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Friday, May 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Resturant owner Mike Bohn passes at age 70

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

Longtime local restaurant owner Mike Bohn, 70, died Wednesday following a brief illness.

Bohn operated Bohn's on Clinton Street since 1985.

Calling hours will be Sunday from 2 until 7 p.m. at Bohm, Smith Calarco Funeral Home in Batavia. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church.

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8:42 am

Collins proposes payroll tax deferral for small businesses with new employees

post by Howard B. Owens in business, chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) pushed the Main Street Revival Act (H.R. 952) in Batavia today. The bipartisan legislation will help promote economic growth and fill vacancies along America’s main streets. Collins is the lead Republican cosponsor of the legislation in the House.

“If Washington is serious about getting our economy back on track, we need to get serious about supporting American small business,” Collins said. “Encouraging and incentivizing new small businesses, particularly in struggling areas, will be critical to rebuilding our economy and this legislation does just that.”

The Main Street Revival Act would allow a small business to defer payment of payroll taxes for one year after it hires its first employee. The taxes will be paid back in equal installments over the subsequent four years. The deferment would hopefully provide meaningful relief to a new small business, or one which is just at the beginning stages of growth, which is traditionally a hard time for my small business owners.

“The ability to defer payroll taxes for one year may be just enough of a break to help a new small business owner hire one more person or purchase a new piece of equipment,” said Collins. “This legislation represents the practical, commonsense solutions Washington needs to take to nurture small business development, create jobs, and spur real economic development in our communities.”

To encourage growth in hard-hit areas, the legislation provides the tax deferral incentive to businesses located in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZones) as defined by the Small Business Administration. In NY-27, sections of Batavia, Depew, Lancaster, Lockport, Medina, and Livingston County are designated as HUBZones.

The bill is also limited to true small businesses, those which expect to hire no more than 25 people during the year period for which payroll taxes can be deferred. Lastly, the H.R. 952 makes clear that nothing in the bill will reduce the Social Security or Medicare trust funds.

Collins was joined by Genesee County Chamber of Commerce President Lynn Freeman who praised the legislation.

Collins is partnering with Congressman Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, on the legislation. “Good ideas that help our small businesses know no political party,” Swalwell said. “I welcome Rep. Collins of New York as the lead Republican cosponsor of the Main Street Revival Act. This bill was inspired by walking the Main Streets of my district and talking with business owners – Republicans and Democrats – about ways the federal government can help them get off the ground, hire employees and succeed. This is sensible legislation to speed up local economic development in the neighborhoods that need it most.”

Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm

GCEDC board passes tax breaks for COR Development unanimously

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business, COR Development, GCEDC

All five members of the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board present for today's meeting voted yes on $1.8 million in tax breaks for COR Development to help the Syracuse-based company bring national retailers, such as Dick's Sporting Goods, to Batavia.

Legislator Shelly Stein, who sits on the GCEDC board, praised COR for all it's done for local schools and the community by generating new tax revenue.

While she said she agrees with much of what speakers said at Tuesday's public hearing on the proposed abatements, particularly about the current state of affairs in New York, she considered the proposed development a "great win for the county, the town and the city." 

New York's high tax rates, she said, makes such incentives necessary.

"I thank you for bringing this project forward," she said to COR VP Joseph B. Gerardi. "That 18 million of investment, and not asking for that PILOT to restart at zero and start at 40 percent, makes a lot of sense for us."

Board Member Jim Vincent said that clearly the public doesn't understand what GCEDC does.

"The public comments signify that we've still got a way to go to convince the populace of Genesee County about what we do and why we do it," Vincent said. "I appreciate projects like this coming forward because in my opinion just the sales-tax factor alone adds an annuity to reduce the tax burden on every business, farm and family that resides in Genesee County."

No other board members spoke.

After the vote, GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde thanked the board for approving the project.

