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Beer and Buffalo, seems like a natural

Craft beer + Buffalo + Canada = a tourism bonanza?

That's the hope behind the latest idea to bring visitors to Internicola 03 downtown Buffalo. The Buffalo Brewery District - which has two brewers at present - is being promoted by the Binational Alliance and the founder of the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery. The idea is to coordinate with local hotels to create cross-border overnight packages with winery and craft beer tours.

The two brewers in the district now are the Pearl Street Grill and the Pan-American Grill & Brewery at the Hotel @ Lafayette, and the region has other craft brewers outside the downtown area, including Flying Bison.

Beer and Buffalo..... they might have something there.

- Grove Potter


Smaller Office Depot stores starting here

Office Depot is downsizing some of its stores around the nation as it struggles with increased competition Office Depot storefrom many sources. The Buffalo store opening today on Delaware Avenue at Hertel Avenue is among the first of the smaller venues.

The company was a hot stock until mid- 2007, when things started to go south. New office depot chartThe bottom dropped out in 2008, with share prices falling to under $4, far from its highs of above $40. Since then, the share price has struggled to recover. Competition from other retailers and the Internet has put the squeeze on this speciality store, and so many others.

- Grove Potter




Several building projects in the works

Several interesting projects are in the works in Western New York.

Four that received help from the Erie County IDA are:

ATSBNY, a company that tests engines from the GM Powertrain plant GM POWERTRAIN in Tonawanda, is moving to the former Packaging Corp. of America plant on Military Road, also in Tonawanda.

Kissling Interests is rehabbing a building at 298 Main St. in downtown Buffalo into six-floors of commercial space and five floors of loft apartments.

The former New Covenant Church and Fellowship Hall at 786 Kenmore Ave. is being converted into apartments by Creative Structures Services.

Rich Products got tax breaks for it's $18.5 million project to expand its customer innovation center on Niagara Street.

Two others of note:

Benderson Development Co. bought the former American Axle plant on Walden Avenue at Dick Road.

And a New York area packaging firm bought Cello-Pack of Cheektowaga. The company, Trinity Packaging Corp., says all the current employees will be retained.


- Grove Potter


It's selling season, for gifts and our region.

This is it for many small retailers, the homestretch. Stores can make up to Half&half 40 percent of their annual operating profit during the holiday season, with much of that coming in the final week of shopping. Western New York is full of interesting small retailers battling it out with the big box stores. Most stay in business with smart purchasing and  clever marketing.


Canada has become prime hunting ground for the Buffalo Niagara region's efforts to attract new businesses to the area. The new man leading the recruiting effort up in Toronto is a real pro. Lee Meister represented New York state in Toronto for 22 years. When the state cut his position, the Buffalo MeisterNiagara Enterprise pounced and hired him. Meister says there are plenty of Canadian firms that want to move here.


The slow whittling away at our region's wage base continues. Although inflation is small now, it still cuts away at a stagnant wage base. News business columnist David Robinson does the math.


From the legal community: O'Brien and Boyd are breaking up. ABW2_1912


From the development community: Michael Joseph is selling some buildings.


- Grove Potter

Apple a tempting target

It's a longshot, but hey, you never Apple1 know. New York state wants to land the Apple manufacturing plant that  the computer maker is bringing back from China. The Albany region is making the biggest push, which makes some sense. The state has made nanotechnology the focus of research at the University of Albany, and the region hosts two giant chip making plants, Global Foundries in Malta and IBM in Fishkill.

But Western New York is tossing its hat in the ring - lightly. The giant STAMP (Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park) planned for Genesee County would be perfect for such a plant, but it might not be ready in time for Apple's move. The Town of Alabama just voted to rezone the 1,200-acre site, and now funding is being sought for buying land and building infrastructure.

If Apple goes elsewhere, planners are gearing up to be ready for the next big one.

- Grove Potter

Upswing in home sales

Anyone selling a home in Western New York appears to be in a good spot right now. Home sales are up, prices are up, and inventory is down. The latest figures (And I mean LATE. Home sales They're just releasing October sales figures! ) from the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors show a 23 percent jump in the number of homes sold and a 4 percent jump in median price.

Pent up demand, attractive prices and those super low interest rates are forming a perfect storm for home sellers. Of course, it all comes down to pricing. Does your house ever sell for what you think it is worth?

- Grove Potter


Temping to land a job

Job seekers today have a tough threshold to get across. You may be the Temp1 perfect fit for a job, but your past accomplishments may not be enough to prove it. You have to show it. That's where temp agencies come in. Employers often use temporary employment as an on-the-job tryout. If they like what they see, they can offer a permanent position.

It's one way in the door at a time when employers hold all the cards.

- Grove Potter

Tale of Two Towers

Well, HSBC made it official. The bank will be leaving the Buffalo's tallest building Hsbc tower1when its lease expires in October, 2013, and its red bow-tie logo will be coming down. The good news is that the bank says it is keeping all the jobs here. The folks will just be moved to other buildings, or work from home.

The sad news is that it's the end of the tower as a bank center. Built in 1972, it served as the headquarters for Marine Midland Bank, and then for HSBC Bank USA when it took over. Paired with the M&T Bank headquarters up Main Street, they stood as symbolic pillars of the local banking scene. The building's owner says it's a new beginning M&T ALLFIRSTfor the sky scraper. Ideas for new uses include offices, hotel space, apartments and condos.

But it's unlikely a bank logo will tower over downtown again.

- Grove Potter

The Joy of Gaming... and Banking

Loving your job is a real blessing. We all spend so much time at work, enjoying it makes life much sweeter.

Ed Marki clearly loves his new job. The retired middle school teacher Mebs and Lancaster Village Trustee has opened a video store that is part business, part hang-out for kids, and part mid-life therapy for the owner. A video game aficionado since childhood, Marki recently opened Meb's Games to give kids in town a place to go and, no doubt, to give himself an excuse for playing the latest video games, and some vintage games, too.

And the simmering feud between community banks and credit unions could flare into a war if a bill Gillibrandsupported by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, gains traction. The bill would allow credit unions to lend more of their money to businesses. That's a direct threat to small community banks, which make much of their money on small commercial loans. The argument is that the change could make more loan money available to small businesses, and thereby create more jobs.

But banks have argued that credit unions have an unfair advantage because they do not pay taxes. And, they argue, credit unions are nowhere near their small business lending limits now.

Stay tuned. The Small Business Lending Enhancement Act could become a battle. The banking lobby is powerful.

- Grove Potter


Envisioning Buffalo's future

Somebody better tell the local developers that the economy is slow and that the city of Buffalo is in a constant recession, because these guys are on a complete tear. FN Burt Co. They are pushing ahead, building things, creating jobs and wealth.

The latest projects to be unveiled: Savarino Companies plans to convert the former F. N. Burt Co. headquarters and warehouse on Seneca Street into office space, extending the hot new Larkin District. And Rocco Termini, who seems to find value where others can not see it, is proceeding with a plan to convert the former FWS store and warehouse on Elmwood Avenue near Hertel Avenue, into FWSapartments, stores, a restaurant and a distillery.

Either these guys are visionaries, or the rest of us have blinders on. Of course there will be tax credits and other inducements involved, but those are factored into the costs of most projects now. But when completed, two historic buildings will be saved, and ideally, more businesses created.

Layered upon the other projects going on in town, that's called progress.

- Grove Potter




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