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Western New York, August 2014

Business Expansions

New this Month

The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station in Niagara Falls (Niagara County) broke ground for a new $5 million C-130 simulator facility that will train U.S. Air Force units from around the world. The simulator is expected to bring 450 students to the base each year and about 18 full-time jobs.

Uniland Development will team up with Delaware North and Cannon Design to give new life to the old Rainbow Centre Mall in Niagara Falls (Niagara County). The project, called the Wonder Falls resort, is one of the biggest private sector developments in years. An estimated $150 million from the Buffalo Billion will be used to transform the 200,000-square-foot space. The family resort will include an indoor water park, a 300-room, 15-story hotel, a Daredevil Adventure Center featuring Nik Wallenda, an indoor family amusement facility, as well as other retail and food and beverage venues. The project is expected to create more than 300 permanent jobs and more than 1,500 jobs during construction.

New York Life Co., a policy-holder-owned mutual life insurance company is seeking to hire 15 agents for its Buffalo General Office in Williamsville (Erie County) as the company seeks to grow its financial protection business and market share. There are currently 65 agents at the site.

Unifrax is working with local and state agencies for incentive packages on two expansion projects in the Town of Tonawanda. The company is proposing to invest about $18 million to construct a 76,000-square-foot plant in the North Youngmann Commerce Center to bring a new industrial line that is being used in Japan to the U.S. If approved, the plant would produce polycrystalline fibers and initially create 25 new jobs. The company has also proposed a $33 million- 40,230-squarep-foot addition to its operations at the Fire Tower Industrial park. Unifrax currently has 268 workers at the Fire Tower site and hopes to add 25 more if the expansion takes place.

Checkers, a fast food restaurant based in Tampa, Florida, opened in Cheektowaga (Erie County). It is the first full-sized Checker’s in Western New York. The franchise has nearly 800 locations nationwide and is known for its burgers, fries and hot dogs. The restaurant is known for its 1950s-style drive-thru style with only limited indoor seating. The Cheektowaga site, part of Checkers new prototype, can seat approximately 25 people and employs about 60 people.

After 10 months of uncertainty over its fate, Lake Shore Health Care Center in Irving (Chautauqua County) no longer plans to close and is no longer seeking a buyer. The hospital has withdrawn the closure plan with the Department of Labor that is filed in October of 2013. The hospital, which employs more than 400 full and part-time employees, will remain open under its own management after previously operating as part of a Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York that included Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk. The hospital is currently bargaining on a new contract with its employees who are members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

Dozens of part-time positions are available at First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo (Erie County). Delaware North is hiring for concession stand attendants, porters, bussers, runners, utility workers and cooks to work at Buffalo Sabres and Bandits games, as well as special events. Job seekers can apply email a resume or pick up an application at First Niagara Center.

Blue Bridge Financial, with help from Empire State Development, the Governor’s office and Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, is opening their new headquarters in the Electric Tower in downtown Buffalo (Erie County). Lieutenant Governor Duffy helped make the announcement on August 28 in Buffalo. The move will retain 12 jobs and create 71 new jobs over a five year period.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Rural Metro has shut down its coding and billing operations nationwide, including its operations in Buffalo (Erie County). Some employees will be offered jobs locally through a company that Rural Metro has hired to do the work. In all, 50 employees will be affected by the closing.

Auction Direct USA, a Rochester-based used car dealer known for its “no haggle” pricing has closed its Clarence (Erie County) store. The company, which expanded into the Buffalo market in 2011, will consolidate its Western New York operations into its Victor location due to sales performance. About 30 people worked at the site and some have been offered jobs within the company.

The Buffalo Public School District has laid off a total of 63 teachers and staff members just weeks before the start of the new school year. The school district has stated that the layoffs were based on an analysis after retirement and disability notices were made to ‘right size’ the teaching staff to the student population. The layoffs will take effect in the first weeks of September.

Fenner Precision, a manufacturer of motion control products and rollers in Buffalo (Erie County), will close its facility by the end of the year if a commercial buyer cannot be found. The local plants parent company, Fenner PLCC of Hull, England operates more than 25 manufacturing plants around the world. 60 employees will be out of work if the plant closes.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

The Erie County Legislature and CSEA members approved a contract for the county’s largest union on August 7th, 2014, after 8 years of negotiations. The new contract will cover the years 2008-2016 and include wage increases for 2014-16, as well as cost-saving modifications to health insurance coverage. County employees have been without a contract since the previous one expired in 2006.

Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk (Chautauqua County) has reached a tentative agreement on a contract with its largest union, 1199 SEIU, Service Employees International Union, after months of negotiations. The deal must still be ratified by the 170 members of the union that includes licensed practical nurses, clerical workers, maintenance staff and service employees at the hospital.

City of Buffalo school teachers, who have been without a new contract for more than 10 years, will be holding two informational pickets next week, on Tuesday and Wednesday. Teachers will picket for a half hour before their scheduled time to report to class. After these pickets, the Buffalo Teachers Federation says teacher will hold additional informational pickets every Wednesday, which is the day the Board of Education meets.

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