Biz Buzz
By Jim Martin, Doug Oathout Erie Times-News staff bloggers
Welcome to Biz Buzz, our daily blog on all things business. Turn here for breaking news on the economy, local industry and area people engaged in the region's companies.   Read more about this blog.
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Posted: April 15th, 2014

Lorenzo Simonelli, who spent five years as chief executive at GE Transportation, is being mentioned as a possible successor to General Electric Co. Chief Executive Jeff Immelt.

A story in today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal reports that Immelt, who has run the company for 13 years, might step aside sooner than the 20 years he had originally planned.

Immelt, according the Journal, has led those discussions.

The Journal reports that one of the leading candidates to eventually replace Immelt is Simonelli, who the article describes as “a youthful rising star who took over leadership of GE’s oil and gas business last year.”

Simonelli, who was 35 when he arrived in Erie, oversaw a series of dramatic changes at GE Transportation, including moving corporate headquarters to Chicago and building a new locomotive plant in Fort Worth, Texas.

Another veteran of GE Transportation also makes the short list.

John Rice, who led GE Transportation from 1997 to 2000, is now vice chairman of Connecticut-based General Electric.

The Journal reports: “Rice, 57, is seen as the executive who could step in immediately should anything happen unexpectedly to Mr. Immelt.”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 14th, 2014

Coldwater Creek, an Idaho-based chain of women’s clothing stores, plans to close all 350 locations, including the store at the Millcreek Mall.

The company, which was launched in 1984 as a catalog-only business, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 11. after failing to find a buyer for the ailing chain.

Coldwater Creek moved into the Millcreek Mall in October 2008, following an extensive renovation of the mall. The local store is located in the mall’s Promenade Shops, which was developed as an upscale-lifestyle center on the west side of the mall.

Joe Bell, a spokesman for the Youngstown, Ohio-based Cafaro Co., which owns the Millcreek Mall, said no exact date had been set for closing the mall store. Liquidation sales are expected to begin sometime in May.

The company’s bankruptcy filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware lists assets worth $278.5 million and debts of $361.3 million. Chain wide, about 5,500 jobs will be eliminated.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 11th, 2014

Erie developer Tom Kennedy, who has announced plans for new hotels in Corry and on Erie’s bayfront, will break ground Monday for a new clinic being built in Ashtabula for the Erie Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The groundbreaking will be held at 1 p.m. at 2044 Lambrose Lane. Construction is expected to be complete by fall.

The existiing clinic, which served more than 2,300 veterans in 2013, has outgrown its old space. The new 6,476-square-foot building will have space for a wide range of services.

In recent months, Kennedy has announced plans to build a 37-room Cobblestone Inn on Route 6 in Corry and a 54-room Cobblestone Inn on the south side of the Bayfront Parkway.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 10th, 2014

Family Dollar Stores Inc. said it will close 370 under-performing stores later this year and slash prices on 1,000 products after its profit for the second quarter plunged more than 30 percent.
The North Carolina-based discount retail chain, which has seven stores in Erie and Crawford counties, also said it would curb store openings in the next fiscal years to 350 to 400. The company planned to launch 525 new stores this year.
Family Dollar has 8,100 stores across the country.
So far, no list of the targeted stores has been released.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 9th, 2014

Corry Auto Dealers Exchange, which will mark 32 years in business on April 17, will host Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikrich on Thursday.

Beikrich, who served in the Vietnam War, will be at the auction beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday to meet customers, share his experiences and talk about the importance of supporting our nation’s wounded heroes.

On April 17, the day of a planned anniversary sale at Corry Auto Dealers Exchange, Ronald Rosser, a second Medal of Honor recipient, will make an appearance and a special presentation at the sale. Rosser served in the Korean War.

Ted Swift, the auction and sales manager, said the auction has purchased a special high-tech wheelchair for a local wounded veteran of the war in Iraq. That chair will be presented to the veteran during the April 17 sale.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 4th, 2014

Now this is a different sort of recall.

