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Family farms thrive with direct marketing and more...

From Business Today:


Family farmers have found a way to stay profitable . Places such as Becker Farms, Blackman Homestead Farm and Pumpkinville deal direct to consumer, inviting the public onto their land to enjoy the farm experience. They've turned their farms into retail and entertainment centers and have made themselves a top Halloween and Autumn destination for families. It gives them more control over pricing than traditional farming, in which they would sell their crops to distributors, stores and processors.

Erie and Niagara County's real estate transactions are in for the week ending Sept. 23. The median transaction price was $102,925 in Erie County and $93,450 in Niagara County. Erie County's priciest sale had a $1.75 million, while Niagara County's went for $480,000.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

From MoneySmart:

If you've got a coupon book, such as the Entertainment Book, or Buffalo Dining Cards, time is running out to use them! Entertainment coupons expire tomorrow, and Dining Cards expire at the end of the year. Mary Kunz Goldman has some great strategies for making the most of them.

It's the one day of the year you can watch all your favorite cheesy movies without feeling guilty!



MoneySmart links from Oct. 31

Here are links included in this week's MoneySmart section:

The Emily Post Institute for information on tipping: Click here.

T. Rowe Price estate planning tips: Click here. estate planning checklist: Click here.

Roth conversion rules: Click here.

Roth conversion calculator: Click here.


Lexus boss visits WNY, Health insurers give in to transparency and more

From Business Today:


The group vice president and general manager of Lexus was in town this week. Mark S. Templin said 2012 will be a much brighter year than 2011, when the brand was rocked by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, causing production disruptions. Lexus has a new $8 million dealership in Amherst. Northtown Automotive Cos. built the swanky new site to replace an older, smaller one across Sheridan Drive.


More health insurers have stopped resisting the government's call for transparency in rate hike requests. Joining UnitedHealth Group are Buffalo-based HealthNow New York (parent to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York) and Rochester's Excellus Health Plan (parent of Univera Healthcare). All have agreed to let the state publicly release documentation the companies submitted when requesting rate hikes.


Profits are up at Greatbatch. The medical and electrochem company had a 17 percent increase in profits during the third quarter. The spike was attributed to higher sales across its medical products businesses and lower interest costs.



A Depew sensor and instrument maker has received a grant. PCB Piezotronics received $400,000 from New York State Electric & Gas for its $5.3 million expansion in Depew.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

It's Friday, people!


Buffalonian takes over Ford Canada plus other stories

From Business Today:

The new CEO of Ford Motor Co.'s Canadian subsidiary is a Buffalonian. Dianne Craig was born in Buffalo and graduated from the University at Buffalo. She will be in charge of plants and operations with a direct connection to Ford's stamping plant in the Town of Hamburg. She will succeed David Mondragon, who helped make Ford the number one automaker in Canada for the first time in 50 years.


A historic two-story house on Washington Street will become a model of energy efficiency.

National Grid and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus are teaming up to outfit the home with the latest energy efficiency strategies that will later be integrated into the campus and perhaps the surrounding community. Those involved hope it will spur economic growth and introduce alternative energy and transportation.



 Buffalo AdWeek is in full swing. The series of networking and educational events is put on by the Advertising Club of Buffalo in conjunction with Buffalo Niagara Sales and Marketing Executives and Social Media Club Buffalo.

Wednesday's event hosted Aaron Keller of the design firm Capsule who talked about what makes good design.


Profits fell at the parent company of Five Star Bank. During the third quarter, profits were down 3.5 percent from a year ago. The loss was attributed to the company setting aside more money for loan losses and its incurring higher expenses for redeeming debt.

Profits were up at Community Bank, though. During the third quarter, profits rose 15.9 percent over a year ago. The Dewitt-based company operates 34 bank branches in Western New York.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Well, that's the news. Say, what ever happened to Huey Lewis and the News?


Unemployment rises slightly, insurance rate hikes OK'ed and more

From Business Today:


Your health insurance rates are probably about to go up. The state Department of Financial Services approved almost all the requests it received from insurers to increase rates.

Rates at Western New York's three major health insurance companies will soar as much as 15 percent or more.


Buffalo Niagara's unemployment rate was up slightly in September from the previous month, but still the lowest unemployment rate for any September since 2008.

The region's 7.3 percent rate is much better than the previous year's 7.9 percent rate for the same month.


Profits are up at Northwest Bancshares. The Pennsylvania company reported profits of $16.7 million, or 17 cents per share, up from $15.5 million, or 14 cents per share, a year ago.

The parent of Northwest Savings Bank said net income rose 7.7 percent.



The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has hit Wegmans with more than $195,000 worth of fines. The grocer's corporate bakery and distribution center is accused of repeatedly violating safety rules concerning cutting off all electricity to machines before workers maintain them. The repeat nature of four of those violations makes up $140,000 of the penalties. Workers were observed doing things like reaching into live machinery to fix jams--putting themselves at risk for serious injury, OSHA said.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Need a quick vacation?


