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Jonathan D. Epstein

Jonathan Epstein is a business reporter at The Buffalo News, where he covers real estate and development. He formerly covered banking and insurance, and has worked at The Buffalo News since January 2004. He is a graduate of the University of Rochester and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is an upstate New York native.


The proposed new parent of Lake Shore Savings & Loan Association has filed plans with regulators to sell up to $29.76 million in stock, as the company seeks to convert from a depositor-owned institution to a public savings bank.In August, Dunkirk-based Lake Shore first announced its intent to become a stock financial institution, ending more than a century of completely pr…

Americans are worried about having their identity stolen and credit ruined, but less than half have sought to look at their credit report for free under a new federal law, according to a new survey by HSBC North America.The report by the financial services firm points up a discrepancy between consumers' concerns and the actions they're taking -- or not taking -- to address…

First Niagara Financial Group plans to roll out a new rewards program for customers, introduce new service standards and convert several branches to new models as part of a new push to focus on customers, executives told investors last week.As part of efforts to strengthen ties to its customers, the Lockport-based savings bank early next year will launch a "loyalty" progra…

HealthNow New York said Thursday that it's in talks to buy or invest in an out-of-state company to expand its health insurance offerings, but has no plans to sell itself.Spokeswoman Karen Merkel-Liberatore confirmed that the parent of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York is holding "very preliminary" talks with the other company, which she would not identify.She decl…

Evans Bancorp said Tuesday that third-quarter profits rose 16.9 percent, driven by growth in loans and insurance fees.The Hamburg-based parent of Evans National Bank reported earnings of $1.3 million, or 48 cents per share, up from $1.1 million, or 41 cents, a year ago."We believe this quarter reflects the continued successful execution of our strategic initiatives," said …

Businesses seeking to grow or locate in the Buffalo Niagara region may be deterred by the financial instability in the governments of Erie County the City of Buffalo, said the chairman of the Buffalo control board.The solution, said Brian J. Lipke, is to balance the county and city budgets.Lipke said both governments need to stop spending more than they take in, and not ju…

Northwest Bancorp, parent of Northwest Savings Bank, said earnings for the quarter ended Sept. 30 fell 1.1 percent, as expenses rose and the company set aside more money to cover loan losses.The Warren, Pa.-based company earned $14 million, or 27 cents per share, in the quarter, down from $14.2 million, or 29 cents per share, a year ago.Net interest income rose 1.1 percent…

HSBC Bank USA is seeking to grow its year-old business serving foreign embassies in Washington, D.C., signing a referral agreement with a major bank that is leaving the business.Charlotte, N.C.-based Wachovia Corp., the nation's fourth-largest bank, has agreed to recommend to its Embassy and Global Government Banking Business customers that they switch their accounts and o…

Western New Yorkers filing for bankruptcy must now choose between seven approved credit counseling agencies before going to court -- but all are heavily funded by creditors, and only one has local offices.Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, based in West Seneca, received government approval on Monday to offer prefiling counseling to debtors in Western New York w…

Citizens Financial Group of Rhode Island made the most loans under the U.S. Small Business Administration programs in upstate New York, but HSBC Bank USA takes the top spot statewide in both number of loans and total dollars.The claims by the two banks show the eagerness with which the industry seeks to tout its involvement with small business lending. It also points up th…

Greater Buffalo Savings Bank is about to enter the big leagues.The savings bank's parent company will triple its cash cushion and gain a listing on the New York Stock Exchange as part of a complex $67.1 million merger with a California finance firm, the companies said Wednesday.The unusual reverse merger will leave the bank and its Buffalo-based parent company, Great Lakes…

Independent Health Association and Erie County Medical Center have reached a new two-year contract, providing for higher reimbursements to the hospital but without the bitterness of another recent contract renegotiation.The new contract covers all Independent Health business lines -- commercial, Medicare, Medicaid and self-insured -- and ensures the insurers' members can g…

Wyoming County Bank and three affiliates may soon have a single new name: Five Star Community Bank.That's the proposed name for a merged entity that would be created by combining the four banks, if regulators approve the transaction, according to an application filed with the state by the banks' Warsaw, N.Y.-based parent, Financial Institutions.According to regulators, on …

M&T Bank Corp. is catching up to cross-town rival HSBC Bank USA in the annual derby for the area's top deposit leader, as banks have begun aggressively vying for consumer deposits in a world of rising interest rates.HSBC again holds the top spot this year, with 30.53 percent of the banking deposits in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area, according to June 2005 depo…

A little-noticed revision to the state's Empire Zone program is giving local economic development officials a new tool to attract or retain large employers.Under the new provision, a project that is designated as "regionally significant" to an area's economy can be sponsored by an existing Empire Zone without having to be located within the boundaries of that zone or munic…