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Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Closure of Five Star branch still doesn't sit well with many in Pavilion

post by Howard B. Owens in business, five star bank, Pavilion

For 85 years Pavilion has had a community bank, but since Five Star closed its branch on Cato Street in October, local residents and merchants have been feeling the pain and the pinch.

"Some merchants make cash deposits on pretty much a daily basis," said Town Supervisor Theron Howard. "Other people bank every week or two and can make other arrangements. If I had to make cash deposits every day, it would be a real inconvenience not to have a local branch."

Town Council Member Linda Thompson said she's heard a lot of complaints around town about the branch closing. She's been a sounding board because she retired as manager of the bank a year ago after working there for 31 years.

"People said, 'oh, you saw the writing on the wall.' Well, no I didn't," Thompson said.

But she does understand why it happened. More people bank online and use ATM machines. Lobby traffic had been declining for years.

"It's not just Pavilion," Thompson said. "All of the branches of banks have seen that. You shoot yourself in the foot because you want them to do online banking, but then they don't come to the branch."

Chuck Guarino, senior VP and director of marketing for Five Star, confirmed there has been "a significant drop in transaction volume over the years" and that's the reason for the closure.

"We have several offices in the surrounding area and all indications are that is where the traffic is heading," Guarino said. "We haven't changed our commitment to the community from a charitable or events or programs standpoint, but we felt it best for us to be able to close that office."

Steven Brooks said he's been banking at the branch from its years as Pavilion State Bank, then Wyoming County Bank and finally Five Star.

He said he's talked to a lot of his friends and neighbors in Pavilion and they're universally unhappy with the branch closure and several of them have switched their banking to the Bank of Castile as a result.

He and others, he said, don't like that banking has now become at least a 20 mile round-trip just to cash a check.

"The bigger impact is on the elderly," Brooks said. "The older folks who walk, they don't want to go to Le Roy, especially during the winter they don't want to go to Le Roy."

That's one of the concerns of Cathy Carlsen, owner Country Hill -- that older customers, who used to combine banking and shopping in one trip are no longer making that trip to Downtown Pavilion.

She said she's definitely seen an impact on her business since the branch closed.

"Often the elderly only go to one area, and if somebody is taking them around, and they only have an hour, they're going to do what they do in that one area," Carlsen said.

Melody Osterman, working with Carlsen, agreed she's seen less foot traffic in Pavilion in the past six months.

"People say 'I don't believe you don't have a bank here any more,' Osterman said. "Or they wanted to come here and do something, but they have to go to Le Roy or Warsaw because there's nothing here. We're missing out on business."

As for making deposits, Carlsen said she's learned to adjust. Her husband will make her deposit for her when he heads to Le Roy on a weekly basis. She does miss, though, having a bank nearby to make change if needed.

People do learn to adapt, said Jim Rudgers, owner of Pavilion's long-standing filling station and garage, Kemp and Rudgers on Route 63.

Some we talked to thought Rudgers would be particularly inconvenienced, but he said, no, not really.

"My wife makes the deposits," he said. "She's on the road anyway."

He's accepts that a bank branch closing is just part of modern life.

"It's a sign of the times," Rudgers said. "People are doing more banking online. There's no need for a lobby anymore. The town can't support a small town bank."

Carlsen would like to see Five Star put its branch building up for sale, so perhaps another bank could open there, but Rudgers said he doesn't think that will happen.

"If they put it for sale they know darn well Bank of Castile would buy it up and put a branch in," Rudgers said.

Five Star is holding onto the building for more practical business reasons, Guarino said. It's the bank's disaster recovery location for the company's computer network and it provides a location for an ATM machine for its Pavilion customers.

The bank has spoken with merchants and is considering options for enhancing the ATM service to better handle their business, but there's little hope of the branch ever reopening.

"The transaction volume isn't there to support a full-service bank," Guarino said.

The spokesman for Bank of Castile wasn't available for comment today.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 9:32 am

County's unemployment rate drops year over year for February

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

While Genesee County's unemployment rate is lower than a year ago for February, it is slightly higher than January and remains higher than the 12-month low.

