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Natural gas prices too low?

From Business Today:


With natural gas prices dropping near a 10-year low, National Fuel Gas Co. has decided to pull back on plans to drill in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania until prices come back up. It's the second time it has scaled back in two months. Its natural gas production is still expected to increase significantly during the next fiscal year, and scaling back on this drilling should only have a "modest" effect on production, the Amherst-based company said. Natural gas prices are down 54 percent since June, to $2.25 per 1,000 cubic feet.


The Erie County Industrial Development Agency has put a moratorium on considering hotel renovation projects for tax breaks, but that didn't keep it from approving $275,000 in breaks for a project that fell outside the moratorium. The ECIDA Monday approved sales tax breaks on a $5.5 million renovation project at Cheektowaga's Millennium Hotel. Because the hotel qualified for the breaks under the agency's current guidelines, it decided to approve the breaks rather than risk a lawsuit from the hotel.


You'll soon notice a difference in Canadian currency the next time you cross the border. The money has undergone a redesign to make it more durable and secure and to prevent counterfeiting and fraud. $100 and $50 bills have already gone into circulation, $20 bills will come out later this year, and $10 and $5 bills are due by the end of 2013.


The ECIDA board was taken to task Monday for approving the controversial tax breaks on the Millennium Hotel. Just after the approval, members of the Occupy Buffalo activist group began vocally protesting the board's actions. The board's new chairman, retired Rep. John J. LaFalce, yelled at the protesters and told them they would no longer be able to attend such meetings. Public comment isn't allowed during the ECIDA's monthly board meetings--only during public hearings.


An advertising agency with offices in Buffalo has been recognized by its industry's premier publication. Advertising Age magazine ranked Eric Mower and Associates the 5th best place to work in its 2012 rankings. Winners were chosen through a rigorous process that included surveying employers and employees.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

 It's a great day for the Moody Blues:


The seaway is open!

From Business Today:


The St. Lawrence Seaway kicked off its 54th navigation season Thursday. The Welland Canal bypasses Niagara Falls to connect Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and is an important part of the Seaway. An opening ceremony celebration was held at the canal, during which the captain of the first vessel to enter the waterway was honored with a beaver pelt top hat. The captain and his chief engineer signed the hat, which will be kept in a nearby museum, per tradition. The Seaway is expecting a 3 percent increase in the cargo that passes through this year. You can follow the ships in the seaway at this site.


In response to consumer concerns, several national grocers have taken ground beef with the so-called "pink slime" filler off store shelves. So who in Western New York is still using it, who is not and who never has? Pink slime refers to "lean finely textured beef," beef tissue that is treated with ammonia as part of the harvesting process and added to ground beef to get a leaner product at a lower cost.


Profits were down 70 percent at Ecology & Environment during the second quarter. The drop is attributed to higher administrative costs, higher indirect staffing costs and a loss on foreign exchange rates. Profits were $504,000, or 12 cents per share, from $1.8 million, or 42 cents per share, a year earlier. The company's revenues were down just 4 percent. Ecology & Environment is an environmental consulting firm in Lancaster.


The Communications Workers of America union is pressuring Verizon to extend its FiOS fiber-optic service to the City of Buffalo. Verizon has proposed a deal to purchase wireless spectrum from cable companies for $3.6 billion and cut deals with some cable companies, which has raised anti-trust concerns. The CWA wants the Senate antitrust subcommittee that is looking into the situation to put conditions on the deal that would make bringing FiOS to Buffalo possible.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Happy Friday:


From Business Today:


An elementary school teacher from Elma is campaigning to win Walmart's "Get on the Shelf" contest, for the chance to have her product invention sold on and possibly in Walmart stores. Tammy Gordon, who teaches in Clarence, designed something called the Study Flash, magnetic pockets for organizing flash cards. Winners are chosen according to the number of votes they get through Facebook and text messaging. Other entries with ties to Buffalo are Bubble's Q Sauce, Buffalo Games' Phone Frenzy party game and Buffalo Tom's Gourmet Hot Sauce.


Steven J. Baum P.C. is facing the music on charges it cut corners and committed abuses in foreclosure filings. Baum, the firm and a top executive in the company will pay $2 million in penalties, legal costs and fees to the state and $2 million toward programs offering assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure or who are victims of predatory lending practices, the attorney general said. They are also barred from representing lenders or servicers in new foreclosure-related cases for two years.


First Niagara Financial Group is just 60 days away from officially closing its purchase of HSBC Bank USA's upstate New York branches, and it's gearing up for the switch. It has begun practicing its systems transfer that will convert HSBC accounts and loans to First Niagara May 18. First Niagara sent notifications about the change to current HSBC customers a few weeks ago.


As it does every year, The Buffalo News hosted a panel of volunteer CPAs Wednesday night who took questions from readers by phone and online about their taxes. Nine volunteers from Western New York answered tax questions free for four hours. They're online answers can be read here.


