Business/Economy

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

Courtesy of Kelsey Worth

Grocery and convenience stores are among the few remaining businesses that Western New Yorkers can patronize in-person, but some of the essential workers there caution customers to take shopping trips seriously. WBFO’s Kyle Mackie reports on efforts to protect local employees and what customers can do to help.


Matthew D. Wilson / Wikipedia

New York State's last coal-burning electric generating plant is officially shutting down Tuesday.

WBFO file image

An estimated 70 percent of New Era Cap's U.S.-based workforce, including operations in Buffalo, will be furloughed for at least 60 days, the company announced Friday, as the result of slumping sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chris Caya / WBFO News

South Buffalo's Tesla gigfactory may reopen, not to make solar panels, but desperately needed ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

There are business opportunities for a Clarence company in the coronavirus crisis.

Updated at 5:13 p.m. ET

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted more 1,334 points, or 6.3%, Wednesday after President Trump announced new emergency steps to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, including suspending foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.

The Dow had been down more than 2,000 points earlier in the day, but later recovered some of its losses.

Updated at 8:51 p.m. ET

Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler are suspending production at their North American plants at least through March 30, to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The United Auto Workers, the autoworkers union, had been pushing for a two-week shutdown because of worker safety concerns.

United Auto Workers

Union workers spent the night in talks with leadership of the Big 3 automakers, about how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tony Walker & Co.

An Amherst retail fashion outlet has suddenly closed its doors.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Before New York State ordered the shutdown of all bars and restaurants, concerns over the coronavirus were impacting the regional economy. According to Jim Fink of Business First, during just one day last week a major Buffalo hotel lost $80,000 in bookings due to cancellations. It's likely the tip of the iceberg for what will be mounting financial losses for area businesses.

Updated at 4:21 p.m. ET

U.S. stock indexes fell sharply Monday, a day after the Federal Reserve aggressively cut interest rates to near zero in a bid to stop the economy from crashing. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 2,997.20 points, or about 13%, as coronavirus measures rapidly expanded. The S&P 500 index lost nearly 12%.

The Dow, which closed at 20,188.52, has lost 31.7% since its record high Feb. 12 as the market plunges deeper into bear territory after an 11-year winning streak.

Updated at 4:04 p.m. ET

The stock market has suffered a relentless, breathtaking drop — moving deeper into bear territory. Stocks fell so fast Thursday morning that it triggered a 15-minute halt in trading for the second time this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2,352 points, or nearly 10% — the biggest one-day drop since 1987. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were each down more than 9%.

WBFO Photo/Kate Kaye

Jay Reeves, a 24-year-old digital film student at Villa Maria, is a bus rider who falls through the cracks.

Updated at 4:39 p.m. ET

Stock indexes tumbled so fast Monday that trading on the New York Stock Exchange was halted temporarily for the first time since October 1997. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2,013 points as fears grew over the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic. The blue chip index fell nearly 7.8%, and the S&P 500 dropped 7.6%.

It was the worst day for the market since 2008, during the financial crisis.

Some $50 million worth of new solar manufacturing equipment purchased by New York State for use in the Tesla manufacturing plant on South Park Avenue is currently sitting unused in a Niagara County warehouse.

TC Buffalo Development

TC Buffalo Development introduced its plans for a huge new e-commerce storage and distribution center Monday night to the Grand Island Town Board. The project would be larger than anything currently on the island.

Updated at 5:08 p.m. ET

Jack Welch, the larger-than-life chief executive who grew General Electric into an industrial powerhouse, has died. He was 84.

During his reign from 1981 to 2001, the company's market value skyrocketed to $410 billion from $12 billion. For his success in growing GE's value, Fortune magazine dubbed him "manager of the century" in 1999.

Welch aggressively bought and sold divisions, insisting GE rank near the top of any business in which it operated.

Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET

Stocks took another steep dive Friday, deepening a multi-day rout fueled by fears about the coronavirus' impact on the global economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 357 points on Friday, capping a week in which the blue chip index fell 3,583 points or 12.4%. The Dow is down 16.3% from its recent peak on Feb. 12.

The S&P 500 stock index lost 11.5% for the week and is now down 14.6% from the all-time high it reached only last week.

Updated at 4:05 p.m. ET

Stocks continued their free-fall on Thursday, with major indexes falling into correction territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled nearly 1,200 points as worries mounted about the economic toll of a widening coronavirus epidemic.

The Dow ended the day down 4.4%, and nearly 13% below its recent peak on Feb. 12. A drop of 10% from a recent high is the technical definition of a "correction."

File photo

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says he is "disappointed" Panasonic will be ceasing North American solar production and exiting its partnership with Tesla to produce solar panels at the company's Riverbend plant.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul visited a Buffalo business planning to move to Lackawanna next year, and grow its workforce upon completing the move. TRS Packaging will receive $400,000 for job skills training, one of numerous awards announced by New York State Monday.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET

The coronavirus contagion has spread to Wall Street.

U.S. markets fell sharply Monday amid widening concern that the continuing spread of cases could lead to a global pandemic. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled nearly 1032 points, or 3.56% All of the major market indexes were down more than 3%.

Stock markets in Europe and Asia were also down sharply.

"This is not a health pandemic yet, but it's rapidly becoming an economic pandemic," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton.

Forever 21, the fast-fashion mall standby that filed for bankruptcy last year, will live on. Three companies announced Wednesday that they are jointly acquiring the retailer aimed at young shoppers and that they plan to continue to operate its U.S. and international stores.

The buyers are Authentic Brands Group, which owns major brands such as Barneys New York, Aeropostale and Nine West; and real estate companies Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners.

British bank HSBC announced plans Tuesday to cut nearly 15% of its global workforce — some 35,000 jobs — and shed $100 billion in investments as it refocuses on growth markets in Asia.

Interim CEO Noel Quinn says the world's seventh-largest bank had a resilient performance last year but that parts of the business, including Global Banking and investment markets in Europe and the U.S., "are not delivering acceptable returns."

T-Mobile / Sprint

New York state will not try to block the proposed merger involving T-Mobile and Sprint.

Tesla / Twitter

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he will be at the company's "Gigafactory 2" facility on South Park Avenue in Buffalo in April.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

State officials are showing off a vast plan for economic development on Buffalo's East Side called the East Side Avenues effort.

Karen Dewitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a commission to look at improving conditions for workers in the so-called gig economy, where people work job to job with few employment rights. But some workers say they are worried that the changes could actually harm their ability to earn money.


Emyle Watkins / WBFO News

"Shocked and speechless" was how the president of the Buffalo Newspaper Guild described the sale of The Buffalo News to Lee Enterprises. It could be a major change for the region, in an industry where cuts and consolidation are already common. For more information about the new owner and what the sale could mean for Western New York, WBFO's Marian Hetherly talked with Jim Heaney, a reporter at the News from 1986-2011 and now editor of Investigative Post, a nonprofit investigative reporting center based in Buffalo.


Fredonia Chamber of Commerce

And the winner is.... Those were the words anxiously clung to Tuesday evening, as "Small Business Revolution" live-streamed which of its Top 5 finalists would receive a $500,000 small business makeover. In the end, there was good news for the packed crowd inside and outside the Fredonia Opera House - and a special live appearance by the television show's co-host.

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