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Western New York, September 2009

Business Expansions

New this Month

Cobham in Orchard Park (Erie County), formerly known as Carleton Technologies, is receiving favorable reviews of its cooling technology from military personnel. The local plant showcased its military related innovations after it was recently awarded a five-year contract worth up to $110 million to supply the units to the Army’s Air Warrior program. The work will be done in Orchard Park, and the units will be used on helicopters and ground vehicles. While the contract is not expected to add jobs, it has helped retain jobs, linked to about 30 positions at the plant. Cobham expects to add about 40 jobs over the next year; its work for space program is expected to generate half of those new hires.

55 new fire recruits for the City of Buffalo (Erie County) could be hired in the coming weeks. The department has interviewed about 140 people for the positions. The city has not hired new firefighters in seven years.

Lowe’s Home Improvement store opened its newest location in Hamburg (Erie County) August 6th. The 117,000 square-foot store has brought 175 new jobs to the area.

A debt collection agency specializing in student loans is getting a $280,000 capital grant from the state to offset the cost of a $2.3 million expansion. Windham Professionals in East Aurora (Erie County), a New Hampshire based national debt collector first opened for business in January and currently employs about 60 people. The planned expansion and grant will retain those jobs and add another 140, tripling the size of the operation.

Teletech Holdings Inc. in Niagara Falls (Niagara County) is seeking up to 300 temporary workers to assist customers seeking information about a specific plan offered under Medicare Part D-the prescription drug coverage portion of Medicare. The jobs are expected to last through February 2010.

Advance Furniture of Buffalo is adding a second location at the Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga (Erie County). The family-run business is hoping that the central location will increase the store’s visibility and draw customers to its main location in Kenmore.

First Niagara Financial Group is moving its headquarters from Pendleton to Buffalo (Erie County) and will create more than 300 new jobs. When the expansion is completed in about a year, First Niagara expects to have about 500 people working in the Larkin Building, up from about 250. The additional jobs will bring the bank’s employment in Erie and Niagara counties to about 1,100.

An Italian manufacturing firm will open a plant in Lackawanna (Erie County). Sampla Belting North America LLC makes heavy duty belts for conveyer systems and automobiles. Currently the company has a sales office in Orchard Park and plans to hire 17 workers in the near future.

The first two of several Yogen Fruz retail outlets opened in the region this month creating 24 new full-time and part-time jobs. A total of fifteen new stores are planned to open in the Buffalo (Erie County) market over the next five years.

During the holiday season, Fisher Price (Erie County) will hire additional customer service staff to answer customer calls. This year the company expects to hire 150 to 175 full-and part-time employees for that work, which will run from next month to the end of January 2010.

The Oneida Indian Nation plans to start making its own cigarettes at a factory it purchased last fall in Angola (Erie County). By making its own cigarettes, the Oneidas would be cutting out the tobacco wholesalers who are required to pay the $27.50-per-carton excise tax under a state law adopted last summer. Over 1.4 million cartons of cigarettes were distributed by the plant mostly to about 60 Native American outlets in upstate New York last year. The plant currently employs 28 people and is expected to add 20 workers as it expands during the next year.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, a fast-casual Mexican food chain, is eyeing a December 2010 opening date for its first Western New York restaurant. Chipotle is in the process of hiring a total of 25 to 30 employees for the location in Amherst (Erie County).

Ground was broken on a new upscale boutique hotel in the City of Buffalo (Erie County) on September 24th. A local developer plans to build a $19 million-110,000-square-foot hotel that will feature 57 rooms, four suites, a full-service restaurant, day spa, salon, and lounge. It will also include 20,000 square feet of meeting space, banquet facilities and a boardroom. The hotel will employ more than 80 people in management and hospitality jobs, not counting construction jobs for a year. Plans call for it to be completed by the end of 2010.

A pending acquisition has K Technologies Inc. in Hamburg (Erie County) poised for an expansion that will double its workforce. The company is in the process of buying New View EMS Corp., a Massachusetts based company that manufactures many of the same products. The local company is expected to add at least 60 jobs as some of the work is shifted to the Hamburg site. The company currently employs 50 workers.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Pfeiffer Foods, Wilson’s (Niagara County) largest private employer with 150 workers, plans to shut down its plant on November 20th. The facility, which has produced salad dressing since the early 1950’s, also plans to reduce its work force to 40 by mid-October.

Fisher-Price is cutting 20 jobs at its headquarters in East Aurora (Erie County). The local job cuts were a combination of layoffs, elimination of open positions, attrition and retirements. In November 2008, Fisher-Price eliminated 70 jobs from its workforce. The company employs about 900 in East Aurora.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

Workers at seven tire plants, including one in Tonawanda (Erie County), have ratified an agreement between the United Steelworkers Union and Goodyear Co. that guarantees that the local plant will remain open for the next four years, but also provides for buyouts in the event the factory stops making truck tires. The two sides reached an agreement on a four-year master contract, a month after their previous contract expired. United Steelworkers Local 135 represents 1,200 hourly workers at the Tonawanda plant.

Workers at two area Presbyterian Senior Care facilities have approved a new contract. The 270 workers are Members of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. Employees covered by the new agreement work as licensed nurse practitioners (LPN), certified nurse assistants (CNA) and service and maintenance workers. The contract also covers drivers, unit clerks and activities aides who voted to join 1199 earlier this year.

Teamsters local unions representing about 61 workers at New Penn Motor Express, including at a terminal in Cheektowaga (Erie County), approved a second round of concessions for the trucking firm, less than a month after rejecting the givebacks. The New Penn locals approved the second round of concessions amid fear that its parent company YRC Worldwide, would close the trucking firms. The contract changes were rejected earlier by New Penn members but approved by other YRC workers.

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