The WBFO Business & Economy News Desk is funded by The M&T Charitable Foundation.

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The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation has selected an architectural firm, known for its work with historic buildings, to design several future structures for Buffalo's Canalside. On Monday morning, the Corporation's board approved a $1.3 million contract for the firm's services.

24 million Americans could lose health insurance under GOP plan

Mar 13, 2017

The Congressional Budget Office released its long-awaited score for the Republican replacement for Obamacare, what the GOP is calling the American Health Care Act. The CBO's report estimates the impact of the bill on people. Sarah Kliff covers health care for Vox, where she is a senior editor. She breaks down what we've learned from the report. 

Kai Ryssdal: Give me the headlines on this one. What's a big takeaway for you?

It’s FAFSA season, when families apply for federal aid to pay for college. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool makes it easier for applicants to add the required tax information to their forms by transferring it directly from the IRS. Or it did. The IRS has suspended the service for several weeks, and if history is any guide, this could mean fewer students complete the forms and go to college.  

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

D Gorenstein

The Republican plan – or the American Health Care Act – radically reconfigures Medicaid by cutting federal funding by $880 billion over 10 years, according to recently released figures from the Congressional Budget Office. That could mean a loss of services for millions of people, including one in 10 million Americans with disabilities on the program.

Reaching Mars is a hard sell, but not impossible

Mar 13, 2017
Kai Ryssdal

During his address to Congress, President Donald Trump said that “American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.” While the details about that dream are unclear, what is clear is that last month Congress approved an authorization bill for NASA. That bill allows NASA $19.4 billion in spending money for 2017, and NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot has already instructed his team to consider what it would take to send people to Mars. So how likely is it that we'll see a televised Mars landing?

When people hear the term “student loans,” they typically think of tuition bills, pricey textbooks and other campus-related expenses.


Bak USA is expanding its production facilities in downtown Buffalo to meet increasing demands for the company's computers.

Future of downtown movie screens remains dark

Mar 13, 2017
WBFO File Photo

In recent years the City of Buffalo has seen an increase in the number of residents living downtown. Vehicular traffic has returned to Main Street. And more restaurants and shops have opened. But there's still no movie theater.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The Buffalo-based business competition 43North, which has awarded millions of dollars to startups for the past three years, has officially launched its fourth annual contest. To help kick off the event Friday, guests including elected leaders and representatives of past winners took turns praising the program.

What Russian cheese can tell us about the trade deficit

Mar 10, 2017
Jana Kasperkevic

President Donald Trump got some bad news earlier this week — the U.S. trade deficit of $48.5 billion reached a five-year high in January. While economists do not believe that a trading deficit is a reason for concern, Trump has made it his administration’s mission to reduce it.

Lauren Silverman

It's 2017, but medical records are still mostly stuck in the dark ages. Most hospitals use electronic health records, but if you want your primary care doctor to share information with your allergist or surgeon, it’s a pain.

The most popular idea right now for connecting medical records — without compromising privacy — is blockchain. The platform used for bitcoin, the digital currency system, could serve health care.

03/10/2017: Coal and politics in Gillette, Wyoming

Mar 10, 2017

Almost 40 percent of U.S. coal is mined in Gillette, Wyoming. We're reporting from Gillette this week, talking to the people who live there and what the economy feels like post-election. Plus, we go long and short on topics from the week's news, talk health care and explore the market for California raisins. 


We got the jobs numbers for the first full month of the Trump administration today: 235,000 jobs and 4.7 percent unemployment. We'll talk about what that means in the Weekly Wrap, and then look at the folks who still cant' find work as we near "full employment." Plus, oil's public image problems and one very expensive field trip.

What the February jobs report means for the upcoming Fed meeting

Mar 10, 2017
Mark Garrison and Marketplace staff

The first jobs report fully under the Trump administration is out, and the employment numbers are better than expected, giving the Federal Reserve further motivation to raise rates at its March meeting.  

The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February, with the unemployment rate falling to 4.7 percent.

Blog: The Make Me Smart Book Group

Mar 10, 2017
Jennie Josephson

On a recent Facebook Live video, Molly Wood talked about a book that includes one of her favorite topics: path dependence — the idea that the decisions we make depend a lot on past knowledge and decisions we've made, even if those ideas are no longer relevant. Kai Ryssdal suggested a book club. You responded! So drum roll, please. Welcome to the Make Me Smart book club.

