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Reaching young engineers.

From Business Today:


Ford Motor Co. uses virtual reality technology to test automobile design years before the protoypes are ever even made. Company representatives brought that technology to Erie Community College Tuesday to give about 50 automotive technology students a taste of how it works. Students got to virtually test out a 2013 Ford Fusion, the makers of which relied heavily on the virtual technology when designing it.


API Heat Transfer has gotten its fourth new owner since 2002. Wellspring Capital Management, a New York City private equity firm, acquired the business from another private equity firm, Industrial Growth Partners in San Francisco, Calif. The company employs 178 workers at its Arcade plant and has plants in Germany and China. The Cheektowaga-based company makes industrial heat exchangers.



Penora's Pizza, a Depew pizzeria, and Bella Vista Group, the owner of an office and warehouse facility at Transit Road and Genesee Street, came seeking tax breaks from the Lancaster Industrial Development Agency Tuesday. But with IDAs under increased scrutiny for giving aid to projects of questionable value to economic development, those requests were tabled for further review.


First Niagara Financial Group board member and co-director Carl A. Florio has stepped down from the bank board's audit committee. Florio's decision to leave came after Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass, Lewis & Co recommended shareholders vote against re-electing him, questioning his independence from management. The two independent proxy advisory firms did not consider Florio an "independent director" by their standards.


A 127-year-old Jamestown company is nearing its final end. Crawford Furniture, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August and ran going-out-of-business sales at its retail locations, has been granted approval by the bankruptcy court to liquidate its remaining assets, including its property and equipment. The hardwood furniture maker's assets will be up for sale through April 19. Whatever is left will go to auction April 21.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Here's a closer look at Ford's virtual reality technology:


Solar Liberty extends reach.

From Business Today:


College students looking for off-campus housing are warned to read leases carefully and not succumb to high-pressure sales tactics. One UB student's experience with a misleading salesman is indicative of a larger problem around campuses in Western New York and across the nation, experts said. Critics said housing students is such a lucrative business that some for-profit companies take advantage of inexperienced teenagers.


Solar Liberty was recently named the largest solar power installation company in New York State for 2011, based on its number of systems installed and kilowatt capacity. But the thriving business was actually created out of the owners' desire to bring power to developing nations. The business allows its owners to donate equipment and funds to the Solar Liberty Foundation, a nonprofit serving developing countries.


Benjamin Lawsky is the first superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, tasked with regulating banking and insurance. Business reporter Jonathan D. Epstein was able to sit down with him and ask some pressing questions about his new role in Sunday's BizTalk Q&A.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

From MoneySmart:


Prepaid debit cards are the single fastest-growing non-cash method of payment. But many of them come with so much fine print, even the savviest customers may have a hard time figuring out what the real costs are to use them. In a recent story, Consumer Reports magazine warns of hidden fees that can nickel and dime a user to death.

Happy Dyngus Day!


Jobs and great supermarkets.

UnemploymentFrom Business Today:


Unemployment levels in the Buffalo Niagara region are at their second-highest since the 1980s. The local unemployment rate remained at 9.1 percent for February. That rate is actually higher than it was last year during that month, when it registered at 8.8 percent. Our local unemployment rate is lower than the state's 9.2 percent rate, but higher than the national rate of 8.7 percent.



Wegmans and Tops have both landed on a Consumer Reports list of rankings compiled through an extensive study of shopper satisfaction. Wegmans topped the list, with the highest overall shopper satisfaction reading of all 52 stores included in the survey, while Tops landed six spots from the bottom. Despite its poor showing, Tops didn't receive any poor ratings, and even received a good rating for cleanliness.

Republic Steel's Lackawanna bar mill is set to benefit from the ratification of a new labor contract and an investment in the company's Ohio plant. The labor contract, which affects 262 workers in Lackawanna, includes lump-sum cash payments, wage increases and a continuation of fully paid health care coverage. An investment in a new furnace at the company's Ohio plant means more work will be shifted here.


Christopher C. Booth will succeed David Klein as CEO of Lifetime Healthcare Companies, the parent of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield in Rochester and Univera Healthcare in Buffalo. Booth has been president of the Excellus health plan division since March 2011. He was named executive vice president and chief operating officer of the entire company in January 2010. He joined the company in 2004 as chief administrative officer and general counsel, and was promoted to executive vice president for commercial markets and health care affairs in January 2009.

 Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Making it in Buffalo

From Business Today:


Gary Hydock is taking another shot at the radiant heat business. He has acquired an East Side building, on Northampton Street near Genesee Street, and brought in some investors. Modular Radiant Technologies will market the panels to businesses, which Hydock believes are ready to drastically cut their heating costs. Hydock bet on radiant heat in the past with GCS Radiant, but that company folded in 2009 when customers began cutting back home-improvement spending.


A vacant former food plant in Wilson has a new owner. The former Pfeiffer Foods plant on Lake Street has been sold to Lawta Properties LLC for $419,000. Lawta owns and leases several parcels in Wilson, on most of which it grows corn. It did not respond for comment as to what the new site would be used for. Pfeiffer Foods was Wilson's largest private employer, employing 150 people to make salad dressing. Those jobs were consolidated to another facility in 2009 and the building has sat empty for three years. 


