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More on that vacant Uniland industrial park

Sometimes a reporter has more information in his notebook than he is able to fit into an article for the paper, so it's nice to have a blog to amplify our original coverage.

This week, we ran an article about Uniland Development Co.'s Eastport Commerce Center in Lancaster, a site that has sat vacant for eight years despite the company's $7 million investment in roads and utility connections to the property.

Erie County is now saying Uniland will have to pay back a $490,000 federal grant --- money that passed from HUD to the county to the Town of Lancaster to Uniland --- because Uniland hasn't met the job-creation requirements included in the terms of the grant.

The status of the 120-acre industrial park has come up at recent Lancaster Town Board and Lancaster IDA meetings, so here's a few things that came out of those discussions worth pondering as we wait for the Bills to take the field Sunday against the Bengals:

---As The News reported, the Eastport site at Walden Avenue and Pavement Road was one of the properties Yahoo considered for the data center the company eventually built in Lockport. Several Lancaster officials said they believe Yahoo was scared off by the price Uniland was seeking. Similar parcels in that part of town were going for $30,000 to $40,000 per acre, while Yahoo was given a price of $77,000 per acre, several Lancaster officials said at a Town Board meeting. Buffalo Niagara Enterprise officials confirmed Yahoo's interest, but said the price wasn't the factor that drove Yahoo to look at other data-center sites. Lancaster Superviser Bob Giza said he's not sure the price scared off Yahoo, but one IDA member, channeling Jimmy McMillan, said "The price is too damn high."

---Will Uniland really have to pay back the $490,000 HUD grant by March 2012 if they don't bring in a tenant? Paul Leone, a Lancaster IDA consultant, said he's not sure, "politically speaking." At this month's IDA meeting he said he suspects that top officials from the well-connected development company will call County Executive Chris Collins to lobby him before any money is returned.

---Buffalo Niagara Enterprise officials say the Eastport site has received interest from a number of companies, and Giza said this month that the federal government considered the property, and adjoining land, as a site for a National Veterans Cemetery proposed for Western New York. If the Lancaster site had been selected, it would have been good for veterans and their families in Erie County but it would have taken the property off the tax rolls, Giza said at the IDA meeting. The federal government has not yet announced where it plans to build the cemetery, but Giza said it's likely to be somewhere in Genesee County.

---Stephen T. Watson

Tops gets to keep three disputed P&C stores and Fisher-Price teams up with Sherwin-Williams, Rachel Zoe

From Business Today:


Tops Friendly Markets gets to keep three of the seven Penn Traffic stores the FTC originally told it to sell. Neither Tops nor an appointed trustee, the Food Partners, was able to find a buyer for P&C stores in Lockport, Sayre, Pa. or Ithaca. Tops will keep the Lockport and Pennsylvania stores open under the Tops banner and close the Ithaca location. Tops was granted a 90-day extension to finish the sale of another P&C in Bath. Tops is in negotiations with an undisclosed buyer for that location. Three other stores were sold to Hometown Markets.


 Fisher-Price is offering a cool new design tool for parents.

The East Aurora toy company, along with Sherwin-Williams and celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe launched "Room to Bloom," a free, online design tool that helps parents use the companies' products to design their child's nursery.

Users can then oh-so-conveniently click on any of the baby gear or paint colors for purchasing information.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Go Bills!


EPIC senior drug coverage will be limited and Gemcor improves service to China

From Business Today:


Low- and moderate-income Seniors in New York State will be noticing changes in their prescription drug coverage beginning Jan. 1. The state is making changes to its Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program in response to the budget crisis. The EPIC program will now only pay for Medicare Part D co-payments that are charged after a recipient's coverage limit has been exhausted but before the catastrophic coverage kicks in.


A West Seneca manufacturer is taking steps to improve its sales to China. Aircraft fastening systems maker Gemcor has formed a joint venture with AVIC Beijing Aeronautical Manufacturing Technology Research Institute to provide technical service to Chinese customers and provide spare parts and routine maintenance.


 Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Amazon unveiled Kindle Fire Wednesday, the company's response to the Apple iPad:


Lake Erie windmills killed, Uniland seeks a tenant, Albany area scores big, and Wendt Corp. buys local plant...

From Business Today:

The New York Power Authority made it official Tuesday: there will be no wind farms built in Lake Erie just offshore in Erie and Chautauqua counties. As The News previously reported, NYPA bailed out on the project due to the costs. Electricity is just too cheap now with WIND TURBINES the gold rush of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region. NYPA said it will consider an offshore wind farm near Long Island, but that is years and years away.  While environmentalists are disapopointed, landowners along the lake are joyous.

Uniland has always been a bold development company. It will build grand buildings and office parks on spec, confident that it will find tenants. But they may have stretched a bit too far with the Eastport Commerce Center in Lancaster. The park is shovel ready, with utilities and roads in place, but it has remained empty for eight years. Now the federal government is turning up the heat. Either get some tenants in there or return the $490,000 federal grant used to help build it. Uniland is confident a tenant can be found.

The Albany scored an economic development grand slam Tuesday when Gov. Cuomo announced that NY Business Statewide several high-tech companies are investing $4.4 billion in the region's nanotechnology industry. The companies are seeking a new generation of computer chips, and it could create up to 6,900 jobs from the Finger Lakes to Albany. While not in Western New York, it is great news for the entire state, and some ambient heat is sure to reach Buffalo from the work.

Wendt Corp. is a Western New York success story. The company makes giant machines that grind up cars and other scrap metal. It just bought the former Gibraltar Steel facility on Walden Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda and plans to Wendt move its manufacturing operations to the new site.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


Cleveland BioLabs works with Russian fund, NT company offers solar-powered car charging stations, Restaurant Week starts and jet sharing company plans open house

From Business Today:


A local company is joining forces with a Russian investment fund to develop cancer-treatment and other drugs. Cleveland BioLabs and Rusnano, a $10 billion fund owned by the Russian government, will work on developing five drugs that are in the preclinical stage.