The Labor Department reports the county's rate for February was 7.5 percent. A year earlier it was 8.6 percent and a month earlier it was 7.3 percent. The 12-month low is  5.7 percent in August.

The state's rate is 7.7 percent, down from 8.6 percent a year ago.

The rate in Livingston County is 7.2 percent, 10.2 in Orleans and 9.1 in Wyoming.

Monday, March 31, 2014 at 3:38 pm

GCEDC board to consider two projects at Thursday meeting

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

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider two projects at its April 3 board meeting.

Mega Properties, Inc., plans to make a 20,000-square-foot expansion to its current facility in Gateway I Corporate Park in Batavia. The projected capital investment is approximately $775,000 and would create 5.5 new full-time equivalent jobs in three years after a certificate of occupancy is issued.

Premiere Credit plans to expand its growing call center in the City of Batavia through an investment of approximately $400,000. The company pledges 25 additional jobs with this project, which will bring total employment commitment at the facility up to 150 full-time equivalent employees. At the end of 2013, Premiere reported employing 134 employees at the company’s Batavia location.

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, located at 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, on the 2nd floor, across from Genesee Community College.

UPDATE: Here are project summaries released by GCEDC

Mega Properties, Inc. (Koolatron) - Town of Batavia (final resolution will be considered)
Mega Properties, Inc., (Koolatron) is a Canadian company with headquarters in Brantford, Ontario, international location in the United Kingdom, and U.S. locations in Florida and New York. They began with their flagship product line of 12-volt portable thermoelectric coolers and today they have expanded to manufacture, market and distribute a wide range of items via dealer-distributor network and the Internet. In 2000, they built a 25,000-square-foot facility in the Gateway I Corporate Park. The company is proposing a 20,000-square-foot expansion at their current facility. The total investment is estimated at $775,000 and the project is expected to create 5.5 new full-time equivalent jobs in three years after their certificate of occupancy is issued. The GCEDC Board approved an initial resolution to set a public hearing at the June 6, 2013 meeting. A public hearing was held on June 26, 2013, as the benefits exceeded $100,000, and there were no comments.

Premiere Credit - City of Batavia (final resolution will be considered)
Premiere Credit is expanding their call center in the city of Batavia. The company is investing $400,000 in equipment to support their growing call center. Premiere Credit is pledging 25 additional jobs and with this project that will bring total employment at the facility up to 150 full-time equivalent employees. In 2012, capital expenditure was $350,000 with 100 pledged jobs. In 2013, capital expenditure was $325,000 with 50 more jobs pledged. For 2013, the company reported that 134 positions had been created at their Batavia location.

Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Another big crowd turns out for Home Show at Falleti

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Home Show

More than 900 people turned out for the second day of the Genesee County Home Show.

The show continues tomorrow, Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Above, WBTA's Dan Fischer in the radio station's booth at the show.

Friday, March 28, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Photos: Big turnout on first night of renewed Home Show

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Home Show

Close to 400 people showed up for the first evening of the Genesee County Home Show at the Falleti Ice Arena.

We spoke to several of the 60 vendors on the floor and they were all thrilled with the turnout. Those who had long histories with the home show said the first night crowd was as big or bigger than some of the best turnouts in shows from years ago.

Guy Clark of Cedar Street Sales and Rentals summed it up best: "You can hear it. If you close your eyes, you can hear the buzz."

The home show continues Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday. The cost is $3 per adult.

Friday, March 28, 2014 at 9:44 am

Byron-Bergen students back bill to make yogurt the official snack of NYS

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, business, byron, byron-bergen, education, schools

Press release:

Fourth-graders at Byron-Bergen Elementary School are on track to making a substantial economic impact on their state and their community. The class has created a well-researched rationale for designating yogurt as the Official New York State Snack, based on job creation and promoting healthy eating.

They sent handwritten letters – over 200 of them – to state legislators, farm owners, and yogurt companies. Their idea is now a bill sponsored by New York State Senators Mike Ranzenhofer, Kathleen Marchione, and James Seward and by Assemblymen William Magee and Steve Hawley. The bill is currently in committee.

