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Cuomo promotes regional councils, New Era adds jobs, WNY unemployment rate is down from last year

From Business Today:


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo visited Roswell Park Cancer institute Tuesday to talk up his plans for regional economic development councils. The councils are meant to unite towns and counties, offering $1 billion in state funding that they would come together to fight for. The current economic development system encourages neighboring communities to compete against one another for job creation funds.


New Era Cap Co. is positioning itself to double its volume by 2015. It will add 140 positions at the company--about 100 of them in Buffalo--as it ramps up its menswear and accessories lines and takes its products to the global marketplace. The cap-maker for Major League Baseball is expanding its licensed hat making, having secured a contract to begin providing National Football League headgear. Still, it doesn't want to be known as just a cap company, it wants to be known as a lifestyle brand. The company is hiring for a variety of positions, including retail store associates and global brand managers.


The unemployment rate in the Buffalo Niagara region was down 0.4 percentage points last month from the previous year. At 7.7 percent, it's the lowest June unemployment rate in three years. The local unemployment rate is lower than the state's jobless rate, which was at 8 percent and much lower than the national rate, which was 9.3 percent. John Slenker, an economist for the Labor Department, attributed the slight May to June rise to seasonal workers moving into the job market.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski have been starring in New Era's popular baseball rivalry commercial campaign. Here they are behind the scenes:



Holy Angels nabs 2nd place, CTG profits are up and First Niagara moves workers into Larkin U building

From Business Today:


Students from Holy Angels Academy nabbed second prize in the Students for Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship World Cup competition held in Buffalo. Teams from around the world competed in two categories: socially responsible businesses (which make money but not at all costs) and social enterprise businesses (which try to change the world with an idea sustained through earned income). Holy Angels Academy's entry was Small World Publishing, which creates and publishes bilingual books about social issues. Nigerian teams took first place in both categories, but Holy Angels beat out five other finalists from as far away as South Africa and Ukraine.


Profits at Computer Task Group were up dramatically in the second quarter, rising 49 percent the company said Monday. The Buffalo-based technology services provider reported profits of $2.8 million, or 17 cents per share, up from $1.9 million, or 12 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. CTG attributed the success to a strong demand for technology outsourcing, an increase in health care work and a surge in the operating margin.


 First Niagara has begun moving 180 employees into the Larkin U Building on Van Rensselaer Street in the Larkin District. The employees are consolidating from three different spaces: the Larkin at Exchange Building, its Lockport administration Center on Transit Road in Pendleton and 282 Delaware Avenue.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Buffalo Filter moves to Lancaster, UB Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership offers course, Daily deal sites keep multiplying

From Business Today:


Buffalo Filter has completed a move from its Amherst facility to a new $5 million site in the Town of Lancaster. At 50,000 square feet, the new, modern building has twice as much space as the Amherst site. Still, the company plans an expansion that will double the operation in size. The new facility allows for better work flow, boasts a gym for employees and has an outdoor picnic area and walking path in the works. The company, which makes surgical medical devices, employs 70 people and has annual sales of $14 million.


There are still 10 slots available for the University at Buffalo School of Management's Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Core program. The program, which offers training and mentoring, begins Sept. 8. To enter the program, entrepreneurs are encouraged to have been in business for at least three years. Applicants will go through an interview process and then are selected by an advisory board. To apply, click here. At left is Joyce DeLong, owner of the Insty-Prints in Cheektowaga and one of the program's graduates.

From MoneySmart:


Ever since Groupon started raking in cash in 2008 by offering daily deals from local companies, several others have jumped on the bandwagon. Consumers are now swamped with e-mails from deal sites and have come up with their own strategies for picking through them to find the best value. And great deals do abound! At right, Joy Kuebler takes advantage of a 30-minute flying lesson she scored for more than half off.

Flying lessons for $44? Surely, you can't be serious!



MoneySmart links from July 25

For the AARP Social Security benefits calclulator: Click here.



UAW contract talks will begin soon, First Niagara stay's hot, local hiring increases...

From Business Today:


The United Auto Workers' contracts with General Motors, Chrysler and Ford are due to expire Sept. 14. Contract talks will begin next week. The auto industry is in much better shape than it was two years ago, with all three automakers reported profits in the first quarter. Entering the talks, automakers will be looking to keep costs low while workers will be looking for job security and income. The Buffalo Niagara region has two GM plants and one Ford plant.


 First Niagara Financial Group's profits are up dramatically from last year, following a major acquisition. Profits were up 59 percent, following the Buffalo-based company's purchase of NewAlliance Bancshares. It reported operating earnings of $71.2 million, or 25 cents per share, up from $44.9 million, or 22 cents per share, a year ago.



The Buffalo Niagara region added 7,300 jobs over last year. It's a 1.3 percent annual increase and the strongest growth rate since July 2008. Private sector hiring did even better, adding 9,200 jobs over the last year at a 2.1 percent growth rate. Private sector growth has grown for 15 straight months. The local job growth rate beat both the state and national average growth rates and was the third highest rate in the state behind just Ithaca and Rochester. 


The deadline for underemployed and unemployed New York homeowners to get emergency federal aid from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is midnight tonight. Homeowners can apply for up to $50,000 from the Emergency Homeowners Loan Program. New York State, which has 42,000 homes in foreclosure, has set aside $112 million in funds. To apply, click here. Applicants can also call (855) 346-3345 or e-mail

Stay cool, Buffalo:


New car sales down, M&T profits way up, Municipalities coming together to compete

From Business Today:

New car sales in Buffalo Niagara dropped 8 percent last month, due mainly Economy Next Six Months to production problems associated with the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Toyota's five local dealers moved 509 vehicles last month. That's down 47 percent from June 2010. Overall, the area's new car franchises sold 4,113 vehicles, down from 4,465 the previous year. Dealers said they knew a rough patch would come once the Japanese tragedy hit, and expect the numbers to recover.