The venture, called Panacela Labs, could require up to $26 million in funding over a four-year period.


 A North Tonawanda manufacturer is plugging into environmental concerns. Audubon Machinery Corp. has charging stations for electric cars in its parking lot.

But the company takes the stations one step further than just plugging into the electrical grid--the stations are powered by wind and solar energy. Employees with electric cars can charge their cars for free during the workday.


Local Restaurant Week kicked off in Western New York Monday. More than 200 independently owned restaurants are offering a wide array of meal specials priced at $21.11.

Some pricier establishments offer just one entree for that price, while others offer several courses for two plus wine.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

I wonder what $21.11 gets you at this restaurant:



Local luxury housing is going strong, local real estate roundup, and smartphone apps to keep you MoneySmart

From Business Today:


Who is buying the modern mansions being built in Clarence, Orchard Park and elsewhere in Western New York? The News takes a look at the region's surprisingly robust luxury housing market. Experts say it's important to have upscale housing available if the region wants to attract the best and brightest talent.



The priciest real estate transaction in Erie County for the week ending August 19 was $960,000, according to our roundup. The priciest Niagara County transaction was $1.03 million. There were 269 sale in Erie County, with a median price of $1125,500. There were 61 sales in Niagara County, with a median price of $100,000.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


From MoneySmart:

MoneySmart takes a look at some of the best free money-saving and personal finance smartphone apps. Download the apps on our list and you'll have the power in your pocket to do everything from comparing prices to keeping tabs on your budget.

Does somebody have a case of the Mondays?


MoneySmart links from Sept. 26

Here are links from the MoneySmart story on college discounts:

HP Academy: Click here.

Dell University: Click here.

Amazon Student: Click here.





Buffalo Place concerts a success, UAW hears contract details and Travers Collins expands

From Business Today:


Buffalo Place's summer concert series at the Buffalo waterfront brought in $1.5 million.

That's up 35 percent over what was expected and $405,101 more than its own projections. The success was attributed to its move from Lafayette Square to the Central Wharf and the summer's great weather, as compared to last year's rainy season.


The United Auto Workers Local 774 will meet Monday about an upcoming contract vote. Members will hear the details of a tentative contract the UAW reached with General Motors before they are scheduled to vote on it next week.

GM's Tonawanda plant, which employs 800 workers, is getting a boost from the addition of two new engine lines. The four-year pact would add or keep 6,400 jobs in the U.S. and offer buyouts to longtime workers. Most workers won't get annual pay raises, but will get at least $12,500 in bonuses, profit sharing and other payments over the life of the contract.


 Travers Collins has opened a new office in Rochester. The advertising and public relations firm has parterned with Rochester-based PR veteran Mike McDougall to open McDougall Travers Collins. Collins said he had been wanting to break into the Rochester market for 10 years. He hopes McDougall's local and global contacts will bring new clients from Rochester and around the world.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Today is the first day of fall. Let's celebrate with the Kinks:


Paladino against Statler funding, big plans for Delaware Mansion, exporting to Brazil, and OSHA cites Perry's

From Business Today:


Carl Paladino has vowed to fight government subsidies to the Statler Towers renovation. At a Buffalo Place board meeting Wednesday, the downtown property owner called a proposed $5.3 million grant to rival developer Mark D. Croce "wrong," "unfair," and a "selective subsidy." Paladino called on the group to join the opposition and threatened a lawsuit, fearing subsidized projects like the Statler would allow other develops to lure his own tenants away with artificially low rents.


The new owner of a historic mansion has big plans for it. James McHugh, owner of Personal Touch Food Service  plans to live in part of the Foster mansion at 891 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo and turn the rest, including two carriage houses, into apartments. He will also return some of its parking lot into green space. McHugh bought the nearly 20,000-square-foot property for $850,000 in June from Canisius High School.


An executive at a local company shared his experiences exporting products to the Brazilian market Wednesday. John DeLuca, international sales manager for Liberty Pumps in Genesee County, told attendees at a World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara event about the opportunities and challenges he encountered when his company began exporting pumps to Brazil.


 Perry's Ice Cream was cited for eight serious violations by the labor department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA cited the Akron ice cream company for not having safe work practice plans in place and for a worker not using proper safety equipment among other things. It is facing $51,000 in fines.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Enjoy the last day of summer, folks!


Hiring continues, company expands in Sanborn, and Independent Health ranks well...

From Business Today:

The region's local unemployment rate dropped to a three-year Unemployment Benefits low in August. At 7.3 percent unemployment, the region's rate is far below national jobless rate of 9.1 percent. There were 7,100 more jobs in the region in August than a year earlier. Although the jobless rate remains much higher than when the recession started, every turnaround has to start somewhere.

Pyrotek is a Washington state-based company with an operation in Sanborn that just celebrated the opening of an expanded factory to Pyrotek make material for electrical anodes. The company was looking at sites across the country to expand, and the Niagara County site won due to a combination of state, federal and local incentives. The plant is in the process of hiring 50 more people.

Independent Health, the local health  insurance company, was recognized as one of the top in the nation for its commercial, Medicare and Medicaid plans. It ranked 28th out of 483 plans in the National Committee for Quality Assurance's rankings. HealthNow New York ranked 49th and Univera ranked 63rd.

Another airliner will be offering Buffalo-to-St. Petersburg, Fla., flights from the Niagara Falls International AIrport beginning in December. Allegiant Air plans Allegiantair_inflight to start with twice a week flights, on Thursdays and Sundays.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

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