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Monday, September 29, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Photo: Hochul visits ag park for update on economic development

post by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, kathy hochul

Kathy Hochul, former congressional rep for Genesee County and current candidate for lieutenant governor of New York, stopped by the Gensee Valley Agri-Business Park this morning and met with Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, for an update on economic development efforts locally.  Hochul said once in office economic development will be one of her priorities.

Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Association honors GCEDC and Muller Quaker for economic development

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, Muller Quaker Dairy

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) and Muller Quaker Dairy are the recipients of the 2014 Northeastern Economic Developers Association (NEDA) Project of the Year Award. The award was formally presented to both entities at NEDA’s Annual Conference on Monday, Sept. 8th in Worcester, Mass.

GCEDC was recognized for fostering the development of the 250-acre Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia, which has generated more than $230 million of new capital investment as well as the creation of approximately 230 jobs. NEDA also recognized Muller Quaker Dairy, a $206 million state-of-the-art yogurt manufacturing facility, which employs almost 200 people in the Agri-Business Park in the competitive $6.2 billion U.S. yogurt marketplace.

“On behalf of the GCEDC Board of Directors and staff we are honored to be recognized by NEDA,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his personal commitment in bringing Muller Quaker Dairy to Western New York and his tireless efforts to improve the economic development climate throughout Upstate New York.”

Muller Quaker Dairy is projected to have a regional impact of approximately $150 million annually on the local agriculture, hospitality and business services sectors. Indirect job creation is projected to add another 750 workers to the regional labor force.

“This project is a great example of public and private sector collaboration especially in significantly compressing the timeline for various government approvals,” said Chris Suozzi, vice president for business development at the GCEDC. “Through the collaboration with Empire State Development, the Greater Rochester Enterprise the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, National Grid, Genesee County, as well as the City and Town of Batavia, we were able to make the case that Batavia and the Agri-Business Park was the perfect location for Muller Quaker Dairy."

Muller Quaker Dairy is a joint venture between one of Europe’s largest dairy processors, Germany-based Theo Muller and New York-based PepsiCo. It is the largest manufacturing plant ever to open in Genesee County.

The NEDA Project of the Year award recognizes a major economic development project based on job creation and other direct economic impacts; capital investment; leveraging of development resources; use of public/private and/or intergovernmental partnerships; benefits to the surrounding community and/or environment; innovation; design excellence; and transportation considerations.

Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 10:40 am

Developer discusses pulling plug on senior housing project after GCEDC board blocks public funding

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Calamar, GCEDC, senior housing

A company that was planning to build much needed middle-income senior housing in Genesee County is apparently ready to kill the project after the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board voted Tuesday to block the project from receiving financial aid.

A representative of Calamar, the senior housing developer, sent an e-mail to a county official yesterday that said without the more than $1.4 million in tax breaks Calamar was seeking, the project is not financially viable. 

A source provided The Batavian with a copy of the e-mail.

"We've been left with no options than to not proceed," wrote Jocelyn Bos, director of senior housing development for Calamar. "If we do not have an endorsement, I wouldn't be able to keep the rents affordable to the middle income senior group of Batavia." 

Asked by The Batavian for further comment and to confirm the contents of the e-mail, Bos backed off the not-proceeding statement.

Her entire statement:

First, I want to tell you how I have admired how your paper supports the seniors of all incomes in your community and just want to let you know that we are exploring our options regarding our proposed middle-income senior complex.

According to John Gerace, a real estate agent who assisted Calamar with locating the property on West Main Street Road for the project, Calamar officials spent much of yesterday discussing their options.

Among them, he said, is filing an Article 78 claim (essentially a lawsuit) against GCEDC.

The way Gerace sees it, middle-income housing for seniors is needed in Batavia; it's part of the county's master plan; it's an identified need in GCEDC's planning documents; and this is a commercial project just like any other, so it's eligible for assistance.

"I told them (the GCEDC board), 'you guys should be ashamed of yourselves because you know it's warranted and needed, so what you've done is just shut the door on any more senior housing in Genesee County,' " Gerace said.

Calamar was seeking $400,000 in sales tax and mortgage tax exemption and a $1 million PILOT, which exempts a property from additional property taxes on an increase in assessed value, graduated over 10 years.

The value of the developed property would have been at least $5 million, Gerace said, which would have meant an additional $175,000 in new local property tax revenue once the PILOT expired. 

