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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:



Scams and consumer help.

From Business Today:


Attorney General Eric T.Schneiderman has warned consumers of two scams that are making the rounds and victimizing people via the Internet and telephone. One scam has criminals impersonating bank or government officials claiming to offer mortgage settlement assistance as a way to gain access to personal or financial information. The other scam involves consumers lured into making deposits on fake rental properties advertised on Craigslist.


Want to see the reasons your property and casualty insurer gave for increasing your premium? You'll be able to find out online, thanks to the actions of the state Department of Financial Services.  The state insurance regulators are posting documents online submitted by insurance companies to support rate increases, introduce new products or change existing offerings. You can find them here. The Department of Financial Services did the same thing last fall with health insurance.


In observation of Financial Literacy Month, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo is hosting four free financial seminars at its office in West Seneca, 40 Gardenville Parkway, suite 300. They are: "Money in Motion," at 5:30 p.m. today; "Dollars and Sense," at 10 a.m. Saturday; "Credit Counts," at 6 p.m. April 19 and "Credit Reports Review Express," at 9 a.m. April 28. For more information, call 712-2060.


A career fair will be held today from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Walter J. Mahoney State Office Building, 65 Court Street. Job listings are posted here. For more information, call (888) 4-NYSDOL or visit the Department of Labor's Web site.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Here's more on that common Craigslist scam:


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?

Buffalo needs more venture capital

From Business Today:


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. 


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. 


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 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’s deferred tax assets.


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.



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.  


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:


Profits and sales are up at Tops, and more stories

From Business Today:


Tops had a "very good" third quarter. Sales and profits were up at Tops Holdings Corp., the Williamsville-based parent of Tops Markets. Inside sales were up by 1.5 percent, to $491 million.

The $7.5 million increase is attributed to a 2.1 percent increase in same-store sales. Frank Curci, Tops president and CEO, said the quarter's numbers show that acquiring 79 bankrupt Penn Traffic Stores last year was a sound strategy.



Matt Quagliano, a former employee of Hunt Real Estate, has lost his latest court battle against his former employer. The State Supreme Court dismissed a case last week that was brought by Quagliano against Hunt, alleging the local realty company tried to smear his good name.

Justice John A. Michalek dismissed the case as without merit. A separate court hearing ordered Quagliano to reimburse Hunt for unpaid advertising and attorney fees. At one time, Quagliano was one of Hunt's most visible realtors.


Steven J. Baum PC has made layoffs at the foreclosure law firm official by filing a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with the state labor department. A total of 90 employees are scheduled for layoff Feb. 20, 67 of them in Amherst, according to the WARN notice. There is still no word on what will happen to some 600 employees at Pillar Processing, a company that exists solely to process paperwork from the Baum firm.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

What are you doing to prepare for Black Friday?


Unemployment rises slightly, insurance rate hikes OK'ed and more

From Business Today:


Your health insurance rates are probably about to go up. The state Department of Financial Services approved almost all the requests it received from insurers to increase rates.

Rates at Western New York's three major health insurance companies will soar as much as 15 percent or more.


Buffalo Niagara's unemployment rate was up slightly in September from the previous month, but still the lowest unemployment rate for any September since 2008.

The region's 7.3 percent rate is much better than the previous year's 7.9 percent rate for the same month.


Profits are up at Northwest Bancshares. The Pennsylvania company reported profits of $16.7 million, or 17 cents per share, up from $15.5 million, or 14 cents per share, a year ago.

The parent of Northwest Savings Bank said net income rose 7.7 percent.



The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has hit Wegmans with more than $195,000 worth of fines. The grocer's corporate bakery and distribution center is accused of repeatedly violating safety rules concerning cutting off all electricity to machines before workers maintain them. The repeat nature of four of those violations makes up $140,000 of the penalties. Workers were observed doing things like reaching into live machinery to fix jams--putting themselves at risk for serious injury, OSHA said.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Need a quick vacation?


'This is not a strong recovery ...'

   Big story in Business Today: Buffalo is still not a good place to find a job.

Region once more loses jobs - David Robinson/The Buffalo News
   The Buffalo Niagara region lost jobs for the third straight month during September in the latest sign that the economic recovery continues to sputter.
   While the overall job count was down, most of the loss resulted from a steep drop in seasonal summer jobs through local government -- a sector that had been pumped up last year through summer youth job Ineedajob programs funded under the federal stimulus program.
   Private-sector hiring, meanwhile, increased, with jobs through private firms rising by 0.8 percent over the last year. But most of that growth came from increases in the low-paying and often seasonal retail and leisure-hospitality sectors.
   As a result, John Slenker, the state Labor Department's regional economist in Buffalo, said Thursday that the latest job numbers show that the local employment market is stabilizing, but not recovering from the recession in a vigorous fashion.
   "The recession has not ended in the labor market yet," Slenker said. "This is not a strong recovery."