"Just to remind everybody that inside the resolution, the predominate finding was that this was a unique facility project to meet the retail restrictions under the law," Hyde said. "This is the only 36-acre major shopping center inside this entire county. As the law states, this is the opportunity to bring more, varied shopping offerings and services to the community and without this particular project, as the law states, the availability of these broader services and offerings would not be readily accessible to the residents of the community.

"Hence, that was really the underlying basis of the retail restriction and the request for the board to consider, because at the end of the day, we're trying to attract large-scale, tech-driven manufacturing here. ... The last thing you want to do is have a large, empty building while we're showing our community."

John L. Rizzo and Mary Ann E. Wiater were not present at today's meeting.

Voting yes were Stein, Vincent, Charlie Cook, Wolcott T. Hinchey and John F. Andrews.

COR estimates that the four possible tenants -- which COR has previously confirmed includes Dick's Sporting Goods -- will generate more than $16 million in annual gross sales and the four tenants will likely invest $11 million to get their stores open.

After the meeting, walking down the hall, we tried to ask Gerardi why $1.7 million in tax breaks are necessary when the revenue estimates and total capital investment indicates there is market demand for the project. He said questions needed to be directed tomorrow to the company's CEO, Steve Aiello, and made a sharp left turn into the men's room.

Aiello has not previously returned calls nor answered e-mails from The Batavian.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Photo: Chris Collins gets first look at Alpina yogurt plant

Roger Parkhurst provided Rep. Chris Collins with a tour of the Alpina Foods plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park today.

Parkhurst, left, gave Collins, who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, an overview of Alpina's history, the Greek yogurt market in the United States and the process Alpina uses to make yogurt locally.

The plant started production in October and Parkhurst said the operation has already grown to what it projected for its second year of business. There are 55 permanent employees with Alpina locally, and to help meet production demands, the plant uses up to 100 temporary employees at times.

There are already plans on the drawing board to expand the plant.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Goodwill opens its first thrift store in Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Goodwill Industries

Goodwill Industries opened its first thrift store in Genesee County this morning, and the store was immediately a big hit with long lines of bargain hunters at the cash registers.

The location is 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, in the Valu Plaza.

"We hope to further our mission in the Genesee County community by adding more variety to the retail landscape," said Lisa Churakos (pictured), director of donated goods/retail. "Goodwill has quality, affordable selections for every shopper."

The store is open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

The new store also serves as a donation center.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 12:14 am

Tax breaks for reuse of Lowe's space essential, argues COR Development VP

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business

Syracuse-based COR Development is planning four retail spaces for the south end of Batavia Towne Center, VP Joseph B. Gerardi said at a public hearing Tuesday night, and to fill those spaces, COR needs more than $1 million in tax abatements.

Filling those spaces is "better for all the tenants in the center," Gerardi said.

"It would provide a diverse shopping experience so tenants can help attract other tenants to the shopping center," Gerardi said.

Without the tax incentives, the four potential companies -- which Gerardi said could generate $1 million in local sales tax revenue -- may not come to Batavia.

Even though the four businesses would generate $16 million in gross sales, going by Gerardi's sales tax estimate, Batavia isn't an attractive enough market without the tax breaks.

And even though the four potential businesses would spend, on top of the $7 million COR would invest in the project, $11 million before the first cash register recorded the first sale, Batavia is too marginal a market to attract these retailers, Gerardi said.

Gerardi (top photo) refused to talk with reporters to clarify these points following the public hearing.

COR's plan is to convert the former Lowe's location from 138,000 square feet of retail space into 170,000 square feet of retail space.

In previous media reports, COR CEO Steven F. Aiello has said COR doesn't need to lease out the Lowe's space because Lowe's is obligated to another 15 years of rental payments, but Gerardi argued Tuesday that the proposed expansion is critical to Batavia Towne Center's viability.

"The dark store is not, in our opinion, a good reflection on the center and it's not a good reflection on the community," Gerardi said.

The one retailer COR has confirmed as a potential tenant is Dick's Sporting Goods.

In 2012, according to the company's annual report, Dick's generated $5.8 billion in annual sales and achieved a net profit of $291 million, or an average of $405,000 in net profit for each of its 518 locations. On average, gross sales of $11.2 million per store.