The Associated Press reports that Mazda is recalling 42,000 Mazda6 cars in the U.S. because spiders can weave a web in a vent hose and cause the fuel tank to crack.

The recall involves cars from the 2010 through 2012 model years equipped with 2.5-liter engines.

The yellow sac spider, which is attracted to hydrocarbons, builds webs that cause pressure to build in the fuel tank. That increases the risk of fuel leaks and fire.

Mazda recalled cars in 2011 for the same problem. It put covers on the vent line, but has found spiders can get past them.

Mazda will update the cars’ software for free beginning this month to ensure that the fuel tank pressure doesn’t build up.

Mazda says no injuries or fires have been reported due to the issue.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 2nd, 2014

The Kmart in Conneaut, Ohio, will be closing its doors after more than 30 years because of an unresolved problem with the building’s roof.

The store, located on Route 7 in the Gateway Plaza, has been plagued in recent months with a leaky roof. Visitors to the store have reported that a series of tarps have been suspended from the ceiling to catch leaks, while fans have been set up through the store to dry wet spots.

Howard Riefs, director of corporate communications for Sears Holdings, which owns Kmart, said in e-mailed response to a reporter’s questions that the store has suffered “roof failure.”

Riefs went on to say: “The Conneaut Fire Department marshal requires that the affected portion of the roof is properly repaired in order for the entire store to remain open. Unfortunately, the landlord refuses to repair the roof to the satisfaction of local officials.”

A scaled-down version of the store is expected to remain open temporarily until the inventory has been sold. The final closing date is expected to be sometime in June, Riefs said.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 31st, 2014

The lifts have been closed for the season, and the snow that still paints the mountainside at Peek‘n Peak Resort and Spa will be left to melt.

That shouldn’t take long. The sun is shining brightly at the moment and it’s expected to rain later this week.

The ski season, which began the day after Thanksgiving, ended Sunday at 4 p.m., said Tiffany Cook, a spokeswoman for Scott Enterprises, which owns the resort in Findley Lake, N.Y.

“It was one of our 10 best years,” she said. “We skied for 122 days.”

Cook said the slopes at were idled on this same weekend in 2013, a year that saw Easter arrive early, and helped to extend the ski season.

This year, she said, “We were keeping really busy, but with the forecast, it didn’t make operational sense for us to stay open.”

While Erie experienced its fifth snowiest winter on record, snowfall at Findley Lake was about average, Cook said.

The resort’s golf season typically begins a few weeks after the end of ski season, but Cook said no date has been set so far.

She did say that the Peak’s new zip line adventure course will open Memorial Day Weekend.

Details are available at

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 27th, 2014

Rochester-based Wegmans, which operates two grocery stores in the Erie area, has been named the best supermarket chain in the United States by Consumer Reports magazine.

Grocery chains were rated on a scale that took into account service, cleanliness, perishable items and prices.

Walmart, which operates numerous locations in Erie counties, ranked last on the list, criticized for having too few open checkout aisles.

According to a report in USA Today, Trader Joes and Costco., neither of which have locations in Erie County, ranked second and third on the Consumer Reports list.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 27th, 2014

Steris Corp., which cut hundreds of jobs in Erie when it closed its manufacturing and office operations here, is planning more cutbacks — this time near its headquarters in the Cleveland suburb of Mentor, Ohio.

The medical device maker has announced that as part of a restructuring plan it will close the Hopkins production facility in Mentor. About 150 jobs are expected to be eliminated, about 100 them in Ohio.

The plant builds liquid chemical sterilant processing systems. Operations are expected to cease by Oct. 31, 2015.

Walt Rosebrough, the company’s chief executive, said the plant has been running significantly below its full capacity.

He continued, “While we have not made final decisions on the locations of all of the Hopkins production, this closure enables us to more efficiently utilize our existing North American manufacturing network.”

The shutdown of Erie’s steam sterilizer plant in 2007 resulted in the loss of 450 manufacturing jobs. That work was transferred to a plant near Monterrey, Mexico. The company eliminated another 240 jobs in 2010 when it closed office operations in Erie.

Posted in: Uncategorized

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