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Western New York, September 2010

Business Expansions

New this Month

Fairgrounds Gaming & Raceway opened its new $25.4 million gaming and entertainment center in Hamburg (Erie County) and officially changed its name to Hamburg Casino at the Fairgrounds. The casino, which opened on August 13, held its formal grand opening over the Labor Day holiday. Approximately 30 new jobs were created to accommodate the new casino’s expanded operations, increasing the total staff to nearly 280.

Investors are purchasing the Henkel Corporation plant in Olean (Cattaraugus County) saving 70 jobs that would have been idled next year.

The Lancaster (Erie County) Walmart Supercenter on Transit Road officially opened on September 15th, nearly 11 years after it was proposed. The 115,000-square-foot store contains less than half of the square footage the retailer originally planned. The store, which now employs 325 people, plans to have a total of 400 by the end of September. The Lancaster store is the 12th Walmart in Western New York.

Solid Surfaces Inc. is opening a fabricating shop in West Seneca (Erie County). The 30,000-square-foot warehouse and manufacturing site will eventually have about 30 employees.

Yahoo! Formally opened its state-of-the-art data center in Lockport (Niagara County) on Monday, September 20th. The facility opened just 13 months after breaking ground in August 2009. The $150 million data center created up to 500 jobs during construction and will have at least 125 full-time employees, 100 are already in place at the site. The second phase of Yahoo’s project, which began construction in June, is slated to wrap up by December.

Geico in Buffalo (Erie County) is looking to hire hundreds of local employees over the next year and a half. The company recently held a job fair seeking service reps, claims adjusters and sales counselors. The company is looking to fill almost 250 positions this year and hundreds next year. An empty office area will be used to create work space that will support the over 500 jobs that are expected to be fulfilled over the next 18 months.

Dell Inc. announced that it will provide computer equipment and services to support a major University at Buffalo initiative to start an institute here in Buffalo (Erie County) devoted to advancing electronic medical records. Work at the Institute for Healthcare Informatics will focus on such areas as standardizing the way health care personnel share electronic medical records and using computers to improve the management of patients with chronic illnesses. Dell’s $15 million investment is in addition to a $20 million state grant; and a $10 million investment by UBMD, the UB group that represents its 450 affiliated doctors. The project will add about 100 downtown jobs with the potential for adding another 100 jobs in the future.

Verizon Communications may spend nearly $2 billion to build a massive data center in rural Niagara County, with at least 200 employees. Verizon is reportedly looking at a 180-acre lakefront property in Somerset that is currently owned by energy company AES Corp.

Business Contractions

New this Month

The Buffalo & Erie County Library system expects to cut more than 130 jobs during a reorganization process resulting from significant cuts in state and county funding. The library’s current staff includes about 1,000 people who collectively make up 450 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. Layoffs are expected to affect at least 130 FTE positions, or hundreds of part-time and full-time positions combined. The layoffs will be determined based on civil service seniority and union contracts.

The mayor of The City of Salamanca (Cattaraugus County) has issued layoff notices to 49 City employees, citing the need to control expenses in the wake of the ongoing dispute between New York State and the Seneca nation of Indians. The Senecas own and operate Seneca Allegany Casino in the city. Essential services that the city provides using revenues generated from the Gaming Compact agreement will not materialize due to the dispute. Staff cuts will include policeman, fireman and reduced hours at the Library and Youth Center.

Chautauqua County’s new budget includes tax hikes and layoffs. To close the deficit in the 2011 budget, the county executive is proposing the elimination of eight employees, in total, the number of county employees will drop by 59, with the additional 51 coming from the early retirement incentive. Though 72 employees opted for the incentive, 21 positions will be refilled.

The Erie County budget for 2011 expects to lay off about 200 county employees to balance the budget without raising the tax rate or draining the millions held in reserve.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

44 Nurses and clerks at The McAuley Residence have voted to become members of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. They will join nurse aides, dietary aides and housekeepers at the Kenmore (Erie County) nursing home who are already members of the union.

About 300 service workers at Sister’s Hospital St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga (Erie County) have approved a first-time, five-year contract. The 288 workers, represented by Local 1168, Communications Workers of America, include CAN’s, groundskeepers, housekeepers and transcriptionists.

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