The 17 members of the “Snack Pack,” led by fourth-grade teacher Craig Schroth, say yogurt deserves the title of Official New York State Snack. Student Madelyn Pimm says, “New York is now the biggest yogurt producing state in the U.S., with over 30 processing plants. Governor Cuomo refers to us as the ‘Yogurt Capital of the Country.’ We are the fifth largest milk producing state. We have three yogurt companies right here in our own community – Alpina, Müller-Quaker, and O-At-Ka. Many of us have family members who work there.”

“We want to support the yogurt industry and help create more jobs,” says student Alayna Streeter. “If this becomes law, there will be more opportunities for farmers who milk the cows, for drivers who deliver the milk, for people who make it into yogurt and other products, for distributors, and stores – jobs all down the supply chain.”

“Making yogurt the official snack will help New York promote healthy eating,” says student Caleb Calhoun. “Yogurt tastes great and is really good for you.”

These students are all highly knowledgeable and engaged in the legislative process they started. Letters of support from their representatives line the classroom wall. “Our whole class came up with the idea to promote yogurt,” says student Carly Bergeron. “We’re learning about government in action.” The class is hoping that they may be invited to Albany if their bill becomes law. Follow the progress of the bill at http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6695-2013.

“We want to get the word out and build backing for our bill. It’s important for everyone to support the yogurt industry because they are also supporting our communities with jobs,” says Alayna.

One yogurt company is already grateful for the assistance being drummed up by the Byron-Bergen students. Chobani plans to send a representative to the school to thank the students in person later this spring.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Vendors will star in reinvigorated Genesee County Home Show

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, chamber of commerce, Home Show

The revamped and reinvigorated Genesee County Home Show is just about ready for your visit this weekend.

More than 60 vendors will have their wares on display and Chamber of Commerce President Tom Turnbull said those local and regional business owners will be the stars of the show.

"We decided the businesses should be the celebrities," Turnbull said. "We want people to come in and see what they have and that will be their entertainment for the day. We'll have some other vendors, such as Darien Lake, Terry Hills, Batavia Downs and Adventure Calls, but for the most part, it's all about homes, fixing your home, or building a new home or adding on to your home."

The home show, which fell on some rough times in recent years, has moved back to the Falleti Ice Area (sans ice, of course) and the Chamber invested in new booth partitions and upgraded electric.

At least 1,500 and maybe as many as 2,500 people are expected to visit the home show this weekend.

After a long, cold winter, on a weekend when temps will be in the 40s and 50s, Turnbull thinks the home show comes at just the right time for people to get out and start looking forward to spring and summer and those special projects around their homes.

"It's going to be good weather for a home show," Turnbull said.

The home show came about, Turnbull said, because local business owners, most notably Eric Biscaro of Armour Building Supply, came forward and asked the Chamber to take on the event.

"They came to the chamber and said we need a home show in this town and you guys should be running it," Turnbull said. "It made perfect sense for the chamber to run it because that's what we do is promote business."

With all vendor spaces sold out for the weekend, the home show does seem like the place to be for homeowners and would-be homeowners this weekend.

Doors open at 5 p.m., Friday. It runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The cost is $3 per adult. Children under 12 are admitted free. 

Alex's Place will have a food booth set up in the refreshment stand/skate rental room.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Tops is once again carrying Alpina Greek Yogurt

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, agriculture, business, Tops Markets

Alpina Greek Yogurt has returned to the shelves of Tops Market in Batavia and Le Roy (Warsaw, as well).

The grocery stores carried Alpina when it was first introduced domestically, but then the product disappeared from store shelves without explanation.

That product was the kind of with granola-like toppings. Tops is now carrying a type of Alpina Greek Yogurt with fruit at the bottom. Alpina also makes a kind of blended yogurt (my favorite), but that isn't available at Tops -- at least it wasn't today.

Alpina is not being stocked in the dairy/Greek Yogurt section. If you want to find it, you need to go to aisle 3, the organic food section (at least, in Batavia).

