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Tonawanda Castle wows, New Era hiring and Recckio's bowls on...

From Business Today:

After standing vacant for years in the City of Tonawanda, the former Tonawanda Armory has come back  to life as the Tonawanda Castle. Mostafa Tanbakuchi Tonawanda Castle 02 bought the giant building seven years ago for $70,000 and started a rehab labor of love. Today the castle hosts weddings and other events and offers tours. Neighboring businesses are ecstatic at the transformation and at the traffic it promises to bring to the city.

New Era, the glamorous local company that make caps for Major League Baseball, the NFL and college teams, has brought more and more work to its Derby plant since deciding last year to close its New Eraworkers Alabama facility. New machinery and more hiring to come bode well for the local operations for a company whose work can be seen at almost every professional sporting event.

Recckio's Bowling Center in South Buffalo has been a hang out for generations. Since the days when boys set pins by hand, the bowling alley has hosted dates, birthday parties and of course leagues. When the Recckio family decided to sell, Recckio's bowling 02 they found a bowling center operator who vows to keep things going. David Sears says he is spiffing up the place for the next generation of bowlers.

Here are recent real estate transactions from Erie and Niagara counties.

Video: Prospectus looks at social networking

This year's edition of Prospectus -- The News' annual business forecast -- comes out Sunday and features more than 50 stories detailing the latest developments in the Western New York economy, from the real-estate sector to the employment outlook.

Earlier this week, News Business Editor Grove Potter and reporters Jonathan Epstein and Matt Glynn discussed some of the trends they uncovered in putting together this year’s Prospectus. Specifically, they looked at how some firms are making use of the latest technology and the rising influence of social media.

Business gets its man, First Niagara's amazing year, basic banking pays off...

From Business Today:

Gov. Cuomo has taken a step toward revamping the state's economic development efforts, naming Kenneth Adams, president of The Business Council, as CEO Business adams of Empire State Development Corp. The Business Council is a conservative, pro-business voice in Albany that has been outspoken about the cost of government. Adams is stepping into the frey, taking the lead role in how the state will boost business.

First Niagara Financial Group has finished an amazing year,with profits rising 59% in the last quarter. Some of that increase is from the bank's acquisitions in Pennsylvania. Next year, the bank's books Koelmel are expected to show the impact of it's move into New England. And President and CEO John R. Koelmel shows no signs of slowing down, using one of his favorite phrases - "pedal to the metal" - to describe the bank's posture.

Five Star Bank parent Financial Institutions saw fourth-quarter profit fall 5.5% as it set aside more money for loan losses and credit card fraud. For the full year, profits were up 48 percent. "Our back-to-basics banking approach is truly paying off," President and CEO PEter G. Humphrey said.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


Clean it up, send it out, and pack 'em in...

From Business Today:

From the "It's About Time!" file: the eyesore on Grand Island justDunlop building 05  off the I-190 near the north bridge may finally get spruced up. The abandoned, graffiti-covered office building, once home to Hooker Chemical and then Dunlop, has been a visual symbol of inaction for almost 20 years. The current owner, James Metz, who also owns Beauty Pools, apparently plans to use $1 million in state money and more of his own money to clean the building and bring it up to modern standards. He then hopes to rent Gateway Rendering or sell it. From all the drivers who glance over and shake their heads at the sight, we say Godspeed.

The Buffalo Niagara region has always benefited from its position beside Canada to boost its exports. Almost 12% of the region's economic output is tied to exports, above the national average of 9%, according  to 2008 numbers, the latest available. As strong as that is, economists are urging businesses to expand that number by reaching to Asia and South America. We have always said the quality of Western New York work stands up anywhere in the world. Making the effort to sell in the growing areas of the globe would lead to handsome returns.

Dolly Lake? The company that manages Dolly Parton's Dollywood Darienlake amusement park is now running Darien Lake. The Georgia-based Herschend Family Entertainment is overseeing the day-to-day operations of the regional theme park. Darien Lake owner CNL Lifestyle Properties hired the company to spruce things up, add a little pizazz and bring in more acts. Judging from the success of Dollywood, this could be an interesting season at Darien Lake.

Who is getting hired, promoted or honored?

How about some Dolly!

TARP money backlash, landing a big lease, and more Niagara Falls airline service...

From Business Today:

When M&T Bank Corp. first agreed to take TARP money fromM&T bank  the federal government, it did so as a sign of support for the federal plan to rescue banks. The U.S. Treasury Department wanted healthy banks to accept money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program to remove the stigma of receiving federal aid. Now, as a result the healthy bank has had to alter its compensation program to adhere to the TARP rules. No more cash bonuses. The bank is now giving stock bonuses, something it has not done in the past. Regardless, the executives are still being handsomely rewarded for their efforts.

Uniland Development Co. has landed a huge federal lease in a new building on Airborne Parkway in Uniland300 Airborne Cheektowaga. A division of Homeland Security is paying $5.72 million for a long-term lease at the facility.

Spirit Airlines, the third carrier to find the value in using the Niagara Falls International Airport, starts service to Ft. Lauderdale on Friday. It joins Vision Airlines and Direct Air at the airport.

Northwest Bancshares reported healthy profits and announced it was closing its three branches in South Florida. Apparently it's too hard to compete down South when the corporate headquarters are so far away.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is studying the health of the downtown Buffalo office rental market and how companies can be helped in renting space.

Who says there are no jobs out there? Google announced it will hire 6,200 people this year. They're looking for the best computer engineers and sales people in the land. The company is not saying where the new jobs will be. 

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored around here?


Williamsville's hot market, small bank power and GM rises...

From Business Today:

Iskalo Development Corp. really likes Williamsville. the company has quietly amassed significant holdings along Main Street, the commercial heart of the village. Petri Company founder and CEO Paul Iskalo says the firm is positioned to be "the developer of choice" for any business seeking a place in the attractive locale. Adding to his portfolio, Iskalo bought the former Pitt Petri building on Main and South Ellicott streets for $827,000.

Community Bank System, which operates 33 branches in Western New York, is showing that it's not only the big banks that are doing well. The DeWitt-based bank reported profits soaring 69 percent for the fourth quarter.

General Motors Corp. is also feeling it. The auto giant, struggling through bankruptcy not long ago, is poised to regain its post as the No. 1 car maker in th world. Toyota, which grabbed the title in 2008, has struggled with global recalls, while GM has pushed its growth in China. For GM, which operates an GM Autos Almost No 1 engine plant in the Town of Tonawanda and a parts plant in Niagara County, taking back the top spot would be a signal its turnaround it for real.

Who is getting hired, promoted or honored?


Office space, windmills, hand-held scanners and home sales...

From Business Today:

Renting office space in Buffalo isn't as tough as in someBUFFALO AERIAL GEE  other cities. The vacancy rate of 11 percent is well below the 18.8 percent in Rochester or the staggering 20.8 percent in Cleveland. The latest survey by CB Richard Ellis shows a steady, stable market in Buffalo. The looming threat of huge vacancies in the HSBC Tower doesn't seem to worry some brokers. There's plenty of time to find new tenants, they say.

The State of New York is offering big incentives to people to build personal wind turbines. The small-scale wind movement is largely WINDMILL taking place on farms and in rural areas because neighbors within 750 feet must approve the deals. But the state money is keeping the windmill business afloat during a time when falling natural gas prices make wind energy a more expensive option.

Industrious shoppers at some Tops Friendly Markets could use hand-held scanners to keep a running tab as they shopped. People scanned items as they shopped, then put the total in when they checked out. But apparently not enough people enjoyed the task. Tops has ended the use of the EasyShop scanners, Tops Fin Tops Wippert saying they were not used enough. Some shoppers may have tired of the random spot checks, where every item on your cart had to be confirmed.

Here are the latest real estate transactions for Erie and Niagara counties.

Did someone say office space?

Statler could be bought, Rich Products buys Carvel cake maker, private jobs grow slowly, and Genesee County IDA gets caught...

From Business Today:

The Statler Towers could end up in private hands after all. After several weeks of the threat of the city taking title to the landmark, developer Mark Croce indicated that he plans to go ahead and buy the giant abandoned building for $700,000, a price that could end up being the steal of the century. He still wants more than $5 million in public money to seal of the top floors of the building until market demand calls for their redevelopment. Stay tuned...

