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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.


M&T Bank Corp. is hoping to recapture an attractive ATM contract for the New York State Thruway when it comes up for rebidding, expected later this year, a bank spokesman said.The Buffalo-based bank had operated automated teller machines at a total of 27 service areas along the 496-mile highway until last July. That's when its contract for machines at 16 of the areas expir…

Viacom's radio division will likely sell its stations in eight to 10 small or mid-sized markets around the country, including five in Western New York, as it refocuses on the nation's largest metropolitan areas, top executives said this week.The revelation comes as the New York-based global media company seeks to revive profits and restore its luster by getting out of some…

State Farm Mutual Insurance Co. is now the seventh auto insurer to cut its New York rates by 5 percent, heeding a call by state regulators in the face of lower fraud losses.State Farm's decision to cut rates by an average of 5 percent will save its customers $47 million this year alone. Affiliate State Farm Fire & Casualty is also cutting rates by an average of 4 percent, …

M&T Bank Corp. is aggressively promoting a new rewards program for its debit card, becoming the latest bank to give customers an incentive to use their card so it can get more fees.Buffalo's biggest locally based bank recently sent out a "significant mailing" to its customers to introduce them to the new service, called Visa Extras.The free program allows customers to coll…

HSBC USA Inc., the direct parent of HSBC Bank USA, said Monday that fourth-quarter earnings rose 24 percent, as growth in commercial and mortgage loans drove revenues higher while it released money from its reserve for loan losses.The banking company reported profits of $269 million for the fourth quarter, up from $216 million a year ago. For the year, the bank reported pr…

A University at Buffalo educational and training center will be one of two New York state test sites for a national program designed to teach basic job skills like being on time and working together.Beginning this spring, the university's Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) on Washington Street downtown will test students on workplace conduct, dress, communication and oth…

Western New York's leading business group, along with local politicians, on Thursday called on the region's state and federal lawmakers to push through a series of initiatives and $200 million in investments to stimulate development, relieve taxpayers, and pay for growth.The legislative agenda announced by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership focuses on steps lawmakers can take…

Thousands of employees at GEICO Corp., including about 100 here, are collecting big bucks today, as the nation's fifth-largest auto insurer gives out checks for its annual profit-sharing payments.On Thursday, company officials announced that all employees who have been with the insurer for at least a year are getting payments averaging 24 percent of their 2004 gross salari…

So what's in a name? First Niagara Financial Group is learning the answer the hard way.The Lockport-based thrift institution is fighting off an effort by a small Canadian insurance brokerage to block it from registering its name under six U.S. trademarks.The name of the unrelated firm: First Niagara Insurance Brokers.The Niagara Falls, Ont.-based agency asserts in legal do…

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo wants to bring its employees together with those of its parishes, other Catholic organizations, and eventually the Catholic hospitals under one health insurance contract.The proposal being developed by diocesan officials, together with their insurance agency, would be the largest such project ever in Western New York. It's the latest effort …

It's time for 5,300 HSBC employees in Western New York to spend . . . or save.HSBC Bank USA on Friday distributed $26 million in long-awaited annual bonuses to employees in Erie and Niagara counties, using a new formula that puts more emphasis on workers' personal performance.The bonuses are not equal, and slightly different formulas were used for different divisions of th…

The Amherst Industrial Development Agency is in the midst of one of its slowest periods in years, in part because deals that should have closed are being held up, possibly by worries over the Erie County budget crisis, the agency's treasurer said Friday.During the last three months, a series of transactions already approved by the economic development agency in the past ye…

Seeking to address concerns that suburbs are poaching businesses from Buffalo, the five town industrial development agencies in Erie County are considering a new policy of defering to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency whenever a business wants to move from the city to the suburbs.Suburban towns like Amherst have been criticized for providing economic incentives…

Owners of two Arab-American groceries will drop a discrimination lawsuit against Charter One Bank, their lawyer said Wednesday, after the bank showed it's merely following a blanket policy not to do business with high cash-handling customers."It was a nondiscriminatory policy," said attorney David G. Jay, who represents Ali K. Saleh and Hamood A. Yafay. "Banks can do busin…

Reinforcing what many Western New Yorkers have long felt, the Buffalo-Niagara region ranked as the least expensive metro area in the nation for buying existing single-family homes last year, according to a national realtors group.The National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that Buffalo had the lowest median sale price for existing homes last year, at $93,000. Med…