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Jobs, meats and bank boards.

From Business Today:


The employment rate in the Buffalo Niagara region is still growing, but not nearly as quickly as it was during the summer, according to numbers from the Labor Department Thursday. About 1,800 jobs were in October compared to the same month in 2010, resulting in a 0.3 percent annual increase. It's the slowest growth rate since January. The drop is attributed to cutbacks at local restaurants and health care providers.


Battistoni Italian Specialty Meats opened its factory doors Thursday to show how it makes more than 40 kinds of Italian dried sausage products. Owner Eric and Rebecca Naber were on hand to share details of the step-by-step process. They bought the 80-year-old Dingens Street factory from Rich Products in 2010. It was founded by Umberto Battistoni in 1931.



William G. Gisel Jr., the president and CEO of Rich Products, has been elected to the board of KeyCorp. Gisel will give the Cleveland-based bank's board representation from Western New york. KeyCorp does business in the northern part of the country spanning from Maine to Alaska.



 The Clarence Industrial Development Agency met Thursday. It approved an $8,750 sales tax savings for a restaurant called Yolo at 5841 Transit Road in Clarence Center. The agency also said it will work with the Erie County Industrial Development Agency on a project at Perry's Ice Cream in Akron, in which the company will add refrigerated space to its warehouse on Main Street in Clarence along with other upgrades at its Akron headquarters. Perry's may receive a $43,750 savings on sales taxes related to the purchase of machinery and equipment, and both agencies would split the bill.


An industrial building at 11035 Walden Avenue that has been vacant for three years has been sold.

Owners of the defunct Elrae Industries sold the 75,000-square-foot facility to 11035 Walden Ave LLC for $1.25 million. The new owners will lease building to a bridge design firm and a construction company. R.J. Watson and National Bridge Co. are engaged in a joint venture related to bridge-building.



A Main Street business incubator has leased space to a dozen firms. The Main Washington Exchange at 523 Main Street has space for private businesses as well as "coworking" space that can be shared by professionals who do not have office space.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


Thank God it's Friday:


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!


Free healthcare for Seneca employees and other news

Free healthcare for Seneca employees, Travers Collins sues defectors, WNY regional council will release plan, Quad/Graphics closes 2 plants and Ecology firm wins $21.5 million contract ...

From Business Today:


A new medical office at the Seneca Office Building will provide free health care to employees of Seneca Gaming Corp.

Whether employeescarry health insurance or not, they can use the on-site office, which is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in order to serve the shift workers' odd schedules. The center will address illnesses and injuries but also focus on preventative care through the use of health coaches.



Travers Collins is suing its former investor relations team about a month after five employees packed up their offices in the middle of the night and set up shop as Casteel Schoenborn in Amherst. Travers Collins is suing the company as well as the five former employees, accusing them of "disloyalty and theft."



The Western New York Development Council will release its strategic plan at a forum Tuesday.  The forum will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Drama Theater at the Center for the Arts on the University at Buffalo's North Campus. The session will also be webcastto Jamestown, Olean, Sanborn and Alfred.


Quad/Graphics of Wisconsin will close two plants in Richmond, Va., and Stillwater, Okla., eliminating 365 jobs. The company is also closing a printing plant in Depew.




Ecology & Environment in Lancaster has won a $21.5 million contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The environmental services firm will provide architect and engineer services for hazardous, toxic and radioactive waste cleanup programs.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Something to make you giggle on a gloomy day:


Home heating prices could fall, Insurers may have to reveal how they price premiums, Olin may add 11 jobs, Locals sue against "corporate welfare," Groups call for economic development subsidy reform and two NT projects seek PILOTS from Niagara IDA

From Business Today:


National Fuel says local home heating bills could fall in price this winter.  The average heating bill is expected to be about $10 cheaper this year than last, and about $400 cheaper than it was from 2005 to 2006.

Natural gas commodity prices are at about the same level they were a year ago, when costs were the lowest in nine years and about $200 less than the previous 11 winters.


