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Cutting edge chemical plant, small bank growing, health care costs dropping?, advertising awards...

From Business Today:

Among the pockets of cutting edge work being done in Western New York is the Honeywell International plant in Buffalo. The impressive looking facility, with huge HONEYWELL pipes running between buildings, is home to a new 'sample plant' that will make small amounts of a vital component for lithium-ion batteries. The plant got a $27 million matching grant from the federal government to help build a facility that will make electrolyte salt. It created just six new jobs, but goes much further in showing what Western New York plants can accomplish.

Evans Bancorp is on an expansion binge that could see two new branches in the next year. The small bank has found Bufalo's northern surburbs to be fertile ground for its personal type of financial services.

The cost of health care for retirees could be falling, amazing as that sounds. A new study by Fidelity Investments says that a 65-year-old couple will need $230,000 to cover their medical expenses in retirement, down from the $250,000 estimate the firm made last year. The reason for the drop is reduced out-of-pocket expenses under Presidnet Obama's health care overhaul.

Several local advertising agencies received Addy awards at the annual meeting of the Advertising Club of Buffalo. The Gelia firm won the 'best of show' award for a T.V. campaign for Independent Health.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


Unemployment rate dropping, young Six Sigma talent for hire, fracking lectures...

From Business Today:

The jobless rate for February in the Buffalo Niagara region dipped to 8.8 percent, the lowest level for that month since 2008, but it's nothing to crow about. ThatJob fair  rate is still the highest for any February since 1992. Yet experts have said it is going to be a slow climb out of the job loss hole the Great Recession dug for everyone. At the least, the local economic boat is turned and is heading in the right direction.

Six Sigma is the business efficiency program that started with improving processes in manufacturing facilities, but has evolved to encompass all organizations. The University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has a Six Sigma program for its undergraduate and graduate students, and the school is reaching out to local businesses to offer their services. For $4,900, a Six sigma FIN KIRKHAM six sigma 01 engineering student studying Six Sigma will spend 12-16 hours a week for two semesters at the business and develop an efficiency plan. The students will be under the guidance of a Six Sigma expert. So far five businesses have jumped at the opportunity.

The interest in hydro-fracking, the system in which underground shale is cracked to release natural gas, has never been higher. The economic boom that the process has yielded in the Marcellus Shale region has been met with ecological concerns about the pollution the process creates. The University at Buffalo is hosting eight free lectures on the topic at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, beginning this week. A senior economist from the Amnerican Petroleum Institute will be the first speaker.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Drill baby drill, Luvata talks continue, North Forest Office likes Rochester...

From Business Today:

Drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale region of Pennsylvania is just too lucrative to resist. National Fuel Gas Co. announced it will boost its investment in the drilling by 18 percent next year. They will mean up to 140 new horizontal wells at a cost of up to $800 million. As the gas come in, it should help keep rates down.

The members of the United Steelworkers at the Luvata plant in Military Road in Buffalo has not settled their contract negotiations yet. The current contract expires at the end of Thursday. The union represents about 450 workers at the plant, which has not had a strike since 1984. The company said talks are continuing.

North Forest Office Space is building in Rochester. The company is putting  up buildings at two of its five Rochester area office parks. In all, the firm has 280,000 square feet of space in the Rochester area.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored

A Bright idea, back to work at GM, unemployment struggles and carhauler controversy

From Business Today:

A group of organizations that promotes entrepreneurship is broadening its mission under a new name. Bright Buffalo Niagara is the new identity for efforts that used to put on events such as the Explore Buffalo Niagara Investor and Entrepreneur High-Tech Forum. Bright will try to expand its scope to include Southern Ontario. Two workshops are planned for May 4, ahead of the Bright Forum on June 9, where entrepreneurs can present ideas to investors.

Fifty-nine workers at General Motors' Town of Tonawanda engine plant are back at work today, following a one-week layoff spurred by events in Japan. The workers were put on layoff a week ago after a GM Gmengine truck assembly plant in Louisiana was temporarily shut down; the Louisiana plant was facing a shortage of parts supplied from Japan. Some of the Tonawanda plant's engines are shipped to that facility.

The number of recent college graduates who can't find work, or who can find only part-time retail or restaurant jobs that don't require an education, grew by more than 70 percent over the last two years. The trend highlights the struggles many of them are having to find a job that suits their qualifications at a time when unemployment remains high.

