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Beer growlers, hotel deal and a new sushi bar...

From Business Today:

Beer lovers have something to celebrate. The growler has come to Western New York in a big way. Consumers Beverage and a couple of other places have been offeringGrowlers  the fill-your-own half-gallon containers of beer for a few years, but now the Sunoco APlus stores have gotten into the act. The convenience stores have 12 taps of micro brewery suds. Sunoco is using the Buffalo area as a test market, and so far the company likes what it sees. The jugs are topped with a seal to conforn to the open container laws, so drivers can't crack open a jug before they get home.

The hotel business in Niagara Falls in the U.S. remains a small business game. Most of the city's hotels are owned by small hotel operators affiliated with a national brand. Merani Holding, a Niagara Falls tourists Canadian firm, received a $500,000 grant from the city to help bring a chain restaurant to a hotel it is refurbishing on Buffalo Avenue.

The former IHOP restaurant on Delaware Avenue near Hertel Avenue in Buffalo has had a complete makeover and will reopen soon as a Tokyo II Seafood Steakhouse, a place for hibachi grilled food andTokyo  sushi. Oishii! (That's delicious in Japanese.)

Who is getting hired, promoted or honored?

The beer song!


M&T will buy HSBC data center, four grants awarded, HealthNow contract ratified...

From Business Today:


 M&T Bank sent a letter of intent to buy HSBC Bank USA's former data center on Park Club Lane in Amherst. M&T said it will use it as its primary data center to support future growth. If the sale goes through, the building would house M&T's computer operations. M&T's current data center, at 626 Commerce Drive in Amherst, would be converted to provide additional office space.


Four companies in Western New York were granted economic development funding by the Empire State Development Corp. They will split $1.3 million. PCB Piezotronics in Depew, which makes sensors, was granted $500,000. SolEpoxy in Cattaraugus County, which makes specialty adhesives, was granted $400,000. Buffalo Filter in Lancaster, which makes smoke and aerosol filters, was granted $250,000. United Biochemicals in Sanborn, which manufactures chemicals, was granted $150,000.


More than 400 unionized HealthNow New York workers will be able to return to work Aug. 1. After being locked out of their jobs for more than 12 weeks, the workers ratified a three-year contract Wednesday morning. More than 95 percent of workers voted in favor of the contract, which includes a 5 percent wage increase over three years. Workers will return to work after a negotiated two-week paid vacation starting Monday.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Did somebody say Data?


NFL turf looking for new home,

From Business Today:


Who knew there was so much opportunity surrounding artificial turf? Cheektowaga company A-Turf recently won the contract to replace the turf at Ralph Wilson Stadium with a winning bid of $178,000. The old stuff, which is like new, is being hauled away and stored while Erie County Executive Chris Collins takes proposals from non-profits, schools and municipalities outlining how they might make use of it. One or more applicants will receive all or a portion of the old turf at no cost. Detailed proposals should be sent to Erie County Parks Department, 95 Franklin St., 12th Floor, Buffalo, NY 14202 by Aug. 15. County Parks Commissioner James Hornung and Stephen Lynch, the owner of Sports Performance Park in Eastern Hills Mall--who paid to have the turf hauled away and stored at the mall--will review them and decide how the turf will be given away, probably by early September.


When the state Environmental Conservation Commissioner came up with recommendations for hydraulic fracturing, it stirred up more controversy around an already contentious issue. That's because the plans called for allowing "fracking" in certain parts of the state but not others. But Commissioner Joseph Martens defended his recommendations Tuesday. The reason drilling would be prohibited in the Syracuse and New York City watershed but not in most of the Marcellus Shale region, he said, is that the Syracuse and New York City regions rely on those areas as their sole source of unfiltered drinking water. If drilling is allowed nearby and New York City's water source is polluted, building a water treatment plant could cost up to $9 billion.


 The Lancaster Industrial Development Agency granted tax breaks to three firms Tuesday. Together, the companies plan to invest $13.8 million into their facilities. Try-It Distributing is planning to spend $12 million to add 106,000 square feet of storage space to its Walden Avenue warehouse. It will receive $1.05 million in tax breaks. Progressive Insurance will receive $56,875 in tax breaks as it renovates 4,000 square feet of its offices to the tune of $650,000. Ecology & Environment will get $96,250 in breaks for its $1.1 million investment in new computers and energy efficient upgrades.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Oh, why not?


For-profit thrift store makes charities uneasy, Bankruptcy filings here are down again, Holy Angels competes in global entrepreneurship competition here

From Business Today:


Savers, an international, for-profit chain of secondhand thrift stores, opened its first Western New York store in Hamburg last week. Its entry into the local scene has some charities nervous. Savers partners locally with the Epilepsy Association of Western New York, collects donated items on its behalf, pays it for the donations, then resells them for a profit. The Salvation Army, AMVETS, the Buffalo City Mission and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul all rely on donations of used items to stock their own thrift stores, the revenue from which funds their charitable works in the community. They're worried donations may dry up if Savers, which plans to open up to three more stores in the community within the next three years, begins taking a share to sell for profit.

