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Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 7:33 pm

GCEDC to consider Darien Lake Theme Park request for $180,000 tax exemption for new attractions

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake, GCEDC

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider a project from Darien Lake Theme Park Resort at its Thursday, March 5, board meeting.

Darien Lake Theme Park Resort is planning to add several new attractions, including a 75-foot “super loop” thrill ride and dual waterslide complex speed ride for this operating season. The projected capital investment is approximately $2.5 million.

The company is seeking a sales-tax exemption of $180,000, which would require a public hearing should the board approve the application.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate Med & Tech Park - 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, on the first floor across from Genesee Community College.

Monday, March 2, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Site Selection Magazine recognizes Batavia for 11th straight year as top micropolitan area

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

For the 11th consecutive year Site Selection Magazine has recognized Batavia/Genesee County as one of the Top Micropolitans in the United States. Among the criteria for receiving the recognition includes capital investment and job creation. Through the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), approximately $58.07 million in new capital investments were made in the county creating more than 140 new jobs in 2014.

“Throughout 2014, we continued to see tremendous growth in Genesee County as a result of our strategic business attraction and expansion efforts to generate capital investment and create more job opportunities,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “Further development of the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP), among several other shovel-ready sites, will remain a top priority on our agenda as we move forward into 2015.”

In 2014 the GCEDC achieved 20 project “wins,” and celebrated the $20 million expansion of Yancey’s Fancy, one of Western New York’s most prominent food manufacturing companies. Yancey’s investment will result in a new 112,000-square-foot building at the Buffalo East Technology Park in Pembroke and will create 50 new jobs in the region. Other significant projects the GCEDC assisted with were the expansion of Liberty Pumps in Bergen and US Gypsum in Oakfield.

The ranking of Top Micropolitans is based on cities of 10,000 to 50,000 people which cover at least one county. To make the rankings, the projects must be at least $1 million in value, employ at least 50 people, or involve construction of at least 20,000 square feet. There are approximately 576 micropolitans in the United States according to Site Selection Magazine. Batavia was tied for fourth place in the national rankings.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center will unveil its 2014 annual report highlighting its project “wins” at the organization’s annual meeting on Friday, March 6th, at noon at Batavia Downs.

Monday, March 2, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Chamber offers workshop on 'Financing Your Business Venture'

post by Billie Owens in business

Press release:

“Financing Your Business Venture” will be the subject of a small business workshop to be hosted the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce on March 11.

This is the second in a series of business workshops for 2015 held in conjunction with the United States Small Business Administration and the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. The workshops are open to all Chamber and non-Chamber businesses and their employees and will offer expert advice from experienced business professionals designed to help small businesses succeed and grow.

“One challenge for most entrepreneurs when starting and growing a small business is acquiring the appropriate financing,” said Tom Turnbull, Chamber president. “In this workshop, participants will understand the process of borrowing money, the 5 C’s of credit, the importance of managing your credit score and the financing alternatives available to small business owners.”

All workshops will be held at the Chamber of Commerce office, 210 E. Main St., Batavia. The sessions will run from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Businesses may attend any one or all of the workshops.  Cost for non-Chamber members is $10 for each attendee. Chamber members may attend all sessions free of charge but must make reservations to insure space for their employees.

To reserve a seat in any workshop or for more information, contact Kelly Bermingham at 585-343-7440 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 8:40 pm

Six years in and The Batavian is going strong

post by Howard B. Owens in advertisement, business, Sponsored Post, thebatavian

Six years ago, there were critics who gave us six months.

I heard it in Batavia and read it from pundits online.

When Billie and I assumed ownership of The Batavian, the site had three sponsors and hadn't yet cracked 2,400 visitors in a day. There were naysayers who thought we were foolish to sell our home in Pittsford and rent a tiny duplex on Maple Street and pretend we could be local online news publishers in Batavia.

That was March 1, 2009.

