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Friday, April 17, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Tompkins expanding fast in new downtown office space at Main and Center

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

The call center -- or as the folks at Tompkins Insurance call it, the "care center" -- that the Batavia-based financial company opened on the second floor of Main and Center streets now has 27 staff members.

That means in less than six months, Tompkins has hit its three-year projected employment goal for the remodeled office space.

Tompkins purchased the building for $550,000 and has invested nearly $1 million in interior and exterior improvements, from gutting and refitting the entire second floor, putting in a new heating and air conditioning system, painting the outside and hanging new signs.

Investing in Downtown Batavia made good sense said David Boyce, president and CEO of the insurance unit.

"Batavia has been and continues to be a great draw for getting great employees," Boyce said. "Batavia is nicely centered within various counties. When we have an opening we get a lot of attention from people who want to work at a good company."

Friday, April 17, 2015 at 11:21 am

Bloomz Florist cultivates a new owner

post by Julia Ferrini in alexander, business

“The biggest thing; I’ve always liked the direct result of what we do,” Luke Harding said. “It’s always gratifying to know that if I'm working hard, I'm earning an income, and if I'm slacking I have no one to blame but myself.”

With that philosophy in mind, it was just a matter of time before Harding became the sole proprietor of his own business. Therefore, since his grandmother had been entertaining the idea of selling Bloomz Florist, Harding jumped at the chance, made her an offer and became the new owner of the flower shop April 10.

“I thought about buying it for years,” Harding said, “but I wasn’t sure who wanted it and buying it off my grandma...”

“My age made me decide to sell,” said former Bloomz owner Sarah Harding. “I’m 83 years old. I’ve owned the shop for 10 years and right now, I want to concentrate on my book. I loved the flower shop.”

The elder Harding is the author of “Rise Catholic Women: You Hold The Key” and was featured in the Wyoming County Free Press, December 2014.

The younger Harding’s dilemma was due to his grandma having seven children and for Harding it was a question of him “stepping on someone's toes” who was also interested in buying the flower shop. According to Harding, it all worked out in the end. 

The Attican didn’t just buy Bloomz, he bought the entire piece of property and the buildings on it. While he said the property and buildings are in good shape, he wants to do a bit of work on his new purchase to give it more curb appeal.

Harding is no stranger to entrepreneurship. As a matter of fact, he seems to be predisposed to being his own boss. According to the 25-year-old, the whole Harding family are entrepreneurs. His uncle owned Super Duper grocery stores and currently, the young Harding, his dad, his uncle, and his aunt, all own Harding’s Attica Furniture. While his grandmother may have sold Bloomz, she is still the owner of Parsons Place – a Christian bookstore next to Bloomz. 

“I like this kind of work (florist) because it’s a predicable business,” Harding said. 

Although there are peak seasons in the flower business, Harding said they are opened year-round and have extended their hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. 

“The most unique part of this business is Tammy James is our flower designer and we use premium product so they last longer,” Harding said.

In addition to cut-flower arrangements, Bloomz also does silk arrangements, cemetery urns, and dish and bulb gardens. They also have potted flowers and green plants available for purchase.

“Dish gardens are green plants that would stay in your house,” said Bloomz Flower designer Laurie Bellucci. “Then there is a bulb barden. The bulbs can be planted in the fall, which makes it an everlasting gift. It's a great idea for someone who does gardening. They can remember the person that gave it to them.

“Some people come in and know exactly what they want,” Bellucci said. “Some have no idea and we help them out with creating something unique for them. That's what we do. We serve our customers.”

Bloomz Florist is located at 11155 Alexander Road (Route 98), on the Attica/Alexander town line. They can also be found on Facebook or visit their Web site at http://www.bloomzflorists.net/.

Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Grant moves forward to assist p.w. minor's plans to move jobs from China to Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, p.w. minor

The first of the necessary paper is being pushed to move jobs from China to the p.w. minor shoe factory in Batavia with the Ways and Means Committee approval yesterday of a resolution to accept a $750,000 grant from the state to assist the company's local expansion.

The county must accept the grant, which passes through the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. (a branch of Genesee County Economic Development Center), which will become part of a grant and deferred loan program for p.w. minor.

The grant was approved by Empire Development Corps after the agency encouraged p.w. minor to apply for the grant.

The application pledges 80 new local jobs added over a two-year period, but p.w. minor is planning to transfer a total of 100 jobs over time from China to Batavia.

The LDC will package the $750,000 with $125,000 loan from LDC funds to assist p.w. minor in buying shoe-making machinery.

