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M&T adding jobs, S&W Contracting makes Inner City 100, bigger transformers, and riverfront dining...

From Business Today:

M&T Bank Corp. completed its purchase of Wilmington Trust Corp., Wilmers_001 the largest bank in Delaware, and is bringing 133 new jobs to Buffalo. The deal gives M&T a prestigious wealth management operation and a strong presence along the Eastern seaboard. Chairman and CEO Robert T. Wilmers also said he is intrigued by the possible changes in the Western New York HSBC operations. Very interesting...

Shandra Spicer is proving wrong everyone who says there is little opportunity Buffalo. Spicer has taken over the small janitorial and construction firm her parents started and grown it into a formidable company. S&W Contracting was Spicer the only Buffalo company to make the Fortune magazine Inner City 100 list of fastest growing urban companies this year.

Niagara Transformer makes big transformers, and it wants to make even bigger ones. It received $1.44 million in tax incentives from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to help with an $8 million expansion. The company is preparing for what it expects will be a busy time for utility expansion across the world.

Harry's Harbor Place, the enchanting riverfront restaurant on Niagara Street, has been sold for $1.74 million to Bill Koessler, owner of Park Lane Catering. Koessler was part of a group that had tried to buy the Statler Towers, but backed away. The waterfront location with a splendid view of the Niagara River will be called Aqua.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

HSBC options, Made in America a hit, and Target for food...

From Business Today:

HSBC Bank is a pillar of the Western New York economy, employing Local HSBC Bank scull_001 more than 5,000 people and giving local bank customers a connection to the wide world with its global reach. But the bank's new CEO Stuart Gulliver has put a target on the bank's Upstate New York operations, saying that division does not fit the company's global strategy. Shivers are running through the region. So what happens next? News banking reporter Jonathan D. Epstein talked to several analysts and banking experts about how HSBC might unload its upstate operations, if it decides to do so. Options range from selling the entire 184-branch network as one unit, to parceling it off, to selling pieces and keeping the Buffalo/Rochester core. The whole maneuver could take a few years to settle, or it could be fast.
Other coverage of Gulliver's plans:
From London:
More from London:
From the Guardian in London:
Commentary from London:

When Mark Andol lost some big contracts in his metal shops to foreign competition, he got frustrated and did something that changed his life. He opened a store to sell only items 100% made in America. A year later the store in Elma has become a national symbol of sorts, with tour buses making stops and Made in America 04 the Fox network doing repeated profiles of the business. Andol has proved to be the perfect man for the burden, becoming a type of evangelist for American manufacturers. He said he has yet to make a profit, but he's heading in the right direction.

Target stores are expanding their food offereings, opening up more space for a limited grocery store. The store on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst has the new store-within-a-store already, and five more in the area are being remodeled.

Recent real estate transactions...

Premier Liquor leaving Delaware Avenue, M&T Bank doing it right, and the Hotel Lafayette is coming back...

From Business Today:

Delaware Avenue just north of the Village of Kenmore is going to take a huge hit when Prime Wines, better known by its original name Premier Liquor, moves out to Maple Road near the Boulevard Mall in Amherst. The store has been on the site since the early 1960's and has become a destination of sorts for wine fans and others. The local business association is upset and hopes a new tenant can be found. But losing the cache of 'Premier' would be a blow to any business district.

M&T Bank seems to quietly go about the business of doing things right and doing things smart. The Buffalo-based financial company got final clearance to buy Wilmington Trust  Corp., the largest bank in Delaware. M&T bought bought the storied bank at a fire-sale price when the institution got burned by M&t plaza series MILITELLO failed mortgage and development loans. Meanwhile, M&T is selling preferred stock to raise money to pay off its TARP loans. The preferred stock will pay interest of 6.875% in the form of an annual dividend. That is far below what other banks have had to pay to raise money to pay off TARP. The banking industry had to be on secure footing before the market would accept preferred shares. Also, because they are preferred shares, they will not dilute the value of the bank's common shares. That's smart banking.

