Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

All abuzz over Trader Joe's

So maybe Trader Joe's, the California specialty grocer that has built an almost cult-like following, is coming to Western New York.

We don't know where - or even if Trader Joe's is coming for sure. But the good folks at the Kenmore Village Improvement Society, who have been practically begging the chain to come to Kenmore, say they have it on good authority that Trader Joe's will make its debut here sometime by the end of next year.

"We created a buzz," says Melissa Foster, the group's president, referring to its campaign to lure the chain to Kenmore.

Unfortunately for the Kenmore folks, it doesn't look like Trader Joe's has its eyes on the village, but rather other potential destinations in the Buffalo Niagara region.

But it does make sense for Trader Joe's to move into Buffalo. The chain opened its first store in the Albany suburbs in early August, with a line of several hundred shoppers that, in the words of the Albany Business Review, "snaked from the front door, around the parking lot and to the main entrance at 79 Wolf Road."

I can't say I've ever been excited enough about grocery shopping to wait in line to do it. Then again, I don't like shopping much.

Trader Joe's also set to open in the Rochester market - in the suburb of Pittsford - next month.

Buffalo will be just another stop along the way.

Of course, Trader Joe's arrival would be bad news for all of the other grocery stores in the Buffalo Niagara region, for the simple reason that any customers who shop at Trader Joe's won't be buying those same items at Tops, Wegmans, Dash's, Aldi, or Save-A-Lot.

That's not an inconsequential impact, because the Buffalo Niagara region is losing people, which means there are fewer people buying groceries here. And since grocery shopping isn't the kind of thing you drive to another city a couple hours away to do (your ice cream would melt!), all Trader Joe's would do is take its slice of the region's food-shopping dollars from the chains that already are here.

But it will keep Tops, Wegmans, Walmart and all the rest on their toes. And that's a good thing.

-David Robinson

 

 

 

Cartoonists' take on Greece woes

Greece's economic problems have been weighing heavily on a lot of minds. Let's take a look at the lighter side, courtesy of some political cartoonists.

First, Grecio Komar takes a crack at it:

Komar

Next up is Buffalo News alum Tom Toles:

TolesGreece

Here is one from our own Adam Zyglis:

Zyglis

And a personal favorite:

Greecebennett

State hanging "open for business" sign

Cuomo

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's $50 million advertising campaign to attract businesses to New York State is set to launch next week. The money will pay for ads around the country letting business owners know that New York is "open for business."

There is debate over whether that is money well spent.

The Manhattan-based agency that landed the contract to handle the campaign, BBDO, is certainly happy about the launch, as are many economic development agencies and other groups.

But not everyone is singing the project's praises.

"If Governor Cuomo really wanted to make New York "open for business," he could do it without spending a dime," writes the Suffolk County Liberal Report. "Just focus on cutting the three New York State business killers--taxes, regulations and eco insanity."

Cuomo has also vowed to pump $1 billion directly into the Buffalo economy in the form of incentives offered to companies willing to build or expand here. In his keynote address at The Buffalo News' Prospectus launch, M&T Bank CEO John R. Koelmel said the money presents the opportunity of a lifetime.

"We as a region need to get behind and help--and be part of what will be and must be a real success. We finally have a road map for sustainable success, and we just need to get after it," he said.

 What do you think? Is this influx of money a good investment in Buffalo and New York State?

Embrace our Canadian visitors.

From Business Today:

CanadianShoppers

 Retailers in Western New York know what a boon Canadian shoppers are to their bottom line, but businesses in other industries apparently don't, according to new market research. Visiting Canadians spent $933 million here last year, but just 13 percent of it was spent on sightseeing and recreation. That's an untapped audience with huge potential and spending clout. Executives from Visit Buffalo Niagara and the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. shared ideas for how local businesses could better take advantage of the opportunity at two seminars Monday.