Today, thanks to the support of our readers, we have more than 140 sponsors and employ three people (including our editor for the Wyoming County Free Press).

Last week, we had 12,000 visitors to The Batavian every day. That's normal now, and on big news days we're well over 15,000 visitors and sometimes as high as 20,000.

In a county with a population of only 57,000 people, we get 120,000 visitors to the site per month, who visit the site 550,000 times per month. (Source for these numbers is our Google Analytics account, which tells us nearly 60 percent of that traffic comes from within Genesee County, with the bulk of the rest coming from the rest of Western New York (likely local residents checking us out while at work.)

Those might seem like staggering numbers, or perhaps not. There are sites online where those traffic numbers would be considered abysmal, so some context is needed.

We get context by comparing our traffic with the local news organization we consider our competitor, the Batavia Daily News.

The chart above comes from a site called Quantcast, which measures the traffic of both TheBatavian.com and TheDailyNewsOnline.com.

The top line is The Batavian, which covers only one county, and the bottom line is the Batavia Daily News, which counts as its market area three counties (Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans).

Billie and I are really proud of how people in Genesee County have embraced The Batavian as the go-to local news source. The spikes in the chart above especially illustrated how important we are to local readers when there is breaking news.

Quantcast says in the past 30 days, The Batavian has had 127,000 unique visitors (kind of like counting individual computers that visit the site) compared to 99,000 for the Batavia Daily News. We've had 663,081 visits (counts people visiting multiple times) compared to 422,000 for the Batavia Daily News.

Marketers use a term called Defined Market Area to measure audience for media companies, and Genesee County is divided between Buffalo and Rochester. Our traffic in the Buffalo DMA was 64,566 people and for Rochester, 23,785. For the Batavia Daily News, the numbers are 37,694 and 18,702.

While it's gratifying to compare ourselves to our competition and see we're on top, that's not the real point here. As I go around town, I get asked all the time, "How's The Batavian doing?" This is how we're doing.

More than our raw traffic numbers, those comparisons speak volumes about how The Batavian has been accepted and embraced by Genesee County residents.

It also puts our success in context on a larger stage. There are, at best, only a handful of online-only news sites in the United States that have achieved our level of success in readership and local business support. I don't even know of a newspaper in a comparable market that matches The Batavian's online success with its Web site.

Publications that cover media are full of pundits who pontificate on the failure of local news media and are self-assured that the Internet destroys the audience for local news. The numbers for The Batavian demonstrate, I think, how wrong those proclamations are. People do want local news, and if they get it in a style and format they like, they will flock to it.

Billie and I are grateful for your support. We're transplants from Southern California who have come to love Western New York and enjoy our life in Batavia. We're excited about our community's future and prospects for growth and intend to do all we can to be a supporter of an ever more vibrant and successful community.

Of course, we wouldn't be in business without the support of our sponsors, but there again, we need to thank our readers. You all have been most generous in supporting our sponsors. We continually get rave reviews from sponsors who are pleased with the results they get from their ads on The Batavian. Please continue to support the local and regional businesses who so graciously support The Batavian.

On the sponsorship front, we've promoted Lucie Ann Griffis to an expanded sales territory to include Genesee County, so if you have a local business and are ready to experience a great way to market your business, call Lucie at our office, (585) 250-4118.

Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Photos: 2014 Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce held a gala at the Clarion Hotel last evening to honor its 2014 award winners.

(Pictured above L to R) 2nd row -- "Business of the Year" Applied Business Systems, Lisa Ormsbee, Connie DiSalvo, Jim DiSalvo, Jason DiSalvo, Steve Samis;  "Geneseean of the Year" Margaret "Peggy" Lamb; "Industry of the Year" Muller Quaker Dairy, Karen Banker, Kevin Williams. "Geneseean of the Year" William "Bill" Schutt.

