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Verizon wants quick decision in land lawsuit but still hasn't made up its mind

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Eric Hauser
via Flickr
Verizon still hasn't made a decision on a western New York data center.

Verizon is trying to tie up the loose strings in a lawsuit brought by residents seeking to stop the communications firm from getting massive tax breaks from the Town of Somerset.  Thomas Prohaska reports at the Buffalo News that Verizon is seeking a ruling as early as Tuesday.  But one crucial questions remains:

Does that mean Verizon has at last decided that Somerset is the location for the data center? “We thought it was a prudent step to take, so when we do make a decision, everything will be in place,” Verizon spokesman John J. Bonomo said. Asked whether Verizon had purchased land in any of the other states that it is said to be considering for the data center, Bonomo said, “I don’t think we would provide that information at this point.”

Verizon has so far failed to commit to Buffalo for its new data center.

A spokesman for GlobalFoundries told the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce that he's not sure what the future holds for the Albany area, after the construction of his firm's chip fabrication plant:

[Communications director Travis] Bullard says he can't quantify what impact GlobalFoundries' $4.6 billion computer chip factory being built in Malta will have on the region's economy. "I have no idea what exactly it is going to mean," Bullard said. "I wish we had a crystal ball." But Bullard said it is possible to look at how the construction of one of its chip "fabs" in Dresden in the 1990s impacted that city, which he said has many parallels to Albany.

Larry Rulison at the Times Union reports that Bullard says initial job creation estimates in Dresden were doubled, and investment originally slated at $1.9 billion ultimately became $7 billion:

The so-called multiplier effect is expected to have the biggest impact in the Capital Region, even if GlobalFoundries doesn't build a second facility. GlobalFoundries has already hired 300 people for the fab, which is about 70 percent complete. That number will jump to 900 people by the end of this year, as manufacturing equipment is installed starting in July. There are also 1,400 construction workers at the site, the peak number for the project.

First Niagara
Hearings begin soon in the proposed merger of First Niagara bank and NewAlliance Bank in Connecticut, reports Jonathan Epstein at the Buffalo News:

[Connecticut banking commissioner Howard] Pitkin, whose office is now reviewing the application, will take testimony March 8 in Manchester and March 9 in New Haven. NewAlliance is based in New Haven. “At the request of local leaders and members of the community, I have called for a public hearing related to the proposed merger of these two entities,” he said in a news release. “I believe that all citizens should be given the opportunity to voice their opinions related to this issue. I look forward to hearing from the public as well as the corporations involved.” New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., who has been outspoken in his criticism of and opposition to the deal, praised the announcement of the hearing. “Aside from informing the commissioner’s decision, it provides the opportunity for the public to reflect on how wealth and jobs get created in our state,” he said. “It’s an important venue to consider that.”

Earlier this week First Niagara confirmed that it's laying off 219 people in Connecticut because of the merger.

PAETEC continues to close its books in the red, reports the Democrat and Chronicle's Matt Daneman:

"We believe 2011 is truly an inflection point for the company," CEO Arunas Chesonis said Thursday in a conference call with Wall Street analysts. For the three months that ended Dec. 31, PAETEC reported revenue of $429.2 million, a 39 percent jump over the same quarter a year earlier. Minus Cavalier's share of that increase, PAETEC's revenue would have been up about 4 percent. For 2010 overall, PAETEC had revenue of $1.62 billion, up a little more than 2 percent over 2009. As for the bottom line, in the fourth quarter PAETEC lost $25.9 million, or 18 cents a share, compared with a loss of $2.4 million, or 2 cents, a year earlier. Driving those increased losses were higher interest expenses and one-time factors including acquisition and employee separation costs.

National Grid
New York has hired a Kansas firm to audit National Grid's charges to customers, reports Tim Knauss at the Post-Standard.  The report, due in November, will look at whether or not the power company added "inappropriate charges" like executive perks as part of a recent increase.

Minority business
Liz Benjamin at the State of Politics blog has the details on Governor Cuomo's new Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) "team."  The body is tasked with bumping the number of contracts that New York signs with MWBEs to 20 percent, from the present 9 percent:

The M/WBE team will be made up of: state agency heads managing M/WBE programs; members of the state senate and assembly, including members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus; representatives of companies actively involved in supplier and workforce diversity contracting and inclusion practices; recognized experts in M/WBE implementation; and representatives from New York state academic institutions.

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