Local residents selling their homes to move into the Calamar facility also would have generated new tax revenue, Gerace said.

Gerace worked as a secondary agent on the property sale, he said, and stood to get no more than a $4,000 commission on the $1 million sale of the property on West Main Street Road.

Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the County Legislature, and a GCEDC board member, said he voted against Calamar because he can't see authorizing spending $1.4 million in taxpayer money to create two jobs.

"We all agreed that it's a worthwhile project," Cianfrini said. "We all agree middle-income senior housing is needed. We agree with that, we just don't want to spend taxpayer money to do it. If the project doesn't go forward, I feel badly about that, but this was not a narrow vote."

Cianfrini said he also sees the Calamar project as competition for existing senior housing in the county -- housing that was built without taxpayer assistance.

Calamar would have been able to charge lower rents than some existing projects and that wouldn't be fair to the other developers, Cianfrini said.

The idea of competition is the key to the vote, Gerace said. More new housing in the county would mean more competition for Pete Zeliff and his Oakwood Estates project on the east side of town.

Zeliff, a newer member of the GCEDC board, is building single-family homes that would be marketed to upper-income professionals.

Gerace thinks that creates a conflict of interest for Zeliff and Cianfrini, who is the attorney for Zeliff on the project.

Cianfrini and Zeliff said both said don't see a conflict of interest. The two projects are completely different. They're aimed at different markets -- one is rental, the other is home ownership. Even if you factor in existing homes being vacated by seniors moving into the Calamar project, that's still a very different home buyer looking at those older homes than would consider something in Oakwood Estates.

Zeliff has not even approached the GCEDC about financial incentives for Oakwood Estates. He said his vote against the Calamar project had everything to do with the merits of the proposal.

"They're creating just two jobs at cost of $1.4 million," Zeliff said. "That's $700,000 a job. The residents complain when the EDC gives incentives to industry that is $100,000 a job, why would the residents want to commit $700,000 to a job to residential housing?"

And yes, competition is an issue -- Calamar would compete with projects such as Clinton Crossings, which charges $1,100 a month in rent. Calamar's taxpayer-subsidized rents would all be $1,000 or less.

Clinton Crossings received no tax incentives for its project, Zeliff said.

"They have 35 people on the waiting list waiting to get in," Zeliff said. "The area will support senior housing at the money Calamar claims it won't."

Gerace wonders why the GCEDC board wouldn't even let the project go to a public hearing, allowing the public to weigh in on whether Calamar should get tax incentives to help build much needed senior housing.

Cianfrini said he didn't see any point in a public hearing.

"My position, if we don't believe in the project in the first instance, why let it go to a public hearing when we know we're going to vote it down after a public hearing," Cianfrini said. "We just thought we'd be wasting valuable time to even let it go to a public hearing. If they want to know what the public viewpoint on this is, let them poll the public themselves and get their own opinion on it."

Friday, August 8, 2014 at 3:53 pm

GCEDC to consider three projects at meeting Tuesday, including Batavia Shoes, LLC

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 three projects at its August 12, 2014, board meeting.

Muller Quaker Dairy is planning to improve its data infrastructure with a new enterprise backup and test environment solution, a project which would retain 143 jobs. The benefitted amount of project the GCEDC board can assist with is $185,000 and the total project incentive request is $14,800 for sales tax exemptions only. The board will consider a final resolution for the project.

Batavia Shoes LLC is planning to purchase the assets, manufacturing facility and client lists of PW Minor, a manufacturer and distributor of leather footwear and orthopedic products located in the City of Batavia. The board will accept the application for the project and consider an initial resolution.

Calamar is planning to build a 117,000-square-foot, three-story building that will house 110 senior apartment units, a lobby and common rooms in the Town of Batavia. The company is investing $11 million which will create up to 200 temporary construction jobs. The board will consider an initial resolution that will set a public hearing for the project.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at noon and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate Med & Tech Park -- 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, NY, on the 2nd floor, across from Genesee Community College.

Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 9:35 pm

GCEDC approves USG project in Oakfield

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Oakfield, U.S. Gypsum

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved a final resolution for application for assistance from United States Gypsum Co. (USG) at the July 10, 2014, board meeting. 

United States Gypsum Company Co. (USG) is planning to upgrade its paper mill at 2750 Maple Ave. in Oakfield, NY. The project will include replacing and relocating equipment, stock cleaning and enhanced manila production to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of the facility.

