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Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Legislators say final state budget will include $33 million for development of STAMP project

post by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, STAMP

UPDATED 6:56 p.m. to add comments from Steve Hyde.

State lawmakers are expected to vote on a state budget Monday that will include $33 million in funding for the WNY STAMP project in the Town of Alabama. STAMP stands for Science and Technology Advanced Marketing Park.

The funds will help GCEDC complete land acquisition and make the proposed high-tech manufacturing park "shovel ready lite."

Actual shovel-in-the-ground type of work will no likely begin before the first tenant is secured, said GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde.

"The big thing is the funding being approved, committed and appropriated," Hyde said.

Once at least one company makes a commitment to STAMP, Hyde said, that's when you'll see work begin on infrastructure -- water lines, roads, power lines, gas lines and telecom.

The proposed 1,300-acre high-tech business park could transform the WNY economy, which is why a broad coalition of "partners" (other IDAs, local governments, community colleges and elected officials) came together to advocate for the funding, Hyde said.

"It was a pretty cool undertaking," Hyde said.

The funding is a big win for all of WNY, said Assemblyman Steve Hawley and State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer, who have both been working to help secure the funding.

"This is huge," Ranzenhofer said. This is the biggest site in North America. This is where people will want to come. This is going to be big for Genesee County and Erie County and Niagara County and all the counties of Western New York. It's going to create thousands of of advanced and technical kinds of jobs."

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morrelle held a press conference in Irondequoit this afternoon to announce the funding.

Hawley said he was assured on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that the money would be in the final budget proposal, which the Legislature is expected to vote on Monday.

He said dozens and dozens of people, from local elected officials up to staff in the governor's office, worked together to help make the funding possible.

"I can only say this has been a true team effort," Hawley said. "We've been working together for the regional economic renaissance of Western New York. This project when it comes to fruition could create 10,000 jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Spreading the tax burden lessens the tax burden on us all."

There's still lots of engineer work and planning to take place for STAMP, Hyde said. There's also land acquisition deals yet to complete. The funding will help move the project along in those areas as well.

Hyde said earlier this month that STAMP is generating real interest among site selectors and Ranzenhofer and Hawley said they've heard from Hyde that there are some strong potential projects in the pipeline. Securing this funding will only help matters.

"Steve Hyde has indicated there are businesses ready to sign on the dotted line," Hawley said. "There are a number that are really close and extremely interested."

Ranzenhofer said the funding is perhaps the last carrot Hyde needs to draw some businesses into the park.

"I would expect once people see the money is in the budget he's going have some great success in closing some of these deals," Ranzenhofer said.

Hyde reiterated this afternoon that there are some solid businesses taking a good hard look at STAMP and this funding will certainly go a long way toward getting final commitments.

"Some (of the potential deals) are getting pretty deep and there's more in the sales funnel," Hyde said. "I'm very excited. What this does is allow us to show a company that the funding is there to finish the infrastructure and gives us the the ability to try hard and close these deals."

Hyde praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for backing STAMP.

"This is fulfilling his plan to drive high tech and revitalize Upstate New York," Hyde said. "The governor's office has been incredibly supportive and I'm immensely grateful that they would work with us on this."

UPDATE 7:07 p.m.: Statement from Steve Hyde just issued by GCEDC, after the jump:

Friday, March 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm

GCEDC board approves incentives for Liberty Pumps and Bank of Castile expansion projects

post by Howard B. Owens in bank of castile, batavia, bergen, business, GCEDC, liberty pumps

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved applications for two projects at its March 6, 2014, board meeting. 

The Bank of Castile/Tompkins Trust Company is purchasing a building located at 113-119 Main St. in the City of Batavia and plans to renovate the second floor (10,000 square feet) into a call center for its expanding operations because of limited space in its current location in the City of Batavia. The company also plans to maintain the first floor and continue renting space to current lessors. 

The company was approved for a sales tax exemption of approximately $53,600 and a property tax exemption of approximately $27,800 to expand its existing facility. The planned capital investment will total an estimated $1.5 million dollars and is projected to create two new jobs.

Tompkins Trust Company built a new 18,000-square-foot headquarters in the City of Batavia in 2004, investing more than $2.9 million dollars. The company had pledged to create 63 new jobs; as of 2012, it had created 74 jobs.

Liberty Pumps is planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion of its existing facility at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen, NY. The renovation will include new spaces for production, warehouse, research and development, as well as an office, auditorium and training center. An initial resolution for Liberty Pumps was approved to set a public hearing as the total amount of incentives exceeds $100,000. The capital investment for the expansion project is $9.8 million and will create 27 new jobs while retaining 124 employees at the facility.

In 2000 Liberty Pumps invested $3.7 million for the acquisition of the land and construction of a 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. It underwent another expansion project in 2008 which entailed the investment of an additional $4 million for the construction of a 64,000-square-foot addition to the existing facility.

