WBFO Business & Economy Desk

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

There is going to be a rush to re-start Niagara County, now that Albany is allowing Phase One to start, especially construction and manufacturing. 

Marshall Gilmore finally got what he'd been waiting for this month when the state of Mississippi allowed him to offer table service again at his restaurant, the Harvest Grill in Meridian.

Still, many of his tables sit empty, even at limited capacity, and he makes most of his money offering curbside food pickup.

"People are just a little apprehensive about getting out in public. This was a once-in-a-lifetime scare that we all just went through. So everyone's a little scared," Gilmore says.

Niagara Falls, ON

There is a big push on both sides of the Niagara River to get economies going, particularly as warm weather starts, when ordinarily millions of tourists would be coming through.


Western New York has inched to the edge of starting to reopen in the COVID-19 crisis. The one unmet criteria is in the control of the five county governments in the region.


Many business owners are relieved to be talking about reopening, after two months of PAUSE due to the coronavirus pandemic. When the doors are unlocked again, entrepreneurs will have to safeguard public safety as well as their bottom line -- and that "new normal" could be especially costly to small businesses, many of which are women-owned. But there is help.

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The New York State Liquor Authority has suspended the liquor license of a Lockport bar, after it violated the state's executive order forbidding on-site food and alcoholic service due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 5:19 p.m. ET

Nearly 3 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week — bringing the total to 36.5 million in the past eight weeks, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The number of people filing claims has been steadily dropping for weeks, since hitting nearly 7 million during one week in March. Still, claims remain at historically high levels, suggesting that the coronavirus isn't done pummeling the U.S. economy.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

An alliance of Republican lawmakers was in a Lockport heavy industry plant Tuesday pushing to reopen Western New York, as three regions of the state prepare to start opening later this week.

Chris Caya / WBFO News

Erie County may not be ready to reopen just yet, but GM’s Tonawanda Engine plant is gearing up to start bringing workers back. The facility shut down nearly two months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Erie and Chautauqua counties

Western New York is inching closer to starting the reopening process under the state's seven criteria for starting up. The statewide lockdown order, also called PAUSE, is set to expire May 15.

Gerhard Gellinger/Pixabay

Finding a florist in the Buffalo area with flowers for Mother's Day won’t be easy this year. Many shops are closed and the ones that are open have limited options for customers.

Chris Caya / WBFO News

Some businesses in New York State may reopen as early as mid to late May. Business leaders are putting together plans to try to operate safely and prevent spread of the coronavirus.

General Motors

General Motors has resumed limited operations at its Lockport components plant.


A custom manufacturer of plastic products, in Chautauqua County, has joined the fight against COVID-19 by designing a new kind of face shield for frontline workers.

Niagara County

Niagara County wants to be ready when the quarantine is lifted, industry starts up and tourism begins to recover from the lockdown. The county is gearing up ReStart Niagara, ReThink Niagara and ReConfigure Niagara.

WBFO file photo

Tesla plans to take New York State up on an opportunity to get a one-year break from financial and job creation obligations they’re held to at its Buffalo Gigafactory. A spokesperson for Empire State Development confirmed Thursday the state is considering a deferral for all companies that have job creation requirements as part of economic development packages, due to COVID-19 disruptions.

Lively Run Dairy

Local dairy farmers are reacting positively to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan for New York State to connect farms with companies who will buy excess milk, process it into yogurt and cheese, and donate it to food banks in need. Dairy farms have had to dump milk because processing plants ran out of capacity. But one local farm has already been doing what the governor is proposing.


Erie County's fiscal picture continues to darken, with Washington seemingly unwilling to provide a stimulus package for state and local governments.

Ryan J. Foley / Associated Press

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the meat supply so badly President Trump has ordered plants to reopen even if closed because of rampant coronavirus illness among workers.

Natasha Haverty / NCPR

The food supply disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic have led to some dairy farmers dumping some of their milk because they have no place to sell it. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state will step in to try to get the milk to new markets and to help feed those left jobless from the economic shutdown.

WBFO file photo

Negotiations are underway for a fourth phase of federal economic relief, and a Western New York member of the House of Representatives believes the bipartisan support will be there for a deal he anticipates will be worked out by mid May. Congressman Tom Reed wants that deal to include provisions that ensure local governments get needed aid with no interference by the state.


As the summer growing season develops here in Western New York, Erie County hopes shoppers will look for a new logo, ERIE GROWN, on fresh produce, whether in stores or at neighborhood farmers markets.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

A court order has been issued against  an Amherst company and its elderly founder blocking him from taking on investors and accusing him of ripping off hundreds across the region. 

Facebook/Mayor Byron W. Brown

Mayor Byron Brown, during a Monday afternoon briefing in downtown Buffalo, echoed the comments of Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier in the day about when and how local economies may reopen and emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. But he also hinted that when the City of Buffalo gets the green light to resume business as usual, many of the work-from-home tasks going on now may still continue.

Tom Krishner / Associated Press

General Motors Canada is ramping up production at its Oshawa assembly plant, east of Toronto. It is not to produce cars, but face masks for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dan Clark / WMHT New York NOW

Workers in the construction and manufacturing industries will likely head back to work in the state’s first phase of reopening the economy, which could come in less than three weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.

NYS may buy excess food and dairy from farmers

Apr 27, 2020
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets

Struggling farmers in upstate New York may soon get a reprieve from the state, which is considering a plan to buy products, like excess milk, that aren’t making it to the shelves in stores, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.


Local farmers and others in the agriculture sector may soon have a new regional hub to help to grow their businesses. 

Catholic Health

Catholic Health has joined with some of its fellow healthcare providers in announcing job furloughs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kaleida Health

Kaleida Health is offering a voluntary temporary furlough program for its staff. The program is part of a joint agreement with the 1199SEIU and CWA1168 unions, which represent about 8,000 employees in the system.