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 22nd, 2014

Cabela’s Inc., which elected to build an 88,000-square-foot store in the Buffalo suburb of Cheektowaga after scrapping plans to build a smaller store in Erie, is now accepting applications to staff the new location.

The company, which plans to open its new store this fall, is looking to hire about 225 employees.

Applications are being accepted now and must be submitted online. Potential applicants can visit, click on “Apply Now,” then select United States and Cheektowaga, N.Y., for the location and click “Search.”

Cabela’s, which nixed plans to build here in early 2013, later filed lawsuits against the Cafaro Co. and Millcreek Marketplace, claiming that the two defendants used Cabela’s to leverage a lease with what had been called an unknown retailer.

The unknown retailer turned out to be Field & Stream, which is on track to open a 50,000-square-foot store sometime this fall in Millcreek Township. While Erie is no longer in line for a Cabela’s location, the Field & Stream store that will open in a few months is 60 percent larger than the Cabela’s location that had been planned for Erie.

Cheektowaga is about 90 miles from Erie.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 22nd, 2014

Here’s a good piece of news. Whatever money you earn today, you get to keep.

But the bad news, according to the Tax Foundation, is that the money you earned the first 111 days of the year — through April 21 — was paid to the local, state and federal government in one form or another.

The Tax Foundation, which calls this Tax Freedom Day, says Pennsylvania residents pay the 15th highest tax bill in the nation.

According to the Tax Foundation, Connecticut and New Jersey are tied with the highest tax burden. Residents of those states will have to work through May 9 to pay their taxes this year.

Among other taxes, the foundation takes into account individual income taxes, corporate income tax, sales tax and property tax.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 22nd, 2014

The tiny storefront at 2609 Peach St. sits empty today, a couple fading posters and some scattered papers on the floor the only remains of one of the oldest names in Erie retailing.

The Erie Book Store, purchased less than three years ago from longtime owner Kathleen Cantrell, has closed its doors after more than 90 years in business.

The store, a fixture for years at 717 French St. and later at Lovell Place, was sold in 2011 when Cantrell decided to retire.

New owner Eric Turowski initially moved the business, which sold both new and used books, to a new location at 915 State St.

By February of 2013, there were signs of trouble for the retailer that traced its corporate roots back to an store that Albert Nash opened in 1921 at 17 E. Eighth St..

Turowski, the author of several horror/thriller books, announced in February 2013 that he was moving to a storefront near West 26th and Peach streets.

“We’re forced into this move to survive, ” Eric Turowski said at the time of the move. “We can’t survive in this particular spot.”

He went on to say that business had declined about 60 percent since he opened the store.

He broke the news that the business would close on the store’s Facebook page with this posting: “The Erie Book Store is closed indefinitely. We would like to thank our volunteers for their hard work.”

Turowski couldn’t be reached today for further comment.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 18th, 2014

Warren-based Northwest Bancshares, Inc, the parent company of Northwest Savings Bank, has been recognized by Forbes magazine as one of America’s 50 Most Trustworthy Financial Companies for the third time in five years.

To determine the winners, Forbes assigns each company accounting and governance risk scores based on several factors, including high-risk events, SEC actions and bankruptcy risk.

“Northwest’s mission is to build loyalty, trust and value among our employees, customers, communities and shareholders,” said William J. Wagner, chief executive of the company. “We look at this recognition by Forbes as validation that our company is achieving success in that endeavor. We are pleased and humbled to receive such an honor.”

The company, which has 165 locations in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Maryland, also announced that it’s been named to the 2013 Bank Honor Roll of superior performers by KBW, an investment bank that specializes in the financial sector.

Northwest is one of 31 U.S. banks named to the honor roll this year.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 18th, 2014

Pennsylvania’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined by two-tenths of a percentage point in March to 6.0 percent, the lowest rate since October 2008. The commonwealth’s rate was seven-tenths of a percentage point below the U.S. rate, which was unchanged from February at 6.7 percent. The state rate was down 1.7 percentage points from its March 2013 rate of 7.7 percent.
Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force — the number of people working or looking for work — increased by 12,000 in March to 6,442,000. Resident employment was up 19,000, the third consecutive gain exceeding 10,000. The number of unemployed residents, which trended downward for the eighth consecutive month, was down by 8,000 in March to 390,000.
Total nonfarm jobs were down by 8,400 in March to 5,758,900. The decline was concentrated in the private sector, as government jobs remained at their February level. The largest drop was in professional & business services (down 5,000), which fell below the record high level set in February. Leisure & hospitality, financial activities (down 2,200), and education & health services (down 2,000) also each had declines of 2,000 or more jobs. Trade, transportation & utilities (up 1,700) and other services (up 1,200) showed significant growth in March. Manufacturing, up 1,300, added jobs following four consecutive monthly declines.
Over the year, total nonfarm jobs in Pennsylvania were up 17,200 (up 0.3 percent). The growth was primarily within private service-providing industries. The largest gains were in leisure & hospitality (up 14,300) and professional & business services (up 5,700).

Posted in: Uncategorized
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

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