Critics are protesting a State Senate budget provision authorizing the purchase of electricity generated by Western New York's coal-fired plants for three years. Environmental, energy and health groups don't think the New York Power Authority should pay "a premium for dirty coal power." Instead, it asked lawmakers to to invest in clean renewable energy.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Here's a closer look at the Study Flash:


A delay at the new Niagara Falls train station?

From Business Today:


A social justice group is calling for more minority and women hires on a Niagara Falls project supported by a $16.5 million federal grant. The Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope wants a study conducted to be sure hiring goals on the third phase of the International Railway Station and Intermodal Transportation Center reflect the demographics of Niagara Falls. The $25 million project will include a new Amtrak station.


Protectan, a drug designed for patients in the advanced stages of cancer, has started an advanced clinical trial. The drug was developed by Buffalo biotechnology company Cleveland BioLabs. The drug is meant to treat radiation sickness, but the company says it has also been successful treating cancerous tumors in animals.


Best Buy's Geek Squad has announced a change in its top brass, but that won't affect a local company that relies on the Geek Squad for a lot of its business. Installs Inc. has handled Best Buy's installation work for 15 years and recently signed another two-year contract. The company employs about 325 people in the Buffalo area.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

It sure is foggy downtown this morning:


Minimum wage debate

From Business Today:

TeresaBiersbachAlbany is proposing a raise in the minimum wage, from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour. There's some debate over whether that is a good thing.

Workers say the extra scratch would be a welcome boost as they attempt to eke out a living. But some employers are fighting the change, saying it will increase their cost of doing business.


The New York State Energy Research Development Authority rolled out its On-Bill Recovery Loan program Monday. The program allows homeowners to finance energy-efficient upgrades through NYSERDA, rolling the payments into their monthly utility bill. The amount of the monthly payment is designed to mirror the amount of savings realized by the home improvements, to keep utility bills down.



A Buffalo Internet service provider is raising its expectations and its stock price as it gets ready to take itself public next month. Synacor had originally planned to raise $75 million with it's initial public offering. But now, with profits expected to jump from $3.8 million to $4.2 million, Synacor said it expects to sell 7.8 million shares at $10 to $12 each, resulting in $94 million.



BlueCross Blue Shield of Western New York's parent company HealthNow New York is making a major change to its computer system. Within five years, HealthNow will transition away from its current Facets operating system, and move into the Core Operating System Transition (COST) will eventually be hosted at another arm of Blue Cross in South Carolina.  

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

It's only Tuesday? Really?


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:


Buffalonian takes over Ford Canada plus other stories

From Business Today:

The new CEO of Ford Motor Co.'s Canadian subsidiary is a Buffalonian. Dianne Craig was born in Buffalo and graduated from the University at Buffalo. She will be in charge of plants and operations with a direct connection to Ford's stamping plant in the Town of Hamburg. She will succeed David Mondragon, who helped make Ford the number one automaker in Canada for the first time in 50 years.


A historic two-story house on Washington Street will become a model of energy efficiency.

National Grid and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus are teaming up to outfit the home with the latest energy efficiency strategies that will later be integrated into the campus and perhaps the surrounding community. Those involved hope it will spur economic growth and introduce alternative energy and transportation.



 Buffalo AdWeek is in full swing. The series of networking and educational events is put on by the Advertising Club of Buffalo in conjunction with Buffalo Niagara Sales and Marketing Executives and Social Media Club Buffalo.

Wednesday's event hosted Aaron Keller of the design firm Capsule who talked about what makes good design.


Profits fell at the parent company of Five Star Bank. During the third quarter, profits were down 3.5 percent from a year ago. The loss was attributed to the company setting aside more money for loan losses and its incurring higher expenses for redeeming debt.

Profits were up at Community Bank, though. During the third quarter, profits rose 15.9 percent over a year ago. The Dewitt-based company operates 34 bank branches in Western New York.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Well, that's the news. Say, what ever happened to Huey Lewis and the News?


New natural gas fueling station, jobs numbers, and more...

From Business Today:


Verizon customers with 4G LTE-capable smartphones, tablets or other devices will notice faster network speeds. Verizon Wireless rolled out its 4G LTE wireless data network in the Buffalo Niagara region Thursday. Much of Erie County and a small part of Niagara County will benefit, but the company said it will expand its coverage area in the coming months.


West Seneca got a public compressed natural gas fueling station Thursday. Waste Management opened the Clean 'N Green station as part of its $15 million plan to reduce its and the region's carbon footprint. It is also planning to unveil fleet of trucks powered by natural gas. The recycling company is transitioning 80 percent of its 18,000 trucks to CNG, which will save 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel per vehicle per year. It has opened 20 public CNG stations around the country.

 CEOJohnKoelmelDuring an earnings conference call Thursday, First Niagara Financial Group CEO John Koelmel said the next two years will be a "rough ride" for banks, and that bank stocks would not rise dramatically. The Fed's pledge to keep interest rates down through 2013 will have a "dramatic impact" on the industry and has caused stocks to plunge, he said. He said the industry is in an even more precarious place than it was before the 2008 crash, and that this crisis would be "trickier."