AllisonDuwe

A public authority oversight agency has determined that, according to current laws, a company that eliminated workers here committed no job piracy. After taking 15 years of tax breaks from the ECIDA, VWR Education eliminated 41 jobs at its warehouse in the Town of Tonawanda. At the same time, it added seven jobs at its facility near Rochester, and received tax breaks from the Monroe County IDA for doing so. Politicians and activists filed a complaint, saying the company was shifting jobs around New York State at taxpayer expense, but the New York State Authorities Budget Office disagreed, according to a report resulting from its investigation.

CEOBoldt

Profits were up during the first quarter at a Buffalo-based information technology staffing and services company. Computer Task Group saw an 18.8 percent increase in profits. It reported net income of $3.36 million, or 20 cents per share, up from 42.83 million, or 17 cents per share, compared to the same period a year ago. The increase is attributed to higher revenues, especially from electronic medical records and other health care technology solutions.

Cuomo

After being ordered by state regulators to check their insurance records against federal death data, life insurance companies found that hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance policy claims have gone unpaid. More than 30,000 policies and $262.2 million in benefits went unpaid because insurers failed to check whether their policyholders had died. In New York State, 7,525 policyholders have received $95.9 million in unpaid benefits. The results came after an investigation was launched by the state Department of Financial Services. To search for a lost policy, click here.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Looks like another lovely spring day:

 

Business confidence increasing

From Business Today:

Gateway

After 18 months of major renovations, the Genesee Gateway building is officially open with its first tenants. Two investment firms that spun off from the now defunct, 80-year-old Harold C. Brown & Co. investment firm have moved in: Winthrop Financial and Pratt Collard Advisory Partners. Other tenants include the U.S. Passport Office, the Department of State and NBT Solutions. The rehabbed complex is located in a very visible spot at the corner of Genesee and Oak Streets.

CEOWilmers

M&T Bank Corp. has released its Economic Outlook Survey, in which it posits that the U.S. economic recovery may now be more sustainable. Business confidence is increasing in upstate New York, jobs have grown and there has been an increased output of goods and services, the survey concludes. Among nearly 600 companies that M&T does business with in 7 states, about one-third plan to hire more workers within the next six months.

RealEstate

Check out what real estate sold in Erie and Niagara County for the week ending Feb. 17.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

From MoneySmart:

Text

Want to send text messages for free? Learn how in today's MoneySmart cover story.

Happy Monday!

 

Buffalo needs more venture capital

From Business Today:

Hochul

Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, organized an economic action forum with several local leaders that was held at the University at Buffalo Tuesday. Elected officials, community organizers and business leaders and owners gave their thoughts on what it will take to rebuild Western New York. The region needs more venture capital, better ties among companies and colleges and locally-driven solutions, rather than plans from Albany, said Howard Zemsky, a Buffalo developer and the regional co-chairman of the Western New York Economic Development Council. 

JobSeekers

Unemployment in the Buffalo Niagara region rose to its second-highest rate in 22 years for January. The local unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent during the first month of the year. During January 2010, the unemployment rate jumped as high as 9.6 percent here. By comparison, the rate was 5.6 percent in January 2007, before the recession hit. 

Directair

One day after cancelling all its flights without notice and stranding travelers at the Niagara Falls International Airport, Direct Air has announced it will suspend all service until May 15. The company said it had to ground Monday's flights because it couldn't afford the bill to fuel up its planes. Direct Air said the two month hiatus will allow it to address "operational matters." The company is telling travelers who have booked flights before May 15 to arrange for a refund with their credit card company.

Synacor

 Synacor Inc. made a good showing during its first quarter as a publicly traded company. The Buffalo-based Internet content provider earned $7.7 million, or 34 cents per share, during the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of $369,000, or 2 cents per share, a year ago. $6.1 million of its profits came from an income tax benefit stemming from a reduction in the company‚Äôs deferred tax assets.

  CEOCropp

Independent Health has been ranked number one by J.D. Power & Associatesfor the third year. The Williamsville-based insurance company ranked highest in customer satisfaction out of 13 companies in New York and New Jersey.

 

GreatWolf

The company that owns the Great Wolf Lodge water park in Niagara Falls, Ontario has a new owner. Wall Street private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC said Tuesday it bought Great Wolf Resorts for $703 million. 

