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Buffalo Niagara housing a bargain, plant expansion coming, controlling the kids...

From Business Today:

Housing prices in the Buffalo Niagara region are getting some Historic NIAGARA HISTORIC4 LEWIS nice publicity. A recent study by Harvard University noted that the median price of a home  in the region ranks as the 36th most affordable among the top 100 metro areas, in relation to the median income. That means people working here can better afford homes. Another, more narrow report by Coldwell Banker Real Estate, noted that among the properties it has listed, Niagara Falls ranks as the most affordable with an average price of $60,000. 

APP Pharmaceuticals is moving ahead with plans to expand its Grand Island factory. State tax APP abatements of $1.3 million are the latest push that the project has received. It is also in line for other tax breaks and low cost hydro power. 

Downtown landlords are urging the Buffalo City Council to somehow limit events when underage people mingle with adults in bars and restaurants. The commingling Local norman chippewa st contributes to crowds of teenagers gathering in the the city's entertainment district, which has led to unruly behavior and worse.

Cattaraugus County Bank CEO Sal Marranca had a bully pulpit in Washington on Wednesday, speaking before a Senate Banking subcommittee. Marranca, chairman of the Community Bankers of America, said small banks are being punished by regulations designed to reign in giant banks. He urged lawmakers to consider tiered regulations to free the small banks from extra costs.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Ford plant's new flags, business women gathering, more web protection...

From Business Today:

The Ford stamping plant in the Woodlawn section of Hamburg had a proud ceremony Tuesday, celebrating the installation of a three-flagpole arrangement that includes a display for new Ford flag pole 05 cars. The poles will fly the American, Ford and UAW flags with a smaller POW/MIA flag as well. Area Ford dealers will rotate the cars on display under the flags. But behind the hoopla is the need for the plant to remain viable in the new Ford scheme. The plant stamps parts for the popular Edge, Flex and Lincoln MKT and MKX, but it recently lost work when the Canadian plant that made the Crown Victoria closed. The unity between plant management and the UAW - which split the cost of the poles - sends a clear message to Ford corporate: "we work well together."

The Canisius College Women's Leadership Conference has grown into a powerful, feel-good networking event for the region's women business leaders. Getting together with like-minded entrepreneurs and corporate types gives the attendees a boost and broadens their networks. Many women said they make a point of attending every year. Keynote speaker Janet Hudson, Women's leadership 01 founder of 85 Broads, urged women to trust each other in the business world and help each other, because there is no "old boys network" for women.

A New York State Court of Appeals ruling takes a little pressure off website and blog operators. The decision (read decision here) clears those who host web sites from defamation and libel suits for things other people post on their sites. The ruling by the state's highest court adds to the growing body of law that protects those who keep the web running.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Selling cars, bank departments and houses

From Business Today:


Northtown Lexus has opened its impressive new dealership in Amherst. It is just a hop, skip and jump from its old location across Sheridan Drive, but is twice as large as the former location and much swankier. The $8 million facility boasts a roomier interior and exterior, more space for customers to drive inside for service, even a monitor that displays appointment times for waiting customers.


HSBC is still looking for a buyer for its United States credit card business as well as its Upstate New York retail branch network. If it doesn't find one, the company's global CEO said, it will wind down those operations and shut them down. Any takers?


RealtyUSA is the top independent residential real estate brokerage firm in the state by dollar volume, according to rankings by RealTrends magazine. It is ranked sixth in the nation in terms of dollars, and ninth in the nation in number of transactions. RealtyUSA did $2.6 billion in sales through 18,226 transactions last year.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Now how about a song from the Beatles for Sale album?



Plastic to fuel, tour the GM plant, and a new top toymaker...

From Business Today:

There may be gold in that plastic cup or bottle. A Niagara Falls company has a process to break down plastic into diesel fuel. It is working with companies to Plastics2Oil install the machines at facilities with lots of waste plastic. JBI Inc. is one of several companies with a system to break the polymer structure of plastic into fuel. The process is clean and shows promise. It also increases the competition for old plastic to recycle, because it may be more cost effective to reuse some forms of plastic as plastic, rather than fuel.

