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SBA boss likes local firm, Evans Bank growing, and entrepreneurs win...

From Business Today:

When the administrator of the Small Business Administration selects MILLS your company to highlight how things should work, you must be doing something right. Administrator Karen Mills dropped in at the EcoStar factory in Holland to celebrate the small company's eco-friendly business model and the fact that it used SBA money to expand. The federal program loaned Staroba Plastics $2 million to buy back EcoStar, the sales arm of its roofing products business. The company has expanded its production of plastic roof tiles made from 80 recent recycled materials.

Evans Bank wants to grow, and it's starting in Williamsville. It's 14th branch will go into the historic Mennonite Meeting House on Main Street. After that bank President and CEO David Nasca said the bank Nasca is considering sites in Cheektowaga, Buffalo and the Southtowns.

 The annual Panasci entrepreneurial competition at the University at Buffalo brings out some sharp students pitching business ideas. The winner gets $10,000 in cash and other services to help bring the idea to market, plus loads of intellectual help. This year a plan by four students and a professor to launch a social networking site that tracks people's interests and Panasci2011 delivers news to them won the award. Several previous winners have launched successful companies, so stay tuned.

Greatbatch Inc. more than doubled its profits on a 13 percent jump in sales. Executives said the company has diversified its product offerings and now has a more complete array of medical products.

Five Star Bank's parent company Financial Institutions reported a 9 percent jump in profits, as it increased deposits and loans. The basic banking model the bank employs has proved to be a steady course.

Who is getting hired, promoted or honored?

royal wedding fun...

Wison Farms becoming 7-11, M&T paying off TARP loans, and Delaware North buys a new casino...

From Business Today:

Wilson Farms stores, the successful convenience stores that wereWilson Farms   spun off from Tops Markets, have become vital neighborhood stores in many neighborhoods. The Nanula family has run the stores with the hands-on focus that marked their early ownership of the Tops Friendly Market chain. Now it will be up to 7-Eleven Inc. and their franchisees to keep that local focus. Wilson Farms announced the 188-store chain is being sold to the 7-Eleven chain. The sale price was not released.

M&T Bank Corp. is paying back most of its TARP loans from the federal government. The bank was among the last to set a plan to repay the loans, after having been dragged into taking the loan program. The bank was healthy and didn't need the loans, but felt it would be a sign of weakness not to participate in the federal program. 

Delaware North Corp., the Buffalo-based hospitality company, has bought a hotel and casino in Illinois, Jumer's_1 bringing to six the number of casino and slot machine parlors it owns. The 205-room Jumer's Casino & Hotel was purchased for $180 million. The purchase came soon after Delaware North agreed to stop managing the Queen Mary hotel in California.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


Great things happening at First Niagara, OSHA battle, and KidBiz begins...

From Business Today:

Sometimes when great things are happening in our midst, we don'tKoelmel_001  realize what is happening. First Niagara Financial Group, the grandchild of the old Lockport Savings Bank, has grown into a $30 billion bank. That's a pretty big bank. And it has done it with shrewd acquisitions and sharp operations. The bank has a strong balance sheet, a terrific reputation and bold leadership. President and CEO John Koelmel, an accountant by training and an empire builder by nature, has infused the entire organization with a can-do attitude. The bank has a nice foot print stretching from Pittsburgh to New England now, and a headquarters Koelmel_002 in the burgeoning Larkin District in Buffalo. Fingers crossed that the bank stays independent and stays here. It's a giant local success story.

A visit from OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, can strike fear into any business owner. The agency looks out for the safety of workers and customers, and it wields the power of the federal government. We usually hear about OSHA when it has fined a company after a serious accident, and the offending company usually pays the fine and makes safety changes. But a fine levied against Buffalo Recycling Enterprises has ignited a legal battle. Owners of the company charge that OSHA has overstepped its authority, seeking to go over every square inch of the operation after a worker was seriously hurt when working n a conveyor. OSHA says the company has numerous safety violations that must be fixed. The battle is in the courts.

Who is getting hired, promoted or honored?


Health insurer locks out workers, new home sales steady, and CTG earnings rise...

