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Hotels for everyone

Back in March, the Erie County Industrial Development Agency slammed the brakes on giving tax breaks to hotel projects following the uproar sparked by its handouts for a remodeling of the Millennium Hotel in Cheektowaga.

The critics rightly questioned the economic value of doling out tax incentives for what should be the normal cost of doing business for an existing hotel - replacing furnishings, carpeting and the like.

So the IDA went back to the drawing board to revise its policy on hotel tax breaks. In July, working on its own and without consulting the five other suburban IDAs in Erie County, the Erie County IDA came up with a new proposal. That proposed policy would that would limit incentives to only hotels that are built or renovated in conjunction with a convention center, conference center or a major regional attraction. It also would permit aid to hotel projects that meet the IDA's adaptive-reuse policy, which encourages renovation of vacant buildings.

The adaptive reuse clause was a significant loophole, because it opens the door to hotels in any site that reuses an existing building that's been vacant for a few years.

But that didn't satisfy the suburban IDAs, who within the last month met with IDA officials. They wanted more flexibility, and they managed to get an extra phrase added into the policy the Erie County IDA approved on Wednesday that allowed projects that were part of a neighborhood enhancement area.

Now that's a loophole! In Amherst, much of the town's prime commercial property is part of an enhancement zone. Want to build or renovate a hotel on Sheridan Drive between Niagara Falls Boulevard and the Youngmann Expressway? You're in, because it's part of an enhancement zone.

Want to build a hotel or renovate one on the west side of Transit Road, between the Thruway and Main Street? There likely will be some tax breaks waiting for you, because it's part of an enhancement zone.

Think there's a market for another hotel along Main Street. Pick the right spot and you'll be in line for some hefty tax savings, because wide swatches of Main Street are part of an enhancement zone.

So much for the crackdown.

- David Robinson



Elmwood Avenue apartments.

From Business Today:


The Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church will convert its office space and former school into about 23 market-rate apartments. The added income would help support the struggling church, whose congregation has gotten smaller and smaller throughout the years. The church has lined up a construction loan and long-term mortgage from Evans Bank and will also use historic tax credits and invest some of the congregation's money to finance the work.


Check out what real estate sold for in Erie and Niagara counties in today's real estate listings.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


From MoneySmart:

The lessons people learned during the Great Depression stuck with many of them throughout their lives--even when times got better. The lessons from the Great Recession have been a bit more fleeting. Get a refresher course on thriftiness in today's MoneySmart from a true depression-era pro.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas out there:



Deputies called in.

From Business Today:


Seven sheriff's deputies stood sentinel at the Erie County Industrial Development Agency's board meeting Monday. The board had requested security to discourage outbursts from members of the Occupy Buffalo movement, who have attended and disrupted two previous meetings. Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said the show of force was "overkill." But the sheriff's office said it received an anonymous call saying Occupy Buffalo had planned to create a disturbance, so it sent more deputies in response to the call.


Developer Carl P. Paladino will receive tax breaks on a $5.3 million project to convert the Graystone Building into 42 apartments. The Erie County Industrial Development Agency agreed Monday to approve nearly $213,000 in sales and mortgage tax breaks for the project. Paladino has received a host of financial incentives to restore the vacant building, including including $1.2 million in historic tax credits from the state.


Compared to a year ago, profits were flat for the first quarter at M & T Bank Corp, the Buffalo-based parent of M&T Bank. Per-share earnings fell. Despite higher loan and fee revenues and lower credit costs, the purchase of Wilmington Trust Corp. resulted in higher operating expenses. The company had net income of $206 million. Per-share profits fell by 5.7 percent, to $1.50, from $1.59 a year ago.


 Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst is proposing the Workforce-Ready Educate America Act, which would give employers a $1,000 tax credit for each student placed in qualified training program. The legislation is intended to bridge the gap between unemployed graduates and companies with unfilled positions.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

 Esperanza Spalding will perform at UB tomorrow night:



Helping to find work.

From Business Today:


Two established local companies have formed a new social enterprise together in the hopes of creating jobs for people with disabilities. The Olmsted Center for Sight and the Center for Transportation Excellence have formed Creating New Taxpayers LLC. The company will recruit, train and hire individuals with disabilities, and match them with other local companies looking to outsource customer service work.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Happy Friday!


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:


Time runs out for Uniland--again

From Business Today:


A proposal meant to help out Western New York's coal-fired power plants has been left out of the state budget. The proposal would have had the New York Power Authority buy energy from the region's coal plants for three years. Critics said it propped up an outdated, dirty mode of energy, but proponents of the bill said it would provide much-needed help for the region's struggling power plants.


Computer Task Group has landed three new contracts, expanding its reach in the electronic medical records business. Two contracts are with major U.S. health systems, while the third is with one of the largest hospitals in the western United States, the company said. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.


Since the financial crisis hit, the American public has become cynical about the banking industry, to put it mildly. In his annual letter to investors, M&T Bank Corp. Chairman and CEO Robert G. Wilmers calls for the restoration of banking's integrity in order to win back public trust and the industry's good name.


Uniland Development Co. has missed a deadline to hold up its end of the bargain in a deal that landed them $490,000 in federal aid money. But the developer has been given more time to secure a tenant for its Lancaster industrial park and meet job creation requirements. The company has received a series of extensions over the years. The Eastport Commerce Center is located on the corner of Walden Avenue and Pavement Road. The grants it received came through Erie county and the Lancaster Industrial Development Agency.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

What a beautiful morning!


Biz Links: Local labor market screeches to a halt

From Business Today:


The local labor market has screeched to a stop. The Buffalo Niagara region added no jobs this November over the same month a year ago. It's the first time in 12 months we didn't see a job increase, and the worst numbers we've had in 16 months. Despite a much celebrated increase in construction jobs, most other sectors were weak. The private sector added 600 jobs over the past year.


After giving a questionable grant given to the Clarence Chamber of Commerce, the Clarence Industrial Development Agency is reviewing its grant policies. The State Authorities Budget Office mentioned the Clarence IDA in an October report, raising doubts as to whether the $10,000 grant was in line with general municipal law.


A wind farm planned in Wyoming County just got state approval. The Stony Creek Energy wind farm project, set for the Town of Orangeville, was approved by the state Public Service Commission on Thursday. The town will be host to 59 wind turbines up to 430 feet tall. It will receive $667,000 annually for 20 years from a Chicago company called Invenergy. The town will receive a total of $3.3 million over 20 years and about six jobs will be created.


 A Sanborn manufacturer just took ownership of a product it already produces. Katz Americas acquired the name, images and design rights of Paperkraft Coasters, a line of pulpboard-based beverage coasters. The acquisition will add four employees to the company's 50.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

It's Friday, people!


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:


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!