Rich Products has bought a piece of an ice cream icon. The Buffalo-based food company bought a maker of Carvel ice cream cakes. Celebration Foods of Connecticut makes the Carvel cakes sold in stores. Rich's also bought an Austrailian bakery VSE International. Terms of the two purchases were not revealed.

There were 2,000 more private sector jobs in Western New York this December compared to last year. That's the good news from the state Labor Department. It is the seventh straight month of year-over-year private sector job growth. Government jobs were flat for December. It's slow progress.

Ecology and Environment, a pioneer in environmental ECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT consulting, is starting to see benefits from its early moves into South America. One of its employees was named the minister of the environment in Chile. That was some of the good news CEO Kevin S. Neumaier shared at the company's annual meeting.

The Avant Building continues to attract premier tenants. The glass covered building that Uniland Development made using the bones of the former Dulski Federal Building, has attracted law firm Jaeckle AVANT Fleischmann & Mugel. The firm will join another top area firm, Damon Morey, in the new building.

The Genesee County IDA was giving out bonuses like it was a private company, according to an audit by the State Authorities Budget Office. The IDA gave $340,000 to 10 staff members from 2005 to 2009, despite having no policy authorizing such extra payments. The budget office wants the IDA to get the money back and to use it for job creating efforts, which is what the IDA is supposed to do.

Who is getting hired, promoted or honored?

Carvel cake anyone?


Find us, please!, Bills fans know money, new hotel owners, and some job openings...

From Business Today:

Western New York is making it as easy as possible for businesses to find this area and locate here. The latest effort is a web site pinpointing available industrial park sites. It's possible to tour the area around the site, investigate expansion possibilities and even bus routes to the site, all online. The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning developed the site, with support from the IDA and National Grid. Now all we have to do is reduce taxes and utility rates.

Buffalo Bills fans like a challenge. Nothing like cheering Bills fans for a losing team in frigid conditions to make a fan base strong. When it was first reported a few weeks ago that Bills fans were doing poorly in an online Visa financial skills game, fans huddled up and came out with a power running game. Since then, so many fans have played the game and won that the Bills fans went from 27th to third in the rankings. The game lasts until the end of the season on Feb. 6, so there's plenty of time to take the title. Click here to play.

The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Niagara Falls has been sold to Canadian Niagara Holdings. The hotel was owned by Gramercy Investment Trust of New York, which bought it at a foreclosure auction in March. The new owners, a family-owned hotel business, also owns the Days Inn at 443 Main St., and six hotels Crowne plaza NIAGARA STARBUCKS LEWIS across the river in Niagara Falls, Ont. Micheal DiCienzo, vice president of the hotel company, said they plan to add a restaurant and retail stores in the hotel across from the Seneca Niagara Casino.

Crabs anyone? Houston-based Ignite Restaurant Group is opening a Joe's Crab Shack on Maple Road in Amherst in the former Pizza Uno building. The company studied the region closely and picked the site. It must really like Amherst. It opened a Brick House Tavern and Tap almost directly across Maple Road last month.

DuPont plans to add 27 jobs at its Buffalo Avenue chemical plant in Niagara Falls in the next two months. Managers said they need to replace people who are retiring.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Bills make us want to shout!


GEICO still hiring, Williams Gold name fades, and more stores!...

From Business Today:

GEICO's service center in Amherst is growing steadily toward its goal of 2,500 employees. The company is looking to hire 300 more people due to increased business in New England. The service center in the Crosspoint Business Park was built in 2005, and has been a jewel in GEICO's array of centers across the nation. It's an example of the region's transformation from a manufacturing center to a back-office mecca. Companies like the region's work ethic and lower costs.

A proud name in Buffalo's industrial heritage is fading away as part of a corporate makeover. Williams Advanced Materials, the latest incarnation of Williams Gold Refining, is being renamed Materion. The Ohio-based parent company Brush Engineered Materials is adopting the new name for itself and all its subsidiaries. The factory on the corner of Main Street and Hertle Avenue in Buffalo will get some new signs. The WIlliams name dates back to the local company's founding in 1907.

Clothing shoppers at the Walden Galleria will have a couple of new stores to peruse soon. The popular clothing store H&M is opening a store at the mall this spring, and Anthropologie, another clothing and accessory store is expected to open a store in the spring.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?  


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