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Western New York, August 2016

EXPANSIONS & OPENINGS

New This Month

 

An assisted living facility in Lockport (Niagara County) disclosed its plans for a $3 million addition of a memory care unit to its current Lincoln Avenue location.  Briarwood Manor is planning a new 20-bed facility that would be aimed at Medicaid recipients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  The addition would be built to the rear of the existing structure and add 12 new employees to its current workforce of 75.  

 

Geico in Amherst (Erie County) will be adding 600 jobs to its workforce at its CrossPoint Business Park operations center.  The $15 million project includes an investment from Geico totaling $11 million, mostly in the form of new equipment along with  $4 million in tax breaks and incentives from Empire State Development and the Amherst Industrial Development Agency.  Since Geico opened the call center 10 years ago the company has hired more than 2,600 and is one of the largest private-sector employers in Amherst.

Krog Corps $87 million proposal to redevelop the former Trico Products Corp. building in downtown Buffalo into a mixed-use facility has gotten an initial green light from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency for up to $3.6 million in tax breaks. The developer of the project originally estimated the cost to be about $50 million, and now estimates it will cost nearly $90.5 million.  Current plans for the 617,000-square-foot complex include a combination of residential, hotel, educational, commercial and retail space. 130 new jobs are expected to be created, including about 100 new teachers for the culinary school, 25 hotel workers, plus building maintenance and management employees.  Commercial tenants could also employ up to an additional 500 people.  Krog had stated that without the assistance that they would likely be unable to proceed with the project.  The company plans to start work by September, complete the hotel and commercial space by August 2018, and complete the rest of the project by March 2019. 

Douglas Development Corp, a Washington, D.C.-based developer has agreed to purchase the One Seneca Tower in downtown Buffalo (Erie County).  The real estate company will purchase the building and five-story parking ramp across the street and is expected to close the deal in mid-October.  The president of the development firm, Douglas Jemal, said he envisions a mixed-use redevelopment of the tower, including residential, office, hotel, and retail space. 

The announcement could represent a significant step forward for the tower, potentially alleviating worries about the building’s future.  At least one prior purchase contract for $27 million fell through as a result, because the buyer, New York City businessman Harvey Kaylie, could not line up enough backing in time. The redevelopment will likely cost in excess of $100 million, not including the purchase price, and say it may require incentives, cash grants or other help from the government to make it work.

Computer tablet maker BAK USA will be doubling its space at its downtown Buffalo headquarters.  The company has seen a surge in business since it has formed a partnership with Microsoft Corp.  Bak will have nearly 30,000 square feet of space in total after about six months of construction.  Bak, who previously pledged to hire 267 workers by the end of 2019, currently has about 53 employees and expects to have at least 75 by December 2016. 

The Small Business Administration is looking to hire around 50 temporary employees for its Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center in downtown Buffalo (Erie County).  The center helps people and businesses in disaster-stricken areas and the surge of destructive weather around the country has prompted the need for the new hires.  Currently about 120 people work at the center that is staffed seven days a week, where 3,000 to 4,000 calls are fielded a day from around the country. 

 New Era Cap Co. has cut a deal to produce officially licensed National Football League Caps just weeks after acquiring the naming rights to the Buffalo Bills’ stadium.  The deal is expected to establish a more secure future for the 250 workers at the Derby (Erie County) plant.   The company also plans to add 17 jobs at the plant by the end of the year to help with the production of the NFL caps. 

LAYOFFS AND CLOSINGS

New This Month

PHH Corp. , a mortgage servicer in Amherst ( Erie County), plans to lay off an unknown number of employees by the end of the year.  The New Jersey-based company has lost a portion of mortgage servicing business HSBC Bank USA N.A. and has shifted work that was previously done in Amherst to Florida.  A WARN notice will be filed with the NYS Department of Labor and employees will be given 90 days notice and be eligible for severance packages.  PHH had originally planned to employ as many as 800 workers by the end of 2015 but laid off 135 in 2014 due to declining mortgage business.  Currently, 300 people work at the Amherst location. 

 

Fifteen months after the deal between New York State and Athenex, work has stalled in both buffalo and Dunkirk.  New York State had agreed to spend $225 million for the pharmaceutical company’s headquarters and drug testing laboratory on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and a cancer drug manufacturing plant in Dunkirk and in return the company would create 1,400 jobs over five years.  Now that the work has stalled, the company is looking elsewhere for expansion, specifically in the U.K., in case the local projects fall through.  Construction of the drug testing lab in the Conventus medical building has not even started and was supposed to have been finished in April. The company had also expected site preparations and detailed engineering work to begin in the spring for the Dunkirk plant, but that has not happened yet either.  Athenex has stopped hiring and making other investments and also put on hold a planned expansion at its QuaDPharma production site in Newstead.  State officials called the delays normal for a project of such a large scale and cost.SUNY Polytechnic said workers have made progress at Dunkirk. Workers have performed preliminary site discovery and created basic building drawings. But Besecker said the anticipated schedule of finishing construction by 2018, and of hiring the 450 plant workers by 2023, is no longer realistic. Empire State Development and SUNY Polytechnic said that the Conventus payments are flowing now, that work should begin again there soon and that the Dunkirk funding won’t be held up much longer.

LABOR DISPUTES

New This Month

 Blue Cross BlueShield of Western New York has reached a tentative agreement with union leaders on a two-year contract extension.  Members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) local 153 will vote August 6th on the agreement to extend its current contract through April 25, 2019.  Blue Cross BlueShield is the region’s largest health insurer with 1,900 employees in five locations. 440 employees are represented by the union. 

 

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