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.
 Phone: 814-870-1668
Posted: March 7th, 2014

Krispy Kreme is marking daylight saving time Sunday by giving away one free original glazed doughnut to each person who stops by the shop at 7501 Peach St. The promotion will run from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 7th, 2014

Did you know today was Employee Appreciation Day?

Employees at Erie-based Erie Insurance Found out this morning when Terry Cavanaugh, the company’s chief executive, surprised them with a reception, free lunch and a bonus in honor of the day of recognition, established in 1995.

Cavanaugh offered his remarks in person to the company’s 2,500 Erie-based employees and by video conference with another 2,000 employees who work in offices around the country.

“He said thank you for the work you do, and that we are buying everyone lunch today and then everybody got some kind of small bonus,” said Leah Knapp, a spokeswoman for the company.

She said Erie-based employees will receive free lunches in the company cafeteria while employees in other locations will receive catered food or gift cards to buy lunch.

“It was a nice little surprise,” Knapp said.

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Posted: March 7th, 2014

More of us are doing our own taxes, according to the Internal Revenue Service. As of the end of February, almost 24.9 million of us had filed electronic returns from a home computer – a 7.5 percent increase from a year ago. Tax professionals had filed more, but the gap between tax professional and individual taxpayer is shrinking.
In addition, the average tax refund is $3,034 so far this year, an increase of 3 percent from a year ago.
Surveys show most Americans plan to use their refund toward paying down debt, though an Edward Jones survey of more than 1,000 adults found those between 18 and 34 were the most likely to say they planned to spend their refund on shopping or going out.

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Posted: March 5th, 2014

Interest in building hotels on Erie’s bayfront continues to grow.

Developer Kennedy, owner of Erie’s Renaissance Centre, has announced plans to build a new Cobblestone Inn on the south side of the Bayfront Parkway near Liberty Park.

Kennedy, who announced plans last week to build a 37-room Cobblestone Inn on Route 6 in Corry, said this new hotel will be a three-story, 54-room hotel.

Kennedy said he expects work on the project to begin this fall, with completion expected in early 2015.

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Posted: March 4th, 2014

Primanti Bros., the iconic Pittsburgh restaurant famous for its sandwiches stacked with french fries and coleslaw, is coming to the Millcreek Mall.

Primanti has confirmed plans to open a 4,700-square-foot location inside part of the space once occupied by Burlington Coat Factory at the western end of the mall.

Joe Bell, spokesman for the Youngstown-based Cafaro Co., wich owns the mall, said Primanti will share a portion of that space with a new 6,300-square-foot Mad Mex restaurant, which is described as an American mash-up of Mexican food with Southeast Asian and West Coast influences.

Primanti Bros., a Pittsburgh staple that was founded in the 1930s, operates 17 locations, including outlets in Heinz Field, PNC Park and near Grove City.

For weeks, there has been public speculation that Primanti Bros. was eyeing the Erie area. Until now, however, the company had not confirmed those plans.

Both Primanti and Mad Mex are expected to open by fall.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 3rd, 2014

The Sheraton Erie Bayfront, owned by the Erie County Convention Center Authority, has been ranked the No. 1 Sheraton in North America for overall satisfaction.

Properties are ranked by Sheraton guests through a performance measurement survey, including a loyalty index. The Erie hotel, which is managed by White Lodging Services Corp., topped all 210 Sheraton properties in North America.

“I am very proud of the hard work and efforts that the staff of the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel provide to our guests each and every day,” said Dan Pora, general manager of the hotel.

The hotel’s restaurant, the Bayfront Grille, also finished first out of 205 Sheraton restaurants in North America, and won top honors out of 423 Sheraton restaurants around the world.

“It’s great to see all of the planning, long hours and sacrifice from our families pay off,” Executive Chef Michael Cerrie said. “I am proud, my team is proud and Erie should be proud of their accomplishments.”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 3rd, 2014

Warren Buffett’s annual letter to investors — which ranks each year as one of the business world’s most eagerly awaited documents — is 24 pages of what we’ve come to expect from the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

There is, of course, a look at the bottom line. The company continued a long string of financial gains in 2013, with a $34.2 billion gain in net worth. There was also a nod to the company’s staggering historical success. Buffett notes that a share of the stock that sold 49 years ago for $19 is now worth nearly $135,000.

Buffett’s 2014 letter also includes some prominent recognition for Ted Weschler, an Erie native and 1979 Cathedral Preparatory School graduate who has been one of Buffett’s two fund manager’s since 2011.

Buffett wrote: “In a year in which most equity managers found it impossible to outperform the S & P 500, both Todd Combs and Ted Weschler handily did so. Each now runs a portfolio exceeding $7 billion.”

Buffett went on to note that investments managed by Weschler and Combs outperformed his own investments “by a lot.”

His comments about Weschler and Combs conclude by saying, “Todd and Ted have also created significant value for you in several matters unrelated to their portfolio activities. Their contributions are just beginning. Both men have Berkshire blood in their veins.”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 28th, 2014

The Erie Indemnity Co., Erie County’s second-largest employer, which does business as Erie Insurance, saw earnings climb in the fourth quarter and posted overall gains in 2013 compared to the previous year.
The company announced Thursday that it earned $36 million in the fourth quarter of the year, up 20 percent from the final quarter of 2012.
Earnings for the entire year were also up, climbing from $160 million in 2012 to $163 million in 2013.
A strong stock market performance for much of the fourth quarter also helped boost income from investments from $10 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 to $13 million in the final three months of 2013.
For the year as a whole, the company earned $38 million from investments, up from $36 million the previous year.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 28th, 2014

Warren-based Northwest Savings Bank, which has numerous locations in Erie and Crawford counties, has been named one off the nation’s healthiest places to work.

The bank is ranked No. 79 on a report from Healthiest Employers, a technology and research firm focused on corporate wellness.

Northwest was recognized for a a broad range of corporate wellness programs and employee initiatives, including an onsite Weight Watchers program, biometric screenings, massages, biggest loser competitions, Highmark wellness rewards, a tobacco free workplace policy and healthy lifestyle challenges.

“We are honored to be recognized as one of the nation’s healthiest employers,” said Krista Jamerson, professional development officer of the bank. “At Northwest, we work hard to develop high quality wellness programs to ensure that we establish a healthy workplace, and our employees are armed with all of the tools they need to live healthy lives.”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 21st, 2014

HoneyBaked Hams have a following.

That’s why customers in Erie order them from the Atlanta-based company’s catalog, visit the website or drive to the nearest location in Cleveland.

Melissa McFarlin, the company’s brand development, is hoping that local fans of the glazed, spiral-sliced hams and turkey breasts will soon have a more convenient option.

After operating a successful temporary store at the Millcreek Mall during the holiday shopping season, McFarlin said the company, which has about 450 locations, is in discussions to open one in Erie.

“We are looking for a franchisee,” she said. “We have a couple interested prospects in the area, but do not have anything formalized yet.”

The company, which opened its first store in Michigan in 1957, hopes to build five new locations in Pennsylvania, including stores in Erie, Easton, Pottstown, Reading and Wilkes-Barre.

The planned Erie location would feature both a retail store and a cafe featuring fresh sandwiches and frozen meals.

Although a franchise owner hasn’t yet been named, McFarlin said the company is confident that will happen quickly.

She said HoneyBaked hopes to open an Erie location by September or October.

Anyone interested in franchise opportunities can contact the company at 866-968-7424.

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