The General Motors engine plant in the Town of Tonawanda will be offering tours on Friday starting at noon, with the last tour stepping GM ART FOR FUTURE 01 off at 7 p.m. It's part of a nationwide effort at 54 GM facilities to show the public what the government bailout helped save. The tours are free, and there is parking at the plant on River Road.

Fisher-Price has a new boss, long-time company executive David Allmark. He comes to the toy maker's East Aurora headquarters after helping oversee parent company Mattel's operations in the United Kingdom, Canada and Eastern Europe.David Allmark - Fisher Price  In an interview with The Buffalo News, he discussed plans for accelerating sales and keeping the East Aurora offices strong.

Planning to retire? Taking care of the financial side of retirement is vital, but so is planning what you are going to do with your time.

Recent real estate transactions...


Ford cutting 150 jobs, Buffalo may get a real casino, start-ups pitch for money...

From Business Today:

The Ford Stamping Plant in the Town of Hamburg announced plans to lay off 150 workers because a plant it supplies in Canada is closing. The stamping plant makesFord stamping fin Ford Stamping Cantillon 14  parts for the Crown Victoria made in St. Thomas, Ont. Because Ford is closing that Canadian plant, the stamping plant will need fewer workers. Being laid off as a UAW member is not like getting axed at most other companies. The workers continue to receive up to 75 percent of their pay and are first in line for job openings elsewhere. But any cutbacks at local plants are not good, so let's hope the plant can secure some other work and bring everyone back on the job.

A real downtown Buffalo casino to replace the steel sheds now housing slot machines could be in the works again. The Seneca Nation announced it is seeking proposals from architects and engineers to build a permanent facility on Michigan Avenue. A spokesman said efforts will be made to use some of SENECA BUFFALO CASINO the steel framing the Nation built three years ago before abandoning the project. The project is still being opposed by Citizens for a Better Buffalo, which argues that the casino is operating illegally.

A bevy of science and technology start-ups met with potential investors at the Bright Buffalo Niagara conference, seeking capital to help bring their ideas to market. Burkman The annual effort seeks to accelerate the transformation of the local economy into a 21st century economy.

A new Hampton Inn hotel is planned on Niagara Falls Boulevard just off the I-190 in Niagara Falls. The Niagara County IDA agreed to give the $6.2 million project by Ramesh Patel a $1.32 million tax break.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


Diversifying financial planning, Amherst subdivision coming, shady car dealer charged...

From Business Today:


The financial services industry is more than 90 percent white locally and nationally. Lavon Stephens, president of the local chapter of the National Black MBA Association, is working with industry professionals here to find ways to diversify the ranks. Stephens met with the Financial Planning Association of Western New York to brainstorm ways to make the profession more appealing to minorities, including mentoring programs and internships. Financial professionals believe having more black and Latino advisers would help broaden their client base as well, which is traditionally white.


Henry Sicignano III successfully petitioned the Town of Amherst last year to rezone parcels of land so that he could build patio homes. But his plans have changed now that his Clarence-based biotechnology company, 22nd Century Group, has gone public. He sold the Casey Road land to Natale Development, which will build the homes instead. Sicignano appears at left with the company's chief executive officer Joseph Pandolfino.


Laurence Sessum III allegedly used the now-defunct car dealerhip Maxx Auto Sales on Bailey Avenue as a scam operation in order to raise funds to cover fines from previous convictions. He has been charged with felony larceny and fraud for allegedly taking more than $100,000 in payments from customers for cars he never delivered.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

We know there are lots of great used car salesmen out there. But this Sessum guy is doing nothing for their reputation:


No home show, malpractice insurance rates high, Tops Markets sales up...