 

County ExecutiveMark Poloncarz has criticized the tax breaks doled out by local economic development agencies, and Lancaster Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli is not happy about it. At Tuesday's Lancaster IDA meeting, he accused Poloncarz of making changes to agency policies in order to reward political allies and suck up to union groups.  

CEONewman

Noco has bought three lubricant distribution warehouses in Pennsylvania from Windward Petroleum. The purchase widens Noco's lubricant distribution territory, which will now stretch from Buffalo to Vermont, and Ottawa, Ont., to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

It's Wednesday. That's halfway to Friday:

  

Battling over auto parts jobs

From Business Today:

GillibrandHoskins

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand wants the United States to get tough on China and take measure to ensure fair competition and a level playing field. Gillibrand visited Curtis Screw in Buffalo, which supplies components to the auto industry and exports to China. Gillibrand said the Chinese government is manipulating its auto parts exports to knock out U.S. competition and that systems need to be put in place to allow U.S. manufacturers to compete with Chinese manufacturers instead of the Chinese government.

Cuomo

In an effort to cut costs, Gov. Cuomo is ending a contract with a firm to represent New York's trade interests in Toronto.

The firm helps bring Canadian companies to Western New York and encourages importing and exporting between Ontario and Western New York. Cuomo said the move will not affect New York's ability to Canadian land business, but critics said it will weaken economic ties.

RandCapitalNasdaq Rand Capital Corp.'s investment value increased by 2 percent during the fourth quarter. The increase is being attributed to an increase in the value of its stake in a West Seneca maker of automatic riveting machines. The value of Rand's stake in Gemcor rose by 31 percent or $1.3 million. Rand's portfolio grew to $24.4 million, or $3.58 per share, up from $23.8 million, or $3.50 per share the previous quarter. 

Horizon

Four Western New York companies are considered among the best places to work in the state, according to a new list. The survey, put together by the New York State Society for Human Resource Management Council, awards 50 companies as contributing to economic development while having a pleasant working environment. Making the list are Horizon Health Services, Independent Health Buffalo, MBMS Inc. and Goldberg Segalla LLP.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

State pension reform approaching

From Business Today:

Cuomo

The local business community is getting behind a proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo's Tier VI pension reform aims to control state employee pension costs and save $123 billion over 30 years by limiting benefits for new hires. Andrew J. Rudnick, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and Heather C. Briccetti, president of the Business Council of New York State, came out in support of the plan Thursday, saying the reform is a good step toward getting the state into better financial shape and making the region more friendly to businesses. But not everyone is happy about it.

LakeShore

Profits slipped at Lake Shore Bancorp during the fourth quarter. The Dunkirk-based parent company of Lake Shore Savings Bank saw profits dip 34 percent. The decline is attributed to a $500,000 write-down for an investment the bank made in an unnamed payment processing startup. Profits were $587,000, or 10 cents per share, down from $895,000, or 16 cents per share,  during the same period last year.

Witkowski

Five Star Bank will eliminate its top executive position in retail banking, a position that paid $426,757 last year. The Warsaw-based Financial Institutions subsidiary attributed the move to improving the company's efficiencies. The duties filled by the former executive vice president of the bank and regional president for the bank's Western Region,John J. Witkowski, will now be doled out to other executives. Witkowski is a former NFL quarterback.

 

Cobb

Wegmans has issued a recall of hard-cooked eggs and prepared foods made with them. Eggs sourced at Minnesota-based Michael Foods were found to contain the bacteria that causes listeriosis, which can result in illness and death.

The eggs were sold hard-cooked, pickled and Kosher and also used to make prepared foods. Fresh eggs are not affected.

No illnesses have been reported associated with the recall.

 

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

 Happy Friday!

 

Car sales are up, Wilmers scolds bank regulators, Travers Collins & Co. splits, and ECIDA doles out tax breaks

From Business Today:

FordFiesta

Car sales are up in the region. Local new car sales rose 10 percent last month over August 2010. In fact, August saw the region's second-best totals of the year with sales of 4,919 for the month. Ford had the leading sales, selling 1,106 vehicles. That's up 22 percent from a year ago. Toyota's sales came in second, but were down 32 percent from last year. In third place was Nissan, with a 52 percent increase, according to data from the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association.

