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Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Council backs growth initiatives for Batavia over opposition from Deleo and Briggs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bdc, business, Vibrant Batavia

John Deleo and Kathy Briggs had one word for those who think the City of Batavia should invest in its future: No.

On a pair of resolutions aimed at improving the quality of life and business climate in Batavia, Deleo and Briggs steadfast stalwarts in opposition, decried the expenditure of public money on the projects.

Each resolution passed by votes of 7-2.

The resolutions passed by the council extend the economic development services agreement for two years with Batavia Development Corp. and provide Vibrant Batavia with two years to become self-sustaining.

There was one growth-related measure that garnered yes votes from Deleo and Briggs. Deleo made a motion, seconded by Briggs, to eliminate the assistant city manager position.

The motion failed 2-7.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian, outspoken as always, extolled the virtues of economic development and the work of Vibrant Batavia.

"We need all the development we can get," Christian said. "We need all the revenue, we need the sales base, we need everything we can get. We need everything working this year at this time because if we don't go forward, we're going to go backwards. We're going to be in a hole and we're never going to get out."

Prior to the meeting, council members received a memo from City Manager Jason Molino called "Budget Sustainability," which made the case for the city investing in economic development and neighborhoods.

For the past several weeks, budget discussions have been dominated by voices advocating for slashing in the three areas of city spending intended to help the city grow: The assistant city manager position, the BDC and Vibrant Batavia.

Molino's memo argued that without investment in growth, Batavia will be doomed to decline.

"Public revenue needs an employed community, so the right question is not necessarily where should we be trimming the City workforce budget, but rather, the right question is: Are City resources optimally structured to reposition Batavia as a great place to raise a family, start and operate a profitable business, and in general, appeal to families," wrote Molino.

Pierluigi Cipollone, a small businessman, argued in favor of investment over retrenchment. 

"We've got to make an investment," Cipollone said. "Mr. Molino sent out a memo talking to the revenue side of the profit and loss of the balance sheet. We need to invest to get what we want for Batavia. In the old days, we had civic groups that did a lot of what we want, but those civic groups have gone away for the most part. We need to get some of that back. When the pride returns, businesses will return."

Deleo said that he was both being responsive to his constituents and standing by the cost-cutting promises of his campaign by opposing the growth initiatives. 

It's not the job of government, he said, to invest in economic development.

"We're going to be leaner," Deleo said. "We're not going to reach into the pockets of our poor senior residents."

Briggs said she attended last week's annual luncheon for Genesee County Economic Development Center and came away impressed by the economic development efforts of the local agency.

"They're bringing business into the county, and Batavia is part of Genesee County," Briggs said. "I'm like, OK, GCEDC seems to be on track. That's what I gathered from that meeting. We do have somebody who is going to do the job of economic development, GCEDC."

Other council members pointed out that the focus of GCEDC is something that is completely different from the BDC. The BDC is focused on the city, which includes mostly brownfield development demands. GCEDC handles the entire county and most of its developments are greenfields outside of city limits.

Briggs also mentioned that the city is served by the Business Improvement District, but Councilman John Canale pointed out that BID works strictly Downtown, whereas the BDC serves the entire city.

The funding approved for Vibrant Batavia -- $45,000 for one year and a smaller amount in year two -- also comes from a different pot of money than originally proposed. Rather than being drawn from reserve funding, a portion of the city's revenue share from Batavia Downs will be used to back the nascent community booster group.

The group will also be asked to pay for a new $10,000 slide in Austin Park by donating $5,000 back to the city and raising the remaining $5,000.

While the resolutions for the BDC and Vibrant Batavia assume two-year commitments for the city, Molino, upon questioning by council members, said the council will have the option to reduce or eliminate funding next year by passing another resolution.

Monday, March 9, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Alpina introduces new yogurt with NBA tie-in

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Alpina Foods, business

Press release:

Alpina NBA All-Stars Yogurt is just 120 calories, four grams of protein and 10 percent of an adult's recommended daily allowance of calcium per serving. The perfectly proportioned toppings add a little "dunking" fun while appealing to basketball fans of all ages — men and women, alike. It's a yogurt that can help anyone power through the day. 

"Alpina Foods is committed to bringing innovation to the dairy aisle," said Gustavo Badino, Alpina Foods' general manager. "We saw a need for a product that catered to the American male — youth or adult — in the yogurt section, and we decided to take the challenge and introduce this NBA All-Stars product."

Alpina NBA All-Stars Yogurt is sold in select regional and independent retailers including A&P, Pathmark, Waldbaum's, Super Fresh, The Food Emporium, ShopRite, Shaw's, and Lowe's Markets.

Alpina Foods manufactures a variety of dairy products available in retailers throughout the United States, including Shaw's, Wegmans Food Markets, ShopRite, Duane Reade, Western Beef, and other national, regional, and independent food retailers. For a full list of retailers, visit www.alpinaus.com.