   Elseweb, the numbers are all over the lot:
New Jersey's Unemployment Rate Declines to 9.4% as People Leave Workforce - Reuters
Jobless rate falls to 8.4% in Bay State - Boston Globe
- RI unemployment to 11.5%, lowest since July 2009 - Boston Globe
- TN jobless numbers don't tell whole story - The [Nashville] Tennessean
- S.C. unemployment falls to 11% - The State [Columbia, S.C.]
State loses high-wage jobs - St. Paul [Minn.] Pioneer-Press
Utah unemployment rate rises to 7.5 percent - Salt Lake Tribune
Wisconsin loses 9,900 private-sector jobs - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
- Illinois unemployment rate falls to 9.9 percent - Chicago Sun-Times
- Ky. jobless rate up to 10.1% - Lexington Herald-Leader

  And here's a business that's growing, right close to home. [It's also one of the hardest stories for a reporter to write. Hope you spelled everyone's name right, Dave.]
With new press, News expands repertoire for printing - David Robinson/The Buffalo News

   How to get a job. First, you have to have your own hat:


 -- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Acquiring? Maybe. Hiring? Some. Broke? Not so much.

   On Sunday, The Buffalo News Business Today carried more of that not-awful news that qualifies as a fiscal upturn:

- Companies go slow on acquisitions - David Robinson/The Buffalo News
   Brian J. Lipke, Gibraltar Industries’ CEO, is itching to get back into the acquisition game.
   So is Timothy T. Tevens, the top executive at Columbus McKinnon Corp. David Rogers, the chief financial officer at Sovran Self Storage, says he’s ready to stick his toe in the acquisition pool, too.
   David Nasca, the Evans Bancorp CEO who wants to increase his bank’s asset base by at least 50 percent over the next three to five years, sees acquisitions as a way to expand Evans Bank’s market and give it the size it needs.
   Each of those executives say their companies have plenty of funds to make deals, between the horde of cash they’ve accumulated while they hunkered down during the recession and banking arrangements that give them the ability to borrow even more.
   But for all the talk, and all the interest in acquisitions, none of the executives is ready to dive in and start making deals.
Southwest Airlines to buy AirTran for $1.4B - AP/Buffalo News 
- IBM likely to continue snapping up Mass. tech firms - The Boston Globe
- Unilever Aims for Big Hair Day With Alberto Buy - Reuters/ABC

-  'Tis the season to look for temporary holiday work - George Pyle/The Buffalo News
   Early October is when people seeking temporary jobs during the holiday season -- and the retailers, shipping companies and others who hire them -- start making their lists and checking them twice.Target
   Experts who monitor the situation nationally expect holiday hiring in the next month or so to be up over the same period last year, which was up sharply over the recession-burdened 2008 shopping season. Though forecasts from both the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas and the consulting firm the Hay Group note that retailers might start their hiring slowly, picking up some workers in mid-October but waiting until late November or even into December before making final decisions on how many added hands they will need to handle holiday traffic.
- Hopes rise for growth in holiday hiring - The Sacramento Bee
- Retailers expected to hire up to 650,000 seasonal workers this year - The Plain Dealer, Cleveland
Holiday Job Outlook Stays Flat  - The Wall Street Journal  

- Bankruptcies fall in region, in contrast to national trend - Jonathan D. Epstein/The Buffalo News
   Personal and business bankruptcies declined in Western New York for another month in August from a year earlier, a possible sign of improving economic conditions for both consumers and companies.
   There were 465 bankruptcy cases filed in the Buffalo division and 284 in the Rochester division in August, according to statistics from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York, which covers both cities. That’s down 15.5 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, from a year earlier.
   Similarly, for the year to date, total filings in Buffalo and Rochester are down 6.5 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively, with 3,958 new cases in Buffalo and 2,195 in Rochester.
   “It’s something I’ve noticed for some time,” said Bankruptcy Court Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki. “While the rest of the nation is showing rapid increases in bankruptcy filings, our filings are at worst stable if not slightly down, and we’ve observed that for some time.”
- Bankruptcy Filings Fell Last Month - Wall Street Journal 
- U.S. Consumer Bankruptcies to Reach 1.6 Million, Institute Says - Bloomberg BusinessWeek

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Unemployment down [sort of]. Power rates up [definitely].