Mark Masse, VP of business development for GCEDC, laid out the terms of the resolution for members of the Ways and Means Committee, who recommended approval of the resolution to the full County Legislature.

Andrew Young, one of the co-owners the New p.w. minor, is also a member of the Legislature, and while he attended Wednesday's meeting, he was not present during the discussion of the resolution.

Young and local entrepreneur Peter Zeliff, purchased p.w. minor after the previous owners announced plans to close the plant, thereby saving dozens of local jobs at Batavia's oldest, continuously running business.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 8:51 am

Photo: Onion planting starting in the mucklands

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

Activity is picking up on the muck this week as onion growers finally have suitable conditions for planting. One onion grower told us yesterday that ideally, growers like to have all of April to plant and they're getting a late start this year, but they should still get all of the fields filled with seeds and seedlings by May, if the weather holds.

Monday, April 13, 2015 at 9:40 am

Photos: Stan's opens new showroom

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Stan's Harley-Davidson

Stan's Harley-Davidson held an open house Saturday to celebrate the opening of its new, expanded showroom. As part of the ceremonies, Lt. Colonel Ulises Miranda III from Early College International High School, Army JROTC Battalion, presented Daryl Horzempa and Debbie Parks of Stan's an award for their commitment to veterans.

Presentation of Colors

Jon DelVecchio, of Street Skills, was on hand to discuss motorcycle rider safety.

Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 11:25 am

WBTA expands local talk shows featuring local hosts

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, elba, radio, wbta

WBTA has expanded its programming from one local entertaining talk show to two.

Hiram Kasten is now co-hosting "Batavia After Breakfast" with is wife Diana at 9 a.m., Wednesday mornings and his former partner, Lucine Kauffman, now has her own show, "Genesee Life," at 8:30 a.m., Saturdays.

Hiram and Diana, pictured above, will feature their witty repartee as they share their experiences in Batavia, what's happening in Batavia, and Hiram -- with decades experience as a comedian, actor and performer in New York, Hollywood and Las Vegas, as well as around the globe -- hosts guests from his entertainment world.

Lucine, bottom photo, will celebrate and explore Genesee County rich cultural life, featuring local residents who might be artists, musicians, authors, historians, hobbyists, farmers, athletes, local business owners and local characters. The show will also promote local shows and showings.

WBTA is at 1490 AM, 100.1 FM and streaming at wbtai.com as well as through apps available for your mobile devices.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Ken's Charcoal Pits now serving meals hot, fast, fresh and made to order

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

It was a booming first day of business for Ken Mistler's newest business venture, a downtown grill designed to give patrons quick, hot, homemade meals that they can eat-on-the-go.

Ken's Charcoal Pits features hot dogs and hamburgers, but also offers sausages and a garbage-plate style dish Ken is calling a Pit Plate. For those who want lighter fair, there is a salad bar, and grilled chicken is an option.

Everything is made to order right in front of you with the best and freshest ingredients.

The doors to the new shop are on Main Street, but patrons can also enter through City Slickers.

"We got a lot of requests for a quick lunch," Mistler said. "People would say they really liked City Slickers, but they wished they could get in and out a little quicker, but as a full-size restaurant with a full menu, it was hard to do that."

You can dine in, get your meal to go or carry it into City Slickers, where, of course, there is beer on tap.

Mistler, who owns not just City Slickers, but also Next Level Fitness, has long avoided putting his own name on his business ventures, but was persuaded to call it Ken's after his marketing consultant, Marc Tillery, presented the concept to him. The locale features drawings of Ken's two pit bulls, which are charcoal in color. Ken's Charcoal Pits. Get it?

A lot of people are getting that the food is good. Social media lit up a bit today with early rave reviews and the word spread fast with a line out the door past the normal lunch hour.

The hours are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and those hours will be extended as the weather warms up.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Cuomo announces $1.4 million for ag in Genesee Valley

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $1.4 million in funding for projects related to the research, promotion and development of New York’s flourishing agricultural economy. Approved by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, this funding includes support for a second year of malting barley research at Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, equipment and operating expenses at the New York Wine & Culinary Center, and funding to help Western New York maple syrup producers better market their products.

“The agricultural industry is vital to the success of Upstate New York, and by making targeted investments like this we are planting the seeds for long-term growth for New York’s farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs,” Governor Cuomo said. “This funding will support both new opportunities and existing success stories, and ultimately give farmers and vendors the tools they need to thrive in today’s competitive economy.”

