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: July 1st, 2014

Widget Financial, previously the General Electric Federal Credit Union, is paying homage this week to what appears to be growing interest in World Cup soccer.

The credit union has been showing some of the World Cup games in its lobbies, passing out cupcakes and offering a new account that gives customers bonus money for every goal scored by the Americans as they take on Belgium today.

“A lot of our members are GE employees who have international ties so soccer is a big deal,” said Trent Mason, chief marketing officer for Widget.

A customer from Germany, who works at GE Transportation, came up with the idea for the new account, Mason said. Customers who open new accounts receive a debit card loaded with $20, plus an additional $10 for each game the U.S. scores against Belgium.

“I think soccer is catching on in the United States,” Mason said. “I know it’s popular with our members.”

The promotion, he said, “is mainly a way to have fun.”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 25th, 2014

VisitErie, Erie County’s tourism promotion agency, is going back to Pittsburgh.

A team from VisitErie was in Pittsburgh June 12 as part of its “Hello Summer, Hello Erie!” advertising campaign. During that visit, the Travel Channel’s “Sand Masters” visited a weekly farmers’ market in Market Square, where they used five tons of sand to create an Erie-themed sand sculpture.

When the VisitErie team returns to Market Square Thursday they’ll be promoting local wineries and Erie-made chocolate.

This visit to Pittsburgh, which will be sponsored and attended by Mazza Vineyards, Presque Isle Wine Cellars, Courtyard Wineries, 6 Mile Cellars, Pulakos Chocolates and Lake Erie Wine Country, will provide information to thousands who attend the weekly market.

The Erie-themed day at the farmers’ market will feature a grape-stomping contest and prizes from VisitErie and local wineries.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 18th, 2014

There will be two ribbon cuttings today and there are more developments in General Electric’s effort to buy French company Alstom.

The two companies that are celebrating today are Agility Marketing and Expeditors International.
Agility Marketing is taking its contact center to the next level with a new, 40,000-square-foot facility at 2323 W. 38th St. Agility has 200 employees with an additional 50 coming in August. Its ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m.
Expeditors International, a Seattle-based logistics firm, will be holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its 333 State St. location at 4 p.m. Expeditors International is a Fortune 500 company that employs more than 13,000 in 250 locations across six continents.
In news from GE, the Wall Street Journal reported this morning that the company is considering the sale of its train-signal business to France’s Alstom as a way to sweeten a deal for the French company. That deal, valued at more than $17 billion, has been challenged by the French government and faces new competition from two other international companies, Siemens AG of Germany and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. GE is the parent company of GE Transportation, Erie County’s largest employer.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 12th, 2014

The amount of limestone that’s been transported on the Great Lakes so far in 2014 is way off — and weather is the reason.

Limestone shipments, which are tracked by the Lake Carriers Association, are considered an economic indicator. So far, the limestone trade stands at 4.2 million tons, a decrease of 25.3 percent compared to a year ago. That decrease largely reflects how severely the trade was impacted by the heavy ice formations in March and April. No stone moved in March, and April’s total was down nearly 50 percent from a year ago.

Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 3.3 million tons in May, a decrease of 8 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments were also 3 percent below the month’s long-term average.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 11th, 2014

A new downtown Erie restaurant has opened its doors at the corner of French and east 10th streets in the former BayBreeze location.

A ribbon cutting was held this morning for Cloud 9 Restaurant and Wine Bar, owned by well known chef and restaurateur Bertrand Artigues.

“We’re very pleased to announce yet another new independently owned restaurant is opening in downtown Erie” said John Buchna, chief executive of the Erie Downtown Partnership.

Buchna said Cloud 9 will feature tapas-style food and an international wine list.

“Wine Bars and tapas-style restaurants, which offer a wide variety of small plated pairings, are very popular in many cities across the U.S.,” Buchna said. “We’re excited that Chef Bertrand has chosen downtown Erie for his new wine bar and restaurant.”

Artigues is also the owner of Bertrand’s Bistro, 18 North Park Row.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 10th, 2014

Fortis Institute, located at 5757 W. 26th St., is calling June “Get-A-Haircut-Month.”

Between now and the end of the month, students in the Fortis-Erie Academy of Barbering will offer one free complimentary haircut to all Fortis students and employees.

Peter Correa, president of the campus, has extended that offer in honor of Father’s Day and as a show of support to emergency services personnel.

Free haircuts are being offered to any father, veteran firefighter or first responder.

Walk-in customers are welcome from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday until the end of the month.


Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 10th, 2014

Are you proud of your company — the products it makes, or the services it provides? Or, maybe you’re a fan of a particular business in Erie County that deserves recognition for its commitment to its employees, customers and community.

Either way, time is running out to submit a nomination for the third annual Commitment to Erie Awards, sponsored by the Erie Times-News.

Nominations, which are due midnight Sunday, can be submitted at

Awards will be presented in the following categories: Commitment to Erie, Workplace of the Year, Community Service, New Business of the Year, Nonprofit of the year and Legacy Award.

Finalists and winners, who will be selected by a panel of judges, will be honored at a Sept. 17 dinner at the Ambassador Center.

Winners also will be featured in the Erie Times-News and on

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 9th, 2014

VisitErie, Erie County’s tourism promotion agency, has decided the best way of drawing Pittsburgh visitors to Erie is to take a little bit of Erie to Pittsburgh.

VisitErie will be doing just that Thursday.

As part of the “Hello Summer, Hello Erie!” advertising campaign, a team from VisitErie team will hand out tourist information to between 7,000 to 10,000 people who visit the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s weekly farmers’ market in Market Square.

But the eye-catching phase of the day will take place in the sand — five tons of it that will be trucked into Market Square.

The Travel Channel’s “Sand Masters” will use the sand to create an Erie-themed sculpture incorporating the VisitErie logo, sand castle and cartoon-style lake fish.

“Sand Masters” is a reality show that debuted in 2011 and features some of the world’s best known sand sculptors.

John Oliver, president of VisitErie, said he’s excited about the opportunity to showcase Erie.

“It’s an opportunity to get the message out that Erie is a fun, affordable place to come visit,” he said. “Pittsburgh has always been one of our stronger markets and we want to keep it that way.

Oliver said visitors to Market Square will be encouraged to post photos of themselves and the sand sculpture on social media.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 6th, 2014

It’s creeping up on midafternoon. But it’s not too late for a doughnut, especially a free one.

Dunkin’ Donuts, which has locations on upper Peach Street and in the Millcreek Mall, is offering customers a free doughnut of their choice today with the purchase of any beverage.

The promotion is being offered for National Doughnut Day, which is held each year on the first Friday of June.

The day was originally established by the Chicago Salvation Army to honor women who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I.

The local Dunkin’ Donuts stores are owned by Scott Enterprises.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 5th, 2014

Erie County’s third largest employer is now the nation’s 416th largest company.

That’s according to the latest edition of Fortune magazine, which ranks the nation’s 500 largest companies, based on their revenues.

Erie Insurance, which has more than 2,000 Erie-based employees, climbed 39 spots on the ranking from its previous position as the nation’s 455 largest company.

The company’s revenues rose 13.8 percent in 2013 to $6.2 billion. Profits, meanwhile, climbed 1.9 percent to $163 million.

Terry Cavanaugh, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement, “Our continued presence on the Fortune 500 reflects not just the efforts of a single year but the achievements we’ve built over decades of service.”

The company has been recognized by Forbes magazine as one of America’s 50 most trusted financial companies.

Posted in: Uncategorized

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