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Western New York, May 2010

Business Expansions

New this Month

The areas 100th Subway Submarine shop opened in Buffalo (Erie County) on May 3rd. More than 80 restaurants have set up shop in the area over the last 15 years. The company expects to open an additional 35 stores by 2014. Subway franchises employ roughly 1,000 people throughout Western New York.

Construction is expected to begin this week on a $4.5 million Marriott-brand Courtyard hotel, the first of three Cheektowaga (Erie County) building projects that include another hotel and a $1 million Walgreens drugstore. Last spring, five proposed hotels near the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and two drugstores were put on hold by developers, citing problems with the economy and credit. Now, developers are reviving plans for two, the Courtyard hotel and a Hampton Inn, each with 130 to 140 rooms.

Shanghai Red’s, an upscale Buffalo (Erie County) waterfront restaurant, has undergone a $500,000 renovation and will reopen this month as Templeton Landing. The company is seeking to fill 100 positions, including hostesses, servers, cook, bartenders and busboys. It will eventually employ 211 people.

People Inc. in Williamsville (Erie County) hosted a job fair to fill both summer and permanent positions working with seniors and people with developmental disabilities. The company has openings in human services, social work, nursing, physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Viatran formally opened its new headquarters in Wheatfield (Niagara County) with a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 7th. The company, which makes pressure and level measurement devices, moved its headquarters from Grand Island to the new site. Presently, the company employs about 50 and expects to hire an additional 25 over the next three years.

Auto insurer GEICO Corp. is seeking to hire almost 300 sales, service and claims employees over the next several months, for two different company operations at its Amherst (Erie County) facility. The site, has about 1,500 employees, and is one of GEICO’s 10 full-service regional centers nationwide.

Goya Foods in Angola (Erie County) is getting nearly $1.3 million in tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Agency for a $13.5 million project to expand its bean-processing plant. The project, which is expected to add 20 jobs to its 94-person workforce within the next two years, would add 45,000 square feet to its plant and install new equipment that will speed up its processes. The expansion is the second major enlargement of the facility in the last three years.

A plan to open a steel processing business in a portion of the abandoned American Axle & Manufacturing on the East Side of Buffalo (Erie County) has won more than $280,000 in tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Agency. Galvstar LLC plans to acquire space in the factory for a start-up venture that company official’s hope will produce 180,000 tons of galvanized steel per year and employ 50 people.

Tops Friendly Markets has agreed to lease and take over a Jubilee Foods store in Cheektowaga (Erie County) that was slated to close later this month. The store will be closed at the end of the month and be completely remodeled, with a fall opening slated. All 65 current Jubilee employees will be offered jobs at the revamped Tops store.

A long vacant set of former department store warehouse buildings in the City of Buffalo (Erie County) have a new lease on life as the AM&A’s Warehouse Lofts project opens today, May 14th, with residential tenants and a collections agency moving in immediately. The yearlong, $12 million project, converted the empty space into 48 apartments and 15,000 square feet of commercial space, which collections firm P&B Acquisitions will occupy. The move will allow the company to more than double in staff from 50 employees currently to 130 within the next year…up from just five employees five years ago.

Bass Pro Shops is on target to sign a lease for its outdoor retail store in Buffalo (Erie County) in July or August. Construction workers are scheduled to begin at the Canal Side site early next month, drilling metal sheeting into the five-acre site to stabilize the banks and soil to prevent future corrosion or collapse of the planned entertainment, dining, shopping and public destination. If the lease is signed this summer, it will come more than five years after the Springfield Mo. Retailer signed a nonbinding, memorandum of understanding to come to Buffalo.

Northtown Automotive Cos. Inc has finalized development plans for a former Chrysler and jeep dealership it owns in Buffalo. (Erie County) Northtown is planning a $7.7 million project that will see its Lexus dealership move across Sheridan Drive and expand three-fold. The revamped building will be 35,000-square-feet and will include a showroom, repair shop, customer waiting area and sales area. 22 jobs will be added, including 17 full-time positions with the expanded Lexus dealership, which will have approximately 80 employees.