The Buffalo Niagara region added 4,900 jobs during the 12-month period ending in September, giving the region a 0.9 percent growth rate for the period. It was a slower pace than the region has been seeing, but the 13th consecutive month of job growth and the 18th consecutive month for private sector job growth, according to the state labor department.


The Buffalo Niagara Partnership released a 12-page report, hoping to influence the state's economic development efforts. The reports findings resulted from the two-day Accelerate Upstate conference the Partnership hosted for 250 businesses in August.

The report urges a new approach to economic development, closer ties to elected officials in Canada and the more effective matching of worker skills with the needs of New York employers. It also urges the state to commit mmore funds to programs dedicated to providing money to start-up technology companies and to invest in transportation projects that would speed border crossings.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Jim Gaffigan will be at UB Saturday:


Power Drives gets grant and more

From Business Today:


A Buffalo company has received a $250,000 vote of confidence. Power Drives, a company that makes locomotive-warming equipment, received the grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to equip 11 trains in the state with the technology.

Power Drives' Powerhouse equipment allows train operators to shut locomotives down while keeping the engine warm, instead of running them continuously to prevent freezing. The equipment is said to reduce the use of diesel fuel and curb emissions.


Low-income National Fuel users will be able to get more help weatherizing their homes. The state Public Service Commission approved changes in National Fuel's Conservation Incentive Program, adding more than $800,000 to the fund for low-income weatherization efforts. The increase was made possible by a 40 percent cut in the program's advertising and "education" budgets. The National Fuel Accountability Coalition had been pushing for an increase in funding for weatherization efforts.


A Chautauqua County plant will close early next year, taking 51 jobs with it. Zurn Industries, which makes plumbing products, notified the Department of Labor it will close its Falconer plant. The Erie, Pa.-based company seems to be planning to move the local plant's work to an operation it runs in North Carolina. A newpaper there reported Zurn sought and received incentives to add about 40 jobs to the North Carolina plant.


A southtowns auto dealer is celebrating a whopper of a milestone. Conroy Motor Corp., perhaps the oldest Ford dealership in New York State, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. In 2006, Ford Motor Co. ranked it the 13th oldest Ford dealership in the country. The family-owned business started selling Fords just three years ater the Model T arrived on the scene.


Assemblyman John D. Ceretto is happy Unifrax is expanding, but furious that the company will receive a $700,000 capital grant from the Empire State Development Corp. to relocate its headquarters from Niagara Falls to the Town of Tonawanda. Ceretto sent a letter of complaint to kenneth Adams, CEO of the economic development group.

"Why is Empire State Development providing these types of incentives for the company to relocate out of the city? Why can't Unifraxbe encouraged to stay in Niagara Falls?" Ceretto wrote.

Empire State Development said that without the incentive, Unifrax would have moved to Indiana.


Wilson Farms has begun its conversion to 7-Eleven. The Texas-based convenience store chain, which bought Wilson Farms's 188 stores in June, has finished changing seven stores over to the new banner and will finish another two before the end of the year. The rest will get converted in 2012. Another 10 existing 7-Eleven stores here will also receive capital improvements by December. 



First-quarter profits at Taylor Devices in North Tonawanda more than doubled in the first quarter. Demand jumped for the equipment the company makes that protects buildings and bridges from damage during earthquakes and high winds, resulting in a $408,117 jump in profits.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Don't miss the T-NT football game tonight between North Tonawanda and Tonawanda:


TEDxBuffalo brings ideas, CUBRC wins multi-million-dollar contract, Whistleblower speaks at UB and Uniland is denied more time to create jobs for grant

From Business Today:


Buffalo held a local version of the national TED conference Tuesday. TEDxBuffalo, held at the Canisius College Montante Cultural Center, was a daylong conference where innovators shared ideas in business, education, technology and other fields. A diverse group of speakers gave presentations on "ideas worth spreading," including a dairy farmer who talked about returning to small-scale production, a beer enthusiast who thinks Buffalo can return to its great brewing past, a business owner who talked about converting plastic waste to clean alternative fuel and an organizer who created an eBay-type marketplace for ideas.


A local research institution has been tapped to develop a therapeutic drug to treat respiratory diseases caused by biodefense and antibiotic-resistant organisms. CUBRC, on Genesee Street in Cheektowaga, has won a five-year contract from the National Institutes of Health which could be worth up to $36 million.



The woman who blew the whistle on Enron's fraudulent practices spoke to students at the University at Buffalo Tuesday. Sherron Watkins said Web sites such as WikiLeaks are a key tool for whistle blowers of the future. She said having whistleblower offices at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission won't amount to much, believing regulators there will not diligently follow up on the tips they receive.


Uniland Development will have to pay back a $490,339 federal grant if it doesn't meet a job creation requirement by March. The developer is having trouble finding a tenant for its vacant industrial park in Lancaster.

Uniland offered to donate land to the town for a new police and courts building if it would get behind the company on a 12 to 24 month deadline extension, but it was turned down.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Happy Wednesday!


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