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Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Development pipeline for Town of Batavia getting crowded

It will be another summer of new commercial development in the Town of Batavia, with three  projects already up for Planning Board review, and that doesn't include the expansion project at Batavia Towne Center.

  • GCEDC/GGLDC is planning a second two-story building at the Upstate Med-Tech Center on R. Stephen Hawley Drive, across from GCC. The complex will be 60,000 square feet and be planned for industrial, research and office space.
  • An as-yet-undisclosed company is planning a 60,000 square foot cold storage facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. It will be on 10 acres adjacent Alpina's plant and serve Alpina's cold storage needs. The facility require a 42-foot high silo, which is seven feet higher than allowed under current code without a variance.
  • A local man is planning a plant that will digest waste from yogurt production -- about 70 percent of the milk product from making yogurt becomes waste -- into products that can be used for other needs or converted into energy.

All three projects will be discussed at the planning board's meeting May 21.

Applications for COR's conversion of the former Lowe's location into four retail spaces hasn't reach the town yet.

There's also the housing development off Seven Springs Road that's still going through the planning process.

Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm

County officials get high praise from executives, governor for bringing new yogurt plant to Batavia

PepsiCo and Theo Muller officials along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the efforts of local leaders to convince the two international companies to locate their new yogurt plant in Batavia.

The executives, elected officials along with a host of local dignitaries gathered at the new Muller Quaker Dairy plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park today for a dedication ceremony for the new plant.

Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi, said once it was time to make a decision about the location for the plant, Batavia was an easy choice.

"I must say the Genesee County people and the governor’s office were just amazing in the way they worked with us," Nooyi said. "There was no competition. We love being here. The Genesee County people have to be given a lot of credit, the way they brought the forces of the county together to get everything expedited in such a short time. I think it is a real textbook example of how to attract investment into any community."

Stefan Muller, the CEO of the newly formed Muller Quaker Dairy company, said the day that executives traveled to the Genesee Agri-Business Park, the amount of support Genesee County lined up for the visit was impressive. There were representatives from local government and utility companies making promises on delivery of what Pepsi and Muller would need to build the project.

"I have seen 60 sites that were just locations on a map and I have seen six sites personally, but what we saw here was just outstanding," Muller said. "We were promised to get all of the permissions within weeks and we couldn’t believe it."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also praised Genesee County officials and said the effort to bring the Muller Quaker plant to Batavia is an example of how New York is open for business.

“We want business in New York," Cuomo said. "Business is the engine that drives the train, providing the jobs, providing the opportunity, providing the career ladder, providing the revenues to local governments. It’s all about making the private sector run and making the private sector run well and government partnering with that private sector. “

Yogurt, Cuomo said, is quickly becoming a big part of New York's economy -- production is up 60 percent in the past few years and there are now 49 yogurt plants in the state. He said the state is committed to ensuring the yogurt industry succeeds.

"We believe in the yogurt story and we’ve invested in the yogurt story," Cuomo said. "It is a big, big business in the State of New York."

He announced an Aug. 15 summit of leaders in the yogurt industry and dairy leaders to help facilitate, he said, the two groups working together to grow the yogurt industry.

"We want this business to do well," Cuomo said. "We want this business to thrive and we want this business to thrive in the State of New York."

Pepsi is committed to growing in the nutritional food categories, and dairy in particular, Nooyi said.

"Dairy products are a $500 billion industry that is expected to grow rapidly in the high single digits," Nooyi said. "We believe that here in the United States the growth potential for dairy is virtually unlimited."

The yogurt market, she said, is "largely untapped." The per-capita consumption of yogurt in the U.S. is half what it is in many other countries."

Muller said the new product is sweeter than what Theo Muller makes in Germany to meet U.S. consumer expectations and Nooyi praised the new yogurt.

"The Muller Quaker Dairy line is going to bring a whole new taste experience to America that’s not like anything that’s available in the country today," Nooyi said. "Try it and you’ll see that it’s more rich than any other yogurt you've tasted.

"It’s creamier. It’s more delicious. It doesn’t have any chalky aftertaste. It's really something you’ll enjoy eating day in and day out, maybe even three or four times a day."

Muller said the online feedback on the new product has been fun to read.

"I read on the Internet, on a blog, one consumer was writing, she tried the product two weeks ago and she is writing it is insanely delicious," Muller said. "This was really, I think, the right comment."

Both chief executives praised their new business partner as the perfect fit for how each company would like to grow.

"I have to say it was good and smart that we took the time because we found the right partner with PepsiCo and the yogurt market is booming," Muller said. "It’s still a very small market compared to other countries and we have products which are very unique and are really outstanding for the American market."

Nooyi said Pepsi has the distribution system to get the new product onto store shelves throughout the United States.

She also said the two companies share a core value in being committed to their local communities.

