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Western New York, June 2014

Business Expansions

New this Month

500 new jobs that IBM Corp. previously promised to create in downtown Buffalo as part of a state economic development initiative, will take up a big portion of the Key Center office building that will be vacated by Delaware North Cos. within a year. The announcement ends weeks of speculation about where the new software research facility and jobs would be located. The state will spend $15 million to purchase a portion of the building and build it out for IBM, while the rest of the building would remain in private hands. Another $40 million will go for the purchase of equipment and software that IBM, and potentially others drawn to the center can use. This structure is based on a model of the state’s successful nanosciences center in Albany. The IT ‘hub” proposal, formally known as the Buffalo Information Technologies Innovation and Commercialization Hub, is part of Gov. Cuomo’s vow to invest $1 billion in state money on job creation efforts in the Buffalo area.

Tops Markets is considering opening another store in downtown Buffalo (Erie County). A grocery opening in the heart of the city shows there is enough foot traffic to support it, traffic that did not exist before the city’s recent development revitalization. While there is no definitive plan in place for the store, the President and CEO of the grocery chain stated he would like to have a store downtown by year’s end.

Niagara Transformer Corp. is nearing completion of the first phase of a multi-phase expansion. All total, the work involves over 125,000-square-feet of manufacturing space and cost about $15 million. The company is looking to hire for various manufacturing positions as the company expands.

Gov. Cuomo announced the first wave of companies accepted into the Start-Up NY program, a statewide economic development initiative that provides tax breaks for qualified companies sited on or near college campuses. Of the twelve companies accepted, 8 are based in Western New York and sponsored through the University at Buffalo. The Buffalo-based companies accepted into the program are: Aesku Ny Inc, Linagen Inc, Clearview Social Inc. CoachMePlus, Decision Pace, Heads Up Display Inc., Nupur Technologies, and Sinapis Pharm Inc. Combined, the eight companies have promised to bring a total of 204 new jobs to the area.

The Catholic Health System has more than 250 open position in the Western New York region. More than 75 percent of the positions are full-time with most in clinical areas, such as nursing, with about 10 percent of jobs in administrative positions. The health-care provider is listed at No. 2 among companies in the New York State Job Bank, with the most jobs available in the region. Catholic Health has a total workforce of about 8,300 full-and part-time employees spread between its four hospitals, six nursing homes and other outpatient and home care sites.

The University at Buffalo began accepting bids for the second phase of its School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences on June 2nd. The $375 million medical school is being constructed in three phases. The first phase, which includes excavations, foundations and structural work, is currently in progress by LP Ciminelli Construction Inc. The second phase will be substantial, including construction of the façade, roof and interior and the plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems. Bids will be accepted until July 23, with a contractor likely chosen by the fall.

Ontario Knife Co. formally broke ground on June 4th on a $4.4 million expansion of its Franklinville (Cattaraugus County) facility. The company, which makes knives for both military and recreational users, employs about 55 people in its manufacturing plant. The expansion allows for the retention of all the employees.

Blue Bridge Financial, a Williamsville company that had previously considered moving out of state, is now planning to set up headquarters at the Electric Tower in Buffalo (Erie County). Governor Cuomo’s office announced that more than $586,000 in tax credits are helping keep the company here. The relocation of the headquarters to downtown Buffalo will also keep 12 jobs in the region, with the promise to add 71 more jobs over the next five years.

A ground breaking ceremony was held in Niagara Falls (Niagara County) on the Niagara Falls International Railway Station & Intermodal Transportation Center. The $ 25 million project, which has been under discussion since 1986, is finally moving forward. The new station will be the first high speed rail station in New York State to receiving more than $16 million in funding from the federal government. The project will create approximately 200 full-time equivalent construction jobs.

Rosina Food Products hosted a recruitment on June 11th at the New York State Department of Labor Williamsville Career Center. Rosina makes frozen Italian foods, they are looking to fill just over 20 positions. Openings are for mechanics, machine operators and sanitation operators.

Rochester-based debt collector Continental Service Group Inc. or ConServe, is doubling its space in Cheektowaga (Erie County). The firm has signed a 10-year lease and plans to occupy its new 25,000-square-foot space by September 1st. The rapidly growing company, which specializes in colleges and universities, government and commercial debt collections, employs 500 in its Fairport office and plans to double the size of their total staff in the two offices over the next few years.

First Student is looking to hire hundreds of bus drivers and monitors as it expands into Buffalo (Erie County). It will be holding the first of several hiring events on June 17th at the First Student building in Cheektowaga.

Silevo, one of the company’s that was to anchor the South Buffalo clean-energy-hub, has been bought out by SolarCity. The solar panel and technology manufacturing company had been planning on bringing around 500 new jobs and invest $750 million to create a production facility at Riverbend. SolarCity, the $6 billion company that purchased Silevo, is now in discussions with New York State to build an initial manufacturing plant at Riverbend. The project would create one of the largest solar panel production plants in the world and could bring 1000-2500 jobs to Western New York. (June 17, 2014-Business First) The YMCA Buffalo Niagara has officially signed a letter of intent to move its North Buffalo branch to the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital property, serving as an anchor to the project. The commitment is one of the first steps toward the $63 million transformation of the now-vacant hospital complex into a mixed use property. Canterbury Woods, a senior living facility, will also serve as an anchor on the property and hopes to break ground on the project early next year.

The Erie County Legislature voted unanimously to approve the hiring of 37 new employees in the Child Protective Services Department. Most of the new positions are expected to be filled by July 1.

Praxair is planning a $39 million upgrade to its Town of Tonawanda (Erie County) facilities, a project that will keep the industrial gas company’s operations competitive. The investment is expected to retain more than 1,300 jobs and create 22 new jobs, with an average salary of $82,000 a year.

A year after announcing plans to build its first New York State retail store, Cabela’s Inc has set an August 7th opening date for its in Cheektowaga (Erie County), about six weeks ahead of schedule. Cabela’s expects to employ 225 full and part time workers at the store.

Field & Stream Sporting Goods Inc. is eyeing a busy Amherst (Erie County) shopping center for a retail outlet for its first area store. Field & Stream has been considering a number of suburban sites in the area since January.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage will close its only office in Western New York in August. The continued decline of mortgage refinancing activity across the country led to the companies decision to close.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Members of Service Employees International Union Local 1199 who work at four McGuire Group nursing homes in the area have ratified a new, three-year contract. The contract covers more than 900 employees at Garden Gate Health Care Facility in Cheektowaga, Northgate Health Care Facility in North Tonawanda, Seneca Health Care Center in West Seneca and Autumn View Health Care Facility in Hamburg. The represented workers include certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses as well as dietary, housekeeping, and laundry and maintenance aides.

An information picket was held on June 17th at the Weinberg Campus in Getzville (Erie County) to protest proposed benefits cuts. The workers, members of SEIU 1199 United Healthcare Workers East, have been working without a contract since April 30th. SEIU represents about 400 service and maintenance workers, clerical employees, home health aides, certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses who work at the long term care facility on the campus. The next negotiation session is slated for July 3, where the two sides will be joined by a federal mediator.

A month after union workers at Absolut Care picketed to protest a stalled contract process, a new three-year contract has been ratified by members. The contract, negotiated by SEIU United Healthcare Workers Local 1199, covers more than 900 certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, cooks, dietary, housekeeping, laundry and maintenance aides.

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