Carhauler Allied Systems Holdings is at odds with General Motors and Chrysler over vehicles Allied has at its facilities. GM in a lawsuit claims Allied is holding about 2,000 of its vehicles "hostage." Chrysler is Gmhq suing to get back its vehicles, as well. Allied has a location in West Seneca, but none of the cars involved in the dispute are parked there. Separate court hearings are set for this week.

Check out recent real estate deals for Erie County and Niagara County.


Speaking of trucks:



-- Matt Glynn

Jobs grow slowly, GM may call 'em all back, First Niagara changes...

From Business Today:

Jobs are slowing coming back to the Buffalo Niagara region. During the last year, 1,500 jobs were added, fueled by a pickup in hiring among the private sector. Job fair The region still has a long way to go to recover from the losses during the Great Recession, but the trend is improving.

GM workers on lay off got a tease of good newsfrom a union official this week. UAW Vice President Joeseph Ashton, a former director of Amherst-based Region 9, said that GM will call back all its workers by September, including the nearly 200 on layoff at the Town of GM PLANT 2 Tonawanda engine plant. GM, however, declined to confirm Ashton's time line. Once GM gets all its laid-off workers back, it can begin hiring new people at the greatly reduced wage allowed under the new contract. The turnaround of the US automotive industry continues.

First Niagara Financial Corp. hired a new CFO, Gregory W. Norwood, and moved Michael Harrington to treasurer and chief investment officer. Norwood has experience at larger institutions, which is something First Niagara may need as it continues to grow.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

More room for beer, downtown is in the heart, science business...

From Business Today:

Well one thing is for sure, beer is good business in Buffalo. Try-It Distributing, which brings us Budweiser, Labatt Blue and other fine malted offerings, is expanding its warehouse in Lancaster. The businesses needs 100,000 square feet of new spaceTry it  02  to store beer, especially during the busy summer season. Try-it employs 280 people, and the town of Lancaster lauds the firm for keeping up its property. The project could be completed by February, so not to worry. The suds will continue to flow.

Mark Croce, downtown Buffalo restaurateur and now owner of the vacant Statler Towers, has bought a $1.2 million mansion in Orchard Park. Croce, a longtime downtown booster, said he is not turning his back on the city. Rather he is securing a place to raise his growing family. He assures that he will keep his residence in the City Centre condominium and keep his focus on reviving downtown.

The scientific community at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the entire Buffalo Medical Campus is Roswell park  02 working hard to bring some of the inventions of its scientists to market. One start-up, Photolitec LLC, just signed a $6 million deal with Chinese company Hisun Pharma to develop its laser identification system for cancer cells. The effort is long-term. The company hopes to bring the product to market in five years.

Eaton Office Supply bought longtime rival Service Office Supply to create the largest independent office supply business in the region. Service Office Supply traces its roots back to 1861 in downtown Buffalo.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored

 To beer!

HSBC Bank gets more time, M&T gets Delaware bank's shareholders, shipping season begins...

From Business Today:

HSBC Bank has another 90 days to consider whether itHSBC TOWER  wants to build a new building in front of HSBC Arena on what is called the Webster block. The Buffalo Common Council granted the three-month extension on its rights to the land, the second extension the bank has received. The bank is the largest tenant in the city's tallest building, the 38-story HSBC Tower, and plenty of downtown landlords are fearful that if the bank leaves the tower, downtown are will be flooded with available space. The bank says it is considering several options, including staying in the tower.

Shareholders of Wilmington Trust, the bank with the largest market share in Delaware, approved the sale of the historic bank to M&T Wilmington Bank Corp. Some had grumbled that the price was too low, but with no other potential buyers, shareholders went along. M&T plans to rebrand the bank and its branches, but keep the Wilmington Trust name on the lucrative wealth management business.

Despite the snow blowing today, a sure sign of spring has arrived: the Welland Canal is open. The annunal Top Hat ceremony for the first "up-bound" boat through the canal signals the beginning of the shipping season. St. Catharines-based Algoma Central Corp. also announced it was investing in seven new lake freighters, bringing new, more efficient ships to the Greak Lakes.

Fiat will be coming to Western New York, but not to West Herr.FIAT  The giant auto dealership passed up its opportunity to be the only Fiat dealer in the region, saying it did not have the space to house the operation. Fiat said it is close to inking a deal with another Chrysler dealer in the region.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored...

