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Western New York, January 2011

Business Expansions

New this Month

MacGregor’s Grill & Tap Room, a popular Rochester area restaurant chain, has expanded into the Buffalo market. The company has leased the former Hooters Restaurant in Amherst (Erie County) that has been vacant for more than three years. The location will open later this spring.

Buckeye’s Chicken has opened on the site of a former fast food restaurant in downtown Buffalo (Erie County). The owner opened the restaurant to try and get young people off the streets by setting them up with jobs. The new restaurant has created 24 new jobs.

Rich Products Corp. has reached a deal with a Massachusetts-based beverage maker that is expected to bring 90 jobs to Buffalo (Erie County). Island Oasis, a maker of fruit and dairy based drinks will operate the production facility on Niagara Street, across from Rich’s headquarters, that closed last year. Initially 30 people will be hired in February many of whom were Rich’s workers who were laid off when the Niagara Street plant closed last spring. (January 11, 2011-Business First) TVGA Consultants, a successful engineering and architecture firm, is making downtown Buffalo (Erie County) its new home. The company celebrated the opening of its new corporate headquarters with a ribbon cutting on January 11th. The full-service land survey, engineering and architecture firm brought 50 full-time employees to Main Street in downtown.

Ingram Micro in Williamsville (Erie County) held a job fair on January 12th to fill 70 positions that included sales representatives, technical support, credit analysts and support associates.

HT Productions, a Canadian box cardboard manufacturer, wants to locate its U.S. home in a long-vacant building in Lewiston (Niagara County). The company has submitted an application to the Niagara County Industrial Development agency for a 15-year property tax break. The company promises 14 new jobs within two years.

Ignite Restaurant Group has picked a vacant restaurant site in Amherst (Erie County) for the state’s first Joe’s Crab Shack. The restaurant chain has 113 locations across the country but none in New York State.

An Amherst (Erie County) shopping center that dates to the 1960’s is scheduled for a face-lift to get ready for two new tenants. The 250,000-square-foot TJ Maxx plaza will bring the region’s second Ultimate Electronics location to a former Circuit City Store and construction of a 109,500-square-foot BJ’s Wholesale Club will replace a series of empty retail slots in the plaza.

The Statler Towers, the shuttered landmark that Staler City LLC is trying to revitalize, has lawmakers in the City of Buffalo (Erie County) on its side to help with the cost of the renovations. The Common Council thinks the state should provide funds to save the 18-story historical landmark. Developers projected that the first phases of rehabilitation of the ground and mezzanine floors would create 67 construction jobs and 85 permanent jobs. Potential tenants would include a banquet facility, a bakery or coffee shop and other small retailers. No plans have been made at this point to revitalize the upper floors of the Statler, which could one day be used for a hotel or residential units.

A developer got the go-ahead January 18th to begin work on a $4 million hotel and office complex near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The 60-room Sleep Inn will be built on Main St. in Buffalo (Erie County) on a site currently occupied by the Buffalo Tourist Lodge. The project will include 7,700 square feet of office space that will be marketed to doctors and others in the medical community. Developers hope to complete the project within one to two years.

Auto insurer GEICO Corp. plans to hire 300 people in Amherst (Erie County) over the next four to six months, as the company replaces some local staff while responding to significant customer growth in New Jersey and New England. The jobs include both replacements for people who have left the company, as well as to handle the insurer’s expansion. Currently, the company employs 1,900 at the 250,000-square-foot site that was built in 2005, to ultimately handle as many as 2,500 workers.

H&M, a Swedish clothing retailer, is preparing to open a store in the Walden Galleria in Cheektowaga (Erie County). The mall location is among seven that the company is planning to open this spring. The retailer has 34 locations in the state, but this will be the first location in the state west of Rochester.

A Niagara Falls (Niagara County) hotel has a new lease on life after being sold at a foreclosure auction within the past year. The new owners of the Crowne Plaza Hotel which is located near the Seneca Niagara Casino and the Rainbow mall, plan to retain the current staff and to add 50 more jobs in the coming year.

A spurt in new orders is fueling expansion of McGard LLC in Orchard Park (Erie County). The maker of tire rim locks is working on a proposed 24,500-square-foot expansion of its headquarters. The company could add 20 jobs in the next two years, raising its employment from 392 to 412 workers.

DuPont in Niagara Falls (Niagara County) plans to add 27 jobs at its chemical plant. The hiring is expected to be completed in March.

Uniland, the largest developer of office parks in the Buffalo and Rochester areas, operating more than 130 properties, is currently working on two major projects. A division of the federal Department of Homeland Security will occupy space in a Cheektowaga (Erie County) office park under a new $5.72 million federal contract with Uniland Development Company. The firm is currently progressing with construction projects at the CrossPoint Business Park in Amherst. Uniland is putting up a 90,000-square-foot office building for Fidelis Care New York, which is more than doubling its local office size, and could create up to 139 jobs over two years. The Catholic health insurer currently employs 429 people.

Business Contractions

New this Month

The Cuomo administration is considering laying off more than 10,000 New York State workers in order to close the state’s multibillion-dollar deficit. If such massive furloughs occur, it could cost up to 1,000 jobs in Western New York in the state university system, corrections, health care, transportation, environmental conservation and an array of other agencies.

Allcare Dental and Dentures, a nationwide dental company headquartered in Clarence (Erie County), has locked their doors. The shutdown puts about 600 employees nationwide out of work. Workers had been put on a two-week furlough in December to save money. They returned for one day and were told to pack up. Allcare’s corporate offices and national call center are housed in a business suite in Clarence.

HealthNow New York Inc., parent company of BlueCross BlueShield of WNY, eliminated 45 positions in a restructuring move. The cuts, all in claims-related positions, go across many departments and include salaried, management and union and non-union jobs. At the same time, the company has about 60 job openings, some of which could be filled by the individuals losing their jobs. The Buffalo (Erie County) operation employs about 1,200 people. Last March, the company eliminated 30 union clerical and customer service positions in its Buffalo headquarters; which followed cuts in late 2009 of 36 jobs.

Bush Industries, which is headquartered in Jamestown (Chautauqua County), has laid off more than two dozen hourly and management employees in an effort to be more flexible and cost effective. The company supplies office stores, but is said to be expanding into other areas, which led to the reported layoffs.

US Airways Group Inc. is cutting 24 jobs in Buffalo (Erie County) as part of a larger employment reduction in several markets. In all, the airline will trim 176 jobs in 11 cities. All employees can be absorbed into other markets if they’re willing to relocate.

Saint-Gobain could lay off as many as 32 of the 176 employees at its Niagara Falls plant (Niagara County) between early April and the end of June. The planned job cuts come from the company’s recent sale of its advanced ceramics business to Coorstek. The company will no longer manufacture some products which is resulting in the layoffs.

The main building of the historic Cockaigne Ski Area in Cherry Creek (Chautauqua County) was destroyed by a fire. The popular ski resort employed about 200 people.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Corrections officers at the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden (Erie County) overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer that would have provided a higher pay grade starting this year and 2 percent raises starting next year in exchange for less paid leave and employee contributions to health insurance. 90% of the corrections officers rejected the proposed contract.

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