The Hotel Lafayette, looking a bit tattered and forlorn, has moved a step closer to its new incarnation as an apartment complex and one-stop wedding destination. The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency approved a low-interest $800,000 loan to get the project started. Developer Rocco Termini, who has rehabbed several downtown buildings, said he hopes to have the Hotel Lafayette fin Hotel Lafayette Cantillon 6 first floor redone in about a year. When completed, the jewel designed by Louise Blanchard Bethune, the nation's first professional female architect, will be another gem in Buffalo's architectural treasure.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


HSBC clouds forming, CTG likes its medical future, and First Niagara likes the Larkin District...

From Business Today:

The HSBC strategy session in London on Wednesday yielded aLocal HSBC Bank scull_001  lot of concerns for Western New York, but few specifics. HSBC Holdings CEO Stuart Gulliver is pushing the bank to cut expenses and focus on major cities with significant wealth and international trade possibilities. Buffalo has been home to HSBC and its local predecessor Marine Midland Bank for about 160 years, so its roots run deep. The point of views about the bank's U.S. operations differ around the world, and what you're interested in:

From the London Telegraph:

Who might buy the credit card unit?

Cost savings the goal.

Analysts not in agreement.

Computer Task Group's annual meeting was a generally happy affair, with CEO Jim Boldt outlining the Boldt company's plans to expand its medical records division. Investors and company executives envision CTG as a big player in the national conversion to digital medical records.

First Niagara Financial Group is continuing its expansion in the Larkin District. With its headquarters in the Larkin Co. building, the bank announced it will be the soleSmall Larkin Bldg. bought FIN PAR FOAM GEE  tenant in the revamped Larkin U building, which most recently housed Par Foam Products company.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


Upstate may lose some HSBC branches, Buffalo's got a slogan, Statler unwapped...

From Business Today:

Details are coming out of the HSBC strategy meeting in London, and it's a mixed message so far for Upstate New York. CEO Stuart Gulliver said the numberLocal HSBC Bank scull_001  of bank branches will be reduced, but no specifics were outlined. HSBC has 375 branches in New York State, including 71 in the eight-county Western New York region. More information about the rest of the operations with people in the Buffalo region are expected later today. HSBC employs more than 5,000 people in the region, so any changes are of great interest.

Remember "Talking Proud?" That was the last marketing slogan for Buffalo that anyone really remembers. Folks at the former Gallagher-Cohen Convention and Visitors Bureau - now called Visit Buffalo Niagara - hope their new slogan has the same stickiness. You be the judge. The new slogan: "Buffalo. For Real."

The plywood is coming off the first floor windows at the Statler Towers, and new owner Mark Croce hopes to have the glamorous first floor rooms Statler Towers open for banquets and weddings by August. Development will them move up the 18-story building as demand requires.

Local attorney Michael Anton Sciortino and the Phillips Lytel law firm won the New York State Bar Association's 2011 President's Pro Bono  Service Award for providing free legal services to disadvantaged families.

Who is getting hired, honored and promoted?

The Talkin' Proud song (sorry no elbow swinging marching available).

HSBC folks wait nervously, Penske opens a new facility, and Tops sells three stores...

From Business Today:

HSBC Holdings Plc., the giant global bank, is holding a first-time strategic meeting on Wednesday when it could reveal some big changes. New CEO Stuart GulliverLocal HSBC Bank scull  is pushing to boost the company's returns, and rumors have swirled about possible changes to HSBC Bank USA, which employs more than 5,000 people in Western New York. HSBC has said nothing about what to expect, but some analysts have said the U.S. mortgage and credit card operations could see changes.

Penske Truck Leasing has opened a new facility on Broadway in Cheektowaga to bring together employees and operations from Penske several facilities in the region.

Tops Markets continues to digest its acquisition of Penn Traffic. The latest move is the sale of three stores to Hometown Markets. The stores are in Ithaca, Cortland and Sayre, Pa. The Federal Trade Commission ordered Tops to sell seven of its stores because they are to close to existing Tops stores. TOPS CEO CURCI Buyers are being sought for the other four stores.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


Building a new Bills field, cleaning contaminated soil, a gem at Elmwood and Bryant...

