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Private sector jobs added, state tax burden chasing away business, non-profits lose a benefit...

From Business Today:

While it's nothing to get too excited about, the local job market seems to be thawing a bit. The private sector added 2,700 jobs in November, compared Job fair to last year at this time. The improving job climate also brought out more job seekers, putting them back into the state Labor Department's calculations. The result: a slight increase in the unemployment rate. Nevertheless, any job added is a step in the right direction.

Businesses are tilting against a strong headwind in New York State, as a News editorial today points out. Taxes and burdensome regulations earn New York the dubious distinction of having the "most hostile business tax climate in the nation," according to the Tax Foundation. Asking government to change that is akin to asking the fox to guard the henhouse, but it's about all we can do at this point. For all of us, and for future generations, let's hope Governor-elect Cuomo can reduce state spending. It's really our only hope.

The Erie County budget adopted this week does not continue a break that non-profits have enjoyed, and it could halt some local projects. Non-profits that got funding through the Erie County Industrial Land Development Corp. were exempted from paying "prevailing wages," which are the local union wages. This saved them lots of money. That exemption is now gone.

The Goodyear Dunlop tire plant in the Town of Tonawanda has a new leader. Aaron Hildebrand had been DUNLOP3 WIPPERT FIN named to head the 1,240-job plant, one of the largest manufacturing operations left in the region.

Who else it getting hired, honored or promoted?

HSBC urged to stay put, ecology paying off, Niagara Falls hotel makeovers...

From Business Today:

As we wrote in September, the prospect of HSBC Bank leaving the HSBC tower in downtown Buffalo would be a disaster for the anemic local commercial real Tower jam estate market. Now the mayor and a downtown business group have expressed concerns over the threat. Dumping 653,000 square feet of Class A office space on a stagnant market is a recipe for trouble. It could take years for the city to absorb so much space. Adding to the controversy, HSBC is considering moving into a building in the city's Canal District that would be subsidized with lots of public money.

Ecology & Environment, the Lancaster-based environmental consulting business, had a strong quarter despite modest growth in E&E building Local Ecology Wippert revenues. The company, like most others, is doing more work in-house, cutting down on outside contractors, and generally tightening its belt.

A small group of hotel owners in Niagara Falls are planning to build or renovate several hotels in town. They appeared before the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency seeking tax breaks for their projects.

The former Motorola plant in Elma is getting a new lease on life. The owner of the Sonwil Distribution Center in Cheektowaga and a partner are buying the giant plant and converting it into a wholesale distribution center. MOTOROLA GEE

Who is getting promoted, hired, or honored?

HSBC says the rent it is being asked to pay is too high. That's a familiar tune......  

Gimme a (tax) break, going nuclear, cashing in...

From Business Today:

Buffalo development has benefited tremendously from a federal tax program that is in danger of going away. Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins delivered thatAVALON  message surrounded by developers and other politicians. The Renewal Community program that creates districts within which companies can qualify for tax breaks. Western New York has three such districts - Buffalo-Lackawanna, Niagara Falls and Jamestown - and the program has helped spur more than $105 million in investments over the past decade. Clearly, it is an important tax program for our impoverished region.

Graham Corp., the Batavia-based company that makes big metal things for the energy industry, has Graham made a big move into the nuclear power industry. The company spent $18 million to buy Energy Steel & Supply Co., a 52-employee form in Michigan that makes things for nuclear power plants. Graham Corp. has been on the hunt for an acquisition.

Rand Capital looks to make a tidy profit on a recent investment. Thge local venture capital firm spent Rand $1.6 million over the past two years on GridApp, a New York City database firm that is being bought by BMC Software. The purchase  price should being Rand about $4.9 million, more than triple its investment.

Who is getting ihired, honored or promoted?


Dramatic roof collapse, Baker Victory project and Larking District progress...

