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Monday, January 26, 2015 at 6:14 pm

When the weather warms up, Bill Cultrara will be cooking again, with Duke's Smokin' Bone

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bill cultrara, business, dining, food

Bill Cultrara and Larry Reisdorf are eager for the snow to clear from the smoker so they can get busy again with some serious BBQ.

Reisdorf has owned and operated Duke's Smokin' Bone, a catering service, for about a decade, and with business growing, he thought Cultrara's experience and expertise could help kick things up a notch.

Cultrara is a chef and former owner of Delavan's.

"With his experience, I thought it would be great if we could team up and work together," Reisdorf said.

Fans of Delavan's will be glad to see Cultrara cooking again, and happy to know Duke's will start offering his secret-recipe Italian sausage.

"I saw this as a different opportunity, nothing I've ever done before, and I like to learn," Cultrura said.

The new menu will include spatchcocked chicken and beer can chicken along with beef brisket and ziti and sausage (smoked or grilled). Duke's longtime favorites, quarter chicken, pulled pork and ribs, along with a several other meats, will also be available.

Duke's is available for private parties, corporate events and graduations.

For more information, visit Duke's Web site.

Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 5:12 pm

County doesn't share in state's job growth report

post by Howard B. Owens in business, economy, jobs

While the Department of Labor is boasting of 30,000 new jobs in New York in December, Genesee County was apparently not part of the boon.

The county lost 200 jobs from December 2013 to December 2014, according to the latest figures released by the DoL.

There were 21,900 jobs in the county last month, according to the report.

The nation as a whole added 240,000 jobs during the period and the national unemployment rate has dipped to 5.6 percent. New York's rate is 5.8 percent. The county's latest rate is not yet available.

During the same period, Wyoming County lost 100 jobs, down to 13,100. 

For jobs numbers, Orleans and Livingston counties are included in the Rochester count, which totals 129,200 jobs, down 200 from a year ago.

Buffalo-Niagara, however, added 800 new jobs, up to 558,400.

Here's the DoL's press release on the jobs report:

In December 2014, New York State’s private sector job count increased by 30,100, or 0.4 percent, to 7,638,200, reaching a new all-time high and outpacing the nation’s growth. Since the beginning of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration, the state’s economy has added 535,600 private sector jobs and experienced employment growth in 41 of the past 48 months. This period included 22 consecutive months of private sector job growth, the state’s longest streak on record (current data go back to 1990).

The statewide unemployment rate in New York declined from 5.9 percent to 5.8 percent in December 2014, reaching its lowest level since September 2008, according to preliminary figures released today by the New York State Department of Labor. In addition, New York City’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3 percent, remaining at its lowest level since October 2008.

The state’s private sector job count is based on a payroll survey of 18,000 New York employers conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly payroll employment estimates are preliminary and subject to revision as more data becomes available the following month. The federal government calculates New York’s unemployment rate partly based upon the results of the Current Population Survey, which contacts approximately 3,100 households in New York State each month.

“In December 2014, New York State’s economy experienced its largest monthly private sector job gain in two years and outpaced the nation. In addition, the state’s unemployment rate continued its recent downward trend in December,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, deputy director of the Division of Research and Statistics.

Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Book recalls Tony Kutter's efforts to bring cheese business to post-Communist Russia

post by Howard B. Owens in books, business, corfu, Kutter's Cheese, Tony Kutter

Imagine a country with only one kind of cheese. If you can, you're thinking of Russia in the aftermath of the fall of communism.

That was the situation Tony Kutter found on his first trip in 1995 to the former Soviet Union as part of a trade exchange program to help aspiring Russian entrepreneurs learn how to start cheesemaking businesses.

Who better to teach how to make and market more than one kind of cheese than the 81-year-old Corfu resident who is a former owner of Kutter's Cheese, a cheesemaker with a reputation for developing dozens of varieties of cheese.

That's what leaders of the exchange program thought after Kutter volunteered for the assignment and his resume landed on their desks.

It was one of Kutter's suppliers who suggested he apply for the volunteer position.

"He said, 'just send in your resume,' so I did," Kutter said. "I did and as soon as I did they responded right away. 'Oh, this is the one we're looking for.' "

Working through Agricultural Cooperative Development International, Overseas Cooperation Assistance and Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs, all three nonprofit, private organizations based in Washington, D.C., Kutter made 31 trips to Russia over a 12-year span.