This is noteworthy, of course, because Alpina Greek Yogurt is made in Batavia. The Alpina plant is in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 4:05 pm

A new round of applications being accepted for GCEDC's Food Processing Training Program

post by Billie Owens in announcements, business

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) announced today that a third round of applications is now available for GCEDC’s Food Processing Training Program <http://www.gcedc.com/index.php/about/workforce-development/>. The program provides individuals with a certification to work in the food processing industry, including many regional food and beverage companies across Western New York. The deadline for submitting applications is April 18.

Applications can be picked up at the Genesee County Career Center at 587 E. Main St., Suite 100, Eastown Plaza in the City of Batavia. The application is also available at the GCEDC Web site (www.gcedc.com <http://www.gcedc.com>). Applicants must be New York State residents, have completed high school or equivalent, and submit an up-to-date resume with their application.

“We want to build off the success of the first classes and get more individuals trained and ready to work in food processing,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “It is a burgeoning industry in Western New York and especially here in Genesee County with the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.”

The training program is being funded by an Area Development grant obtained by the GCEDC from the National Fuel Gas Corporation with additional financial support from the Finger Lakes Food Cluster Initiative — funded by the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration in the amount of $38,000 or 28 percent of the program.

In addition to receiving a non-credit certificate and certificates in Team Building and OSHA Safety in a Manufacturing Environment from Genesee Community College, participants will receive certificates in Lean Systems Six Sigma Yellow Belt (Rochester Institute of Technology) and Basic Dairy Science & Sanitation Certificate (Cornell University).

“This program is so effective because students get hands-on training, four certificates, and complete mock interviews with real companies at the conclusion,” Hyde said. “Anyone looking for a new career pathway should check out the training program.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 4:11 pm

GCC holds Job Fair on Thursday, April 10

post by Billie Owens in announcements, business

Press release:

Genesee Community College is pleased to announce another exciting Job Fair with more than 30 companies expected from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 10, at the College's centrally located William Stuart Forum.

Genesee's Career Services Center continues to solicit businesses from all types of industries to join the popular, two-hour event that introduces potential new employees to employers, and also provides businesses an opportunity to present their trade and services to the local community. The event is free to employers and attendees.

Employers must register; job seekers are not required to register prior to the event but must sign-in upon arrival.

The following employers are scheduled to be in attendance:

  • ADT Security Services
  • All Star Energy, Inc. / Home Comfort Heating and Cooling
  • ATB Staffing
  • Avon Products
  • Byrncliff Resort & Conference Center
  • Claims Recovery Financial Services
  • Coastal Staffing
  • Darien Lake Theme Park & Resort
  • Fidelis Care
  • Genesee County AmeriCorps, Genesee County Youth Bureau
  • Hidden Valley Animal Adventure
  • Independent Living of the Genesee Region
  • KR Communications
  • Monroe County Sheriff's Office
  • New York Army National Guard
  • NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets
  • NYS Unified Court System
  • Pembroke Travel Plaza
  • Perry's Ice Cream Company, Inc.
  • Perschke Business Group (Amway)
  • Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc / Sallie Mae
  • Premier Designs, Inc.
  • Premiere Credit of North America
  • Professional Driver Institute
  • Rent-A-Center, LLC
  • Rochester City Police Department / City of Rochester
  • Sutherland Global Services
  • The College at Brockport Army ROTC
  • Thirty-One
  • US Customs and Border Protection
  • US Department of Agriculture
  • US Department of Homeland Security – ICE – ERO
  • US Marine Corps
  • WBTA Radio
  • WCJW: Radio Stations: 1140 AM Warsaw; 103.7 FM Warsaw; 105.5 FM Batavia; 100.9 FM Geneseo; 104.3 FM Avon

Employers who cannot attend but will be posting job opportunities:

  • Country Max
  • Genesee County Human Resources
  • OATKA Milk Products Cooperative

For more information, visit: http://www.genesee.edu/career/events/

For a detailed listing of job opportunities by employer, please e-mail a request for the list to career@genesee.edu

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