UPDATE: In response to our question, a spokeswoman for Alpina says the new product will be manufactured at the Batavia plant, and, there's another new product announcement coming later this month.

Saturday, March 7, 2015 at 9:36 am

State's top economic development leader says Batavia can lead the way in high tech

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

Howard Zemsky was the keynote speaker Friday at the Genesee County Economic Development Center's annual meeting, which was held at Batavia Downs this year. He is acting president, CEO and commissioner of Empire State Development, New York’s economic development agency.

Some 300 people attended, including business and economic development leaders from Erie and Monroe counties.

Zemsky's primary message was that Gov. Andrew Cuomo fully supports economic development in Upstate, in Genesee County and is particularly bullish on the STAMP project.

"We're all in," Zemsky said. "We love what you're doing. It's extremely impressive. I couldn't be more proud of what you have accomplished, and your vision and your commitment and your collaboration on your strategic approach. The governor is all in on what you're doing and is very excited about it."

He noted that Brooklyn is undergoing a renaissance, driven by people like his 22-year-old son who now think urban areas such as Brooklyn are the place to be. If Brooklyn can experience a turnaround, so can Batavia, he said.

"I'll tell you this, if Brooklyn can become cool, Batavia can become the center of the next generation of chip fabrication. Period. End of discussion," Zemsky said. "Because compared to Brooklyn being cool, Batavia being center of a high-tech world is a relative layup."

GCEDC Steve Hyde also provided his annual update on the progress of the GCEDC over the past year and the projects it continues to work on, such as STAMP and the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Hawley supports bill to assist small business owners

post by Howard B. Owens in business, steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today renewed his support for New York’s small businesses as the Legislature begins budget negotiations. Hawley cited his own small business ownership and urged the Legislature to make cutting regulations and taxes for small businesses a priority in this year’s budget negotiations.  

“As the owner and operator of a small business for many years, I know the amount of hard work and determination it takes to succeed in New York’s economic climate,” Hawley said. “Small businesses are the backbone of this nation and the driving force behind employment and economic growth, and are oftentimes family owned for generations. It is unfortunate that Gov. Cuomo and the Assembly leadership have, year after year, neglected to enact sweeping deregulation and tax cuts for small businesses to help them hire more employees and compete with larger corporations. My district is home to many small businesses and I will be sure to make their voices heard during this year’s budget negotiations.”

Hawley has received 100-percent ratings from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and Unshackle Upstate for his legislative votes during the 2013-14 year. Hawley also urged other legislators to sponsor and support the Small Business Full Employment Act.

“This legislation provides a comprehensive overhaul of how we regulate and tax small businesses,” Hawley said. “The bill focuses on cornerstones of economic growth such as tax cuts for businesses with fewer than 100 employees, repeal of the 18-A utility tax and tax credits for creating new jobs. I urge my Assembly colleagues to support this bill and help our businesses thrive in a less than ideal economic climate.”

Hawley’s comments came on Small Business Day in Albany, hosted by the NFIB. Hawley has been a staunch supporter of the organization’s efforts during his years in the Assembly.

Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 6:36 pm

First company for STAMP project could be named within weeks, Legislature told

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, STAMP

From The Batavian's news partner, WBTA:

An announcement of a company to occupy Genesee County’s long anticipated STAMP project in the Town of Alabama could be just weeks away.

The Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park has been in the works for years and holds the prospect of hundreds, if not thousands, of high-paying jobs.

Steve Hyde is the president of the county’s Economic Development Center:

“We are weeks away on the final decision on the one we have been working on, less than weeks away. This has been over 12 months we have been working the sales process on this one project. It has been long with multiple versions and very competitive. We have competed against 54 different sites and eight states.”

Hyde issued his annual report to the county legislature’s Ways and Means Committee last night.

The committee went on record opposing a change in state industrial development regulations that would transfer final decisions on state tax breaks from local IDAs to Albany.

If you've downloaded the Reacht App for your smart phone, at some point within the next day, we'll ask you this poll question: Do you think a manufacturing company will commit to STAMP within the next few weeks? To download the app, click here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 11:02 am

Photo: Former shoe store soon to become laundromat

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

The sign in the window at the former Payless ShoeSource location on West Main Street at Valu Plaza tells it the location will soon become a laundromat.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Hands-on training in social networking for Facebook & Twitter offered at BEST Center

post by Billie Owens in announcements, business

A social media workshop will be held at the BEST Center across the road from GCC from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 12. Cost is $49.

"Basic Level: Social Networking for Facebook & Twitter" will teach the basics of using these tools. Participants will leave with a working knowledge of how to use these tools and how to protect yourself. It is highly recommended that you have a web-based e-mail service that includes Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, etc.

This course is not about theory. It is hands-on. Get your feet wet and play with the different platforms in a safe environment with an instructor to help you every step of the way.

Call The BEST Center to register at 345-6868 or go online to www.bestcenter.edu

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 8:33 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 4:11 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 3:52 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 kbermingham@geneseeny.com.

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