The upgrades will consist of three phases and is expected to commence in 2016. The projected capital investment is approximately $23 million and the investment will retain 98 manufacturing jobs and create 12 new production jobs.

In other matters, Graham Corporation’s 2013 project with the GCEDC involved expansion of its operations on Harvester Avenue, Howard Street and Florence Streets, in the city of Batavia. There has been a longer than anticipated construction time on these projects and Graham Corporation is requesting a PILOT amendment in order to delay the commencement of the PILOT by one year. This amendment will not result in any additional incentives for the project.   

“The significant investments in businesses right here in our region is strongly reflective of the ongoing economic growth we continue to witness in all industry sectors,” said Wallace Hinchey, GCEDC Board chairman.

Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 9:26 pm

GCEDC adopts new policy requiring local labor on incentive projects

post by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors unanimously voted to adopt a new local labor policy at the organization’s July board meeting. The new policy was developed by the GCEDC Governance and Nominating Committee.

According to the policy, at least 90 percent of non-management construction labor on projects in excess of $5 million construction costs that receive local incentives from the GCEDC must employ workers within the “Local Labor Area” which has been defined as individuals residing in Genesee, Orleans, Monroe, Wyoming, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, Yates, Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

“I want to thank the members of the Governance and Nominating Committee for developing a fair and balanced local labor policy. We do not believe it is unreasonable to ask companies that receive incentives and benefits from our agency to hire locally,” said GCEDC Board Chairman Wolcott Hinchey. “In addition, the local labor area has been defined to include a large area of Western New York to be able to utilize our talented and productive workforce that is readily available to general contractors and subcontractors who work on these economic development projects.”

The policy will allow for companies that receive benefits from the GCEDC to request a waiver for exemption from the local policy in certain circumstances, including the installation of specialized equipment of materials where the manufacturer requires local installation by only approved installers; specialized construction where workers from the “Local Labor Area” are not available; but the company must provide documentation that there is a lack of those particular workers in the “Local Labor Area.”

Companies that receive incentives from the GCEDC will be required to file quarterly reports documenting that they are utilizing workers from the “Local Labor Area” based on the total construction job numbers. Failure to comply with the quarterly reports could result in a company’s incentives being rescinded by the GCEDC.

“This policy is not about meeting job numbers as there are always issues that are beyond a company’s control such as a downturn in the economy; the policy is simply about companies insisting that their contractors and subcontractors hire local laborers,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “The bottom line is that if companies are receiving local tax breaks, then they should be hiring local laborers.”

Monday, July 7, 2014 at 6:15 pm

GCEDC board to consider projects at meeting on Wednesday

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

This is from the GCEDC:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider two projects at its July 10, 2014, board meeting. 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, NY, on the 2nd floor, across from Genesee Community College. 

U.S. Gypsum Company is planning to upgrade its paper mill at 2750 Maple Ave. in Oakfield, NY. The project will include replacing and relocating equipment, stock cleaning and enhanced manila production to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of the facility. The projected capital investment is approximately $23 million and will ensure retention of 98 existing manufacturing jobs and the addition of 12 new production jobs. The board will consider a final resolution for this project.

Calamar Senior Housing is planning to construct a 117,000-square-foot, three-story building that will house 110 senior apartment units, a lobby and common rooms in the Town of Batavia. The facility they have proposed here in Batavia will be restricted to residents 55 years and older, and is scheduled to have many amenities that will create a holistic senior community including: a full-time director, events, educational seminars, meals, transportation, etc. The apartments will rent at market rate from around $805 to $1,050 per month with all major appliances and utilities included. The look, style, amenities offered at the proposed development to ensure effective “aging in place” models for our seniors.  Overall the company plans to invest $11 million, create two full-time positions, and estimates that 200 construction jobs will be needed to complete the facility. The facility will generate long-term tax base for the County without added demands for services on our school districts. The board will consider an initial resolution for this project as the incentives exceed $100,000.

Graham Corporation’s 2013 project with the GCEDC involved expansion of their operations on Harvester Avenue, Howard Street, and Florence Street in the City of Batavia. There has been a longer than anticipated construction time on these projects and Graham Corporation is requesting a PILOT amendment in order to delay the commencement of the PILOT by one year. This amendment will not result in any additional incentives and Graham will receive the total incentives that the board previously approved.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 9:53 am

Craig Yunker appointed to GCEDC board of directors

post by Howard B. Owens in business, CY Farms, GCEDC

Press release:

The Genesee County Legislature has appointed Craig Yunker to the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board of Directors. His term will begin Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

“Craig Yunker was selected to serve on the GCEDC board because of his extensive business and agriculture experience,” said Genesee County Legislative Chairman Ray Cianfrini. “He has lived and grown a successful business in Genesee County and will be a tremendous asset to the board."