Health insurance rates

For a complete list of 2012 health insurance rates approved by New York state: click here 

To see the HealthNow rate request and supporting documents: click here 

Amherst Walmart relocates, Brown brokerage firm dissolves and more

From Business Today:


The Amherst Walmart store on Niagara Falls Boulevard will close at 6 p.m. today as employees prepare to relocate to its new Supercenter on Sheridan Drive near North Bailey in Amherst.

The giant discounter has been trying to open in that spot since 2006, but fought lawsuits from nearby residents who didn't want the megastore built in their backyard. Walmart cleared its final legal hurdle in December 2009 and began construction early the following year.



One of Buffalo's oldest independent brokerage firms is breaking up. Harold C. Brown & Co.'s five three-member investment teams will separate by the end of the year. One team will open its own firm, the others will become employees or partners for existing firms. The brokers blamed regulatory burdens for their failure.


An attempt at economic development on the East Side has failed after 10 months, leaving the minister behind it broke. Bishop Perry L. Davis used his retirement savings to launch Buckeye's Chicken on Michigan Avenue in January. Business was good at first but he lacked restaurant experience, employees stole and tried to extort money, and customers stopped coming in, he said. Today he has been evicted by the building's landlord and is in debt for three months rent.


Profits soared during the third quarter at Computer Task Group. Profits were up 48 percent at CTG, just as analysts predicted. The rise was thanks to a surge in demand for electronic medical records projects. The company expects its fourth quarter to be the most profitable of the year, as it looks forward to bigger health care projects involving electronic medical records.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday's just as bad:


M&T ranks 3rd in nation, Paladino revives Court St. project and more

From Business Today:


M&T Bank is America's third best small business lender according to J. D. Power & Associates. The national study found small businesses were even happier with M&T as their lender than last year.

M&T got a 764 rating on a 1,000 point scale. J.D. Power's highest ranking went to M&I Bank, a subsidiary of Milwaukee-based Marshall & Ilsley Corp., with a score of 768. Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington National Bank, part of Huntington Bancshares, came in second, scoring 767. M&T tied for third with Branch Banking & Trust, the primary subsidiary of BB&T Corp. of Winston-Salem, N.C.


Carl Paladino's Ellicott Development Co. is moving forward with plans to build an eight story office building on Court Street where a parking lot now sits. Paladino said he has received inquiries from tenants and will go ahead with a project downsized from earlier incarnations and possibly including a hotel.

The developer also announced it will build a six-story boutique hotel on Main Street in Amherst, on the current site of Stereo Advantage. That project will include 40 apartments.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

From MoneySmart:


Ever wonder if you should tip the handyman? Or how much you should give the coatroom attendant?

Today's MoneySmart cover story spells it all out for you.


What a gloomy day:


Help for landlords

Here are some resources for managing rental properties:

 Housing Opportunities Made Equal:
Belmont Housing Resources for WNY:

Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors:

City of Buffalo's Division of Citizen Services:

New natural gas fueling station, jobs numbers, and more...

From Business Today:


Verizon customers with 4G LTE-capable smartphones, tablets or other devices will notice faster network speeds. Verizon Wireless rolled out its 4G LTE wireless data network in the Buffalo Niagara region Thursday. Much of Erie County and a small part of Niagara County will benefit, but the company said it will expand its coverage area in the coming months.


West Seneca got a public compressed natural gas fueling station Thursday. Waste Management opened the Clean 'N Green station as part of its $15 million plan to reduce its and the region's carbon footprint. It is also planning to unveil fleet of trucks powered by natural gas. The recycling company is transitioning 80 percent of its 18,000 trucks to CNG, which will save 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel per vehicle per year. It has opened 20 public CNG stations around the country.

 CEOJohnKoelmelDuring an earnings conference call Thursday, First Niagara Financial Group CEO John Koelmel said the next two years will be a "rough ride" for banks, and that bank stocks would not rise dramatically. The Fed's pledge to keep interest rates down through 2013 will have a "dramatic impact" on the industry and has caused stocks to plunge, he said. He said the industry is in an even more precarious place than it was before the 2008 crash, and that this crisis would be "trickier."


The Buffalo Niagara region added 4,900 jobs during the 12-month period ending in September, giving the region a 0.9 percent growth rate for the period. It was a slower pace than the region has been seeing, but the 13th consecutive month of job growth and the 18th consecutive month for private sector job growth, according to the state labor department.


The Buffalo Niagara Partnership released a 12-page report, hoping to influence the state's economic development efforts. The reports findings resulted from the two-day Accelerate Upstate conference the Partnership hosted for 250 businesses in August.

The report urges a new approach to economic development, closer ties to elected officials in Canada and the more effective matching of worker skills with the needs of New York employers. It also urges the state to commit mmore funds to programs dedicated to providing money to start-up technology companies and to invest in transportation projects that would speed border crossings.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Jim Gaffigan will be at UB Saturday:


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