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Could the gravy train of tax breaks be leaving the station?

From Business Today:


Questions about whether hospitality and retail projects should be eligible for tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency have put the Millennium Hotel's request for breaks on ice. The ECIDA tabled the Cheektowaga hotel's request for $275,000 in tax breaks for its proposed $5.5 million renovation. County Executive Mark Poloncarz has requested the ECIDA rethink its eligibility requirements.



Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz isn't the only one who isn't happy with the kinds of tax breaks doled out by the ECIDA. Members of the Occupy Buffalo movement want to see tax break policies changed, too.

About 25 of them demonstrated at the ECIDA's monthly board meeting Monday, chanting, "It's time for immediate change."


Megabus hasn't had much success with its routes to and from Erie and Pittsburgh, Pa. out of Buffalo. The deep-discount, express bus service is cutting service in and out of Buffalo to those two destinations. It is also cutting service between the two Pennsylvania cities and Toronto, but service to Toronto out of Buffalo will continue. 

 Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Check out Visit Buffalo Niagara's new promotional video about iconic local bar and music venue, the Sportsmen's Tavern:


Tops turns 50 and the Chippewa District matures

From Business Today:

Tops Markets has been in business for 50 years, and it has TOPS MORGANObeen a dramatic financial ride, with numerous ownership changes and several turns being a public company. The history reads like a financial drama.

Downtown Buffalo's Chippewa entertainment district is changing from the raucous night club strip into a little more sedate restaurant/night club district, as its target market changes.
MannoThe growth of downtown housing and influx of more visitors is driving the changes, the leader of the business association says.

The idea of raising the state's minimum wage to $8.50 per hour got mostly
negative reviews from a panel of state lawmakers from Western New York.
 Nine of the 11 Assembly and state Senate members at a Friday panel discussion said they
opposed Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's proposal to increase the minimum wage by $1.25 per
hour, or 17 percent, from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour starting next year.  

  Synacor's initial public offering fell flat on Friday.
  The Buffalo-based Internet content provider succeeded in selling 6.8 million shares of its
stock on Friday, but the company  had to slash its offering price by 50 percent to do it.   

   A federal judge in Buffalo has dismissed a lawsuit filed by M&T Bank Corp. that
accused two banking giants of breaching a contract on a mortgage-backed security investment.
The suit sought at least $500,000 in interest payments or a full refund of the $50 million
purchase price. 

  Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

  Recent real estate transactions.

Some say this was the best Super Bowl national anthem in history:


"The Biggest Loser" could be a local winner.

From Business Today:

The wildly popular TV show "The Biggest Loser," has spawned Beaver hollowa string of health resorts, and one of them will be located in Western New York. The always innovative Beaver Hollow Conference Center in Java Center, owned by Buffalo magnate Paul Snyder and marketed by his daughter Sandra Schoellkopf, is building a center for the Fitness Ridge, the company that operates Biggest Loser resorts in Utah and California. The Biggest Losercenter will cater to individuals and corporations, and some of the TV shows may be filmed there. "We're were trying to grow our business in a declining economy, and we figured, who not shoot for the moon?" Schoellkopf said. The resort will create about 200 jobs.

Evans Bancorp had a fourth quarter that most busineses dream about. The company's profits tripled, as it made more money and set aside less for losses from its leasing business. The Hamburg-based bank reported earning $1.3 million for the quarter and $6.1 million forDAVID NASCAthe year. Modest numbers when you think of the nation's big banks, but solid, local banking returns. "A terrific quarter," is how CEO David Nasca described it.

From the ashes of the Steven J. Baum PC firm, a new foreclosure firm is emerging, hiring many of the Baum refugees. But the new firm - Gross, Polowy & Orlans LLC - claims it will be in the business of keeping people in their homes first, rather than racing to foreclose. Can a tiger change its stripes? We'll see.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

It's a global phenomenon...


Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers

To read a copy of New York State's Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers, click here.