Batavia's own Barber Conabel, then president of the World Bank, was among the first to suggest Kutter write a book about his experiences during those many trips.

"He said, 'you've got to write a book,' " Kutter said. "He said, 'I don't know anyone who has been there 31 times and all over Russia.' "

The book is published now and it's called "Cheese in the Time of Glasnost and Perestroika."

Kutter tells the tales, recalls the tribulations and revisits the sometimes sad family histories of the people he met while helping to build cheese plants, instructing cheesemakers on marketing, and sharing with them the recipes for any variety of cheese from munster to gouda to cheese curds.

"I got over there and said, 'geez, you make one kind of cheese and it ain't very damn good,' " Kutter said. "So I took about 20 varieties over from our cheese factory and told them, 'tell me what you want to make and I'll show you how to do it.' "

The organizations sponsoring these missions -- and there were many -- wanted to help Russia transition from a command economy to a market economy and help open up the country to U.S. goods and services. American companies helped sponsor the programs in the hopes of developing a new market.

Goals that haven't exactly been met.

His first mission was to help start a cheese factory in St. Petersburg. This mission was also Kutter's first introduction to Russian bureaucracy and the national penchant to operate on bribery.

Organizations sponsoring Kutter's trips purchased supplies for the new factory and Kutter arrived at the border with the equipment. 

A customs official wanted to know, "What the heck is this stuff?"

It's for making cheese, Kutter told him.

The official went through the boxes and proclaimed, "This isn't humanitarian aid. You falsified the papers."  

The fine was $75,000.

Kutter returned to the U.S. without the new factory in place, but when he returned a few months later, the factory was ready to start making cheese. All of the new equipment was installed and ready to go.

He wanted to know how it happened.

"Let's not get into that," he was told. "That's not for you to know."

Kutter added, "everything in Russia is predicated on a bribe. It's still that way."

Sadly, the St. Petersburg factory went bankrupt after two years, but others Kutter helped start are still operational.

In his travels, Kutter was often invited into the homes of his Russian hosts and he often quizzed the older Russians about life under the former Soviet regime.

When Stalin died, Kutter was serving in the Army in Korea and he remembers reading in "Stars and Stripes" about people weeping in the streets, so he asked one old Russian gentleman, "did you cry when Stalin died?"

The man said, no. He wasn't really all that saddened by the brutal dictator's death.

The man told Kutter, "I put spit in my eyes so it looked like I was crying."

Kutter had dinner with a woman whose husband was taken to Siberia during Khrushchev's rule.

The couple had eight children. The man's crime? He took a bag of grain so he could feed his family.

The mother wrote her husband every day, but never got a reply.  They assumed the letters were getting to him, but that he wasn't allowed to respond.

In 1975, after Brezhnev became chairman, she received a letter informing her that her husband "had been killed unnecessarily." The package contained all the letters she had ever sent him.

"I can tell dozens of stories like that," Kutter said.

In the town of Perm, Kutter helped establish a cheese factory and taught the owners how to make a great variety of cheeses, all of which most Russians had never even tried.

He told his hosts that with these great cheeses ready to sell, they needed a way to market them. Thinking of the booming tourist business Kutter's has always done in Pembroke, Kutter suggested they set up a sample table at City Hall. 

As a condition of the permit, Kutter had to speak Russian. Fortunately, he had hired for the plant in Pembroke a woman who was a Russian translator, and she had been tutoring him on his Russian.

"I can speak enough Russian," he told them, "to say, 'I'm from America and I'm working at this cheese plant right here in your city and we developed these new variety of cheese and so perhaps you can try some and tell me what you think.' "

The people came out of the woodwork, Kutter said.

"One woman said to me, 'why are you giving all this stuff away?' " Kutter said.

He told her, "We want to introduce it to you."

She replied, "In Russia, if somebody is giving something away, it usually means it isn't any good."

The Russians liked the free cheese, but that didn't mean they were buying cheese at first.

"I asked one woman, 'would you buy this cheese?' and she asked me what we were selling it for, and I told her, and she said, 'you know, I'd really like to but, no, I wouldn't buy it.' She said, 'I don't have a lot of money, so I would save my money and buy a dress because when I go out in public they can see what I wear, but they can't see what I ate.' "

Asked if he felt he had any lasting impact on Russia, or left a legacy, Kutter demurs.