(Pictured above L to R) 1st row -- "Innovative Community Contribution of the Year" Merrill Lynch, Steve Tufts, Joshua Dent, John Riter; "Agricultural Business of the Year" Corcoran Custom Services, Stacy Corcoran, Bill Corcoran. "Special Service Recognition of the Year" Genesee Cancer Assistance, Inc., Dr. Kevin Mudd.

To purchase and view pictures contact: https://www.facebook.com/SteveOgnibenePhotography

Steve Samis - Applied Busniess Systems

Kevin Williams - Muller Quaker Dairy

Bill & Stacy Corcoran - Corcoran Custom Services

Steve Tufts, John Riter, Joshua Dent - Merrill Lynch

Joe Gerace, Carol Grasso, Toni Funke, Paul Figlow, Dr. Kevin Mudd, Ellen Bachorski together pictured for Genesee Cancer Assistance

Jay Gsell with Margaret "Peggy" Lamb - Geneseean of the Year

William "Bill" Schutt - Geneseean of the Year

More pictures on Steve Ognibene Photography's Facebook page.

Friday, February 27, 2015 at 12:44 pm

City ready to move quickly on Batavia Downs hotel project

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business

The city is ready, willing and able to help get construction started quickly on a new, five-story, 80- to 100-room hotel at Batavia Downs, said City Manager Jason Molino.

While developers and Western OTB officials have yet to agree on the precise location of the hotel, COO Mike Nolan said this morning the most likely spot is overlooking the southwest turn of the track, adjacent the grandstands, near the Tops Plaza.

That location is within the boundaries of the City of Batavia, meaning it will be the city's zoning and planning boards that will be called on for plan, design and environmental reviews.

"Being able to get this project reviewed and in front of all the proper boards is something we're committed to," Molino said. "We will make every effort, including holding special meetings, to move this along as swiftly and as smoothly as we can to meet the goals of the developers. I don't think this is a concern for us. We've worked with these size projects before and we can get it through smoothly."

Nolan said the developers, a Buffalo-based group that will purchase the property for the hotel from Western OTB, would like to break ground in 60 days and have the hotel open within nine months.

"The best part of this story is that back in 1998, when Western OTB bought Batavia Downs, it took $3 million (in assessed value) off the tax rolls," Nolan said. "Now, in 2015, $7 million plus is going back on the tax rolls for a facility that was closed and drawing nothing but cobwebs."

The increase in tax revenue won't hit local governments all at once, since the developers are likely to seek tax abatements from Genesee County Economic Development Center, but the exact structure of tax relief won't be clear until applications are made and abatements are approved.

Typically, tax abatements from GCEDC include relief on sales tax for construction material and furnishing, mortgage tax and a PILOT, which graduates the amount of property tax paid over a 10-year time frame, until the property owner is paying 100 percent of the taxes on the fully assessed value.

State law prohibits industrial development agencies from providing tax assistance to retail projects, unless they qualify as tourist destinations or are intended to attract visitors from outside the area.

Projects that are with economically distressed areas, or adjacent to such areas, are also exempt from the law.

Julie Pacatte, coordinator for the Batavia Development Corp., said one advantage Batavia Downs can realize by building the hotel on property within city limits (Batavia Downs straddles the City/Town line) is the census track is adjacent to a census track that includes Downtown Batavia, which qualifies as an economically distressed area.

"We're thrilled at the idea of having a distinctive hotel within the city," Pacatte said. "What they're planning, where you arrive in a very Vegas-style, shared lobby area, where you can check into the hotel and stay within the facility throughout your weekend, and being on the track, overlooking the last turn from a balcony, is pretty exciting."

Because the hotel won't offer other amenities, but is geared entirely toward the visitor looking for casino and harness racing entertainment, the folks at Western OTB don't believe it will compete with existing hotels, Nolan said.

"With this becoming a more competitive casino market in Upstate New York, we felt we needed to step up," Nolan said. "There's a casino coming to Seneca County, and the Seneca's already have casinos at their Niagara and Salamanca properties. In this new and up and coming casino market the way it is, we needed to offer some hospitality for our casino customers."