Two of Dick's locations are in shopping centers in Webster and Clay developed by COR without the kind of tax breaks COR is seeking in Genesee County.

A group of about a half dozen local Libertarians spoke at the public hearing, arguing that tax breaks for COR would benefit national chains at the expense of existing competitors.

"I believe your intentions are good, but I find fault in your logic," Jim Rosenbeck said (second inset photo). "The reality is you can't give money to one business without disadvantaging its competitors. You are picking winners and losers and that is simply wrong."

Current state law prohibits tax incentives to develop retail outlets, unless the local IDA -- in this case Genesee County Economic Development Center -- can find that the retail center will attract tourists (defined in the law as people who travel from outside the IDA's jurisdiction) and the stores will fill a need not yet met by existing retail.

Gerardi said Batavia Towne Center does attract shoppers from outside Genesee County and the stores in the center do offer goods and services not previously available in Batavia.

Phill Ricci (top inset photo) took issue with the idea that Batavia Towne Center could be considered a tourist destination.

"Hotels are not filling to the rafters because we have a Target," Ricci said. "Little Jimmy doesn't dream about seeing his favorite animi characters in the halls of Bed Bath & Beyond. To attempt to justify it as a tourist destination is hollow at best and laughable at worst."

COR initially received a promise of $4.6 million in tax abatements to build Batavia Towne Center with the promise of creating 297 full-time equivalent jobs. Gerardi said the development peaked in at 277 FTEs before Lowe's closed.

Rosenbeck said it was as if GCEDC helped COR build a new house and now COR wants more money to remodel it.

Gerardi said the four new stores would create 100 FTE jobs.

Elba resident Fred Read said that's just what they are -- FTEs, not real full-time jobs, but jobs with low pay and few benefits.

"They're not the kind of jobs that are going to keep young people here," Read said.

None of the speakers supported COR receiving another round of tax incentives for the project.

A letter from local business owner Jerry Arena was read into the record. Arena, who owns Jerry Arena's Pizza and Ten Cent Millionaire Tavern, said he opposes tax incentives for national retailers.

"Independent small businesses in Batavia are an endangered species and offer much more quality of life and stability to a community that many of us will ever realize," Arena wrote.

The GCEDC board will vote on the proposed tax incentive package for COR at its regular meeting Thursday. The public portion of the meeting is expected to begin at 4:40 p.m.. The board meets at the Med-Tech Center on R. Stephen Hawley Drive, Batavia.

Monday, April 29, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Believe it or not, first crop of locally grown strawberries arrives this week

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, agriculture, business, Oakfield, Triple P Farms

Wouldn't it be great to eat a juicy, sweet, fresh locally grown strawberry right about now?

You may think that's impossible, but thanks to Pudgie Riner, owner of Triple P Farms in Oakfield, starting Wednesday, you will be able to buy locally grown fresh strawberries at Harrington's Produce Stand at 5282 Clinton Street Road, Batavia.

Always an innovator looking for new ideas, Riner found a picture online of a farmer in Denmark growing strawberries from hanging baskets in a hothouse and he realized he could do locally and get strawberries out to market weeks ahead of other local farmers.

"The concern is, if we say we've got fresh strawberries from New York, nobody going to believe us," Riner said. "These really are grown right here. They're not from Florida.They're not from California. They're grown right here in New York and the same varieties that are grown locally and people are used to eating from the ground, but these are grown in a basket."

The 5,000 plants are two years old and should produce 5,000 quarts of strawberries, Riner said.

Peak harvest will be within 10 days, which is a little earlier than Riner wanted, but he'll learn from this year's growing cycle and push it back a bit next year.

He partnered with Andy Harrington (left, above) to bring the strawberries to market because the Harrington family has such a good reputation for locally grown produce.

"I decided that knowing his business, he is the right guy to sell them," Riner said. "I could sell them in my own place, Pudgie's, but I don't have the reputation of being in the produce business, so that would be one more hurdle."