"I'm just a little old cheese maker," he said.

A little later he came back to the question and recalled the time a sales rep came into the Kutter's factory and asked him if he had heard about the cheese curds recall in Russia.  

"I thought," Kutter said, "there never was any cheese curds in Russia until I went there, so I must have had some effect."

"Cheese in the Time of Glasnost and Perestroika," by Tony Kutter, is normally on sale at the Holland Land Office Museum, but they just sold out. More copies are expected soon. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Post Dairy Farm named Genesee County Conservation Farm of the Year

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, elba

Press release:

The Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors have announced the selection of Post Dairy Farm, LLC, as the 2014 Genesee County Conservation Farm of the Year. The Post family will be the honored guests of the District at the Celebrate Agriculture Dinner on March 21st at the Alexander Firemen’s Recreation Hall. They will be formally presented with their award at that time.

Post Dairy Farms LLC/ Dan and John Post – Town of Elba
The Posts have been working with the district since 1965. Their dairy consists of about 400 cows and they work about 500 acres. They just recently built a new barn with four robotic milkers; the district was involved with installing drip trenches around the perimeter. Some other conservation practices they have implemented include drain tile, diversion ditches, grassed waterways, covered heavy use area protection, and a wastewater lagoon. (Ken Post – father of Dan and John -- was named Conservation Farmer of the Year in 1973).

Previously: For five generations, farming has been all in the family for the Posts of Elba

File photo: Front row, Dan, John and Ken; and, Laurie and Jeff.

Monday, January 19, 2015 at 7:05 pm

Video: Third annual bridal show at Terry Hills

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bridal Show, business, terry hills

Terry Hills hosted its third annual bridal show yesterday. This is a video produced for Terry Hills about the show, in case you missed it.

CORRECTION: It was the 4th annual bridal show.

Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Owner enjoying larger, more accommodating repair shop location

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Johnson Automotive

In some respects, Jim Johnson has come a long way. In another, he's moved no further than a block down the road.

Johnson opened his own auto repair shop on West Main Street Road, Batavia, in August 2000 with nothing more than a floor jack and a tool box.

This month, Johnson moved into a spacious new location with four bays.

The new location for Johnson Automotive Repair will be more appealing to customers, Johnson said. For one thing, it has a nice, real waiting room that is heated. 

That's a big step forward for Johnson's business.

"I knew as a customer, I don't want to send my wife into a shop where you really didn't have a waiting room, or they called it a waiting room, and you have to sit and freeze," Johnson said. "Now we have a nice waiting room."

In the old location, Johnson crammed three hoists into a space perhaps best suited for only two into a herringbone configuration. One couldn't even go up all of the way, so Johnson or his mechanics had to work on their knees if repairing a car from underneath it.

A customer who needed an oil change would be asked to make an appointment two or three days in advance.

Now Johnson has three hoists for repairs and a separate bay set up exclusively for oil changes and lubes, no appointment necessary.

The new shop is located at 4007 W. Main Street Road, Batavia.

Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 1:30 am

Crafter gets off of festival trail and opens store in Downtown Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown

In the craft business since 1998, Andre Gliwski Jr. thinks it's time to settle down.

Rather than setting up a booth at a different community festival each weekend, Gilwski has opened a craft store in Downtown Batavia, at 220 E. Main St. and is hosting an open house this Friday and Saturday.

Working out of a single location isn't just a better lifestyle for a young father (Gilwski and his wife have children ages 1 and 2), it's better for building relationships with customers.

"You have a better following when they know where you're at rather than trying to chase you down," Gilwski said.

Currently his shop, A.J.'s Crafts, stocks only items that he has made, or his mother or wife have made.

Among the kind of things Gilwski enjoys making are jewelry, clothes, blankets, bean bags, hair stretchies, catnip toys, tooth-fairy pillows and scarves.

He said he can make or have made pretty much any custom item a buyer might want.

His mother has been slowed by arthritis, but there's a table in the store filled with her handmade needlework items.

Gilwski's wife also makes jewelry and helps with some of the product finishes on Gilwski's work.

"I like crafts because they're all handmade and not made in other countries," Gilwski said. "It's something I enjoy doing and I enjoy the look on a customer's face when they buy something I've made. It's something different than what you'll see at Walmart or Kmart or some other Big Box store."