Buffalo Auto Show drawing crowds, GM plant reviving.

From Business Today:


Car enthusiasts came from all over Western New York Wednesday for opening day of the Buffalo Auto Show. Whether they were checking out the concept cars, such as the Fisker Karma Hybrid sportscar and Can Am Spyder motorcycle, or looking for the next vehicle to park in their own driveway, there was plenty of action at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. The event is put together by the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association.


A Wheatfield real estate developer is stepping into a new venture. Calamar Enterprises will launch Calamar Family Asset Management. The new business division will advise new heirs of family businesses or estates who don't have the experience or desire to manage their inheritances.  

The division will be headed up by Daniel G. Kantor, a veteran business owner and nonprofit executive.


There's new life at a long vacant section of General Motors' Tonawanda plant. GM is opening an on-site training center as it gears up for three new engine lines. It is also going to use the site to put together kits of parts that workers on the engine lines use, to make the process go smoothly.

GM will revive Plant 4 on Kenmore avenue which has been mostly unused for the past several years.


After members of the Lancaster Industrial Development Agency voiced concerns about their longtime general council, IDA chairman Dino J. Fudoli is considering a switch.

Longtime general counsel Dominic J. Terranova and bond counsel Nathan Neill, who have served the IDA for more than 20 years, could be replaced. Lawyers from Phillips Lytle or Magavern Magavern Grimm were offered as new candidates at Tuesday's board meeting.


A Batavia manufacturer has landed a valuable batch of orders. Graham Corp., which makes vacuum and heat transfer equipment, has won more than $3.5 million in orders for equipment that will be used on projects in the energy industry.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Here's another look at the Can Am Spyder:


Cyclorama Building gets a new tenant

From Business Today:


The Cyclorama Building will be vacant no more. Lumsden & McCormick LLP, one of the area's largest independent certified public accounting firms, has signed a 15-year lease for the 26,000-square-foot building. The accounting firm is currently in the Brisbane Building at 403 Main Street, but will make the move to 369 Franklin Street in July. The building is owned by Frank Ciminelli.

 EberlEberl Iron Works, founded in 1923 in Buffalo, is now in its third generation of
family ownership. Two cousins, Nora E. Eberl and John C. Eberl are taking the reins. Nora is the company's new chief financial officer, while John is the company's new chief executive officer. Their grandfathers were Eberl's founders. The company makes  metal framing, struts and custom commerical sheet metal.



M&T Bank Corp. won 12 Excellence Awards for Small Business Banking in the 2011 study by Connecticut -based Greenwich Associates. It received more awards than any other bank included in the study--and there were 750 of them. M&T Bank has been rated the nation's best bank for small companies, according to the businesses surveyed.


New bankruptcy cases in Buffalo and Rochester were down by only
2.1 percent in January
. Filings fell 20 percent last year, but seem to be leveling off.

There were 425 petitions last month, down from 434 a year ago, according to the Bankruptcy Court. It's the second lowest January total in more than 10 years.

Car lovers start your engines. The Buffalo Auto Show starts today.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


Super Bowl ads good for local affiliate

From Business Today:


During the Super Bowl, all eyes may be on the national commercials that spend millions of dollars to air their ads in front of the the large, diverse audience the football game brings. But local NBC affiliate WGRZ was much more interested in what local advertisers were doing. That's because they were alloted enough time to air about 15 commercials during the game, selling the slots to local advertisers for an estimated $12,000 to $17,000 apiece.


Home sales increased in December. Sales rose 4.2 percent to 774 in December from 743 during the same month the previous year. Sales were up 10.4 percent from November's 701 sales, making it the largest December number since the glory days of 2006 and 2007. Newly listed sales were up 13 percent. The positive sales results are being attributed to the region's stretch of unseasonably mild weather.    