Every year, the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, solicits applications to assist in the development of agriculture and agriculture-related businesses in a nine-county region, which includes Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties. On Friday, March 27, the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority Board of Directors voted to fund the following projects in 2015:
· NY Wine and Culinary Center - $300,000 – equipment replacement, facility repairs and expansion, and operational costs;
· New York Wine and Grape Foundation - $216,664 – Phase Five of the NY Drinks NY campaign;
· Western NY Maple Producers - $33,336 – Mobile maple exhibit;
· Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wayne County - $60,231 – To provide support and training to farmers through a farmers’ market specialist program;
· Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County - $43,416 – To provide specialty cut flower, vegetable and mushroom production for the county’s Bhutanese market;
· New York State Agricultural Experiment Station – $74,518 – To support research to improve the profitability and productivity of lima beans in New York State;
· New York State Agricultural Experiment Station - $159,893 – To support maintenance and equipment, including a temperature controlled ploy house and summer scholar support.
· New York State Agricultural Experiment Station - $241,716 – To accelerate production of organic grains, corn and soybeans in Western NY;
· New York State Agricultural Experiment Station - $133,242 – To support the second year of a multi-year research plan for malting barley production in New York State;
· Foodlink - $100,000 – To purchase equipment necessary to maximize efficiencies and create product diversity in value-added product lines.

In addition to these projects, Governor Cuomo announced $250,000 in funding to support soil and sediment control projects in counties located in the Genesee River Watershed, including portions of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben and Wyoming counties. Provided by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee, soil and water conservation districts can apply for grants of up to $10,000 for projects that reduce erosion or control sediment in the Genesee River Watershed. These projects can include reduced tillage practices, cover cropping, critical area seeding, riparian buffer, grassed waterways, filter areas, water and sediment control basins.

Districts can apply for the grant through the Grants Gateway program at https://grantsgateway.ny.gov/intelligrants_NYSGG/login2.aspx.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The Genesee Valley and its surrounding areas are extremely critical to the health and diversity of New York agriculture. This funding will support that diversity by making strategic investments in emerging industries that have a great future here in New York State, while protecting the region’s natural resources.”

Dennis Piedimonte, Chairman of the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, said, “We’re happy that we can be of assistance of the agriculture community in New York State through the money we are able to raise at our market. We believe that this funding is going to be put to good use through research that will in turn help New York’s agricultural economy move forward.”

Jack Moore, board member of Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, said, “It’s very good to see some of the GVRMA profits put to good use in the region for production agriculture. I encourage more entities to apply for such grants in the future.”

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, “For the past several years, our region has benefited from the innovative funding opportunity provided by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority and the Department of Agriculture. I applaud the State and GVRMA for investing in important organizations like the Wine & Culinary Center and Foodlink, which are using our region’s agriculture to provide a public benefit. This year’s awards reflects the legislature’s intent when we created this mechanism, which continues to provide vital funding to promote and advance our area’s agribusiness.”

Senator Mike Nozzolio said, “This funding is extremely important to the continued success of the growing food and beverage industry in New York State and it enhances the world class agricultural research conducted at the Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. Agriculture is our state and region’s number one industry, and continued support such as this furthers the growth of the industry by providing jobs, increased crop value and product promotion.”

Monday, April 6, 2015 at 9:49 pm

P.W. Minor bringing home 100 jobs from China with aid from NYS

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, p.w. minor

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that PW Minor, a manufacturer and international distributor of leather footwear and orthopedic products, will bring previously outsourced production work from China back to New York State. The move will create 100 additional jobs at the company’s Batavia facility. This news comes on the heels of the Governor’s announcement in August 2014 that PW Minor, which was scheduled to close on July 31, 2014, will remain open under new local ownership and management, retaining more than 50 manufacturing jobs.

“I am pleased that these jobs are being brought back to New York State, where they belong,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our priority is not only to attract new businesses to New York, but also to ensure that the ones already here continue to grow. PW Minor’s decision to bring jobs back to Western New York will add to the region’s growing reputation as a great place for businesses to thrive and I look forward to their continued success.”

The owner of PW Minor, which was founded by two brothers in 1867 shortly after they returned from fighting in the Civil War, is Batavia Shoes LLC, headed by Andrew Young and Peter H. Zeliff. PW Minor is one of a few remaining shoe manufacturers in the United States and the oldest company in Genesee County.