From Business Today:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York locked out 400 workers today when the contract expired. Talks are continuing as the membersBLUE CROSS LOCKOUT  of Local 212 of the Office and Professional Employees International Union are prevented from entering the insurers headquarters. The workers are customer service representatives, claims processors, document reproduction and other clerical and support workers. The company had ruled out a lockout last week.

New Home sales are rising nationally and staying steady in the Buffalo Niagara region. Local builders point out that the region never New builds FIN KIRKHAM new builds 02_001  suffered the tremendous downfall that other parts of the country have seen.

Computer Task Group's first quarter profit surged 58 percent, as growing demand for high tech staffing and health care tech projects fueled the growth.FIN CTG 3  

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Giant printer closing, scammers try texting, real estate transactions...

From Business Today:

The giant printing plant on George Urban Boulevard has had LOCAL QUEBECOR GEE many names during its nearly 50-year run: J. W. Clements, Arcata Graphics, Quebecor, Worldcolor and finally Quad/Graphics. Through all those ownership changes the bottom line at the plant remained the same: quality work at affordable prices. That formula kept the plant running while many others closed. But the changing marketplace and corporate ownership has caught up with the book printer, and it will close at the end of November. At it's peak the plant employed over 1,500. Today about 400 work there. -30-

Scammers are an inventive bunch. They try to steal your identity with all sorts of ploys, including fame emails in a ploy called 'phishing.' Now the crafty thieves are taking their games to your text in box in a LOCAL ID THEFT GEE scam called 'smishing.'  Through fake text messages purported to be from your bank, they seek to have you divulge your personal information. Banks are telling their customers, unless you have set it up in advance, they do not contact you via text messages, so do not respond.

Who is getting hired, promoted or honored?

Recent real estate transactions...

Elderwood sold, First Niagara soars, renovation project saves...

From Business Today:

Elderwood Senior Care, a well-respected nursing home group in the region, is being sold, but the buyers pledge no dramatic changes to how the homes are managed.ElderWood  The successful company was built by Robert M. Chur, and includes 18 homes and assisted living facilities around Western New York. Sixteen of these are being sold to Post Acute Partners, a company founded and run by a doctor and a partner in New York City. They said they plan to keep all the current employees and bring more technology into the facilities. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

First Niagara Financial Group showed again that it is firing on all cylinders with first quarter earnings climbing 55 percent. Much of that growth reflects the merger blitz the Buffalo-based company has been on.  With the closing of its latest purchase of NewAlliance Bancshares in Connecticut, the former Lockport Savings Bank is now a $30 billion company with $18 billion in deposits across four states.

A little inspiration and a little extra investment has earned the a former Trico plant that is now part of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus a rare environmental distinction. The Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Whalen, McGovern Innovation Center is the first building in the state outside New York City to gain "core and shell" LEED designation. The honor recognizes the building's use of environmentally safe products and its energy efficiency. It stands as a challenge to other rehabilitation projects in the region.

Benderson Development Co. is seeking approval to build a two-story fitness center near its Delaware Consumer Square project in North Buffalo. The 45,000-square-foot facility would be in the Elmwood-Hertel area.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

A little moonwalk, anyone?


Help with historic home repairs, Rich Products fixing up, and Niagara County tax breaks...

From Business Today:

Homes and buildings in specific historic districts around the state are eligible for tax credits for up to 20 percent of the cost of acceptable refurbishing projects. Historic NIAGARA HISTORIC4 LEWIS And there are numerous such districts in Western New York. The state and preservation groups are reaching out to property owners in the preservation districts to urge them to look into the tax credits. The state program funding the credits is due to expire in 2014, so the push is on.

Rich Products is planning to invest $3.4 million in upgrading its world headquarters on Niagara Street. The company is seeking some tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency for the work. The company says the work demonstrates its commitment to Buffalo.

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency is considering tax breaks for several projects, including breaks for the Greater Lockport Development Corp., which leases space to Trek on Canal Street in North Tonawanda. The development along Canal Street has been booming recently.

Who is getting hired, honored and promoted?

McJob makeover, Wilmers warning, and Gurney Becker & Bourne branching out...