From Business Today:

Birdair, the Amherst-based company that builds some of the most magnificent stadium roofs in the world, sent representatives to Minnesota to assess what METRODOME ROOF COLLAPSES happened at the Minneapolis Metrodome. The roof the company built nearly 30 years ago collapsed under the eight of snow and ice. It was the fourth time the roof has succumbed to snow. Many of the company's other marvels are in hot weather climates. A dramatic video of the collapse was captured by Fox TV cameras.

Baker Victory Services is planning to consolidate residential treatment services it now offers in three separate aging buildings. FATHER BAKER STAUTE the Erie County Industrial Development Corp. approved tax exempt financing for the project.

The remaking of the Larkin District got another boost when the ECIDA approved tax breaks for the remodeling of the Seneca Industrial Center, the giant complex beside the LCo building, the renovated former warehouse that now houses corporate headquarters for First Niagara 701 Seneca St. Financial Corp. and Kaleida Health.

Who is getting hired, honored or promoted?

Metrodome collapse

The Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn., collapsed over the weekend under the weight of heavy snow. The NFL was forced to move a Vikings-Giants football game to Detroit tonight.

The roof was produced and installed by Amherst-based Birdair, which will consult on repairs. Birdair works on roofing systems for stadiums and arenas around the world.

Fox cameras captured the dramatic collapse on video. It happened early Sunday morning, and no one was hurt.

-- Matt Glynn

Medical costs explained, discounter closes, Greatbatch settles and shopping off the beaten path...

From Business Today:

Have you seen your medical insurance bill yet? It's going up. The list of things driving that cost up is long. New Business reporter Jonathan D. Epstein talked with area medical executives about why costs are soaring: more high tech tests, an aging and overweight population, defensive medicine and costly drugs. Others point out that the medical system is not geared to to save money, but to expand.

Four A.J. Wright discount stores in Western New York are closing,AJ WRIGHT  and one in Niagara Falls will be re-branded as a Marshalls, T.J. Maxx or HomeGoods. It's part of a nationwide shutdown of the A.J. Wright chain by TJX Co. The changes will end about 4,400 mostly part-time jobs.

Greatbatch Inc. is extricating itself from the morass of the Louisana court system,settling a $34.5 million lawsuit for $25 million. Greatbatch has been sued by Ion Geophysical Corp. for fraudulently using Ion's product designs to develop a competing product. Greatbatch had had the case dismissed, but  the Lousiana Court of Appeals reinstated the case. 

The original case:
And, the denied appeal.

Rosa's Home Stores impending shut down comes after almost 30 years of making good business in a stagnant economy, no small feat. Business columnist David Robinson gives credit to the chain's accomplishments.

Some shoppers like to stay away from the Big Box stores and crowded malls, finding small niche stores Tangelder for their special gifts.

And a week's worth of real estate transactions Home sales in Erie and Niagara counties... 


Local home furnishings store in bankruptcy, anti-frackers protest, Statler saga continues...

From Business Today:

Rosa's Home Stores made it official on Thursday, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Rumors have swirled in the local retail sector about the family-owned ROSA'S chain having troubles, so the filing was not a big surprise to many. The firm says it will try to stay in business and honor all its pending orders and warranties. The 29-year-old chain of four stores faces growing competition form Big Box stores and national furniture chains plus fighting to stay afloat during the recession.

Environmentalists are sure that fracking - pumping toxic water underground to break up shale to release natural gas - is a bad idea. Their logic is this - pumping water laced with dangerous chemicals underground will someday come back to bite us. The natural gas industry counters that the bad water is being pumped far below the aquifers where we get drinking water,Fracking protest  so it can't contaminate the drinking water sources. The practice is fueling a drilling bonanza in Pennsylvania, but is currently banned in New York. Protesters spoke out against the practice Thursday in front of a National Fuel Gas Co. office in Buffalo.

Lots written about fracking:
From Vanity Fair...
From The New York Times...