Profits were up at Astronics Corp. during the fourth quarter.  Profits rose 16 percent to $5.2 million, or 40 cents per share, from $4.5 million, or 35 cents per share, a year ago. The increase is attributed to strong growth in the company's aircraft cabin electronics sales. That strength offset losses in the company's test systems business. Astronics Corp. is an East Aurora-based maker of aircraft lighting and electronics products.

 Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Here is one of the only local ads local advertising representatives found memorable:


Real estate sales and teacher woes

From Business Today:


Check out the real estate listings for Erie and Niagara Counties for the week ending Dec. 30. The highest price paid in Erie County was $1.27 million, while the average price was $151,137. In Niagara County, the highest price tag was $351,250 with an average sales price of $90,520.


Competition is intense in Western New York for jobs in education. The teacher's union estimates that 17,000 positions have been lost over the last two years, and further cuts are being made due to budget restrictions. At the same time, colleges are pumping out more and more teachers, and graduates are going years without landing work. In elementary education, local experts estimate there are 1,500 applicants for every one job opening.


 This week's Strategy for Success looks at Nadja Foods, the empire built by Nadja Piatka and the low-calorie, low-fat snacks she sells at restaurant and grocery chains. Piatka traces the steps she took to build her Buffalo-based business even when times were tough and creditors were beating down her door. Today, her recipes are mass produced and sold at such powerhouse corporations as McDonald’s, Subway, Wegmans and Price Chopper supermarkets.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


From MoneySmart:


What did you think of this year's crop of Super Bowl commercials?


State pension reform approaching

From Business Today:


The local business community is getting behind a proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo's Tier VI pension reform aims to control state employee pension costs and save $123 billion over 30 years by limiting benefits for new hires. Andrew J. Rudnick, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and Heather C. Briccetti, president of the Business Council of New York State, came out in support of the plan Thursday, saying the reform is a good step toward getting the state into better financial shape and making the region more friendly to businesses. But not everyone is happy about it.


Profits slipped at Lake Shore Bancorp during the fourth quarter. The Dunkirk-based parent company of Lake Shore Savings Bank saw profits dip 34 percent. The decline is attributed to a $500,000 write-down for an investment the bank made in an unnamed payment processing startup. Profits were $587,000, or 10 cents per share, down from $895,000, or 16 cents per share,  during the same period last year.


Five Star Bank will eliminate its top executive position in retail banking, a position that paid $426,757 last year. The Warsaw-based Financial Institutions subsidiary attributed the move to improving the company's efficiencies. The duties filled by the former executive vice president of the bank and regional president for the bank's Western Region,John J. Witkowski, will now be doled out to other executives. Witkowski is a former NFL quarterback.



Wegmans has issued a recall of hard-cooked eggs and prepared foods made with them. Eggs sourced at Minnesota-based Michael Foods were found to contain the bacteria that causes listeriosis, which can result in illness and death.

The eggs were sold hard-cooked, pickled and Kosher and also used to make prepared foods. Fresh eggs are not affected.

No illnesses have been reported associated with the recall.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

 Happy Friday!


Exporting can help the bottom line.

From Business Today:


Small businesses hoping to export goods overseas can look to the Export-Import Bank of the United States for help. The Washington, D.C.-based bank is the federal government's export credit agency. It helps small businesses with trade financing they might not be able or willing to get from private lenders. Representatives from the bank were in town this week to visit small businesses in the region, such as Buffalo's Advanced Machine Design, a manufacturer of presses and other equipment.


There are signs of new life at a struggling Amherst country club. Westwood Country Club has added 80 new members since it was sold to its restaurant's owners a month ago. Hopes are high that the influx of new people--and their money--will continue, breathing new life into the club and sparking a financial turnaround. Windows on the Green owners Todd Sugarman and Jon Cohen bought the 67-year-old club for about $3 million and have vowed to get to work on renovations and upgrades. The duo discounted membership rates to bring new people in, but so far have only broken even in terms of membership. The club needs to recruit at least 120 more members if it wants to remain viable.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

I wonder if the Underhills will become members at Westwood?


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