In November Nutrablend foods finalized plans for their second expansion here, while December saw Avanti Advanced Manufacturing Corporation announce their first U.S. operation. In January, Blockbuster Costumes confirmed that they would be the next Canadian based company to locate in western New York. These companies are classified in the agribusiness, advanced manufacturing and logistics & distribution targeted industry clusters, and will bring a total of 35 new jobs and just over $1million of investment into the region. Nutrablend foods is a Canadian owned contract manufacturer specializing in dry blend requirements, a major part of the manufacturing process of dry foods and nutritional products. The company made their first expansion into Buffalo Niagara as a BNE project win in October of 2009 when they established a filling and packaging facility here. The success of that project and positive experience associated with it resulted in the company reaching out to BNE and expressing their desire to move the blending aspect of their manufacturing process to the region. The move of the blending operation to open space in their existing facility on Walden Avenue in Lancaster has produced 10 more jobs and an additional $450,000 in investment in the area. “Our initial experience in expanding to Buffalo Niagara and the success we have realized in the business environment here were driving forces behind our second expansion,” said Nutrablend President Mark Labine. “All of the research and due diligence in finding the perfect location the firsttime around really paid off as we are now able to do this next phase in our existing facility. We’re very happy to be expanding here and are very pleased with our overall experience to date,” Labine added. A Canadian plastic injection molding company originally located in Waterloo, Ontario, Avanti Advanced Manufacturing’s interest in relocating to our region was driven by their desire to grow their U.S. customer base, which was already a significant part of their portfolio. Avanti specializes in the manufacturing of construction products and customized injection molding projects with the capability to rapidly go from concept to prototype to end product. The region’s strong workforce and manufacturing experience was also a factor in the selection of their Dutton Avenue location in Buffalo for their first U.S. based operation. Jim Wei, Avanti’s president emphasized the importance of the region’s workforce in his company’s decision to expand here. “A skilled and available workforce is critical to our operation and since we have begun the hiring process for our new facility in Buffalo Niagara, we have been extremely pleased,” said Wei. “We have found that there is a very strong pool of people that would be a perfect match for our company. Our expectations have more than been met,” Wei added. Blockbuster Costumes is a Halloween costume and party supply distributor owned by two Canadian principals whose only U.S. location was in Florida. Significant growth in the company dictated that the Canadian owners be closer to their U.S. operation. After working with BNE, Blockbuster Costumes decided to move their existing operation in Florida and purchased a building on Lovejoy Street in Sloan. Affordable real estate and a reliable workforce were primary factors for the company and their plans to hire 10 new employees and invest approximately $250,000. “Expanding our business to Buffalo has turned out to be a great decision for our company,” said Blockbuster Costumes principal Bob Martin. “Thanks to the staff at the BNE, we were able to find ideal, affordable real estate and a tremendous workforce to support our company. They consistently provided us with timely and informative responses to our requests, and made resources available that were invaluable in coordinating the expansion process,” Martin said. Besides these three successful attraction projects, Canadian company interest in the region has been incredibly strong. In 2011, BNE attracted 9 Canadian companies to the region resulting in 330 jobs and $406 million in investment. Dating back to 2002, BNE’s Canadian marketing and attraction efforts have resulted in 51 Canadian Companies investing more than $456 million and creating or retaining more than 1,300 jobs. These results validate the effectiveness of marketing and business development tactics being employed there.