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Western New York, July 2008

Business Expansions

New this Month

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is pushing ahead with a key physical expansion in the City of Buffalo (Erie County). The medical campus acquired the former Trico complex through a bankruptcy auction last fall. In its initial move to overhaul the former industrial plant, the BNMC will update a four-story, 125,000-square foot addition into a mix of labs, offices and warehouse space.

Business Contractions

New this Month

A federal judge has revoked the Seneca’s authority for a temporary casino on a nine-acre plot of land the Senecas purchased in Buffalo. The Senecas bought the land with money from the Salamanca settlement (they were awarded monies for 100 years of cheap leases in Salamanca), but the judge ruled that does not give them the legal authority to operate a casino there. As of today, if they continue to gamble, they’re gambling illegally, but according to the Senecas interpretation, the court’s decision included no order to cease casino operations and gambling continues at the temporary Buffalo Creek Casino, (Erie County) which opened a year ago. The temporary casino has already expanded to accommodate 244 slot machines. Construction also continues on the 22-story, 206-suite hotel tower and the 90,000-square-foot casino, with 2,000 slot machines and 45 table games. The $333 million project is billed as the largest privately funded construction project in Buffalo’s history. The decision is likely to be appealed and applies only to the Buffalo casino. The Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie County filed a motion July 14th requesting the federal court to enforce the judgment and cease gambling on the site. They are also requesting the judge to instruct U.S. Marshalls to enforce his order if necessary. The Senecas have continued operating the casino stating the absence of the order and insist that they have 10 days to continue operating the casino. The Senecas were not a party in the original lawsuit. The defendants were the U.S. Justice Department and the National Indian Gaming Commission which allowed the Senecas to operate the casino. The next hearing is set for August, 21st. The U.S. Justice Department has requested that the casino dispute be referred back to the National Indian Gaming Commission.

State officials have pulled the plug on a proposed $1.6 billion advanced coal project that would have brought more than 1,000 construction and operating jobs to the Town of Tonawanda (Erie County). State Power Authority officials have said that the proposed 680-megawatt power plant at the Huntley Station would have required annual subsidies, from taxpayers, of $175 to $250 million.

Starbucks recently announced the closing of 600 stores nationwide, including three stores in the Buffalo (Erie County) area.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Nearly 80 machinists at American Axle & Manufacturing’s Town of Tonawanda (Erie County) forge plant voted on a labor agreement on July 12th. Their contract expired in early May, amid the UAW’s strike. The deal between American Axle and Machinists Lodge DS490 was approved and included severance packages of $60,000. About 80% of the approximately 80 members approved the shutdown agreement.

Union workers in CWA Local 1168 have ratified a three year contract with Kaleida Health in Buffalo (Erie County). The deal guarantees raises, health insurance and paid time off for nurses, technicians, service and clerical workers.

About 65,000 Verizon union workers, including 1,300 in Western New York are preparing for a strike against Verizon Communications. Two unions, the CWA and the IBEW are involved in the dispute.

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