A video about the new lake freighters.

Growing with tax breaks, a good place to build, ice cream heaven, and hiring...

From Business Today:

Some businesses are growing in Western New York,Sonwil distributon center FIN SONWIL GEE  and one place to find them is at the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. Several firms got tax breaks this week to expand their operations. Derrick Corp., a venerable manufacturing company that makes vibrating/sifting machines for the drilling industry, has a $19.5 million expansion in the works; McGard, maker of security products, has a $5 million expansion; I-Squared R Element has a $5.3 million expansion; and Sonwil Distributiion has a $2 million project. Tax breaks have become part of the cost of retaining and growing business in this region. So until the tax code is changed, that's where the growth will be.

Scott Enterprises, the Erie, Pa.-based developer, has found some fertile ground in Western New York. The company has built a Staybridge Suites hotel on Transit Road at Sheridan Drive in Clarence, opened two Papa John's pizza shops and a Quaker Steak and Lube restaurant, and now plans to build a QUAKER STEAK features Quaker Steak Cantillon 3 SpringHill Suites hotel in Lancaster. "People in Buffalo are very good to work with," said Chris N. Scott, owner and vice president of the company.

What do you get when two local firms that make their own home-made ice cream and sundae toppings link up? We don't know, but it's got to be delicious. Nick Charlap's Ice Cream will be served at Antoinette's on the Hill in West Seneca. Now, more than ever, it's important to 'leave some room for dessert.'

Who else is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Who want's ice cream and cake?



Mobile to Sunoco, Chevy expansion, Japan hits GM plant, and real estate deals...

From Business Today:

Your neighborhood Mobil station might be a Sunoco station soon. Pennsylvania-based Lehigh Gas Co. sold at least eight Mobil stations in the past three MOBIL months to Sunoco as part of a corporate strategy. Sunoco has a strong presence in the region and seeks to expand. In all Sunoco is buying 25 stations in the Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany regions.

Paddock Chevrolet is expanding along Delaware Avenue in Kenmore. The successful dealership - which ranked No. 1 in the nation for selling Chevys in February - is moving its used car operation to the former Jim Doyle Ford site a block away. Neighbors are happy since the Paddock dealership was beginning to spill out into the surrounding neighborhood.

The slowdown in Japan auto operations following the earthquake and tsunami is reaching the GM engine plant in the Town of Tonawanda. GM is placing 59 workers who build the in-line 4- and 5-cylinder BRADLEY engines on temporary layoff because those engines go to a plant in Louisiana that has been idled due to a parts slowdown fro Japan. But not to worry too much - the UAW members on layoff get between 70% and 75% of their pay while at home.

Who is getting hired, promoted, and honored...

And recent real estate transactions in Erie and Niagara counties...

Verizon's outrageous claim, Independent Health ranks No. 1, healthy shopping...

From Business Today:

Verizon pulled the plug on its plans to build a $4 billion data center in Niagara County. That's the bad news, very bad news. Western New York couldn't haveVERIZON_001   done much more to make the deal happen, offering tax incentives and cheap power. But the company's claim that a little lawsuit from a neighbor was a big factor in its decision is a outrageous case of corporate evasion. Really? A multi-billion dollar corporation turns and runs from a major development plan because a neighbor files a lawsuit? If that were true, there would be no Walmart stores in this country. The building of almost every store faces court challenges. Walmart, like Verizon, has a sharp legal team for such things. Who knows why Verizon really decided to go elsewhere - the uncertain future of the neighboring coal fired power plant is a good guess - but for the company to say they are running away because of a neighbor's lawsuit? That is something.

Independent Health Association has done an amazing thing - again. The small, not-for-profit health insurer was ranked No. 1 in the New York/New Jersey region, and No. 2 in the nation for customer Cropp 01 satisfaction in the latest J.D. Power and Associates survey. The two other Western New York insurers also ranked near the top of the regional list: Excellus (parent of Univera) at No. 2 and HealthNow at No. 5. Western New Yorkers clearly feel they are well served by their health insurers.

Every wonder how healthy that box of cereal is? Or that frozen pizza? Tops Markets has started a new labeling program run by a company called NuVal where every item is graded for nutritional valueNUTRITION  on a scale of 1 to 100. What earns a 100? Blueberries, strawberries and brocoli. What earns a 1? We don't know, but we're sure it tastes good.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

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