   Mathophobes beware. Business Today is all about numbers:

- Local jobless rate dips to 7.6% as job losses continue - David Robinson/The Buffalo News
   The unemployment rate in the Buffalo Niagara region dipped to 7.6 percent in August as students started to head back to school, masking continued weakness in a job market that has lost 900 jobs over the last Help_wanted year.
   The second straight month of job losses, following a brief uptick during May and June, indicates that the sputtering economy continues to limit hiring by local companies, keeping the unemployment at its second-highest level since the mid-1980s.
   Overall, the region lost 900 jobs over the last year -- a 0.2 percent decline that matched the drop statewide, according to statistics released today by the state Labor Department. The Buffalo Niagara region has lost jobs for 18 of the last 20 months, dating back to December 2008.
- Hundreds from area plan to attend D. C. rally on jobs and the economy - Matt Glynn/The Buffalo News
   At least 1,500 people from area labor unions, churches and social-justice groups plan to attend an Oct. 2 rally in Washington, D.C., focusing on jobs and the economy.
   The “One Nation Working Together” rally is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the Lincoln Memorial, just weeks before Election Day.
   The coalition’s agenda includes calling for one million new jobs, extended unemployment support, paid sick days and family leave for all workers, said Frank Mesiah, president of the NAACP’s Buffalo chapter.

- Ohio's jobless rate drops to 10.1 percent - Toledo Blade
- Pa. unemployment rate drops - Philadelphia Business Journal
- Alabama unemployment rate slips below national average in August - Montgomery Advertiser
- Arizona unemployment rate rises in August - Arizona Republic
- Kentucky unemployment rate back up to 10 percent - Louisville Courier-Journal
- Mass. jobless rate falls to 8.8% - Boston Globe
- State jobless rate back up to 10 percent - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Tennessee jobless rate dips in August - Knoxville News-Sentinel   

- NYSEG raising rates 11% over three years - David Robinson/The Buffalo News
   New York State Electric & Gas will increase its delivery charges by 11 percent over the next three years for its electricity customers under a settlement approved today by the state Public Service Commission.
   The new rate plan, which will take effect on Sept. 25 and run through the end of 2013, will increase delivery charges by less than half of the amount NYSEG originally requested when it applied for its first rate increase since 1993.
   NYSEG's electric customers, which include about 175,000 customers in suburban and rural portions of Western New York, will see their delivery charges rise by 2.5 percent later this month, followed by a 4.2 percent increase next year and a 4.3 percent jump in 2012.

   Going out with a song for the weekend:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Superstore opens. Probe launched. Taxes broken.

   What's new in Business Today:

- Lancaster Walmart store to open - Samantha Maziarz Christmann/The Buffalo News
 Nearly 11 years after it was proposed, the Lancaster Walmart Supercenter on Transit Road will open Lancasterwalmart Wednesday.
   The 115,000-square-foot store contains less than half of the 300,000 square feet that the big box retailer originally planned. That is just one of many changes resulting from the battle waged by a group of Lancaster residents determined to stop the world’s largest retailer from building on a former woodland. ...
   The Lancaster store is the 12th Walmart in Western New York. The company has stores in Cheektowaga, Amherst and Lockport plus supercenters in Hamburg, Clarence, Niagara Falls, Springville, Batavia, Geneseo, Albion and Fredonia.
   Stores are planned in Lockport and Amherst next year, while locations in North Tonawanda and Orchard Park, as well as Seneca Street on the Buffalo-West Seneca border, also are in the works.

- Delphi pension dispute due for federal probe - Jerry Zremski/The Buffalo News
   Government investigators will look into whether political considerations prompted the Obama administration to give one-time union employees of Delphi Corp. pension benefits that were denied to the company’s non-union employees, Rep. Chris Lee announced Monday.
   Neil M. Barofsky, the inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, told the Clarence Republican in a letter last week that he will begin the investigation in conjunction with the Government Accountability Office. Lee had requested the investigation in an earlier letter to Barofsky.
   Barofsky said he would investigate whether anyone from the administration’s Automotive Task Force, or anyone else from the administration, pressured General Motors’ new management to give special favor to union pensions at Delphi, a one-time GM subsidiary.

- IDA approves tax breaks for phase of renovations at Hyatt Regency - David Robinson/The Buffalo News
   The ongoing face-lift for the Hyatt Regency Buffalo is getting $203,000 in tax breaks through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.
   The IDA board of directors Monday approved a sales tax break for the $2.3 million project to install a new heating and air-conditioning system in the 396-room hotel. The project, part of a three-phase upgrade that will cost a total of $15 million, also will add a new salon and spa and a Starbucks kiosk to the hotel, along with renovations to its existing swimming pool. ...
   The IDA also granted $65,000 in sales and mortgage tax breaks to an entity controlled by Buffalo developer Christopher Jacobs that plans a $1.36 million project to renovate a vacant and decaying building at 678 Main St.
   Jacobs, who purchased the building for $310,000 early last year, plans to renovate the building into a mixed-use facility with offices and apartments. Most of the first floor will be occupied by the Daily Post, a company that produces high-end editorial and motion graphics for broadcast and media news sources.
   The entire second floor will be occupied by 3rd Learning Systems, a company with about 20 employees that does educational software design work.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

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