Here are a few of the books we're reading (listeners included): 

03/10/17: The end of sugary soda's reign

Mar 10, 2017

February employment numbers are out, revealing that the U.S. added 235,000 jobs last month. FTN Financial's Chris Low joins us to explain what these numbers say about the economy. Next, we'll explore rise of co-worker spaces designed specifically for women. Plus: news that bottled water has overtaken soda as the no. 1 drink of choice for Americans.

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

There's another fight brewing over a decaying Buffalo building. While it may be one of the oldest surviving structures in the city, the building currently features boarded up windows.

Karen DeWitt

Members of a leading senior citizens lobby group are advocating for a retirement plan in New York that could benefit their children and grandchildren.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added a robust 235,000 jobs in February and raised pay at a healthy pace, evidence that the economy remains on solid footing nearly eight years after the Great Recession ended.

The unemployment rate dipped to a low 4.7 percent from 4.8 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday. More people began looking for jobs, increasing the proportion of Americans working or looking for work to the highest level in nearly a year.

America wastes an estimated 63 million tons of food each year, while 1 in 6 Americans are without enough affordable, nutritious food. We’re all responsible, whether it’s leftovers at a restaurant or that bruised peach that gets thrown. But one more guilty party? The law. A report out of Harvard Law and the Natural Resources Defense Council says rules around food labeling and even taxes aren’t helping. Truth is, a lot of things aren’t helping.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

The rise of female co-working spaces

Mar 10, 2017
Erika Beras

It's early morning, and Mary Jane McCullough drops her 14-month-old daughter off at day care. Then she walks through a set of doors and heads to her desk, where she starts her day running a language interpretation company. She used to do this at home.

“Trying to work from home with kids is impossible. It's keeping my phone on, taking conference calls in the bathroom, with kids screaming outside,” she said.

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea's Constitutional Court removed impeached President Park Geun-hye from office in a unanimous ruling Friday over a corruption scandal that has plunged the country into political turmoil and worsened an already-serious national divide.

The decision capped a stunning fall for the country's first female leader, who rode a wave of lingering conservative nostalgia for her late dictator father to victory in 2012, only to see her presidency crumble as millions of furious protesters filled the nation's streets.


We'll look at what to expect from this morning's release of one of the most anticipated jobs reports in a long time. Next, we'll discuss the ouster of South Korea's president, and then explore what environmental policy might look like under the Trump administration.

03/10/17: How secure are our smartphones?

Mar 10, 2017

Earlier this week, we looked at Wikileaks' decision to release documents about the CIA's alleged hacking practices. As experts still comb through the details, we'll discuss what U.S. consumers should be thinking about their devices right now. Then to cap off today's show, we'll play this week's Silicon Tally with Lemu Coker, a member of the open innovation team at Verizon. 

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Work on the $60 million Northland Corridor Redevelopment Project is ramping up. The focus of the mostly-state funded project is a workforce training center.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

A downtown Buffalo casino is nearly finished with its $40 million dollar expansion. Casino officials invited local reporters to preview some of the new additions Thursday.

Gabe Altieri / WSKG News

The New York Public Service Commission could make a decision this week that would have a big impact on the state's solar industry. Advocates for small solar producers worry they will be left behind.

How Putin's and Trump's economic messages are similar

Mar 9, 2017
Kai Ryssdal and Robert Garrova

Peter Pomerantsev spent many years in Russia working as a television producer and has seen the country’s economic highs and lows. He's the author of the book "Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia" and is a visiting senior fellow at the Institute of Global Affairs at the London School of Economics. He talked with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about the Russian economy and media. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Why we need anti-drone technology

Mar 9, 2017
Kai Ryssdal and Robert Garrova

As consumer drones get cheaper and more popular, there are lots of drones in inexperienced hands and growing concern that they could be used for terrorist attacks. Legally speaking, you cannot just shoot drones out of the sky. So now, both government agencies and private companies are developing technology to keep drones away from places where they shouldn't be. Douglas Starr is the co-director of the graduate program in science journalism at Boston University and a contributor to Wired magazine.

NYS Comptroller's Office

Once again, the New York State Comptroller's Office has millions of dollars in unclaimed funds looking for their owners, including more than $113 million owed to 241,221 accounts in Erie County.