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Western New York, July 2009

Business Expansions

New this Month

The Memorial Auditorium has been demolished, paving the way for the development of the 5-acre site and waterfront. Although Bass Pro has yet to sign a binding contract to locate in Buffalo, development officials said construction will begin next summer on a 130,000-square-foot, two-story story where the Aud stood. The store is to anchor the planned $315 million, 20-acre Canal side mixed-use redevelopment project. Construction on the store itself is set to begin next summer and take 10 months.

The New York Power Authority is making deals that could bring jobs to WNY. Low-cost power may help Sunworks Solar, a California-based company, build a $200 million solar panel manufacturing plant here and create more than 100 jobs.

Cannon Design, an architectural, engineering and construction management firm, has landed a $400,000 capital grant from Empire State Development to help keep its headquarters in Grand Island (Erie County). The grant will supplement a $3.3 million investment by the company to upgrade its current facilities. The company has pledged to add 33 new support and professional design jobs within the next 5 years. The project will also retain the company’s current 217 positions.

Downtown Buffalo’s (Erie County) newest hotel opened for business this week, as the Embassy Suites in the $85 million Avant project took in its first guests. The 150-suite hotel occupies the first seven floors of the former Dulski Federal building. 100 new jobs were created.

Budweys opened its new grocery store in Newfane (Niagara County). The store employs 95 people, including 20 full-time positions and 75 part-timers.

Kemper System Production Inc. has selected a West Seneca (Erie County) site for an expanded operation that will bring new manufacturing jobs to the region. The New Jersey based company produces waterproofing and roofing membranes. The firm will hire 10 people initially, and hopes to add another 30 in the coming years.

M&T Bank Corp. is building a huge branch at Southgate Plaza in West Seneca (Erie County) with a contemporary, environmentally friendly design. The 9,100-square-foot branch will replace an older M&T location in the plaza itself.

Harlequin Sales Corp. plans to spend $6 million to upgrade equipment at its Depew (Erie County) distribution center, but expects to reduce employment from 298 to 271 following the upgrades due to increased efficiencies. The plant plans to reduce employment through cutting temporary labor and attrition, rather than laying off permanent employees. Plans call for the equipment upgrades to start next month and be completed in about 18 months.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter in Niagara Falls (Niagara County) opened July 15, 2009. The store is the first in the region to feature a new company design and energy-saving features. The 204,000 square foot store is nearly double the size of the Town of Niagara location it will replace. The new store, which has about 500 employees, has about 240 more jobs than the previous site.

The fifth and final phase of the 10-year, $1 billion Buffalo (Erie County) Schools reconstruction project was approved this month by the State Legislature and now awaits the Governor’s signature. Five newly reconstructed schools-including two high schools-will open in September. Counting the five schools opening in September, 29 city schools have now been reconstructed at a cost of about $750 million. Work is planned or already under way on another 20.

Another no-frills, deep-discount grocery store is expanding in the Buffalo Niagara grocery market. PriceRite opened its second Buffalo (Erie County) store on July 26th. The store employs 120 people.

KeyCorp is unveiling the first of its six new branches in the Western New York area with the opening of its Seneca Square branch in West Seneca (Erie County) next week (August 5th). The next office to open will be in Amherst on August 17th.The new branches include new technology and layout designs.

SurfaceIgniter, plans to relocate its manufacturing operations from Ohio, Puerto Rico and China to the Western New York region in a facility that will employ 110 people. The company will invest $1.08 million in a manufacturing and distribution facility. A local site is still being chosen.

ENrG in Buffalo (Erie County), which makes ceramic components for fuel cells, is planning a $6.3 million expansion that would more than double its space for manufacturing and research development, adding 16 jobs to its work force of 14.

Nestle Purina PetCare’s dog and cat food plant in Dunkirk (Chautauqua County) planned expansion includes a new product line that would require an addition to its building and new equipment and technology upgrades. The company plans to add 12 jobs to its work force of more than 300.

Sportservice is looking for about 200 people to fill jobs at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park (Erie County). The food service company needs to fill a variety of positions during Bills games and some of the jobs do offer some additional hours throughout the season.

Business Contractions

New this Month

The largest local franchisee for Dunkin’ Donuts has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and will close four area stores and a baking facility as it restructures. Kainos Partners Holding Co. will continue to operate 13 stores in the Buffalo Niagara region after the four locations are shut down this weekend (July 11). The stores will transfer as many of the affected employees as possible to the other locations. The bakery operation, which employs 78 people, will close in three to four months. The franchisee also hopes to move displaced workers into new jobs as well.

Henkel Corp. is preparing to cut 20 jobs at its South Buffalo (Erie County) plant while it continues to seek a buyer for the operation. The company plans to lay off the workers at the end of September. The company also plans to close it s Olean plant in about 2011.

Four months after warning its crews that an expected downturn in business might lead to layoffs this shipping season, American Steamship Co. has laid off 204 employees. The Amherst-based (Erie County) company notified the NYS Labor Department that the workforce reduction took place between June 18 and June 25. The duration of the layoffs, which are based on seniority, was not disclosed in the recent filing.

Independent Health announced three moves that will result in the loss of more than 100 employees. The company is laying off 50 employees, outsourcing some technology and telecommunications jobs (15 employees on July 15), and selling the majority of its third-party administration business to a local industry veteran, affecting 43 employees on October 1st. The Williamsville (Erie County) based health insurer is the second largest in Western New York.

A Buffalo (Erie County) high-tech company, once lauded for its growth potential, is now headed for liquidation after filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy. NanoDynamics Inc. told their 75 employees their jobs were being eliminated and the doors will be closed as of July 29th. The company had already furloughed its employees for a couple of weeks prior to ceasing operations. Back in 2005, the company employed 50 people and envisioned growing its workforce to more than 300 employees over the ensuing five years as it ramped up production.

About 100 people in Hamburg (Erie County) are out of a job at National Envelope. The company is consolidating its operations across the country. The laid off workers will receive three months severance and some will be offered jobs at other National Envelope plants out of the area.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

After nearly four years in bankruptcy, Delphi Corp. and its Lockport (Niagara County) plant will soon return to General Motors. The Michigan-based auto parts supplier won court approval of its plan to sell most of its assets to lenders and former parent GM, clearing the final obstacle to its exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Delphi has set a target date of August 31st, and expects to be out of Chapter 11 by September 30th.

Goodyear and the United Steelworkers have agreed to extend their labor contract by four weeks. The existing three-year contract was set to expire July 18th; it was extended to August 15th. The two sides are currently negotiating. The deal will cover seven U.S. facilities, including the plant in Tonawanda (Erie County), which has 948 hourly workers represented by the Steelworkers.

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