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Buffalo Niagara sends contingent to global BIO convention

A contingent including representatives from 12 area life-sciences companies and the major institutions on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is in Chicago this week for the BIO International Convention.

The delegation is attending the convention for the first time under the “Buffalo Niagara BIO” brand after taking part for the past five or six years as a member of the larger “New York Loves BIO” group.

The convention, which began Monday and runs through Thursday, is the largest international event for the biotech industry and typically draws 20,000 people and company representatives, offering important networking and business opportunities, according to Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, one of this year’s participants.

In addition to the BNE, local convention attendees include representatives of the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute and companies such as Empire Genomics, QuaDPharma and Immco Diagnostics.

-- Stephen T. Watson

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

Video: Cleveland Biolabs developing drugs to help soldiers, cancer patients

Cleveland BioLabs, an emerging life sciences company, is working on anti-radiation sickness drugs that can be used to help soldiers and cancer patients. Its department of chemistry and biological development plays a key role in this research.


Benefitting a little from loss elsewhere.

From Business Today:


Despite bad news for many Yahoo employees, there is good news for the company's East Coast data center here. Yahoo is laying off 14 percent of its workforce, amounting to about 2,000 workers who will be out of jobs. It's the sixth mass layoff in the past four years. But company officials said they will actually be adding workers to its Lockport location, according to State Sen. George D. Maziarz, who said he spoke with the company. Yahoo has not yet disclosed how many jobs might be added.


Shares at Cleveland BioLabs sank dramatically Wednesday after news hit that the company's anti-radiation sickness drug wouldn't be getting funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Share value dropped by 23.85 percent, or 57 cents, to $1.82 per share. The company said it will continue to develop its Protectan 502 drug, will look for new sources of funding and will resubmit an application to the Department of Health and Human Services agency.


GreenFields Continuing Care Community in Lancaster is proceeding with plans to add a new wing for patients with dementia and other memory problems. If the Lancaster Town Board approves site plans at its April 16 meeting, construction at the facility could begin as early as next month. In its first phase of construction, Niagara Lutheran Health System will build four, L-shaped buildings, around a central courtyard, which would hold private apartments for 12 to 15 residents, along with common kitchen areas and living rooms.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Wouldn't it be great if the Beatles had written a jingle for Greenfields? It might sound something like this:


A delay at the new Niagara Falls train station?

From Business Today:


A social justice group is calling for more minority and women hires on a Niagara Falls project supported by a $16.5 million federal grant. The Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope wants a study conducted to be sure hiring goals on the third phase of the International Railway Station and Intermodal Transportation Center reflect the demographics of Niagara Falls. The $25 million project will include a new Amtrak station.


Protectan, a drug designed for patients in the advanced stages of cancer, has started an advanced clinical trial. The drug was developed by Buffalo biotechnology company Cleveland BioLabs. The drug is meant to treat radiation sickness, but the company says it has also been successful treating cancerous tumors in animals.


Best Buy's Geek Squad has announced a change in its top brass, but that won't affect a local company that relies on the Geek Squad for a lot of its business. Installs Inc. has handled Best Buy's installation work for 15 years and recently signed another two-year contract. The company employs about 325 people in the Buffalo area.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

It sure is foggy downtown this morning:


The public debates hydrofracking, insurance rate hike documents go live and more

From Business Today:


The state's Department of Environmental Conservation held the first of eight public comment sessions on its rules for hydrofracking in New York. Much controversy surrounds the method of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region using hydraulic fracturing. More than 850 people appeared in Dansville for the chance to voice there opinion for or against hydrofracking.

Supporters believe hydrofracking would bring money and jobs into the region, while critics fear the method could pollute the finger lakes and spoil the water for future generations to come.


If you're curious about the details behind insurance companies' rate hike requests, you can now pore over the supporting documentation submitted by insurers. State regulators have posted the documents online.

It's part of an effort toward increased transparency. Past and projected financial information, assumptions and other data submitted by insurers when requesting rate hikes can now be found on the state Department of Financial Services Web site.


 The Public Policy Institute of New York State has put out a report saying New York State should rank much higher in the competition to encourage the growth of life sciences companies because of the state's size and financial strength.

Despite the state's unique abilities and potential in the field, the state still struggles to compete against other states and is losing out on opportunities to create jobs. To remedy that, the report says the state should push for more investment in life sciences firms.


In the Town of Tonawanda, members of the business community met with high school students to shed light on entrepreneurship and what it takes to be successful.

About 25 students from the Charter School for Applied Technologies met in small groups with local small business owners to chat about the perks and pitfalls of owning a business, and what is needed to do it right.The event was coordinated by the school and UB's Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in honor of Global Entrepreneurship Week.


There's more trouble for Amherst law firm Stephen J. Baum PC. First, Freddie Mac put a ban on sending any more business its way. Now, Fannie Mae is barring them, too.

Fannie Mae's newest retained attorney list notes the local firm is "not eligible for new referrals."


A bankrupt Jamestown furniture maker has filed notice with the state that it will close its manufacturing plant in February. The filing comes just two months after Crawford Furniture said it would close its retail stores to focus on manufacturing. Company representatives said it hopes the plant's closing will be temporary while the company ramps up its network of independent retailers to sell through nationally. But if its attempts at securing more national retail channels fails, the plant will close for good and 101 workers will lose their jobs.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Here's one take on health care insurance companies, courtesy of some very famous comedians:


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!


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: