre site. The ECIDA is considering an incentive package for the $1.7 million project. The company will be locating from the Town of Tonawanda and will be expanding its workforce by 5 employees to 35.

Trek Inc. the Medina electronic instrument maker will be moving its operations to Lockport (Niagara County) in early July. The company has signed a 10-year lease with renewal option and will be moving 80 jobs from Medina to Lockport and create 20 more.

Osteria 166, one of Downtown Buffalo’s newest restaurants, is set to open on June 10th. The restaurant is located just behind the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center and will be open for lunches, dinners, happy hours and used as the base for the restaurants catering operations.

Retail hunting and sporting goods giant Cabela’s Inc. has selected a Cheektowaga (Erie County) site for its first New York State store. Like Bass Pro, Cabela’s is considered one of the country’s major retailing destination draws. The 90,000-square-foot store is expected to open by mid-2014 and is expected to draw customers from Upstate New York and Southern Ontario.

Local food supplier Pine Hill Fresh Foods is expanding. The company is creating a new bakery facility at a former Jubilee store in Hamburg (Erie County) that offers direct access to the New York State Thruway. The company expects to increase production capabilities by 400 percent.

Liazon Corp, a health benefits exchange provider, has confirmed that it will be the lead tenant in Ellicott Development Co’s. planned redeveloped Coffee Rich building in downtown Buffalo (Erie County). The company will relocate from a smaller space on Main Street. Over the last few years the company has grown from just a couple of employees, to a current staff of 90 in the health insurance field. About 25 jobs in technology, product development, data analysis, technical support, customer service and administrative roles are expected to be added when the renovation and move is completed in January 2014.



Business Contractions

New this Month

Internet marketing company Seevast has closed its Getzville (Erie County) headquarters. M&T Bank, which is the company’s secured creditor, terminated the company’s line of credit and seized their bank accounts needed to operate. At one time, Seevast has revenues of more than $50 million and employed almost 50 workers. At this time there is no indication of whether the company, which operates three businesses, is being sold, moving or ceasing operations all together.

Mattel Inc., as part of a corporate restructuring, will reassign jobs and make select layoffs at Fisher Price in East Aurora (Erie County) by mid-October. Around 100 workers from the local toymaker will be affected.

Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York, the parent corporation of Lake Shore Health Care Center in Irving (Chautauqua County) and Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk has laid off at least 40 employees across a variety of departments.


Labor Disputes

New this Month

Members of Erie County’s largest union voted to reject a new contract that could have eliminated some widely criticized perks. The county’s tentative deal would have given 2,700 county workers raises of 11.5% over five years, but would not have included back pay for the 6 years they have worked without a contract. This is the third time that a tentative agreement has been rejected by the workers.

The Buffalo Professional Firefighters Union and the City of Buffalo have reached a tentative agreement after 11 years without a contract. The agreement includes some give backs on sick time and healthcare and includes a 13.5 percent raise retroactive to last summer, and then two percent raises for every year after for a total of 21.5 percent for the life of the 15-year contract. There are currently 660 active firefighters and staff covered by the union.

Unionized workers at the Dupont Yerkes plant in the Town of Tonawanda held an informational picket on May 23. The workers have been without a contract for over a year and negotiations have gone nowhere. 350 workers at the plant are represented by Local 6992, United Steelworkers of America.


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