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Statler sold, tax help fun, mad money skills, and 'Duh, winning'...

From Business Today:

It is done. The Statler Towers, a landmark overlooking Niagara Square, is now owned by local restaurateur Mark Croce after languishing almost twoStatler  years in bankruptcy. But the saga is far from over. Croce plans to get the bottom floor open so he can host weddings and banquets in the grand Golden Ballroom and refurbished terrace. Stabilizing the structure will cost a lot of money, however, and Croce expects to get the government to help out. People may grumble and say ' let the private sector do it,'  but the private sector passed on the opportunity. Almost every developer in town looked at the Statler and balked. A job that size will take public money, and years from now, if it succeeds, people will be glad it was done.

Doing your taxes seems to get more complicated every year. During the annual Buffalo News Tax Help Line Call-in Night, volunteers from the local chapter of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, people had all sorts of questions. Many were handled by phone, but others were done during an on-line chat, which can be read on this blog.

High school students form across the region showed off their financial literacy skills at the annual MoneySkills competition at the University at Buffalo. Questions ranging from compounding interest Money mania 02 rates to how much Goldman Sachs valued Facebook for were handled in a game show environment. Members of the winning team won $250 college scholarships and the overall winner won an iPad.

Charlie Sheen, the unpredictable actor, is everywhere, even in Western New York. The catch phrase he has been using on talk shows to explain what he is doing - "Duh, winning" - is being emblazoned on T-shirts by thePeople Charlie Sheen  New Buffalo Shirt Factory in Clarence. The company thinks they may be for Sheen's upcoming tour called the "Violent Torpedo of Truth" tour. Can't wait.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

The beginning of a new life for the Statler. A video...

Gorilla marketing campaign

Corning Inc., the Southern Tier glassmaker known to generations for its Pyrex and Corelle cookware, has gone viral.

Even its own executives acknowledge Corning is a conservative company. So it was a significant shift when the firm launched a comprehensive marketing campaign last December to promote its high-tech Gorilla Glass, a durable product found in everything from smartphones to HDTVs.

How successful was the campaign? A video produced as part of the marketing effort, "A Day of Glass," has been viewed more than 9 million times on YouTube and is the most-watched corporate video ever posted on the site, said Dan Collins, vice president of corporate communications for Corning.

Representatives from Corning; Doremus, an advertising firm based in San Francisco; and Brodeur Partners, a public-relations firm based in Boston; will discuss this multi-faceted marketing campaign today at a symposium at St. Bonaventure University's Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Collins, who is also a St. Bonaventure alumnus and member of its board of trustees, said this was Corning's first consumer campaign in about 20 years.

The company wanted to try something different to promote its Gorilla Glass line, which is found in the newest Sony Bravia HDTVs, Samsung's Galaxy tablet and more than 200 other consumer electronic devices.

An Associated Press article last August was picked up by about 600 newspapers and generated a lot of buzz for the line, Collins said.

The marketing elements of the campaign began in December, with a major push in January at the closely watched Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The campaign included print ads in business, trade and local publications; a Gorilla Glass website; online advertising; targeted TV ads; and social media.

"We have a Facebook page. We have a Twitter account," Collins said.

There was even a Gorilla Glass video game, where a gorilla is the goalie. "You've got to get a banana past the gorilla," Collins said.

But the highlight was the YouTube video, which shows a glass-filled version of a high-tech future where we can type emails on our bathroom mirror, video chat on our kitchen counters and print architectural drawings on glass that can be rolled up and unrolled.

Collins said all of this technology is currently available, but a lot of it isn't practical or affordable for consumers just yet.

The video has been viewed millions of times since its Feb. 7 posting.

Most commenters are impressed with the video, and the possibilities presented in it. But a good number wondered who's going to pay to power all of this technology -- and who's going to clean all that glass.

In the end, there was just one thing missing from the campaign, Collins said: "No live gorillas."

-- Stephen T. Watson

Wilmers voices caution, Japan's impact, Statler's new owner

From Business Today:

M&T Bank CEO and Chairman Robert Wilmers says the banking world still faces risks. In his annual letter to shareholders, Wilmers cited concerns such as a failure by regulators and lawmakers to  Wilmers distinguish between large and small banks, coupled with increased industry concentration, excessive pay and a reliance on risky trading. He said commercial banks like M&T shouldn't be lumped into the same bucket as the six largest financial institutions, whose riskier behaviors and businesses, Wilmers said, pose a greater threat.




