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Western New York, January 2014

Business Expansions

New this Month

Financially struggling Lake Shore Health Care Center in Irving (Chautauqua County) may not close this month as was expected because its operator, prospective buyers and members of the State Legislature are continuing discussions to save the hospital. TLC Health Network requested permission to close the facility January 14th, but has sufficient funds to keep it open through the end of January, and if short-term financing can be arranged, the parent company could have enough time to reach a deal with one of two potential buyers. 460 people work at the hospital and is one of Chautauqua County’s largest employers.

Sonic Drive-In, a national hamburger drive-in restaurant chain, has confirmed it will be opening at least eight area locations in the coming years. Local businessman Kevin Dipirro has secured the Sonic expansion rights for a Western New York territory that runs from the Southern Tier Region to Niagara Falls and just east of Batavia.

A glass recycling furnace is being shipped to the Nulife Glass plant in Dunkirk (Chautauqua County) that will be used to recycle old TVS and computer monitors with cathode ray tubes. The British Company announced last year that it would be investing $3.7 million to open its first U.S. operation in Dunkirk. The 70-ton furnace will be built and up and running in about five-six months. Currently, around 7 people work at the site, but once the furnace is up and running about 15-20 employees will be added.

A proposed $100 million genomic research center connecting the University At Buffalo Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus with top –level researchers downtstate was noted in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “State of the State” address. UB will partner with the recently opened New York Genome Center in Manhattan along with the College of Nanoscience and Engineering in Albany on the new center, where they will test new methodologies for application in genomic medicine in hospitals in New York City. As part of the effort, UB will receive $50 million from the Buffalo Billion to build out additional capacity at its Center for Computational Research. The project could create up to 600 new jobs.

ComputerSearch Payroll Services, the area’s largest locally owned payroll-processing service company, has acquired Buffalo Time Clock Inc. The acquisition was part of a series of strategic decisions to buy businesses to grow the Amherst (Erie County) based company. (January 9, 2014-Business First) After sitting dilapidated and empty for years near the southbound North Grand Island Bridge, the so-called Dunlop Building on Long Road in Grand Island (Erie County) finally has a new owner. Rudra Management and Rosewood Hotels of Cheektowaga bought it from JSJ Holdings last week for $850,000. Rudra Management and Rosewood Hotels owns 20 hotels in and around Western New York.

Local personal injury attorney William Mattar wants to expand his law firm’s office on Main Street in Amherst (Erie County) to accommodate his plans to expand his practice into other states. Mattar has received tax breaks from the Amherst Industrial Development Agency for the $4 million project, which will add 20 new jobs to the law firm’s 74-person staff.

Dinosaur BBQ will open its Buffalo (Erie County) location on February 12th.

Fidelis Care will be adding almost 400 new jobs at its offices in Amherst (Erie County) over the next five years. The new hires will be in IT, case management and call center operations, with average salaries around $53,000 a year. The new hires will come as part of a $16.49 million expansion that doubles the size of the company’s current location. Currently, Fidelis employs around 700 people and has 100 open positions.

A project that aims to bring 850 permanent jobs and almost 500 construction jobs to Buffalo (Erie County) is moving forward. Governor Cuomo announced on January 27 that the state is ready to buy the property for the Riverbend project. The 88 acres of land will be home to a state-of-the-art facility for high-tech and green energy businesses.

Jiffy-Tite Co. , a Clarence (Erie County) based manufacturer which produces connectors with a locking sleeve that prevents them from coming apart, is completing its’ $1 million, 5,000-square-foot expansion that will include additional parking and manufacturing space. To help with the growth, the company is planning on hiring another 30 workers this year, most of which will be non-production positions.

EWI, a Columbus, Ohio-based company, has been chosen to lead the state-of-the-art Advanced Manufacturing Institute on Main Street in Buffalo (Erie County). The non-profit manufacturing applied engineering organization will provide support to commercialize applied research to develop more efficient operational processes and to facilitate entry into new markets. The institute will be designed to improve public/private collaboration and strengthen Western New York manufacturing and make its manufacturers more competitive on a global scale. The institute is one of the signature initiatives of the Buffalo Billion Investment Development plan and will capitalize on the region’s existing resources and expertise.

Niagara Gear Corp. in Buffalo (Erie County) has been sold to Gear Motions Inc., a Syracuse-based parent company of many gear manufacturers. Niagara Gear manufactures precision ground spur, helical and pump gears for a large and diverse global customer base. The sale came about as the owner was looking to retire after 60 years in the business. The transition to a division of Gear Motion will result in all 25 Niagara Gear employees maintain their jobs at the facility.

Plans for the HARBORcenter’s new restaurant, “Hockey Heaven”, were unveiled on January 29th. The (716) Food and Sport will be located at the corner of Scott and Washington Streets and will feature a 40-foot long bar with tops that will replicate the ice of a hockey rink. The (716) will bring 150 new jobs to downtown Buffalo.

AMS Servicing could be adding 195 jobs at its mortgage servicing center when it moves from Depew to its new, larger space, the former Motorola Plant in Elma (Erie County). The $2.5 million project involves the company leasing the former plant, which is more than double the size of its current location. Currently the company employs 270 people.

Business Contractions

New this Month

First Niagara Financial Group Inc. is cutting 170 retail branch-based administrative jobs across the company as part of an effort to reshape its retail banking business. Ten local jobs, a combination of branch manager and teller supervisor positions will be eliminated. The bank will also be closing three retail branches in the Western New York area by March 7th.

The Diocese of Buffalo (Erie County) announced that it will close ten Catholic elementary schools in suburban and rural Western New York at the end of this school year. The decision comes after three years of research on demographics, finances and educational relevance of the 49 elementary schools it owns. 195 faculty and staff positions will be affected by the closures.

As part of a major restructuring, marketing communications firm Travers Collins has laid off six employees with the announcement that long-time agency principal Robert Travers is retiring. The company was founded in 1995 and have been located in the Larkin Building since 2004. The layoffs bring the staff total down from 25 employees to 18.

Just weeks after losing its two anchor tenants, the entity overseeing the One Seneca Tower has started foreclosure proceedings against the building’s New York-based ownership group. The 851,000-square-foot building, lost its two main anchors-HSBC Bank and the Phillips Lytle Law firm, rendering the tower 95 percent vacant. The building, formerly the HSBC tower, was built in 1970 and is Buffalo’s tallest office building.

Kaleida Health announced that staffing changes to nursing units, clerical support and the emergency department will be made at Buffalo General Hospital. The health systems is deleting jobs in some areas and creating new positions as part of a restructuring. CWA Local 1166, the union representing about 4000 health care workers at Kaleida’s three hospitals--Millard Fillmore Suburban, DeGraff Memorial and Buffalo General--, estimates the equivalent of 30 to 40 fulltime positions will be lost, primarily at Buffalo General. How many employees that end up getting laid off will depend on the decisions the union’s most senior members make over the next few months.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Nothing to report.

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