From Business Today:

It appears the McJob isn't what it used to be. Once the object of derision as a dead-end, minimum wage drudge job, working at McDonald's is being re-branded MCDONALD'S as an attractive option for all kinds of job seekers: part-time workers, young people, retired people and even career minded restaurant folks. McDonald's staged one of the great public relations coups on Tuesday, hosting a nationwide hiring event with the goal of hiring 50,000 people. It worked. The event was covered around the nation with generally positive comments from job seekers and pundits. Of course, the fact that the nation is slowly pulling out  of a 'jobless recovery' helps. Any job looks good when the alternative is none.

M&T Bank Corp. CEO Robert G. Wilmers talks softly and carries a big message. When the dean of Buffalo banking delivers his annual meeting speech, people all over the land listen. On Tuesday, Wilmers Wilmers weighed in on the national debt crisis in no uncertain terms: "our engine of growth... has stalled." Getting the debt under control should be the focus of the government immediately, and partisan posturing must stop. The future of this great nation is at stake.

Gurney Becker & Bourne has been selling real estate in downtown Buffalo for 148 years, and doing it well. From mansions to office buildings, the familiar green and white signs FOR SALE have been a constant in the city's most posh neighborhoods. Now the venerable company is venturing into the suburbs, opening offices in Williamsville and Orchard Park. The battle to list your home is heating up.

Who  is getting hired, promoted and honored?

 The British take on McJobs...


Printer passing away, M&T Bank stays strong, windills maybe and a lawyer tussle...

From Business Today:

It's a sad day for a proud Buffalo-area printing company. Quad/Graphics, which bought the former Worldcolor Press in Depew, announced it was closing the 400-job printer on George Urban Boulevard nine months after buying it. The giant operation Quebecor fin KIRKHAM quebecor 01 printed magazines and books, including Harlequin romance novels. The printing company started as part of J. W. Clement, and was acquired by Arcata Graphics in 1965. In 1993, Qubecor World bought Arcata. Worldcolor Press bought the firm out of bankruptcy in 2008. Now Quad/Graphics says it is consolidating operations and moving the work to other facilities. A lamentable end to a great operation.

M&T Bank Corp. keeps putting up strong numbers. The Buffalo-based bank reported a 36% jump in profits for the first quarter this year. The tried and true banking model of conservative lending and intelligent investing and management has kept M&T above the morass that dragged so many banks down in recent years.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is getting behind an effort by a Washington, D.C., company to build wind turbines in several upstate cities, including Buffalo. The company, D'Arcinoff Group, is seeking over $1 billion in tax credits for the massive efforts, which could employ up to 2,000 people in Buffalo. Details are very vague at this point, that the stalling of the wind energy effort around the country poses another threat. But, it's a nice idea. Let's hope.

HSBC Bank has cut 65 jobs in the Buffalo area. The jobs were in technology support and finance. Those let go will have priority in applying for other jobs at the global bank.

The Seigel, Kelleher & Kahn internal war continues. The firm is closer to being evicted from its Franklin LAW OFFICE Street headquarters in Buffalo. City Court Judge Craig D. Hannah turned down a request by the firm to dismiss an eviction complaint filed by former partner Herbert M. Siegel, who says the firm has stopped paying rent. It gets nasty when lawyers fight.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored...

Foreclosure mayhem, financial literacy sought, check cashing licensed...

From Business Today:

The goings on at the Steven J. Baum law firm are attracting Baum all kind of serious attention. The firm handles huge volumes of real estate foreclosures across the state for giant banks. Attorneys fighting those foreclosures have called the Baum firm a "foreclosure mill" and worse. Now the New York State Attorney General is taking a look at how the firm operates. The state's top law officer has requested a slew of documents from the Amherst-based law firm to examine its relationship with a document processing firm called Pillar Processing that Baum founded and later sold. Baum refutes his critics, noting tha foreclosure attorneys are scorned, but do a necessary job.

Money management seems to be getting more complicated all the time, but our schools are not doing much to help young people keep STOCKS pace. But a push is starting to get schools to teach basic financial concepts to a generation that may have to do more than ever to manage their own retirements. The Charter School of Applied Technologies in the Town of Tonawanda is one school that is getting started.

A fifth business, this one in Alden, is seeking a state license to cash checks. It's a growing need in the region to help those people who do not yet have bank accounts. A licensed check cashing business is limited to charging 1.86% of the value of a check, far less than some unlicensed and illegal check cashing operations get.

A look at recent real estate transactions...

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