Yunker is a managing partner of CY Farms headquartered in Elba, New York. CY Farms is one of the largest crop farms in Western New York, growing turf, corn, wheat, soybeans, alfalfa, onions and green peas. The farm encompasses more than 6,000 acres in Genesee County and has been in operation since 1963.

Yunker is also owner of Batavia Turf, a turf farming operation in Batavia, as well as CY Heifers, a 4,000-head replacement heifer business that raises calves for local dairy farms.

In addition to running CY Farms, Yunker is very active within the community. He is the past Genesee County Legislature chairman serving from 1984-1991, and former trustee of Genesee County Community College. Currently, he serves as director of Tompkins Financial Corporation/Bank of Castile and is a trustee of Cornell University.

Yunker holds a B.S. in applied economics and management from Cornell University and a M.S. in resource economics from the University of New Hampshire. He resides in Elba, with his wife, Kimberly, and is a proud father of three children and has three grandchildren.

“We are pleased with the County’s appointment of Craig to the EDC board and look forward with working with him to advance the mission and goals of the agency,” said Wolcott T. Hinchey, chairman of the GCEDC board.

Monday, June 23, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Nationwide auto auction chain to purchase 30 acres for new facility in Bergen

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

A company that specializes in auctioning off "total loss" vehicles is planning to move its Rochester location to Bergen.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center Board on Monday approved the sale of 30 acres in Appletree Acres Corporate Park to Insurance Auto Auctions, which has more than 160 locations nationwide.

IAA runs salvage auto auctions, selling cars that insurance companies have declared totaled, either because of accident, weather damage or theft. 

The company says on its Web site that more than 3.5 million vehicles in the U.S. are declared a total loss each year.

Some of the vehicles can be repaired and resold; others are good only for scap or parts.

By state law, only dealers can purchase cars that have been declared salvage.

The company will pay $600,000 for the property and plans to invest $3.5 million and $4 million on the new facility.

Between IAA and vendors, the location will employ 10 to 15 people.

Information on any tax abatements IAA may receive is not yet available.

Steve Tibble, IAA's director of real estate and development, said the company will next apply to the Town of Bergen for all the site and plan approvals.

"We plan on being open as fast as we can," Tibble said.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Public hearing scheduled on proposed tax incentives for U.S. Gypsum expansion

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Oakfield, U.S. Gypsum

The public is invited to weigh in during a public hearing at 4 p.m. Monday Tuesday, June 24, on a proposal to provide U.S. Gypsum with tax incentives for a major upgrade to its Oakfield plant.

The proposed tax abatements total $375,748.

U.S. Gypsum is considering investing $23.6 million in the plant, adding production capabilities that would create 12 new production jobs within three years after the project is completed.

Project description:

The United States Gypsum Corporation (USG) is considering upgrading its Oakfield, NY, paper mill, which currently supplies USG wallboard plants with the back paper "newsline" for sheetrock wallboard, to include face paper "manila" production capacity.

The Project includes replacing and relocating the hydropulper and detrashing equipment, stock cleaning, and manila production. Management has been considering upgrades to the facility as it is more efficient to produce the back as well as the front paper applications. Completing this Project will improve safety, quality, and efficiency to ensure the longevity of the facility as well as the retention and creation of manufacturing jobs.

The investment for the Project is expected to be approximately $23 million and will be implemented in three separate phases. Phase I activities, which are expected to commence approximately in the second quarter of 2014, will include replacing and relocating the filler pulper. Phase II will require stock cleaning which will commence in 2015. During Phase III, the facility will begin manila production which will commence in 2016.

If completed, the project is expected to retain 98 jobs at the Oakfield plant.

The proposed tax relief package includes $132,960 in sales tax exemption and $242,788 in property tax abatements on an 18,400-square-foot addition, creating an increased assessed value.

U.S. Gypsum would save $242,788 in taxes on the increase assessed value (while continuing to pay current property taxes) over 10 years.

The public hearing is scheduled to be held at the Oakfield Town Hall, 3219 Drake St., Oakfield.

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