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Western New York, June 2006

Business Expansions

New this Month

The New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences opened its newest center on June 2 in Buffalo (Erie County). About 50 percent of the scientists and staff will be moving in this summer, beginning with roughly 70 in the next couple of weeks. A strategic plan calls for the center to house 200 researchers-plus their staffs-within three years. Those researchers will work in three primary areas, targeting cancer, inflammatory diseases and neurodegenerative diseases.

Anticipated factory worker retirements at General Motor’s Tonawanda (Erie County) engine plant between June 1 and the end of the year are translating into good news for more than 260 laid-off employees. The departures are expected to mean the recall of all hourly workers who were laid off in January. At the time, the layoffs were believed to be permanent. Of the total figure-an estimated 263-about 80 already have been recalled.

Norstar Location Services, an Amherst (Erie County) collections agency, plans to move to Cheektowaga as part of a $2.4 million project that will nearly double its space and could lead to the creation of 140 jobs over the next two years.

Minrad International, a Buffalo (Erie County) anesthesia and medical device manufacturer, is building a new 37,000-square-foot headquarters with nearly $1 million in tax breaks from the Erie County IDA. The company expects to create 79 additional jobs over the next two years as it introduces a new version of its image-guided surgical equipment and expands its anesthesia business.

Regal Cinemas plans to open a 16- screen movie complex at the Walden Galleria in time for the 2007 summer movie season. The Cheektowaga (Erie County) mall’s existing 12- screen Regal complex closed at the end of business on June 25. The new theaters are part of a long-awaited $50 million to $60 million renovation of the Walden Galleria that is moving forward.

NRG Energy is proposing to build 630 megawatts of clean coal generating capacity at the Huntley Station that could come into service in 2012. The $1.5 billion project would more than double the current capacity of the Town of Tonawanda (Erie County) power plant and increase its work force by up to 100 jobs, while creating upwards of 1,000 construction jobs. The company expects to receive its permit for the new clean-coal units in 2008 and begin construction later that year.

ICS Telecom, a Western New York telecommunications firm with a branch in Buffalo, (Erie County) was awarded a contract with the Department of Justice (DOJ) that could be worth as much as $50 million. The small business, which employs 40 people, will install, integrate and deploy Voice Over Internet Protocol network for as many as 235 DOJ offices around the country.

Delphi Corporation has hired about 200 temporary workers to replace those workers at its Lockport (Niagara County) plant who are taking early retirement or buyouts. The new workers will start on July 10.

The New York Power Authority on June 27 approved allocations of low-cost power to two Erie County companies. Hydro-Air Components, which produces heat-transfer equipment, will move to a new $8.3 million plant in South Buffalo and add 150 jobs. P&G Steel Products, maker of specialty metal products for various industries, will invest more than $1 million in new equipment and add 28 jobs to its work force in Cheektowaga.

M&T Bank Corp. will complete its takeover of Citibank branches in the Buffalo (Erie County) area on June 30, after state banking regulators gave the final go-ahead to the acquisition. The offices will reopen on July 3 under the M&T moniker. All of the branches will continue operating for now, however many Citibank branches are close to existing M&T offices and the company anticipate there will be future adjustments to the combined network. M&T will gain 107 new employees.

The Ford Stamping Plant in Woodlawn (Erie County) will play a starring role in two new vehicles being unveiled for the 2007 model year. A 4,000 ton new press, which has been in the process of being installed for more than a year, is expected to be fully operational in a few months, and will churn out the vast majority of the new vehicles’ stamped parts, including doors, hoods, and floor pans. Ford has invested $214 million in the project, a figure that includes 120 dies, 10 sub-assembly lines and a plant upgrade to support the new tooling.

Business Contractions

New this Month

More than 1,050 workers at Delphi Corp.’s Lockport (Niagara County ) auto parts plant and 656 workers at General Motors Town of Tonawanda (Erie County) engine plant will leave after signing up for buyout or early retirement plans designed to sharply reduce the companies’ labor costs. The sign-up deadline for the plans expired on June 23, and preliminary results were announced on June 26. Delphi’s number of departing workers could go higher, since it expects to offer additional options to employees under another plan announced June 9. That plan is still awaiting bankruptcy court approval. Both the Tonawanda and Lockport plants will remain open even though both companies plan on closing several plants in North America. However, the remaining workers could be facing steep wage and benefits cuts as negotiations between Delphi, GM and the UAW continue.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Union workers at Olean Advanced Products (Cattaraugus County) ratified a three-year contract on June 17, bringing an end to negotiations that nearly led to a strike. Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 1690 overwhelmingly approved the contract by a 114-29 vote.

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