First Niagara Slows Down

May 3, 2013 Updated May 3, 2013 at 8:16 AM EDT

By Mitch Simon

May 3, 2013 Updated May 3, 2013 at 8:16 AM EDT

Two years ago, John Koelmel announced plans to expand First Niagara Financial Group. Three months later, First Niagara offered to buy 200 HSBC branches. Then investors pulled back. One year ago, the deal closed. And First Niagara's stock price never recovered. In March, Koelmel was terminated. A permanent replacement has not been named. The report says First Niagara is now at a crossroads. Here's a current snapshot of First Niagara: It has 68 retail branches in WNY and 430 total branches. First Niagara employs 2,000 in WNY and 6,000 total. This year, the bank plans to trim expenses by $40 million, close up to ten branches, while avoiding layoffs or more acquisitions.

The company Play Checkbook LLC is teaching kids how to manage their money the high tech way. It was founded by a local couple with six children. They sell an app with the Play Checkbook name to manage balances on smart phones. Kids can see balances grow with allowance money or decrease after spending.

You can read more about these stories in today's Business First.

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