Japan's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis are taking on a toll on producers of auto parts and computer chips. And financial markets in Tokyo and Wall Street have taken a hit. By experts say they Japanexpect the impact of Japan's woes on the U.S. and global economies to be short lived. Oil prices have fallen and reconstruction in Japan could provide an economic boost.



Over the years, the Statler Towers has played host to countless weddings, banquets and other special events. Today, at 2 p.m., it plays host to an event for itself, as businessman Mark Croce officially becomes the owner. Croce plans a redevelopment of the landmark building that would unfold in phases. Statler 





Statler and Waldorf are not invited to the ceremony today:




-- Matt Glynn

Tax help live chat

Japan crisis reaches around the world, anti-radiation medicine suddenly hot, TV blackouts raising a ruckus...

From Business Today:

Some Western New York companies are watching events in Japan very closely. The companies have offices or even headquarters in Japan, and many are worriedFin kirkham koike aronson 04  about colleagues and family members. Orchard Park-based Mentholatum is owned by Rohto Pharmaceutical Co., as is Arcade-based Kioke Aronson. Neither firm is affected right now, but could be if things get worse in Japan.  Car makers and auto dealers could be affected if the auto plants in Japan are closed for an extended time. Once again, we are learning how small the world has become.

Cleveland Biolabs, the Buffalo company that makes an anti-radiation medicine, has seen its stock price jump in reaction to fears of radiation leaks in Japan. The medicine, Protectan, has not been approved for use yet, but the company has offered it if needed in Japan.

The dispute between LIN Media and Dish Network that blacked out two local TV stations for several says Musial Fin Musial Wippert last week has drawn attention to the growing unhappiness over the use of blackouts in contract negotiations between broadcasters and cable and satellite companies. The Federal Communications Commission is now stepping in to see if the rules need to be changed. Viewers who pay for the service are tired of being used as pawns in the negotiations.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

And recent real estate transactions...


Canada not wooing us, earthquake protection, making it online and take-over protection...

From Business Today:

Americans are not visiting Canada as much as they usedBORDER  to, but a recent study says the reason is not simply border crossing hassles. Canadian businesses have pulled back on their advertising to Americans. Traffic headed to Canada did slow down dramatically after passports or other documents were required, but that no longer is an impediment to visiting Canada, according to a study by Deloitte & Touche. In a self-fulfilling circle, Canadian busineses stopped advertising to Americans when the visits slowed, and now Americans are no longer being enticed to make the trip north.

The damage from the earthquake in Japan, a tragedy of epic Taylor proportions, was reduced slightly by a Tonawanda company. Taylor Devices makes giant shock absorbers used in building in earthquake zones. the structures that used Taylor's equipment all survived without major damage.

Making the leap from a start-up Internet company, to an established business with $10 million in sales is a feat no matter where it is done. When it's done in Western New York, it's amazing. KegWorks is one such firm, and its successKegworks  shows that with the right product and execution, it can be done.

Using public money to keep tenants in the HSBC Tower may be the smartest thing for Buffalo.

First Niagara Financial Group is asking shareholders to change its certificate of incorporation to remove provisions that could help block an unwanted takeover. The move, favored as good corporate governance by some shareholder groups, sounds a little scary to others. First Niagara is one of the city's best corporate citizens and a employer with about 1,400 local employees.

Which insiders are buying and selling shares in local companies?

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Reasons to visit Canada...

Radio heads, gas again, home prices rise...

From Business Today:

Citadel Broadcasting, the radio giant that owns four stations in the Buffalo Niagara region, has been sold for $2.4 billion to another radio giant, Cumulus Media.WEDG   Does it mean anything if one mega-media corporation buys another mega-media corporation? Let's hope not. The four stations here are not cookie-cutter chain stations. They all have their own local flavor and style and let's hope they keep it that way. The four stations are: WGRF-FM 97 Rock, WEDG-FM 103.3 The Edge, WHTT-FM 104.1 Classic Hits and WHLD-AM Swing 1270.