Walmart is proposing a smaller supercenter at an old retail site on the Buffalo-West Seneca (Erie County) border. The 115,000 square foot store would bring 300 new jobs to the area.

The deep discount supermarket chain, Price Rite, opened its third area store in Cheektowaga (Erie County) on May 23rd. Between 50 and 100 workers are employed on a full-and part-time basis.

Metaullics Systems, a carbon graphite company in Wheatfield, (Niagara County) will add about 50 jobs to its current 54-person workforce through a $22 million expansion within the next three years. The plan is to erect a new 93,000-square-foot building at the plant. The structure will house 12 high-temperature furnaces, which will be used to produce anodes for lithium-ion batteries, making it a key supplier to manufacturers of batteries for hybrid cars.

As interest has grown in lithium ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, Honeywell International’s Buffalo (Erie County) will play a key role in advancing the battery technology. The local site will benefit from a $54million joint investment by the federal government and Honeywell in producing electrolyte salt, a critical component of the batteries. The project will provide to the plant which employs about 135 people. Six permanent jobs will be created to handle the new work.

Erie County reopened an Auto Bureau in Amherst after it had been closed in 2005 due to the county’s budget crisis. The office replaces two smaller satellite bureaus in the Town and City of Tonawanda, which had been opened after the former Northtown Plaza site closed. Both of those offices closed last week (May 21).

The University at Buffalo (Erie County) was awarded a $3.5 million grant to support stem cell research from the Empire State Stem Cell Board to support biomedical research and infrastructure and stem cell research training throughout the state. UB was one of ten institutions selected to receive the funding to establish and operate specialized resources and research facilities and to recruit and retain postdoctoral fellows. The award will flow through the Research Foundation of SUNY to a professor in the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences.

Fantastic Sams has announced plans to expand its Buffalo (Erie County) presence in the next year. The hair-care franchise has more than 20 salons in the area and will open an additional three to five shops. The company’s employment is expected to increase by approximately 40 positions with the openings.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Quality Markets grocery store in Dunkirk (Chautauqua County), one of 79 stores acquired by Tops Markets in January, will close in early June. The store, which employs 45 people, is situated less than a mile from another Tops location.

Two Buffalo (Erie County) Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant locations will close for good. One location in Amherst will remain open.

The Cleveland Hill School District will lay off the equivalent of nearly 12 full-time teaching and support staff positions to offset the expected $1.25 million reduction in state aid. District voters will vote on the proposed budget on May 18th.

Canisius College in Buffalo (Erie County) is cutting 29 positions to save money. Most of the jobs affected are non-faculty administration and staff. The college expects to save over $1.5 million.

Lawmakers approved an emergency spending bill that furloughs 100,000 New York State workers for one day a week. The furloughs will continue until a budget is passed.

City of Lackawanna (Erie County) mayor Norman Polanski has proposed a $22.98 million spending plant for the 2010-11 fiscal year that cuts 10 jobs from the city payroll. The plan will cut five positions form the Department of Public Works, two each from the Police and fire Departments, and one City Hall position.

The Dunkirk City School District (Chautauqua county)school board announced at its board of education meeting that due to the budget cuts for the 2010-11 school year, 15 full-time and five part-time positions will be eliminated.

Contract Pharmaceuticals Ltd. in Buffalo (Erie County) will close its plant by the end of next year, putting 260 people out of work. The plant is currently running at 25 percent capacity, due to lack of work.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

800 nursing home workers at four area (Erie County) facilities have ratified a new four-year labor agreement. The workers are members of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, are employed at McGuire Group facilities, including Autumnview Manor, Garden Gate Manor, North Gate Manor and Seneca Manor.

Negotiators for Erie County Executive Chris Collins and the county’s largest union have agreed on a proposed contract granting a 15 percent raise over five years in return for a give back of two paid holidays and working full days in the summer. The contract, which requires other concessions, would affect nearly 4,200 Erie County employees represented by Local 815, Civil Service Employees Association. Local 815 union members have been working without a contract for three years. Members are to vote on the deal on June 8th.

Firefighters at Buffalo Niagara International Airport have a new contract. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority approved a four-year pact with the 35 members of the airport’s firefighters on May 24th.

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