Harrington's on Clinton Street opens Wednesday. The family's Oakfield location, 7550 Lewiston Road, opens in June.

It was an easy decision to take on Pudgie's berries, Harrington said. It gives him more stock early in the spring and, "they're fresh and they taste great."

Previously: Pudgie puts the local into 'locally grown' produce and garden plants

Monday, April 29, 2013 at 11:03 am

Another garbage company entering the Batavia market, offering totes

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, garbage collection

Mark Smith sees a business opportunity in Batavia: To provide local residents with a garbage service that includes totes.

Smith is owner of Nu Way, an Arcade-based company that already has residential and commercial clients in Genesee County.

When Smith learned none of the companies that will start offering trash service in the City of Batavia will offer totes, Smith thought, "I can do that."

Starting June 1, when the Genesee ARC contract expires, the local trash market becomes open to competition.

The tote is optional. Nu Way will also offer bag pick-up.

The price for bag service is $22 month for five 30-gallon bags a week. The tote price is the $22 basic fee plus $4.50 a month. The service includes one bulk item per week.

Totes are 90 gallons, but a smaller tote can be requested.

Totes are also available for recyclables.

To contact Nu Way, call (585) 492-5880.

Friday, April 26, 2013 at 4:03 pm

New pizza shop will have a familiar sounding name and familiar looking face

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Big Pauly's, business

With a new name and a new logo, Paul Berardini is just about back in the pizza business.

Berardini unveiled the new look on Facebook last night.

It's been three months since Pauly's Pizza closed, but after lining up his brother as his new business partner, securing the lease for the Ellicott Street restaurant, as well as getting new equipment, Berardini anticipates opening the doors on Big Pauly's May 13.

"I'm happy to get back to making pizza in my hometown," Berardini said. "This is where I'm from and this is where I want to do business."

Pauly's ran into a little trouble with its expansion into Clarence and Berardini's partner needed to pull out. 

At the same time, Berardini had some health issues to deal with. He said he's healthy now and ready to start tossing pizza dough again.

The menu will change only slightly, with some items that didn't sell that well getting trimmed, but all of the recipes, the sauce, the dough, the wings and the chicken fingers will all be the same.

And many of Berardini's employees will return, he said.

The new shop's phone number will be (585) 343-BIGP.

There's also a new Facebook page for Big Pauly's. Click Here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Darien Lake adding legendary Anchor Bar to park's offerings

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

Press release:

The legendary Buffalo, N.Y., Anchor Bar franchise announced today they will be cooking up wings in a whole new way this summer, with the opening of their newest location at Darien Lake Theme Park. The new in-park Anchor Bar opening will coincide with the first day of the park’s 2013 season on May 11th. When guests visit the new in-park Anchor Bar, they can expect the same authentic wings at the same prices but in an exciting new atmosphere. 

“We’re thrilled to bring a Western New York favorite like Anchor Bar to the park this season,” said Bob Montgomery, Darien Lake general manager. “Guests can now grab a bucket of crispy original buffalo wings, and relax on the outdoor deck at Anchor Bar all while surrounded by the fun and excitement you’d expect from Darien Lake.”

“Opening a new location at Darien Lake is a very exciting moment for Anchor Bar,” said Ivano Toscani, president, Anchor Bar Franchises. “We couldn’t be happier that our latest business partnership is with one of the most fun places in Western New York.”

The in-park Anchor Bar is part of several cosmetic and capital improvements this season at Darien Lake designed to bring the park back to its Western New York roots. Improvements include: the latest ride addition to the park, Blast-off, a spaceship like thrill ride that skyrockets guests into the air at 4g speeds; the $1 million Ignite the Night laser show; and the all-new Lakefront Boardwalk area, which is a tribute to the region’s lakes and is also the location for the new Anchor Bar.

Darien Lake is also partnering this season with several other local businesses including Tim Hortons, Webers Mustard, Sahlen’s Hot Dogs, and Perry’s Ice Cream.

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