 Health insurers may soon be required to release all documents concerning rate price hikes, showing how insurers price premiums. The State Department of Financial Services, much to the dismay of insurers, plans to make the data public by late November.


A Niagara Falls manufacturer is planning a $20 million investment it said could lead to 11 new jobs. Olin Corp. plans to build four new buildings and add 11 skilled jobs with salaries from $75,000 to $80,000 per year. The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency will hold a hearing Oct. 24 on a related 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program.

The Virginia-based company said it will doubly ramp up bleach production, which it already tripled in 2008 with a $6.5 million investment. It makes chlorine, caustic soda, hydrochloric acid and bleach.


A lawsuit filed to stop the state from giving taxpayer money to private companies for use in economic development was heard in the state's highest court Wednesday.

Filed by Niagara Falls financial planner Lee Bordeleau and 49 other anti-tax activists, the suit said so-called "corporate welfare" violates the state's constitution.


Also Wednesday, activist groups gathered in Niagara Falls to call for reforms in economic development spending. The Partnership for the Public Good, along with the Coalition for Economic Justice, the WNY Area Labor Federation and the Niagara-Orleans labor Council outlined a litany of what it called flaws in the way IDAs and the New York Power Authority dole out taxpayer funds "in the name of economic development. The groups released a report analyzing the main problems and offering solutions.


The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency heard plans for two projects in North Tonawanda Wednesday. Taylor Devices, which makes industrial-strength shock absorbers, is planning to purchase and renovate three buildings on Ironton Street next to the former Roblin Steel site on Oliver Street. The company is seeking a 15-year PILOT arrangement for the $2.7 million project, which it says will create 20 jobs next year, along with another 10 in 2013.

A Wheatfield couple planning to turn a three-story brick building on Webster Street into a boutique hotel and restaurant is seeking a 10-year PILOT agreement. The $4.5 million project will result in the Gateway Harbor Inn, in the former Teddy Bear Carpets building across from the Riviera Theatre. A public hearing is set for Oct. 21 in the NT Public Library on Meadow Drive starting at 3 p.m.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

So, is it going to rain or not?


HSBC restarts foreclosure actions, Unifrax will move, Tim Hortons to open in Alden and Astronics strikes deal with Cessna

From Business Today:


Eleven months after suspending home foreclosures and seizures, HSBC Bank USA and HSBC Finance Corp. have restarted some foreclosure operations. The bank stopped processing mortgage foreclosures in New York State and some other markets after controversy arose in the industry about how foreclosure paperwork was being handled.

HSBC said it is ramping foreclosures back up in places it believes have resolved any paperwork issues and has the proper procedures in place, but said home seizure will still be an action of last resort.


 Unifrax is moving from Niagara Falls to the Town of Tonawanda. Unifrax will move to the Riverview Solar Technology Park near the south Grand Island bridges, developed by TM Montante Development, which will also buy Unifrax's current facility in Niagara Falls near the Whirlpool Bridge.

Unifrax will make the move during the first quarter of 2012, bringing 96 jobs and adding 15 later. The maker of high-temperature insulation products will benefit from discounted solar energy produced at the business park, under a program through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.



 Three real estate deals of note include Tim Hortons' purchase of a site on Broadway in Alden, the sale of a light manufacturing facility on Ridge Road in Lackawanna for $180,000 and the purchase of a garden-style apartment building at 769 Columbus Parkway for $130,000.


