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Western New York, July 2002

Business Expansions

New this Month

The Connection (Chautauqua County) a Minnesota-based customer service company will open a call center in the former Ames department store in Jamestown and create 400 jobs. This will be the 21-year-old company’s first Northeast location. The round-the-clock office will open as early as November and is expected to create 300 full-time and 100 part-time jobs within five years. The Connection runs inbound call centers, taking customer service calls out-sourced by banks, cable companies, cell phone companies, pubic utilities, catalog retailers and e-commerce sites.

UPDATE: Casinos (Erie and Niagara Counties), Seneca Nation leaders acted Tuesday, June 25, to get a temporary casino operating in downtown Niagara Falls by the end of the year. The Seneca’s also intend to start buying land within the next few weeks in the downtown area and still hope to open a temporary gambling casino there by the end of this year. The state plans to invest $12 million to acquire Falls Street Faire downtown and renovate it as a transitional convention center, banking that there will turn out to be an Indian casino in the current convention center. The agreement between the State and the Seneca’s has not yet been signed because of labor issues.

U.S. Sugar Co. (Niagara County), a brown and powdered sugar distributor based in Buffalo, wants to enlarge its operation. If Niagara Falls Redevelopment’s bid to buy the former Nabisco plant falls through, they would like the building for an expansion project that could bring hundreds of new jobs to Niagara Falls. The company now employs about 120 people during peak operation periods. Plans for the proposed Niagara Falls plant would involve between 300 and 400 employees.

UPDATE: University at Buffalo (Erie County), The first tangible signs of what bioinformatics means for Buffalo’s future will be evident this fall, when work is expected to begin on a $20 million research center in the medical corridor. The project is on a fast track, developers and government officials say, and construction on two other buildings that will form a sprawling bioinformatics complex are also expected to begin this fall. The complex will employ 500 workers,-250 of them new hires, when all phases of the medicine and genetics research center are finished.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Fuel Systems announced June 26 it will close its plant in Hamburg (Erie County), blaming a downturn in demand for fuel tanks used on large trucks and over-the-road tractors. The plant employs 80 workers, and will close in March 2003. Fuel Systems will offer positions to employees in Springfield, Ohio, and Charlotte, N.C.

UPDATE: Adelphia Communications Corp. (Erie County) expects to retain 1,500 of its jobs in Buffalo as it restructures over the next two years, while preserving its national support center here and maybe even resurrecting plans for an office building. However, the bankrupt company won’t have the final word on remaining in Buffalo, where it currently has 1,700 jobs. Creditors will review alternatives-including the sale of the Western New York cable system.

The Allvac Steel plant in Lockport (Niagara County) will cease production September 13, laying off 50 workers in what company officials call a “temporary idling” but what workers fear will be a permanent shutdown. The specialty steel plant produces high-end nickel and super alloys used in the manufacture of aircraft. The September idling will lay off 45 hourly-rated workers and five office staffers.

UPDATE: Delphi Harrison Thermal Systems (Niagara County) More than 600 eligible hourly workers have taken advantage of an early retirement offer, helping lower payroll costs. An improvement plan calls for 800 total workers to retire. Separate from the improvement plan, about 100 salaried workers have retired.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

UPDATE: New Era Cap Co. (Erie County), Striking workers approved a contract on June 27 and will begin returning to their jobs July 8—just a few days before the strike’s one-year anniversary.

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