The saga of the Statler Towers is taking another twist. The trustee overseeing the bankruptcy wants to close the bankruptcy case, and that could end the effort of two local developers to cobble together a deal to buy the historic hotel in downtown Buffalo. In the end,Statler Local Statler Wippert  the City of Buffalo could end up responsible for the building across from City Hall. Afte that, who knows?

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


First Niagara deal draws fire, Rosa's on the ropes, Kaleida brass at Larkin Building...

From Business Today:

Some folks in Connecticut are really unhappy that the big bank in New Haven, NewAlliance, is being bought by Buffalo-based First Niagara Financial Group.  The latest attack on the deal comes from state Attorney General and U.S. Senator-elect Richard Blumenthal Blumenthal and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano. The two men held a press conference this week calling for a public hearing on the deal and attacked First Niagara's track record of lending to low- to moderate-income people. First Niagara fired back, standing by its record and vowing to be a good corporate citizen.  Meanwhile, New York City-based community activist Matthew Lee also filed a protest with regulators about the deal.

Rosa's Home Stores, the 29-year-old local furniture and appliance chain, is reportedly in financial trouble and may file for bankruptcy protection. Employees said they were told of the impending filing by ROSA'S management on Wednesday. The company's four area stores are still open, but inventories may be getting low.

The Larkin at Exchange Building continues to attract corporate headquarters. Already home to First Niagara Financial Group's top brass, the building now hosts the top management of Kaleida Health and its parent Great Lakes Health System. Kaleida CEO James R. Kaskie and seven other executives relocated from LARKIN BUILDING space at Buffalo General Hospital. The hospital group now have more than 200 people in the Larkin office building,  a former warehouse converted into Class A office space.

Who is getting hired, honored or promoted?


Lawyer vs. lawyer, automotive expansion, and road salt woes...

From Business Today:

Lawyers suing lawyers. That's what is happening in a nasty back and forth between Western New York attorney Steven J. Baum and New York City attorney Susan Chana Lask. Lask filed a racketeering lawsuit (seeking class-action status) against Baum in federal court accusing him of running a "foreclosure mill" and violating federal and state laws. Baum has fired back with a defamation and libel lawsuit. But Lask said today that she has not been served with the suit, and calls such attempts "frivolous."

Towne Automotive Group is getting a makeover. It's Ford, Lincoln, Towne Mazda and Hyundai stores will be revamped, bringing some together and remodeling others. It's part of a $1 million remodeling to adjust to new sales patterns.

The Holiday Inn Resort and Conference Center on Grand Island will be auctioned on January 11. The hotel has been operating in foreclosure Holiday inn since March. The Royal Bank of Canada, the mortgage holder, claims it is owed $7.6 million.

The WNED headquarters is so close to the I-190 highway that it is being sprayed by road salt, and that is causing some problems. The dsalt has eaten away at the building so much that it is now leaking. So the public television station is doing what public television stations do, asking for donations to fix the problem. A campaign to raise the $2.5 million is not under way.

Who is getting hired, promoted, and honored?

Local factories heating up, a great steakhouse, and gas price woes...

From Business Today:

Manufacturing in the Buffalo Niagara region, though not the economic Factory powerhouse it once was, is showing signs of growth. The purchasing managers from area factories contribute to a monthly index that gives a very precise picture of what is happening locally. The November numbers show a hint of growth. It's a start to what could be a modest recovery.

E.B. Green's Steakhouse, the white tablecloth restaurant in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, has been recognized as the "number two best steakhouse" in the nation by Tom Horan's America's Top Ten E.B. GREEN'S Independent Steakhouses" for 2011. Horan says the list is based on quality, service value and ambiance. E.B. Green;'s was No. 3 last year. This year's No. 1 is Charley's Steakhouse in Orlando.

Gas prices are creeping up. Some blame higher oil prices and the weak U.S. dollar. Whatever the Gasprices reasons, the Buffalo Niagara region always ranks among the higher priced regions for gas in the nation. Local and state taxes contribute quite a bit to that distinction.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


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