Andrew Young said, “What an awesome opportunity for us to positively impact our community. The people of PW Minor have stepped it up and my money is on them that they will again. We look forward to growing production in Batavia and adding to the PW Minor family.”

Peter H. Zeliff said, “Bringing our production back to New York is our priority. There will come a day when again we can proudly stamp “Made in America” on each and every pair of shoes with the PW Minor brand name.” We are excited to be a part of the resurrection of this American icon.

PW Minor’s $7.35 million project will automate its processes, allowing the company to close the gap between Batavia and China and thereby granting the company the ability to shutdown overseas operations and bring 100 new jobs to Batavia. Empire State Development (ESD) will provide up to $1.75 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits in return for job creation commitments. This is in addition to the previously awarded $449,505 in 2014. If ESD did not incentivize this project, the company would not be able to close production in China and continue to grow in Batavia.

Howard Zemsky, President, CEO & Commissioner of Empire State Development, said, “PW Minor’s decision to bring jobs back from overseas is a testament to the quality of the region’s workforce and New York State’s welcoming environment for growing a business. It’s great news that more than one hundred employees of this iconic and valued business will continue to make hand-crafted quality shoes in Batavia for years to come.”

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Steve Hyde said, “The Governor and his economic development team at Empire State Development have once again made a significant commitment to Genesee County to bring new jobs and investment to our region. It’s also a belief in the vision and business acumen of Pete Zeliff and Andrew Young in their efforts to restore the rich tradition of PW Minor in our community.”

Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer said, “PW Minor’s decision to continue doing business in the City of Batavia and bring jobs back from China is proof positive that Genesee County is a good place to operate a business. With the partnership between Governor Cuomo, Empire State Development and this historic business, the opportunities for Genesee County residents continue to grow.”

Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said “As a small-business owner, I know the struggles and successes that New York’s small-business owners face on a daily basis. Locally-owned businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and I am proud to see my business advocacy in Albany materialize. I am thankful to Pete Zeliff and Andrew Young for re-energizing the new PW Minor as an historic mainstay of our Western New York economy.”

Genesee County Chairman Raymond F. Cianfrini said, “Today is a great day for PW Minor and its employees and a great day for Genesee County. Our thanks go out to Peter Zeliff and Andrew Young for saving this historic business when it was on the brink of closure and now, with New York State’s assistance, bringing additional jobs back from overseas. We in Genesee County are fortunate to have these two individuals, as well as the support of Empire State Development, who are committed to economic development and keeping our county vibrant.”

City of Batavia Council President Brooks Hawley said, “P.W. Minor has been a company deep routed in Batavia for well over 100 years and I am thrilled to see their continued growth in our community. Thanks to Empire State Development for the State’s incentives and to the commitment of new, local owners, Andrew Young and Peter Zeliff, PW Minor has a bright future in Batavia.”

Friday, April 3, 2015 at 8:47 am

Summit Street entrance of UMMC closed starting Monday

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

Press release:

The Summit Street Entrance at United Memorial Medical Center will close on Monday, April 6, as construction begins for the new comprehensive cancer center. Fencing will be placed around the wedge-shaped parking area and there will no longer be an entrance to the facility off of Summit Street.

Visitors and patients should use the Main Entrance of the Hospital off of North Street or the Emergency Department Entrance at the rear of the building. Required employee parking at the Bank Street Campus was recently expanded to increase the number of available parking spaces for patients and visitors to the Hospital.

Previously closed on weekends, the Main Entrance will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. United Memorial will assess the need for transport services, additional wheelchairs and alternate weekend hours to best serve patients.

A sidewalk will be installed on the east side of Summit Street leading to the Main Entrance, along the side of the Hospital so that pedestrians can more easily access the front entrance.

Beginning on April 6th, visitors and patients should expect to see greater activity at the North Street facility as the construction begins. Cranes, earth-moving equipment and other construction vehicles will be brought on site. Every effort has been made to create and maintain a safe environment for our neighbors, employees, patients and visitors.

The new cancer center is a $6.5-million project, which will bring comprehensive cancer services to the Genesee County region and provide a new high-tech, fully integrated and comfortable home for life-saving oncology services.

These include: a state-of-the-art linear accelerator to deliver radiation therapy; the ability to use the hospital’s existing technology to plan customized radiation therapy treatment plans; chemotherapy infusion services; medical oncology for diagnosis, treatment planning and monitoring; navigator services to guide patients through their individualized treatment process; and surgical oncology.

Architectural services are provided by Clark Patterson Lee and construction management is being provided by Manning Squires Hennig.

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