"One of the reasons this is a great partnership is both companies are committed to growing our businesses and both are committed to growing our local communities," Nooyi said. "When this plant is complete next year, it will be one of the largest yogurt plants in the United States. It’s going to source largely from New York State dairy farmers and other quality suppliers around this great region. The best part is it will create 186 local jobs next year."

Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 7:59 am

Executives with Pepsi and Muller to speak at GCEDC annual luncheon

Executives from PepsiCo and the Muller Group will be keynote speakers March 23 at the Genesee County Economic Development Center's annual meeting at the college.

The two companies are behind Project Wave, the $206 million yogurt plant being built at Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Mark Koenig, director of engineering and technology at the PepsiCo Global Nutrition Group -- who was in town when grading started in November although Pepsi's involvement was still officially a secret -- will be joined for a keynote presentation by Hanno Lehmann, a senior project manager from the Mueller Group.

Wave Holding, LLC -- the official name of the joint venture -- is expected to employ nearly 200 people in the near term and perhaps as many as 600 people if the new line of Greek yogurt is as successful as Pepsi and Muller project.

The new joint venture is receiving more than $11 million in tax abatements to build the plant in Batavia, which was initially not even a top-tier choice in the site selection process.

Also speaking at the event will be Rep. Kathy Hochul, State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and County Legislature Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock.

GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde will make a presentation on some of the agency's 2011 highlights.

The luncheon is from noon until 1:30 p.m., March 23, at Genesee Community College. Tickets are $15 or $20 at the door. For reservation and tickets in advance, call 343-4866.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 10:05 am

Schumer calls on USDA to fund water and sewer lines for 'Project Wave'

Press release:

Today, Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide several hundred thousand dollars in federal funds for sewer and water infrastructure work to prepare a Genesee County site to host a massive food processing plant.

Build out of the new plant will occur in two phases and could bring hundreds of jobs to Genesee County over the next several years. The Genesee County Economic Development Center is currently preparing a site to host a 363,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, capable of hosting 300 to 400 jobs just three years after it is completed.

The GCEDC is currently finalizing a contract with a food producer for the site, and is seeking federal funding to cover part of the costs of infrastructure improvements to ensure that the site is compatible with the needs of the food company. Today, Schumer called on Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to provide $300,000 to $500,000 in USDA funds for several projects that will ensure the site is ready to serve as a major job creator in Western New York.

“This massive plant could be a game-changer for Genesee County and Western New York,” Schumer said. “We can’t let inadequate sewer systems and wastewater lines, stand in the way of jobs. The USDA should realize the massive potential this project has and provide the seed funding that will help grow jobs and economic prosperity in the county.

"The funds are there to spur development and USDA would be hard-pressed to find a better return on their investment than this new plant. Secretary Vilsack should do the right thing and help us make these infrastructure improvements as quickly as possible to ensure that we don’t miss out on a chance to bring hundreds of good-paying jobs to Upstate New York.”

To ensure the site is ready to host the manufacturing plant, GCEDC must complete $1.8 million in infrastructure upgrades to the site. These upgrades include the construction of a second access road into the park, the addition of a new turning lane and road re-striping at the site’s main entrance as well as up to $500,000 for wastewater and sewer pump station upgrades. The GCEDC is seeking $300,000 to $500,000 in USDA rural development funds to complete these upgrades.

With Schumer’s encouragement and support, GCEDC plans to apply for funding through the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program. The application is due to USDA in April and funding would be awarded in June. Schumer noted that in 2010, Genesee County applied for and won over $200,000 under this program to build out sewer infrastructure to land the Alpina Yogurt Plant, which will serve as another major job creator for the county.

Schumer is pushing the USDA to help Genesee County build on this success by providing funding that will help the county ensure that the site is prepared to host a major food manufacturer in the months ahead.

In his letter, Schumer wrote, “Simply stated, securing USDA funding to complete these new upgrades will bring this $247 million project and its associated 300 jobs to Batavia, NY. As such, and with my full support and encouragement, GCEDC is submitting an application for Rural Development funding by the April 2012 application deadline.

“Funding this upgrade will create an enormous return on investment. Already New York’s rural and agricultural regions are quickly becoming centers of tremendous job growth due to the rise in yogurt and other food processing. This new food processor will join the ranks of the 900-employee Chobani Greek Yogurt manufacturing facility in New Berlin, NY, the 240-employee Fage plant in Jamestown, NY, and the 50-employee Alpina yogurt facility in Batavia, NY.”

CLARIFICATION: Rachael J. Tabelski, with GCEDC, said the USDA grant is intended to fund sewer improvements. Needed upgrades at the site include a secondary roadway and aquifer water.

Previously:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Town set to award $300,000 grant for water line in agri-business park

The Town of Batavia is set to award a $300,000 grant to Genesee Economic Development Center for further infrastructure development at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

The town board approved a resolution in a special meeting Wednesday night setting a public hearing for 7 p.m., Dec. 21, which is a precursor to formerly approving the grant.

The funds will be used to construct a water line for the park. 