Friday, January 16, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Advances in technology that affect business is topic of BID workshop, RSVP by Jan. 22

post by Billie Owens in business

Batavia's Downtown Business Improvement District will hold a special presentation on advances in technology from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 26, at GO ART!, 201 E. Main St.

The topic: "Are You Chip Ready?" The presenter is Chris Vella, with Bank of America Merchant Services.

By the end of 2016, magnetic strips on debit and credit cards will be outdated. Virtual wallets are the future.

This workshop will educate businesses on advances in technology regarding accepting payments, managing customer information, creation of loyalty programs and promotions, tracking sales and inventory, and more.

Free to BID members; $5 for non-BID members. RSVP by Thursday, Jan. 22. Call the BID at 344-0900 or e-mail:  [email protected]

This event is sponsored by the BID's Business Development Committee.

Friday, January 16, 2015 at 7:57 am

GCEDC announces goals for 2015

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

The staff of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) unveiled its proposed goals for 2015 at the agency’s board meeting Thursday. Among the goals for 2015:

• Generating $35 million in new capital and/or business investments;
• Creating/retaining approximately 205 jobs; and
• Advancing development of STAMP.

Among the plans for STAMP include continue securing funding to advance critical infrastructure development for the site such as water, sewer, natural gas and electric as well as the remaining land acquisition. According to GCEDC staff, securing this funding will further STAMP toward receiving NYS “shovel-ready site certification” and continue to advance the ongoing efforts to market the Park to corporate site selectors in various industry sectors such as nanotechnology.

“We have set the bar very high, but given the track record of the GCEDC the board is very confident in the staff’s ability to achieve these aggressive economic development goals,” said Wally Hinchey who was reappointed as GCEDC chairman at the board meeting. “Through the years we have created a very positive climate for economic growth and we will continue to build on these successes in 2015.”

The GCEDC also revealed plans to continue infrastructure enhancements as part of Phase II development at the agri-business park and ongoing collaboration with the Town of Le Roy on its potential development of a “greenfield” site located near Route 19 and West Bergen Road, bordering the Village of Le Roy. The GCEDC also plans to enhance its municipal and regional stakeholder outreach program for county and regional stakeholders with a particular focus on municipalities and school districts.

In addition to Hinchey being reappointed as chairman, the GCEDC also announced the appointment of its 2015 officers:

• Mary Ann Wiater, Vice Chairman
• Penny Kennett, Secretary
• Lezlie Farrell, Treasurer
• Steve Hyde, President & CEO

“On behalf of the staff of the GCEDC, we are very excited to embark on another year of significant economic development activity that will continue the growth and prosperity of the region,” said Steve Hyde, GCEDC president and CEO. “We are grateful to the GCEDC board for its support of our efforts and we look forward to collaborating with the public and private sectors in our collective efforts to create and retain jobs and bring new investment to Genesee County.”

Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Molino honored by city management association

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Jason Molino, Milestones

Press release:

Jason Molino, City Manager for the City of Batavia, recently received the Credentialed Manager designation from ICMA, the International City/County Management Association. Jason is one of over 1,300 local government management professionals currently credentialed through the ICMA Voluntary Credentialing Program.

ICMA’s mission is to create excellence in local governance by promoting professional management worldwide and increasing the proficiency of appointed chief administrative officers, assistant administrators, and other employees who serve local governments and regional entities around the world. The organization’s nearly 9,000 members in 27 countries also include educators, students, and other local government employees.

To receive the prestigious ICMA credential, a member must have significant experience as a senior management executive in local government; have earned a degree, preferably in public administration or a related field; and demonstrated a commitment to high standards of integrity and to lifelong learning and professional development.

Jason is qualified by more than eight years of professional local government executive experience. Prior to his appointment in 2006 as City Manager of Batavia, he served as the Assistant to the Village Manager for the Village of Port Chester, NY.  In addition, Jason served as a 2nd Class Petty Officer in the United State Coast Guard Reserve from 2000-2007

Highlights of Jason’s ICMA membership include: member of the 2009 Montreal ICMA Conference Planning Committee and most recently the City of Batavia and Jason were recognized by ICMA as recipients for the 2014 Program Excellence Award for Strategic Leadership and Governance.
Jason has also made significant contributions to a number of other organizations, including: serving as Board Member of the New York State City/County Management Association, current member and former President of Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension and Graduate of Leadership Genesee – Class of 2008.

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