Bankruptcy filings in Western New York were down significantly from a year ago last month. Bankruptcy filings in June were down 19 percent, making it the sixth straight month local bankruptcies have dropped. It is the lowest number of local filings since 2006. By contrast, national filings were down just 8 percent.


Canisius College will host the global Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship World Cup competition from July 22 to 25. Holy Angels Academy, which was the U.S. winner for the best social enterprise, will face off against global competitors later this month at the SAGE World Cup. The best social enterprise category is awarded for an idea that tries to change the world while being economically sustainable. Their entry is a publishing house that writes bilingual books for children about world issues.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

One reason people love shopping at thrift stores? The prices are INSANE!


The big college payback, French exchange student opens wine store and 3 properties bought from foreclosure

From Business Today:


Right about now, recent college graduates are staring down a mountain of debt and looking at years of student loan payments. In today's MoneySmart section, experts explain why it's important to make payments on time and offer tips on how to start making payments without digging yourself further into the hole.



A former French exchange student has returned to his host country to set up shop. Jean-Noel Schilling, who is from France's Alsace region, will open Wine Pocket in the Village of Lancaster. Wine pocket will be a cafe and wine store. Schilling already opened Pocket Cafe in June. Wine Pocket will sell only French wines.


Three properties once owned by the bankrupt Frederiksen Development LLC and Charlie Frederiksen, a downtown Buffalo real estate investor and developer, sold through foreclosure. The properties, 415 and 466 Franklin and 1131 Delaware, were acquired for $173,195, $169,898 and $225,000, respectively. The buyers were three separate entities named after each address.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

It's Monday. Again.


Martin's Fantasy Island celebrates birthday, home sales are down, medical specialists merge and H&M opens

From Business Today:


Martin's Fantasy Island is celebrating its 50th year in business this year, which will be marked Saturday with a birthday bash. The Grand Island amusement park will celebrate with carriage rides, a costume show and an "old timers' shoot-out" among past performers from the park's Western show. Tickets for the day are $19.61 for adults and $15.61 for kids under 48" tall.



Monthly home sales are down 26 percent from last year, but homes have held their value according to numbers from the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors. There were 660 closed home sales in May, down from 892 during the same month in 2010. Experts said last year's Federal tax credit for first-time buyers and those upgrading to new homes skewed the numbers and that this year's numbers are the result of a market correction. The average local home sale price, however, rose by 4 percent from last year to $135,003. That's the highest it's been in May for 12 years.


 Excelsior Orthopaedics of Amherst is merging with the Hand and Shoulder Center of Western New York to create a "center of excellence" and the largest medical group in Western New York to specialize in hand and shoulder injuries. It will be located at the Excelsior Medical Campus at 3925 Sheridan Drive in Amherst, across from the Dent building.


Shoppers showed up in droves Thursday to greet the arrival of the new H&M store at the Walden Galleria. Shoppers began lining up outside the store at 8 a.m. even though the store wasn't scheduled to open until noon. Sweden-based H&M sells affordable yet hip clothing for men, women and children. It fills a spot vacated by Bed, Bath and Beyond on the lower level across from J. Crew. It is the first H&M store in Western New York. Besides several stores in Ontario, the closest H&M stores before this one were in Victor and Rochester.

 Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Don't miss Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings playing free Saturday at Niagara Falls' Hard Rock at the Falls:


Conservation protest, apartment deal, Texas plans and La-Z-Boy-to-CVS...

From Business Today:

ProtestProtesters hit the streets Wednesday to tell National Fuel it didn't like the way it was using their money. Ratepayers said the company uses too much of its $10.04 million Conservation Incentive Program funds to buy advertising. If the company were really concerned about conservation, protesters said, it should put more of that money toward weatherizing houses that are "like Swiss cheese." National Fuel said putting money toward weatherization of inefficient houses would take money away from other things, like energy efficient appliance rabates and advertising for the program.

Apartments Niagara purchased its third Buffalo complex--the Manhattan Square Apartments--for $2.03 million near Central Park Plaza from Boston Financial Investment Management, which specializes in low-income housing projects built with federal tax credits. The low-income development has nine buildings and 24,472 square feet. It was built in 1994 and has 72 units. The two-bedroom apartments rent for $657 per month.


 North Forest Office Space, is planning its entry into the Texas market with property near Austin. The Clarence company specializes in small office suites in New York State and Denver, Colorado. The company purchased 3 1/2 acres of land in the city of Pflugerville with plans to develop a 34,000-square-foot office park for professional, medical and dental office space. 


Demolition is underway at the former La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery on Orchard Park Road in Orchard Park. Benderson Development Co. paid $1.5 million to buy the space Friday from the owners of the area's La-Z-Boy franchise. It has plans to build a CVS Pharmacy store on the site.



Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Here's a chuckle to start your Thursday off right:

Fire prevention invention, Tops sale OKed by FTC, Five insurers penalized by state

From Business Today:


After a rash of devastating Fourth of July fires, a Western New Yorker's invention seems especially sound. Al Shaw, president of Butterfly Safety Products, invented the Butterfly Smoke Seal. Made of high-temperature cloth, it is made to slip beneath a door to keep smoke and poisonous gases out. The barrier is meant to buy time in the case someone is trapped in a blaze without a means of escape. The invention recently won an award at an invention convention and Shaw is readying it for the marketplace. 


The Federal Trade Commission granted Tops Friendly Markets permission to sell three of the 79 stores it acquired from the bankrupt Penn Traffic Company last year. The FTC ordered Tops to sell seven of the 79 stores after it decided the company's purchase allowed it to dominate too much market area in some places. The stores are in Ithaca, Cortland and Sayre, Pa. The FTC also named The Food Partners LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based investment banking firm to oversee the sale of another four stores, which includes one at 7134 Rochester Road in Lockport.

The state Insurance Department recently penalized five insurance agents in Western New York. Steven J. Argo of Lockport failed to account for money paid into premiums, Michael R. Bryskinski of Kenmore enrolled three customers in automatic debit payment accounts without their consent, Patrick Cain in Buffalo applied for life and accident insurance on behalf of insured clients without their consent, and Kevin M. Lorigo in Orchard Park issued premium checks that bounced and commingled premium and operating funds. All  four lost their state insurance licenses. Phillip DiMartino of Batavia was fined $2,000 for drawing up false loss history letters for two businesses.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

It's summertime and the living's easy--especially with a little Janis in the background:


Restaurant owners vs. state auditors, fracking to be allowed but watched, KanJam flies, and wine wars...

From Business Today:

Lots of good stories over the weekend...

Restaurant owners are still complaining about heavy-handed auditors from the state Department of Taxation and Finance. They say the auditors are on a Restaurant sales tax mission to increase tax revenues, and to do so they make outrageous claims when a business owner does not have antiquated paper receipts. Many businesses run up huge legal fees to fight the government. However, the tax department has a new ombudsman who says he is helping reign in rogue auditors and handle businesses complaints.

The Buffalo Portfolio, the collection of stocks of public companies in the region, did not fare well during the second quarter, dropping 2.3 percent. That's more than the major indices.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation says it will be watching the natural gas drillers like a hawk to safeguard the environment when horizontal drilling and 'fracking'  begins in New York.  Fracking 4 Environmentalists are aghast that the state is allowing the controversial process to be used while questions about its impact remain.

Been to a Bills game in recent years and seen people in the parking lots throwing flying discs into what look like a garbage cans? It's a game called KanJam, and it was invented by some local guys. It is being manufactured and marketed nationwide KanJam from here in the Buffalo Niagara region. Who says Buffalo can't compete?

The fight to sell wine in grocery stores continues, like a drum beat in the distant jungle. The supermarket forces lobbying to get wine on their shelves in New York state are keeping up the Earns Constellation Brands campaign. The smaller mom-and-pop stores and small wineries are fighting back. To be continued next legislative session...

If you're going to launch a business, why not think big, like taking on the likes of Dell and Hewlett-Packard? That's what two brothers in Batavia are doing. Their firm, Savage I/O is manufacturing and selling a data storage device called a 'data brick.' As more dataSavage  01  is stored for retrieval on the 'computing cloud,' the brothers hope their device will gain more market share.

Recent local real estate transactions...

Hydrofracking may get green light, CPAs reaching out, new local investor increases holdings...

From Business Today:


A controversial method for harvesting natural gas is getting one step closer to getting the green light. The Department of Environmental Conservation said it will release a report today that recommends allowing hydraulic fracturing under strict regulations. The guidelines would allow "hydrofracking" on private lands "under rigorous and effective controls." Hydrofracking would still be banned on public lands and the Syracuse and New York City watersheds. The state's commissioner of environmental conservation said the plan promotes economic development while protecting the environment.


The University at Buffalo is hoping to draw more more minority students into its accounting programs. Minority students are underrepresented in the field, so the school teams up each year with the state's CPA society to expose them to accounting as a viable career option. Over the five-day Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession program at the UB School of Management, students took field trips to accounting firms, heard presentations from accountants and listened to a seminar on starting a business. Pictured are Canisius accounting student Keon Hall, right, and Monica White, who lectured students on aspects of professional dress.



The deadline for bids on the empty Donovan Building passed with just one bidder, albeit a familiar one. Benderson Development submitted a proposal for an "adaptive re-use" project that would renovate the building to be used as the new headquarters for the Phillips Lytle law firm with room for retail and restaurant space.

Sinatra A local investor who started buying local properties a little more than a year ago is increasing his holdings here. Nick Sinatra, whose family owns Sinatra's Restaurant on Kenmore Avenue, bought 15 duplexes in Amherst for $1.5 million at a court ordered estate auction. He already owns 28 fully occupied apartments in Amherst and Tonawanda, 12 apartments in Chicago and the former Kane-Doyle used-car lot and building at 3350 Delaware Avenue in Tonawanda.



Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Have a great Fourth of July weekend!


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