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Hires/Promotions/Honors

People Inc. promoted Richard Kajtoch to program manager. An employee at the health and human services agency since 2010, Kajtoch has served as an IRA specialist and team leader. He is a Canisius College graduate.

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First Niagara Financial Group named Cathie A. Schaffer regional president for the bank’s newly formed Tri-State Region, which includes markets in the Lower Hudson Valley; Fairfield County, Conn.; and northern New Jersey. Schaffer was senior vice president and division manager at J.P. Morgan Chase.

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The Stahlka Agency, a member of the EMS Group, named Bernadette Smith a senior account manager in the commercial lines department in the agency’s Amherst location.

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Phillips Lytle attorneys Thomas E. Popek, James R. Grasso, Geanne M. Blazkow and Michael Serotte delivered presentations to about a dozen Canadian companies participating in the second round of Communitech’s Hyperdrive program recently. Hyperdrive is a new, $30 million-plus tech startup incubator program with a global focus to seed, fund and grow new business.

Company Connections

Watts Architecture & Engineering received a Platinum Award for engineering excellence in recognition of the firm’s transportation engineering work for the Porter Avenue reconstruction project, from Niagara Street to Symphony Circle on Buffalo’s West Side, and a Gold Award for its environmental work on the New York State Thruway Authority Wetland Mitigation at Evangola State Park from the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York.

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The Amherst Chamber of Commerce will present the following awards at the 2013 Small Business Awards Luncheon and Showcase from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 17 in Samuel’s Grande Manor: Small Business Organization of the Year, Williamsville Business Organization; Small Business Advocate of the Year, Tom Ulbrich, executive director of the University at Buffalo’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership; President’s Award, Bean Media; Community Stewardship Award, Peter and Suzie Solender; Family-Owned Business Award, Moses Insurance Group; Trailblazer Award, Ambur Point of Sale; and Sponsor’s Award, MBMS Inc.

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Little Wonders Early Childhood Development Center, located at St. James United Methodist Church, 4661 Porter Road, Niagara Falls, will celebrate its grand opening Friday. The center opened Feb. 19.

Contributing

The Latino Coalition’s Work and Gain Education and Employment Skills project awarded $2 million in grant funds to three local organizations: HEART Foundation, Peaceprints Prison Ministries and Catholic Charities of WNY. The goal of the grant is to provide education and employment opportunities to improve the prospects of young adult ex-offenders and high school dropouts in Buffalo’s high-poverty, high-crime communities.

Patents

Title: Method and packaging for baked, thaw and serve, or microwavable goods

No.: 8,424,700

Inventor: Galluch, Noel F. (Boston)

Assignee: Rich Products Corp. (Buffalo)

Date issued: April 23, 2013