From Business Today:

For some people, nothing is more fun than walking through a fully decorated, brand new house. You can see the latest in home technology and decor, and come up with ideas for your own place. And for others, the temptation is just too much, and they buy Marano a new house of their own. For almost 30 years Western New York residents have enjoyed those pleasures at the Horizon Home Show, but not this year. Due to the slowing economy and slow real estate market, builders have decided not to build the model home showcase this year. Plans call for the area builders association to put together a tour of builders' "spec" homes across the region in the fall. And one builder, Marrano Marc/Equity has built a home show in West Seneca of more affordable homes.

Doctors have complained for years about the malpractice insurance rates in New York State. Rates have grown so high, some doctors have migrated away from their private practices into medical groups, where the insurance is covered. But a report by Univera Healthcare shows that while rates are high in upstate New York, they are five-times higher in the New York City region, reaching over $180,000 a year for some medical specialities.

Tops Holding Corp., the parent company of Tops Markets, has some good news and some not-so-good news in its first quarter earnings reports. The good news is that sales at stores is up almost 4 percent. TOPS CEO CURCI_001 The other news is that the interest payments on the company's debt pushed the company into a loss. But that is not unusual for a company that has been bought by a private equity firm using debt. For shoppers, the stores are running well and sales are up.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Health workers picket, pharmaceutical expansion, and Gibraltar expanding...

From Business Today:

Kaleida Health workers took their contract talks to the street Monday, with thousands of workers picketing in front of Buffalo General Hospital. The unions andKaleida Picket  the region's largest hospital operator generally have excellent relations, so the giant protest was a bit of a surprise. the unions say talks are dragging on, with the company scrutinizing every line of the contract. The company says talks are proceeding well, with most of the "non-financial" issues settled. The union members are working under a contract extension that runs until June 17.

APP Pharmaceuticals is seeking to expand its factory on Grand Island. The German company with U.S. headquarters in Illinois, wants some tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Developmet Agency for the $28 million expansion. The project will add 36 jobs, bringing the local workforce to 611.

Gibraltar Industries is buying again, The latest acquisition for the Hamburg-based maker of building products is Pacific Award Metals, a maker of building products. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the California company had about $30 million in sales during the past year.

Who is being hired, promoted and honored?


Executive wages soar, loans at check cashers, old programs for you..

From Business Today:

Wages have been frozen of sliding backwards for many in Western New York, except for those at the top. Our annual look as executive salaries and benefits at the region's publicly traded companies done by business reporter David Robinson shows that executive pay packages have risen nicely. Topping the local wage pyramid is David E. Smith, chairman and CEO at National Fuel gas with total pay of $7.05 million, up almost 42% from last year. The #2 exec on the list was also from the natural gas utility, Ronald J. Tanski, president and COO at National Fuel. He made $4.76 million, up 32% in a year. Natural gas is hot these days, and the drilling in the Marcellus Shale region has brought riches to the company. But certainly there are lots of people contributing to that success, not just those in the top jobs. The continued escalation of executive wages has further widened the gap between workers and executives. The American capitalist system does seem to have a weak spot in the gigantic pay packages boards of directors grant their executives. One wonders how long it can be sustained.

A bill to allow check cashing businesses to make small loans hasVirginia  drawn swift opposition from consumer advocates who say it is a way around the state's usuary laws. But proponents say it is  simply an opportunity for low- to moderate-income people to have access to short-term loans.

Ever long for the days of Windows 97 or some other older computer program that did everything you wanted without eating up all the memory on your computer? Well a University at Buffalo student has Levine just the thing for you. Alexander Levine runs, a web site where you can download older programs for free. He makes his money selling ads on the site.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Local real estate transactions...

More on CEO pay... 


MoneySmart links from June 6

Links from the June 6 Grey Matters column:

Fidelity Investments retirement calculators

For the AARP retirement calculator: click here

AARP overview of the CLASS Act: click here

HHS longterm care explained: click here


From The Workplace column:

Rutgers study of recent graduates: click here


From Michelle Singletary's column:

Current mortgage disclosure forms: click here

Prototype of new mortgage disclosure forms: click here


Cell phone links:

Prepaid plan overview: Click here

Pew study: Click here

Pew data on young users: Click here

Cell phone recycling: Click here

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