The other advantage the city offers a water-hungry facility like a hotel is lower water rates. Rates in the city are $3.14 per thousand gallons of water compared to $5.46 in the town.

The developers are negotiating with a couple of different hotel chains, so it's possible the new hotel will be operated under the banner of a Hilton Garden Inn or a Courtyard Marriott, or some other banner.

Batavia Downs is just wrapping up a $28 million remodeling and expansion effort and th hotel will complement that growth, Nolan said.

"We have a tremendous opportunity for convention-type of events and banquet-type of events that require lodging," Nolan said.

The hotel, Molino said, will certainly be a boost to the local economy, bringing in more visitors, creating jobs and spurring other types of economic growth. 

"This is a great opportunity and a great project," Molino said. "Everybody in my office, with the BDC and in planning are excited to work with the developers. We're going to do everything in our power to make sure it moves as quickly as it can and move as promptly as possible. That would be a win-win for everybody involved."

Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 5:28 pm

Hawley encourages participation in business plan competition

post by Howard B. Owens in business, education, steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today encouraged college students to participate in New York’s annual business plan competition. Hawley praised the competition for allowing bright students across the state to present new ideas consistent with New York’s focus on nanotechnology, entrepreneurship and advanced technology. More than 600 students are expected to participate and compete for a top cash prize of $100,000.  

“As the owner and operator of a small business, I know the hard work and ingenuity it takes to succeed as a business owner in New York,” Hawley said. “This competition highlights principles that make our state great – determined and visionary entrepreneurs and businesspeople. I am thrilled that we are allowing the next generation of business- and technology-minded students to fulfill their passions right here in New York State and generate ideas that will allow our economy to grow and thrive. I encourage all college students interested in this competition to participate.”

The competition’s regional semifinals, held at St. John Fisher College in Rochester for students from Hawley’s district, will be held in March and early April with the finals being held on April 24 at SUNY Polytechnic Institute. Since the first competition in 2010, more than 1,130 students have competed with cash prizes being awarded in excess of $1,300,000. More information about the competition can be found at http://www.sunycnse.com/NewYorkBusinessPlanCompetition/2015Program.aspx.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 2:05 pm

NYS Dry Bean Growers metting is March 18 in Le Roy, registration required

post by Billie Owens in agriculture, business

Press release:

The 2015 NYS Dry Bean Growers Meeting will be held Wednesday, March 18, from 9 a.m to 3 p.m., at the Le Roy Country Club, one mile east of Le Roy on Route 5 / East Main Road. The agenda includes discussion of varieties, insects, disease and weed pests. There will also be bean dish sampling. Join us for important dry bean production and market updates! DEC and CCA credits will be available.

Lunch will include tasty, healthy NYS dry bean dishes from the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.

Preregister by March 10 to save $5! Sponsored by New York Bean, LLC, and Empire Tractor, Waterloo.

Sclerotinia white mold caused significant losses in 2014 due to the wet season. New Cornell plant pathologist Sarah Pethybridge will explain white mold development, cultural practices and fungicide choices/timing to reduce risk, and new research ideas. Progress on breeding for white mold resistant dry beans, and improved yields will be reported. Results of Cornell variety trials comparing yield, maturity, canning quality, etc. will be presented. Western bean cutworm (WBC) feeding damage on beans has now been detected in several locations.

The 2014 WBC moth survey will be summarized, and recommendations for bean damage control will be provided. Final results of a reduced tillage dry bean weed control trial, and trials of potential new herbicides, will be presented. The effects of long-term reduced tillage, rotation and cover crops on dry bean yield and root rot will be described. There is increased cost-sharing available for such good soil management.