Wilmers

 M&T Bank chairman and CEO Robert Wilmers spoke at a regulatory symposium sponsored by American Banker Monday. In his opinion, the financial reform law goes too far in some ways but not far enough in others. Worse, it will do nothing to prevent a future financial crisis.

Wilmers said the regulations fail to reform credit-rating agencies, government mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and risky bank activity.

 WilliamCollins

 Travers Collins & Co. lost its entire investor relations team, three additional staffers and a slew of clients over the weekend when Lynn Casteel and Jeff Schoenborn left the advertising agency abruptly to set up shop on Wehrle Drive in Amherst. Casteel and Schoenborn said they decided to start their own competing investor relations firm after being "consistently rebuffed" by Travers Collins' owners when it came to business recommendations, improvement suggestions and offers to buy into the firm's ownership.

Owner William Collins criticized the way they handled the split in a letter to the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. He said they never raised concerns, moved out secretly and quietly notified clients in advance. The team owed its success to Travers Collins, he said, which gave three of the individuals their first job and gave them all the tools to succeed. There were no non-compete clauses binding, so Travers Collins has no recourse to take in regards to the lost clients, but the owners said they would rebuild the firm's investor relations business.

PeaceBridge

A study of border crossings has recommendations for improving things at our Canadian border. The study by the Binational Economic and Tourism Alliance recommends that getting better information out about border crossing status along with adding workers during the bridges' busiest times would ease congestion. Better signage to navigate the borders would help, too, as would better planning around special events, the report said.

DollarGeneral

An abandoned Pizza Hut in South Buffalo will become a Dollar General store, with help from a nearly $49,000 tax break from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. It made an exception to its "no retail" policy because the property has sat vacant for so long.

The IDA also approved $583,000 in breaks for Gemcor II, a West Seneca automatic fastening equipment maker, to build a $3.1 million addition. Sleep Inn Buffalo Airport in Cheektowaga got $38,000 in sales tax breaks for a $550,000 renovation.

JimPasnik

Perry's Ice Cream got an $800,000 low-interest loan from the Buffalo and Erie County Regional Development Council. Perry's is spending $6.4 million to increase its distribution and to begin distrubting snacks by other makers, including Little Debbie.

 

 

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

This couple didn't know their camera was on, and couldn't figure out why they couldn't get it to record:

 

Business investment is up locally, Hedge fund sells former Rite Aid for $2.56 million and Lockport construction company wins tax breaks

From Business Today:

BNECEOThomasKucharski

There has been an uptick in business activity in the area, according to the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise. The business recruitment and retention agency is claiming 14 new project "wins" for the last year. That's an increase of 55 percent over the previous year, but still lagging behind numbers posted before the recession.

For the BNE's fiscal year, ending in June, the region won $472 million in new investment. The previous year had just 9 wins, for a total of $11.8 million in new investment.

RiteAidGetzville

 A New York City Hedge Fund sold a former Rite Aid pharmacy in Getzville for $2.56 million. The seller, Frad Holdings LLC, is owned by Fortress Investment Group--one of the largest hedge funds in the world. The 2.43-acre parcel is at 2545 Millersport Highway, the site of the 10,908-square-foot drug store. It was sold to an entity called 2545 Getzville LLC.

Two publicly-traded private equity funds owned by Fortress manage $41.7 billion in assets.

 

LockportIDA

Two Lockport companies have won tax breaks from the Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency. Mulvey Construction was granted a 10-year tax abatement by the IDA for its new 14,800-square-foot building in Ulrich Business Park on Davison Road. It will start with an 80 percent tax exemption next year, which will decrease by 5 percent per year through 2021.

The company builds and furnishes fast food restaurants. The company had been recruited by Wheatfield to take a paymentin-lieu-of-taxes agreement from the Niagara County IDA.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Is it Casual Friday where you work?

 

« Older Entries