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Jonathan D. Epstein

Jonathan Epstein is a business reporter at The Buffalo News, where he covers commercial and residential real estate and development. He has worked at The News since 2004.


KeyCorp has met its nationwide goal of lending $1 billion to women-owned firms nearly a year ahead of schedule, and has issued a new pledge to make $2 billion in such loans over the next five years.In announcing its new goal, the Cleveland-based bank, No. 3 in Western New York, touted the success of its Key4Women program -- first announced with its initial lending commitme…

Ed Hausauer never thought he'd need his bank's help to pay his mortgage -- that is, until his paychecks stopped coming.The 40-year-old system administrator and his wife, Lisa, had purchased their Chaffee home 10 years ago, with a $75,000 mortgage from First Niagara Bank. The loan had a 20-year term, with biweekly payments of $287, making it affordable.Then his wife quit wo…

Five Star Bank is back on the hunt for new deposits and loans, its top executive told shareholders Wednesday, after more than a year of successful reorganizing to fix past problems.The subsidiary of Warsaw-based Financial Institutions wants to grow its loan business by more than $300 million over two to four years, cautiously rebuilding its balance sheet by replacing lower…

First Niagara Financial Group has fired its head of consumer banking, a week after reporting a disappointing first quarter and announcing 100 job cuts statewide.The Lockport-based savings bank said Wednesday that it had named Chief Information Officer Frank J. Polino as interim executive vice president of consumer banking, replacing Michael Giaquinto, who left the bank Fri…

The parent of Five Star Bank said Friday that it's returning to a growth mode after several years of retrenching and retaining customers, but it still said first-quarter profits fell 2.7 percent from a year ago because of difficulty growing revenues.Warsaw-based Financial Institutions reported profits of $3.6 million, or 29 cents per share, down from $3.7 million, or 30 ce…

The new head of Evans Bancorp has some big ambitions for the small community bank.President and CEO David J. Nasca wants to double the bank's size to $1 billion in assets within three to five years, by creating what he calls a "dynamic, growth-oriented" bank.He plans to accomplish his goal by acquiring other companies or branches, opening new offices in Western New York, a…

Community Bank System, which operates 33 branches in the eight counties of Western New York, said profits rose 2.1 percent in the first quarter, driven by growth in loans and deposits and higher fees.The DeWitt-based banking company, which has 130 branches across upstate New York and northeastern Pennsylvania, including one in Erie County, reported earnings of $9.7 million…

First Niagara Financial Group on Tuesday reported a 18 percent drop in first-quarter profits and announced plans to cut costs by slashing more than 100 jobs statewide, closing some branches, and selling other offices and unneeded real estate. ir,2.2i,5p3 The Lockport-based company said profits fell to $18.5 million, or 17 cents per share, from $22.6 million, or 21 cents…

Insurers are cutting rates in Western New York and elsewhere to capture new business, after the nation's property and casualty carriers posted their best underwriting results in nearly 50 years.The industry this week reported that its earnings soared to more than $60 billion in 2006, after it raised premiums to cover its risk, but then didn't suffer big losses.That means c…

M&T Bank Corp. has become the only Buffalo-based business to make the Fortune 500 list, but it's arrival on the prestigious ranking was a bit rocky.M&T on Tuesday said profits for the first quarter fell 13 percent, the day after it made the elite national ranking for the first time. The bank, which was at No. 519 last year, came in at No. 496, with $4.36 billion in 2006 re…

Genesee County economic development officials are considering the development of a large-scale advance technology park in one of two locations in a bid to attract a microchip manufacturing plan or other major employer to the largely rural area.Officials have teamed up with the state, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, utility National Grid, and an industry consulting firm to cond…

Mortgage brokers are defending themselves against accusations by politicians and consumer advocates that they are to blame for causing the meltdown in the mortgage industry by giving loans to borrowers who couldn't afford them.Reacting to strong criticism, particularly from New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the brokers say it's unfair to paint the entire industry with the …

Meritain Health, the Amherst-based national third-party health plan administrator, said it has formed a new cost management strategies department to help clients manage their costs and evaluate their medical spending.The company, which says it's the largest independent provider of services to self-funded employer health plans, will evaluate clients' plan design and individ…

A mid-sized national home and auto insurer highly rated for customer satisfaction has closed its Buffalo office, shifting some jobs and responsibilities an hour away to a much larger facility in suburban Rochester.Amica Mutual Insurance Co., of Lincoln, R.I., had previously announced plans to close its Amherst office more than three years ago to consolidate its regional op…

A Boston-based national community advocacy group on Wednesday announced a $1 billion campaign to rescue predatory loan victims by refinancing their mortgages, as a new U.S. Senate report said such foreclosure prevention efforts are beneficial to communities.Using its capacity as a nonprofit mortgage broker, Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America will act as an agent for …