There will be a report from the U.S. Dry Bean Council, and a summary of the Feb. 9 Organic Dry Bean Discussion. The NYS Dry Bean Industry Committee will meet at 2:30 p.m., and decisions on funding 2015 dry bean research will be made.

Cost if preregistered by March 10: $20 for Cornell Vegetable Program enrollees; $30 for all others. Cost is $5 more at the door. To preregister, go to cvp.cce.cornell.edu or send a check, payable to Cornell Vegetable Program, to CCE Cornell Vegetable Program, Attn: Angela Parr, 480 N. Main St., Canandaigua, NY 14424.

For sponsor opportunities, contact Angela Parr at [email protected] or 585-394-3977, ext. 426. Questions or special needs, contact Carol MacNeil at [email protected] or 585-394-3977, ext. 406. In case of bad weather, call 585-394-3977, ext. 406, for a message.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 11:45 am

Farm Bureau president lays out legislative agenda for 2015

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, elba, NY Farm Bureau

Heading into the 2015 legislative session, the top priority for the New York Farm Bureau is immigration reform, said Dean Norton, bureau president, during a media conference call this morning.

The Elba resident is in Washington, D.C., this week meeting with members of New York's congressional delegation to represent farmers' interests.

"We need a stable, legal, reliable workforce," Norton said. "What we have now is broken. A stable workforce on our farms means a stable rural economy."

The Farm Bureau is calling on Washington to create a visa program or temporary worker program that will make it easier for farmers to hire and retain farm workers and not worry about all of their workers being taken away by immigration officials without notice.

"Everybody (in Washington) understands there's a problem, but neither side trusts and has faith in the other side to deal fairly," Norton said. "Both sides want to hold immigration as a political football."

The Farm Bureau is also looking for clarification from the FDA on food safety rules and there's been some progress on that front, Norton said.

Until recently, a small dairy farm with gross revenue of $500,000 that also grows a few strawberries for a fruit stand would face reams of regulations for the strawberry operation, but the FDA will start to apply those rules to $500,000 per crop, so the strawberry operation would not be covered in that circumstance.

Still a top priority for the Farm Bureau is the EPA's proposed rule change on what constitutes navigable waters. Farmers remain concerned that rule changes would bring into regulation small --- even very small -- bodies of water on farms.

"We continue to push the EPA for a clarification on the rules," Norton said. "Of the comments sent in by individuals, 58 percent of the comments ask the EPA to start over and become better partners with agriculture and come up with rules that are better for everybody."

Also on today's conferance call was Elisabeth Walters, director of national affairs, who said the Farm Bureau is paying close attention to the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill, and is pushing for trade reform and reforms in tax structure to encourage more farmers to donate crops to local food pantries.

Norton said farmers want greater access to foreign markets, which means trade agreements, and the president should have greater authority to reach trade deals. 

Rep. Chris Collins has publicly opposed the idea, and Norton said he would be meeting with Collins today to discuss the issue with him.

"The reason we're in favor of it is that our trading partners want to deal with one person, not negotiate with 365," Norton said.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 12:42 pm

City, mall merchants appear ready for mediation on long-simmer disputes

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, city centre, mall merchants association

So far, attorneys have been paid a combined $207,000 for the City of Batavia and the Mall Merchants Association to battle in court over who is responsible for what in the rapidly deteriorating structure.

There's a chance now the case may go to mediation, the City Council was informed Monday night.

After losing a motion for a summary judgement, City Manager Jason Molino said the MMA is willing to submit to mediation. 

A final agreement on mediation has not be completed.

The city and MMA have locked horns over responsibility for concourse maintenance, major repairs, ownership and governance.

In 2009, the MMA filed suit against the city.

Since then, the city has spent $104,199 on legal fees, while the suit has cost the mall merchants $103,317, according to Molino's memo.

"A thriving and healthy City Centre is critical to the City's downtown revitalization, and the City is very interested in an overall resolution that will best support long-term and prosperous solutions for all parties involved," Molino wrote.

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