From Business Today:

When the Bills take the field in the fall (notice the affirmative statement!), they'll be playing on a new field built by a local company. A-turf, a Cheektowaga DOBMEIER company started by Jim Dobmeier, won the contract to install a new, softer field. The project will take about three weeks at the end of June into July. The company has done college fields, but the hometown effort will be its first for the NFL. Dobmeier hopes the job at Ralph Wilson Stadium will lead to more at other NFL venues.

Noco Energy Corp. has opened an environmentally beneficial operation to treat soil that has been contaminated with oil or gasoline. At its Tonawanda Terminals division, the company spreads out the soil on a clay pad, treats it with microbes and plows it to promote the breakdown of the petroleum. Once cleaned, the spoil can be put back from where it was taken.

Elmwood Avenue at the corner of Bryant Street has a new building where an old KFC used to stand. 448 Elmwood 04 Called 448 Elmwood, the new building has 12 apartments on the second and third floors and retail space on the ground floor. A beautiful addition the the Elmwood Strip.

Recent real estate transactions...

Can you ever get enough of The Comeback??




Astronics looking up, Gibraltar prepares for comeback, Cruze control for GM

From Business Today:

Astronics Corp. says it's all about the orders, and its orders are looking good. The East Aurora-based maker of aircraft electronics and lighting systems last year reported a record-high $210 million orders, Gundermann setting the stage for what it expects will be a strong 2011. Peter J. Gundermann, the president and CEO, reviewed the company's performance and outlook at the company's annual meeting.




Gibraltar Industries also held its annual meeting Thursday, and said after cutting fixed costs, it is prepared to ride out continued depressed conditions in its key markets. Brian J. Lipke, the CEO of theLipke  Hamburg-baesd building products maker, said the company is well positioned to take advantage of new opportunities when traditional sales recover. Gibraltar is coming off a first-quarter profit and its sales were significantly better than Wall Street expected.





The Chevrolet Cruze is scoring a hit for General Motors. GM introduced the car last fall as its answer to the Toyota Corolla and other small cars. The automaker on Thursday reported a quarterly profit of $3.2 billion, its best in more than a decade.


A Cruze ad from the Super Bowl:



-- Matt Glynn


Five Star's ambitions, Mod-Pac's turnaround, and M&T closing in on deal

From Business Today:

Five Star Bank plans to build a bigger presence in the region. Its parent, Financial Institutions, has outlined a plan to expand Five Star's branch network in the next five years, by expanding into the region's more urban markets, including Buffalo, while maintaining a dominant market share in rural communities.

Mod-Pac is showing signs of a turnaround. The printing company lost money every year from 2006 to Keane 2009, but has been profitable every quarter since. “The results have been very good,” said Daniel G. Keane, Mod-Pac's chief executive officer, following the company’s annual shareholders meeting. “We’ve done very well in the weak economy.”


M&T Bank Corp.'s deal for Wilmington Trust Corp. is a step closer to completion. The state banking regulator in Delaware has given the go-ahead to the $351 million stock deal, removing another hurdle. The transaction was already approved by shareholders and by the Federal Reserve Board, leaving only New York State to pass judgment.


-- Matt Glynn



Still making things, nurtuting young companies, and an insurance giant buys in...

From Business Today:

Area manufacturing, long the backbone of the Western New York Schutte buffalo hammermill FIN KIRKHAM schutte 02 economy, may be a shadow of its former formidible self, but it still sets a tone of the local economy. Making things creates good paying jobs that help support many other jobs in the service sector. So it is good news that the local purchasing managers index - which tracks the health of area manufacturers - has been on an uptrend for three months. The growth has been stable, not explosive. But like most things economic in these parts, slow and steady is the way.

Funding and nurturing start-up companies is expensive and takes patience. But there is no alternative, according to two experts from Ohio, where a seven year effort to help innovative companies is starting Norm chagnon to yield some fruit. Working with young companies should be a focus of economic development efforts, because those companies will generate job growth. That is the message from Ray Leach of JumpStart Inc., and Norm Chagnon of Ohio Third Frontier.

The 450 people working for Meritain Health in Amherst may have a new boss, but they may not notice any difference. Aetna, the insurance giant, is buying Prodigy, the current owner of Meritain, but no local changes are planned at this point.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

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