Businesses in Cheektowaga may be eligible for a low-rate loan from the Cheektowaga Economic Development Corp. The agency is offering five-year loans with a 0.5 percent interest rate to manufacturing, warehousing and wholesale distribution companies in the town to help them create jobs. Retail and service trade companies might also be considered. According to the job creation requirements, at least half of the jobs must go to workers who currently have low to moderate incomes. For more information, call 897-7200, Ext. 6, or visit 

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

The weather forecast calls for a high of 57 degrees and mostly sun:


Sports conference skips Buffalo

From Business Today:


Buffalo had been on a roll booking amateur sporting events, landing several of them over the past few years. But it just lost its bid for the National Association of Sports Commissions conference. Buffalo had been a finalist to host the conference, but the event's organizers said the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center was not up to snuff and that it didn't want to subject its attendees to the many vacant store fronts on Main Street. Snagging the event would have meant more than $1 million in economic impact.


 A vacant Depew printing plant has been given a reduced assessment. The 850,000-square-foot former Quad/Graphics property on George Urban Boulevard has had its assessed value cut from $5.6 million to $4.3 million. The Wisconsin-based Quad Graphics bought the plant in 2010 before shutting it down in 2011. It's now up for sale.


Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand has sent a letter to the Commerce Department asking it to deny three pending Foreign-Trade Zone manufacturing subzone applications that would give an unfair advantage to metal imports from China and Russia. If the applications are approved, it would make survival difficult for Globe Specialty Metals, a company in Niagara Falls that employs 100 people, she said.


Western New York will have its first LongHorn Steakhouse within the next year. The steakhouse chain just inked a deal to build its first local restaurant at Orchard Park's Quaker Crossing plaza. The Orlando-based company will tear down a former Montana's Cookhouse and construct a new 6,000-square-foot building.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

 Today is the first day of March. It seems to have come in like a lamb:


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?


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!


Biz Links: Three WNY companies expanding

From Business Today:


A Lancaster manufacturing company will expand with help from tax breaks. WNR Pattern and Tool will nearly double its workforce and its footprint on Pavement Road near Broadway. The Lancaster Industrial Development Agency has approved $84,000 in tax breaks for the $102,000 project. The IDA estimated the project's impact at $1.5 million.


Greatbatch Inc. has acquired an Oregon company for $60 million. Greatbatch bought battery maker Micro Power Electronics. The acquisition will roughly double Greatbatch's presence in the commercial battery market.


A Hamburg maker of industrial, temporary lighting has acquired a Pennsylvania company for $500,000. K&H Industries has acquired Sunlite Safety Products, which makes a rechargeable LED lantern. K&H, which employs 35 to 40 people, hopes they will be able to add jobs as a result of the acquisition.


Noco Energy Corp. has unveiled its new, greener gas station across from the airport. The company tore down a smaller Noco Express store and built a larger one using green methods that will help conserve energy. The gas station boasts infrastructure for electric car charging stations which can be added in the future. The store also has a flight check-in kiosk for travelers and a real-time flight arrival and departure screen.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


Biz Links: Gaymar Industries closing

From Business Today:

Western New York is one of the four big winners across the state in the competition for state money. The local council headed by Howard Zemsky and UB Presdient Satish K. Tripathi put together a presentation that brought home $100 million for local projects. Well done!  

A local medical device maker is closing down its operations here, putting Silicon local Silicon  scull160 people out of work. Gaymar Industries will close its Orchard Park and West Seneca facilities by the end of next year. The company was acquired by Michigan-basedStryker Corp. last year for $150 million. The work being done in Western New York will be transferred in phases toStryker facilities, where local equipment will also be relocated.


First Niagara Financial Group's fundraising efforts have been successful so far. The investment banks underwriting the common stock sale exercised the full option to to buy 3.97 million more shares to Koelmelmeet investor demand for more stock. The sale of common stock is expected to net $467.5 million in proceeds, after underwriting discounts, commissions

and costs.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

 Here comes the snow:


Biz Links: Wilmers and Brady, two business titans

From Business Today:


Robert G. Wilmers, chairman and CEO of M&T Bank Corp., has been named Banker of the Year by the editors of American Banker. The New York City-based top financial services trade paper said he represents the "best in banking," citing M&T's consistent high performance and steady expansion.


Moog Inc. has a new chief executive officer. John R. Scannell, the company's COO, had been groomed for the job and stepped in to replace longtime CEO Robert T. Brady officially Thursday. The changing of the guard won't bring a "major shift in strategy or focus" to the company, the new CEO said. Scannell is an Ireland native and was named COO of the Elma-based motion-control equipment maker last year.


Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Seneca Gaming Corp.'s debt rating. Moody's said Seneca Gaming's overall operations are financially solid. But what lead to the downgrade was the Seneca Nation of Indians' decision to seek arbitration in settling a dispute it has with Albany that has halted $333 million in casino revenue payments to the state and several Western New York communities. The downgrade took Seneca from B2 to B1, which is five notches below investment grade.


 When M&T Bank Corp. acquired Delaware's Wilmington Trust Corp. last year, it appeared it acquired one of American Airlines' biggest unsecured creditors, according to papers filed in AMR Corp.'s chapter 11 bankruptcy. But M&T executives clarified that they and Wilmington Trust are trustees rather than creditors, and are therefore safe from any negative consequences in the AMR bankruptcy.

 Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Is that snow out there?


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