Astronics has struck a deal with Cessna Aircraft Co. The East Aurora company makes aircraft cabin electronics and lighting equipment, and will provide lighted instrument panels and exterior lighting systems for three Cessna airplane models.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Need some inspiration on this fine Tuesday? This ought to do it...sort of:



Crawford Furniture closes all stores, local bankruptcy filings drop, Oxbo acquired by Dutch company, Rigases ask for overturned sentences and NYSEG will pay for old fridges

From Business Today:

 Crawford Furniture will close all five of its retail outlets as part of its strategy to emerge from bankruptcy a stronger company. One of Jamestown's last remaining hardwood furniture makers, Crawford has struggled with flagging retail sales and was forced to close its production facility in August, laying off 100 workers.Crawford

In an attempt to turn things around, Crawford will return to its original strategy of making furniture for sale through independent furniture dealers throughout the country. Customers who have already made deposits on furniture will have their orders filled within one month, Crawford reps said, or can pick new merchandise off the showroom floor during going-out-of-business sales that start today.

Some customers have been waiting months for orders that were not filled. In accordance with U.S. Bankruptcy Court, customers will not receive monetary refunds totaling more than $2,600.


Bankruptcy filings are down locally. New bankruptcy filings in Western New York dropped 14.7 percent in September from the previous year. It's the lowest level in at least a decade. Bankruptcies fell by 17 percent nationally.

For 2011, filings are down 19.5 percent locally. There were a total of 603 filings in September, including 421 cases in Buffalo (a drop of 6 percent) and 182 in Rochester (a drop of 29.7 percent).


A local agricultural equipment manufacturer has been acquired by a Dutch company.

Oxbow International, a 120-employee company in Byron, has been acquired by Ploeger Agro, which makes specialty harvesting equipment. All three of the companies sites will remain open and employees will not be affected, company officials said. The merger is expected to help the company better compete in emerging global markets.


John Rigas and his son Timothy, the Adelphia Communications Corp. executives who are doing time for securities fraud, claim prosecutors withheld key evidence that would exonerate them. They are asking for their convictions and sentences to be overturned.


NYSEG is asking its customers to turn in old refrigerators and freezers for recycling. In attempt to get inefficient units off the grid, it is offering to pick up and recycle the old appliances, paying customers $30to do so. Customers will also receive six compact fluorescent lightbulbs as a thank-you.

 Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Steve Jobs is dead at 56.


EPIC senior drug coverage will be limited and Gemcor improves service to China

From Business Today:


Low- and moderate-income Seniors in New York State will be noticing changes in their prescription drug coverage beginning Jan. 1. The state is making changes to its Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program in response to the budget crisis. The EPIC program will now only pay for Medicare Part D co-payments that are charged after a recipient's coverage limit has been exhausted but before the catastrophic coverage kicks in.


A West Seneca manufacturer is taking steps to improve its sales to China. Aircraft fastening systems maker Gemcor has formed a joint venture with AVIC Beijing Aeronautical Manufacturing Technology Research Institute to provide technical service to Chinese customers and provide spare parts and routine maintenance.


 Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Amazon unveiled Kindle Fire Wednesday, the company's response to the Apple iPad:


Buffalo Place concerts a success, UAW hears contract details and Travers Collins expands

From Business Today:


Buffalo Place's summer concert series at the Buffalo waterfront brought in $1.5 million.

That's up 35 percent over what was expected and $405,101 more than its own projections. The success was attributed to its move from Lafayette Square to the Central Wharf and the summer's great weather, as compared to last year's rainy season.


The United Auto Workers Local 774 will meet Monday about an upcoming contract vote. Members will hear the details of a tentative contract the UAW reached with General Motors before they are scheduled to vote on it next week.

GM's Tonawanda plant, which employs 800 workers, is getting a boost from the addition of two new engine lines. The four-year pact would add or keep 6,400 jobs in the U.S. and offer buyouts to longtime workers. Most workers won't get annual pay raises, but will get at least $12,500 in bonuses, profit sharing and other payments over the life of the contract.


 Travers Collins has opened a new office in Rochester. The advertising and public relations firm has parterned with Rochester-based PR veteran Mike McDougall to open McDougall Travers Collins. Collins said he had been wanting to break into the Rochester market for 10 years. He hopes McDougall's local and global contacts will bring new clients from Rochester and around the world.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Today is the first day of fall. Let's celebrate with the Kinks:


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!


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