National Fuel Gas Co. continues to draw protests from activists who want the company to put more money into weatherizing homes of low income customers. The protestors also want to limit the pay of company executives. The company counters that the protestors are trying to "erode the public's trust" in its conservation programs. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania officials are struggling to figure out how much "frack water" from natural gas wells is actually being recycled after Seneca Resources Corp., a National Fuel Gas subsidiary, made a mistake in telling the state how much water it recycled. The state misinterpreted the volume, and assumed 42 times the water was being recycled.

Home sales Buffalo Niagara home prices have been rising at a time when prices across the country have been falling. That's a nice feeling.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


On the radio? You bet!


Statler awaits new owner, natural gas deals, wedding bell blues...

From Business Today:

Is the Statler Towers sale finally at hand? Local developer/restaurateur Mark Croce says he is ready to close the deal by early next week. If it happens,Statler Local Statler Wippert  it will bring to a close almost two years of jockeying and uncertainty for the abandoned landmark. Croce says he needs about $5 million in public money to make his deal work. That is sure ignite a furious debate among the downtown landlords who fear a glut of space on the market if HSBC Bank moves out of the HSBC Center tower.

National Fuel Gas Co. keeps moving
. The formerly stogy local gas utility has morphed into a fast-paced deal maker, locking up more land in the gas rich Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. The company announced it is selling its gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico to concentrate more resources in the Marcellus region.

Why is getting wedding pictures taken so fraught with peril? It seems every year or so another wedding photographer goes out of business and refuses to give the brides the photos they shot. The latest appears to be a Lackawanna studio called JMK Photography. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing the shop to recover money and photos for 19 brides.

The Buffalo Niagara region is adding more jobs - slowly. The January employment figures show 2,100 Job fair 02 jobs were added over the same period last year. But because so many seasonal jobs ended after the holidays, the unemployment rates actually rose.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


Can't get enough Wedding Bell Blues... 

Alert to workplace violence, paying off TARP, and Curves reimbursements...

From Business Today:

After almost every incident of serious workplace violence, Workplace violence workers say they didn't think it could have happened there. Safety and law enforcement experts say, 'yes it can,' and people should be prepared to thwart it, or to protect themselves if it happens. If a co-worker is making vague threats, report it. Set up a system at work to make such reports. As unlikely as people think such a threat is, staying alert to the threat can save lives.

Five Star Bank wants to get the government out of its business, so it is selling  $40 million in new stock to pay off its TARP loan. Financial Institutions, the parent company of the bank, would be joining First Niagara Financial Group in paying off the Troubled Asset Relief Program loans that were taken out in 2008. That would leave only M&T Bank Corp. as the only local bank with outstanding TARP loans.

Members of the seven area Curves women's health clubs that closed abruptly in 2009 can apply for refunds of their fees from a fund set up by the state. The Better Business Bureau is administering the program that was set up by the Attorney General's Office and can be reached at (212)358-2857.

Who is getting hired, promoted or honored?



Gas prices changing behaviors, doughnuts and coffee, good jobs and more...

From Business Today:

Will rising gas prices change your habits? Most people inGas prices_001  an informal survey said yes, either with carpooling or driving less. But some drivers took a more nonchalant approach - it is what it is. In the Buffalo Niagara region, gas is averaging $3.67 a gallon today. Most analysts say when it hits $4 a gallon, people really start to change.

Doughnuts and coffee are good business in Buffalo, and a new company is plunging into the pool in a big way. Tim Cloe and Doug Spolyar, whose Northern Star Restaurant Management owns 21 Dunkin - Cloe Spolyar Dunkin' Donut shops in Massachusetts, bought 11 shops in the Buffalo area and the rights to build 20 more. They're joining a crowded field with Tim Hortons, Starbucks, McDonald's and Spot Coffee, to name a few. But, can you really have too many coffee shops?

Computer Task Group is growing and it needs talent.The information technology company's health care sector needs about 100 people in te next three months. CEO James Boldt Ctg - BOLDT said the company hopes to lure back some Western New Yorkers who may be working in the health care industry back home.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

How about some gas price comedy..


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