Wilmers  M&T Bank's profits were up dramatically for the second quarter. The bank reported net income of $322 million, or $2.42 per share, up from $189 million, or $1.46 per share, a year ago. Profits were also up 56 percent from $206 million, or $1.59 per share, in the first quarter of 2011. Reflected in those numbers is M&T's purchase of Wilmington Trust Corp. in Delaware, which added $10.8 billion in assets, $6.4 billion in loans and $8.9 billion in deposits.


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has a plan to create 10 regional advisory councils that would compete for state money for job creation. The yet-to-be-created councils will compete for $130 million in approved money from the 2011 state budget. They will also have a crack at another $870 million in existing state funds in the form of things such as housing grants and wind energy tax credits. The governor hopes the money will encourage towns and counties to unite as cohesive regions working together to create jobs.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

The not-so-good news about local car sales is offset by the good news that these Cars are still rocking:


Borders ready to liquidate, forum says IDAs are no good and EPA's timing is not in sync with state's on hydrofracking

From Business Today:


Bankrupt bookseller Borders will begin liquidation sales at its stores as early as Friday. The company has stopped selling gift cards, but will continue to accept them for purchases made even after liquidators take control of stores. The Cheektowaga store was busier than usual Tuesday as customers flocked to use up their remaining gift cards, but the atmosphere was glum as employees readied themselves to face unemployment. 10,700 people will be out of work when Borders closes its doors.


A forum on urban reinvestment held by the Partnership for the Public Good Tuesday railed against industrial development agencies. The agencies are incentivized to make bigger deals so they in turn get bigger funding said Sam Magavern, co-director of the group. That in turn encourages sprawl and does nothing to help smaller local business or create jobs.


 Hydraulic fracturing is moving full steam ahead in New York State, which means a study of it by the Environmental Protection Agency will probably not be completed until hydrofracking has already begun. The EPA's study is expected to be finished by 2014 and to focus on the affect hydrofracking will have on water supplies. Environmental groups say the state's fracking recommendations fall short: it does not call for a ban on toxic chemicals in fracking fluid, doesn't categorize drilling waste as hazardous and allows the waste to be treated by sewage plants.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Highest closing costs, tax breaks for apartments, but restaurants must wait...

From Business Today:


New York State has the highest mortgage closing costs in the country. Total closing costs in the state average $6,183 per a $200,000 mortgage. Texas has the second highest closing costs, coming in at $4,944. But our low cost, high value homes still make for a great deal, experts said, in comparison to the rest of the country. The average closing costs nationwide total $4,070. That's up 8.8 percent from last year, according to



The $15.6 million project to renovate the long vacant Bethune Hall on Main Street won $685,000 in sales and mortgage tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency Monday. Ciminelli Real Estate plans to convert the former University at Buffalo Architecture and Design building into 87 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The building, at 2915 Main Street, was originally built for the Buffalo Meter Co.

 Termini The Erie County Industrial Development Agency did not approve tax breaks for two restaurants planned by developer Rocco Termini. Termini wants to convert the former Horton Coffee Co. building at 338 Ellicott Street into a family restaurant and the former Golden Swan Cafe and Grille at 437 Ellicott Street into an Italian restaurant. Andrew J. Rudnick, the chairman of the agency's policy committee, said its adaptive reuse eligibility guidelines need to be revised, as the program was not intended to include restaurants.

Who is getting hired, honored and promoted?

HSBC branches sought after, some boaters staying ashore, life insurance trickery...

From Business Today:

The sale of the HSBC retail branches in upstate New York couldHSBC BANK  have a dramatic impact on the status of the remaining local banking powers. If any one of the remaining top three banks in the region - M&T, First Niagara and Key Bank - buy the HSBC branches, that bank will catapult to No. 1 in the region. Rumors and unnamed sources maintain that all three banks are talkign to HSBC about buying some of the branches.

When times get tough, it seems the boat is the first thing to go. Are marinas say that while they are busy this summer season, a Boat docks softening of the the boating industry is apparent. Reasons abound for empty dock spaces at some marinas - but boat sales are sagging nationwide. Still, as several local mariners pointed out, boating remains an affordable luxury around here.

The state Insurance Department is making inquiries at life insurance companies about how those companies determine when a policy holder has died. It seems come companies are very quick to note a death to cease annuity payments, but are not so fast to note a death when policy benefits must be paid out.

Dickie's Donuts was a local chain long before Tim Hortons and FIN DICKIES DONUTS Dunkin' dominated the landscape. The homey chain of franchisee-owned shops reached 19 at its peak. But as competition mounted, the Dickie's shops slowly shut down. On Saturday the final Dickie's Donuts closed. Dave Costanzo, 61, hung up his apron on Saturday after making the doughnuts for 30 years. No word yet on what the shop on Dingens Street near Ogden will become.

The Small Business Administration's monthly report card shows that M&T  Bank continues to loan the most money to small businesses through the federal SBA program. Overall, more loans are being made, which is a good sign for the local economy.

Recent local real estate transactions...

MoneySmart links from July 18

Here are links from the July 18 edition of MoneySmart.

Income guidelines for home energy audits: Click here.

Participating contractors in the home energy audit program accredited by the Building Performance Institute: Click here.

Medicare drug plan finder: Click here.

To request a free copy of your credit report from any of the three credit bureaus, click here. 

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