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Western New York, August 2009

Business Expansions

New this Month

Construction on a new 10-story hospital and research facility begins today. The Global Vascular Institute is expected to cost about $291 million to build. U.B. plans to use the facility for research and teaching and is part of the university’s 2020 strategic plan. The 600 bed, 30 operating room facility is expected to be completed in late 2011. The project will allow Kaleida Health to shift 1,000 physicians and staff, as well as thousands of patients, from its Millard Fillmore Hospital to Buffalo General and the new building after its scheduled completion. Millard Fillmore at Gates Circle will then be closed and a reuse determined.

Two local plants will benefit from millions of dollars in federal stimulus spending tied to developing advanced batteries for hybrid vehicles and other applications. Honeywell International in Buffalo (Erie County) was awarded $27.3 million. Pyrotek was awarded $11.3 million for its Metaullics Systems operations in Sanborn (Niagara County). The Honeywell plant in Buffalo has 130 employees and will develop and ‘pilot’ electrolyte salt for lithiumion batteries. Metaullics Systems will make carbon powder anode material for the batteries. The Sanborn plant currently has about 50 employees, but could potentially add 10 to 40 over the next three years.

Lowe’s Home Improvement store opened its newest location in Hamburg (Erie County) August 6th. The 117,000 square-foot store has brought 175 new jobs to the area.

Staybridge Suites, a hotel designed for travelers visiting on longer-term stays, recently opened the doors to a 105-room suite in West Seneca (Erie County). It is the areas second location.

Horizon Human Services is moving ahead with a plan to build a medical clinic on its Sanborn (Niagara County) campus. The medical clinic is part of a larger, $6.3 million project that includes a new facility for veterans and a wellness center. Plans call for breaking ground this fall, with completion slated for all three parts of the project by late fall 2010. When open, the veteran’s facility will employ 30, while the medical and wellness centers will employ five.

Advance Furniture of Buffalo is adding a second location at the Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga (Erie County). The family-run business is hoping that the central location will increase the store’s visibility and draw customers to its main location in Kenmore.

Ground was broken for the $150 million Yahoo! Data center in Lockport (Niagara County) on August 12th. The town planning board also approved the addition of a 24-by -36 foot outbuilding to the data center plan.

The Statler Towers was sold at auction for $1.3 million on Wednesday, August 12 to a local group of businessmen. The hotel was forced into bankruptcy in April at the request of creditors. The group plans to remodel the building with 235 hotel rooms, 111 apartments, two restaurants, a coffee shop, a jazz club and retail space. The renovations, which will begin as early as September, will cost upwards of $100 million and take two years to complete.

Tim Hortons has begun rolling out Cold Stone Creamery ice cream shops incorporated into existing Western New York locations. The co-branding is part of an ongoing test by the two major chains. The coffee shop has recently finished adding the ice creamery’s to 10 locations in the area. Western New York will have 14 locations once the incorporation with Tim Hortons is complete.

Dresser-Rand Company plans to build a new headquarters and technology research and development facility in Olean (Cattaraugus County), and add jobs. The Empire State Development Corp. approved a $2 million grant for the project that will help the company retain 552 jobs and add 120 new jobs.

New Era Cap Co. is teaming up with Thurman Thomas and Inferno Baseball to bring a state of the art athletic training facility to the Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence (Erie County). The 52,000 square foot New Era Park, a $1million softball and baseball complex, is scheduled for an October opening. It will be the fifth location in the area.

National auto insurer GEICO Corp. will be adding about 300 jobs to its Amherst (Erie County) service center, bringing the total number of jobs there to about 1,800. The jobs are expected to be filled during the next two years.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Calspan Corp. laid off nearly 40 employees late last week at its Cheektowaga (Erie County) facility. The government contractor, in an attempt to ‘right-size’ its operations, cut staff across most of its operating groups, mostly in support functions such as finance, accounting, shipping/receiving and administrative staff. The company employed more than 240, but now has about 210. If the company wins new contracts, the company may hire and technical workers may be brought back if their skills are needed.

Four Buffalo-area (Erie County) postal facilities are on a list of 700 operations nationwide that the U.S. Postal Service is studying for possible closure as it faces a financial crisis. Other facilities could be added to the list later, as about 3,200 are being studied for possible closure.

Gillogly Chevrolet in West Seneca (Erie County) is losing its affiliation with General Motors. The fifty year old car dealer was notified by letter that it could no longer order new vehicles from GM. The Chevy dealer can continue its GM affiliation until October 31, 2010, or end the relationship sooner if it decides to turn in its franchise agreement. After that, the business will carry on as a used car lot and service operation, reducing its current employment of 65 to about 15 to 20 employees over time.

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings will shrink operations, but will do so without resorting to bankruptcy court protection. The restructuring does not include closing or idling any other facilities than the idling of a significant portion of the Detroit manufacturing complex that was announced earlier this year. The company closes its Buffalo and Tonawanda plants in 2008. A machining operation in Cheektowaga (Erie County), which has a workforce of about 100, is the only remaining operation in New York.

Clothing maker M.Wile & Co. is set to close its two remaining facilities in Western New York. The company, which once employed more than 2,000 people in the area, is closing a distribution center and attached outlet store. About 30 workers will lose their jobs as a result.

TLC Health Network’s Tri-County Memorial Hospital in Gowanda (Chautauqua County) has laid off 187 employees as it determines how to repair and restore the hospital following devastating storms and flooding earlier this month. The hospital is working to find available slots for as many individuals as possible within the organization. There is no word on if or when the hospital will reopen. The company has filed a WARN notice with the Department of Labor as of August 24th, two weeks after the hospital was closed.

The Research Foundation of SUNY is cutting jobs in Buffalo (Erie County). As a result of a lost contract, 30 jobs at the Buffalo State campus will be cut by December 31st, 2009.

A lakeside mansion in Derby (Erie County) that has hosted religious retreats for more than 60 years will be shut down by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The St. Columban Center will no longer offer retreats after April 30, 2010. Twenty full-and part-time staffers will lose their jobs.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

A total of 141 hourly workers represented by UAW Local 774 at General Motors Co’s. Town of Tonawanda engine plant agreed to take buyout or early retirement offers and leave the company. Prior to the signup deadline last Friday (July 31st), the plant had 674 active hourly workers and an additional 400 on layoff. The plant is calling back 142 workers form layoff, partly due to increased volume on its L-18 engine line. The site’s 170 salaried workers were not eligible for the offers. Of the 141 hourly workers who are leaving, 114 retired and 27 took buyouts. This was the fourth severance offer GM has made to hourly workers represented by the United Auto Workers since 2006.

Teamsters at YRC Worldwide and its trucking units, YRC, USF Holland approved an additional 5 percent pay cut. New Penn, which employs about 61 employees, rejected the offer.At the start of the year, Teamsters-represented workers approved a 10 percent wage cut. Local 449 represents more than 260 workers at YRC Worldwide’s three area locations in Tonawanda and Cheektowaga (Erie County). About 100 of them are on layoff. Local 375 represents more than 300 local route drivers and dock workers at the three local terminals, with about 125 of them on layoff.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and the United Steelworkers have agreed to extend their labor contract for a second time until August 29th. The existing three-year labor agreement expired in mid- July. The two sides are negotiating in Ohio. The contract covers about 10,300 workers at seven U.S. facilities, including about 950 in Amherst (Erie County).

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