Part of the funds, $100,000, were granted to GCEDC in January 2010 for construction of electric transmission lines, but those funds have not be spent, so GCEDC requested that the $100,000 be combined with another $200,000 for the water line project.

"Without infrastructure, we cannot continue to attract business to that park," Supervisor Greg Post said. "It gets us and our partners in a much better position for that construction. I don't think anybody anticipated how quickly this project (Project Wave, or the possible PepsiCo yogurt plant) has moved forward. I am happy to be in this position to utilize money like this."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Upstate Niagara Official: The region's dairy farmers ready to meet increased demand

With the planned yogurt plants for Alpina and PepsiCo in Batavia, there's nothing but opportunity ahead for regional dairy farmers, according to Kim Pickard-Dudley, general manager of the membership division of Upstate Niagara Cooperative.

More yogurt means more milk and farmers are ready to meet the demand, Pickard-Dudley said.

"We're obviously excited for this opportunity for farmers," Pickard-Dudley said.

Upstate built its own yogurt plant in West Seneca in 2006 and a year ago purchased a 100-year-old plant in Watertown.

Alpina and PepsiCo have both broken ground on sites in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, though PepsiCo has yet to reach a purchase agreement with the GCEDC (negotiations are, we hear, currently going on at the Albany level) for the 81-acre parcel. 

Regional farmers will be able to adjust capacity to meet all the demand for milk to make yogurt, Pickard-Dudley said.

Whether that milk comes through Upstate or yogurt manufacturers go directly to farmers is unknown at this time, Pickard-Dudley.

"Farmers are always up for a challenge for meeting new demands on supply," Pickard-Dudley said.

Pickard-Dudley was in Batavia at the O-AT-KA offices on Monday to meet with Rep. Kathy Hochul, who discussed with Upstate representatives her bill to create a guest worker program to assist New York's agricultural industry.

Monday, November 7, 2011 at 8:28 pm

'Project Wave' could break ground in ag park in 10 days

Construction on a food and beverage processing plant at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, which could some day employ as many at 600 people, might begin in 10 days.

The company planning the facility is pushing hard to get all of the permitting done to enable groundbreaking by Nov. 17.

The project -- known as Project Wave -- would initially employ 180 people.

Confidentiality agreements prevent representatives of the Genesee County Economic Development Center from revealing the name of the company purchasing the 81-acre parcel in the park or what product will be produced there.

On Monday, the Town of Batavia Planning Board, conducted a public meeting to review the potential environmental impact of the facility. Because a full environment review was completed for the ag park already, the board needed only to look at the three issues that are out of variance with what previously passed review.

On Thursday, the project will go before the Genesee County Planning Board for review. It must also yet be approved by the town's Zoning Appeals Board.

Asked if a groundbreaking on Nov. 17 was realistic, given all of the regulatory hurdles yet to be cleared, Town Engineer Steve Mountain said he didn't anticipate a problem.

"With the work they've done, with the plans they've presented, yes," Mountain said. "These guys are good."

The firm handling the planning for the unnamed company is Haskell Architects and Engineers out of Jacksonville, Fla.

The big issue for review on Monday is the height of the facility.

A refrigerated warehouse will initially be 45-feet high, but by the time the plant is at capacity (by 2033), the height will be 120 feet.

Batavia's code limits building height to 40 feet.

The facility also will include, at capacity: two tanks 77 feet high; two that are 65 feet high; and 16 that are 50 feet high.

The board found that even at these heights, the facility will have no significant visual impact on the surrounding area. The facility will still be barely visible from Route 5 or Route 63, and even the nearest residents (the Roland Circle and Haven Lane developments) won't have much of an obstructed view.

Parking is another issue that the board needed to review.

The facility will be operational at all times and employees will work in three shifts. There will be enough parking to accomodate rotation of each shift.

The town's code calls for parking spaces that are 10 x 20, but the code was intended primarily to ensure adequate parking in a retail environment.

Mountain said the requested spaces of 9 x 18 is adequate for this facility.

"By providing the smaller spaces on this project, it helps preserve some of the green space and it lowers the cost to the developer," Mountain said.

The other issue is the amount of water the facility plans to use, but Mountain said it wouldn't be a significant impact because the park was planned with more than enough capacity to meet the facility's needs.

After the meeting, Mountain cautioned that the project could still fall through.

"I've seen it happen before," Mountain said, noting that Haskell has completed all of the engineering on the site and, pending approvals, there's no reason construction can't begin on the anticipated Nov. 17 date.

Mark Masse, from GCEDC, said after the meeting that there's still no indication of when the project will be announced officially.  

Haskell's project plans show ground work being completed by Dec. 31, with final site plan review and building permits issued during the winter. Final site work and building construction would take place in the spring. Equipment installation would be completed by the fall and the plant would go into production next winter.

It would open with three production lines and grow to five production lines in the near future. The mid-term plan is 10 production lines, and the ultimate plan is 16 production lines.

Previously:

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