“It’s great to see companies that our agency has assisted with in past, come back to us with plans to expand their operations and create even more jobs in our region,” said Wally Hinchey, GCEDC board chairman.

Friday, March 7, 2014 at 4:36 pm

GCEDC holds annual meeting at GCC

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) held its annual meeting at Genesee Community College to unveil the organization’s 2013 annual report. During the meeting, Genesee Community College (GCC) was honored for its collaboration in the community as it received the Economic Development Partner of the Year Award from the GCEDC.

“Because of the strategic leadership of the public and private sectors in 2013, the economy of Genesee County remains strong and the business climate continues to remain positive,” said Wally Hinchey, chairman, GCEDC. “I am confident that the GCEDC, the County, and our municipal partners will continue to work together to make business attraction and expansion a priority for 2014, and am proud to recognize GCC as the GCEDC partner of the year.”

The college was recognized for its role in executing strong economic development and workforce programs for the region. In collaboration with the GCEDC and the Best Center, it has helped more than 80 students graduate with certificates in advanced manufacturing/nanotechnology and food processing technology. These graduates have found local employment in industries they would not have thought to pursue. GCC will continue partnering with the GCEDC by implementing new degree programs to support numerous businesses, industry training programs and attraction efforts, as well as the START-UP NY program run by the college.

The approximately 300 people in attendance also were provided an update on developments at the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama by Mark Peterson, president and CEO of the Greater Rochester Enterprise and Thomas Kucharski, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise.  Both participated in meetings last month with representatives from the GCEDC and organized labor to advocate on behalf of STAMP with members and staff from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office and members of the New York State Senate and Assembly.

The state has listed the STAMP project as a top economic development priority and has released $5 million in funds to move the project forward, but still $33 million is needed to make the project shovel-ready lite. The project, which has the potential to create thousands of new jobs, has the support of labor unions and the business community from Buffalo and Rochester, along with senators and assembly members in the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions.

“Going into 2014, it is critical that we continue to sustain this year’s great achievements and reach the goals we have set for growth and development in the county,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “We will continue to ramp up our sales and marketing efforts for STAMP to attract large-scale semiconductor and high-tech companies to the site.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

STAMP project generating some interest among high-tech manufacturers, Hyde tells legislators

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

There's plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future of the WNY STAMP project in Alabama, Steve Hyde told members of the County Legislature during the Ways and Means Committee meeting Tuesday.

While Genesee County Economic Development Center must still secure a total of $33 million in financing to make the proposed high-tech manufacturing park "shovel-ready lite," there is plenty of buzz about the project among site selectors.

STAMP will be one of only a couple of locations in the nation, if not in the world, that could provide a major manufacturer with both 500 acres of property and up to 500 megawatts of electricity, Hyde said.

One of the nation's leading site selectors was at a conference in Denver recently and told Hyde there may be a very big project in the pipeline and STAMP is in the running.

"He said they have a really monster project developing, that New York will certainly be on the radar, but they said that STAMP is the one site, and maybe the only site in New York, that could probably accomodate it," Hyde said. "We're excited. We hope that comes through, but it's still very, very early at this juncture."

Hyde also said the governor's office is working on landing a project that would be "about the size of Muller" -- the yogurt plant in the Genesee Valley Ag Park -- for STAMP, but that New York is among four states competing for the project.

"It's competitive, but we're in the hunt," Hyde said.

STAMP is Hyde's big dream -- with the potential for hundreds of millions in local investment and 10,000 jobs. He called it "a game changer for our community."

He made his remarks during GCEDC's annual review for the Ways and Means Committee.  GCEDC will hold it's annual meeting at noon Friday at the college.

GCEDC operates on a $1.3 million annual budget, with $597,975 coming from fees paid by businesses that receive GCEDC benefits, $480,000 from the Local Development Corporation (a nonprofit operated by GCEDC that also receives fees for projects) and $215,014 from county taxpayers.

That $215,000 in county funding is perpetually controversial, but Hyde said it's essential to keeping GCEDC operating.

"That county contribution is only about 17 percent of our budget, but it gives about 8.5 professionals work that we hope you think is of value," Hyde said. "It's very important."

In 2013, GCEDC closed 28 projects that resulted in 270 pledged jobs, $29.9 million in capital investments and $1.7 million in grants for business and infrastructure improvements.

The biggest win for GCEDC over the past two years has been the ag park, which has seen the creation of two Greek yogurt plants -- Alpina and Muller.

Alpina pledged 50 new jobs and has already created 47, plus 33 full-time temp jobs that fluctuate based on production needs (and sometimes turn into new full-time, permanent jobs).

PepsiCo. / Muller pledged 186 new jobs in the first three years and 145 have been created so far.

Nearly 50 percent of the new hires at the two plants were Genesee County residents, Hyde said.

Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 9:30 am

Unique financing scheme proposed to bring more electricity to Appletree Acres

post by Howard B. Owens in Appletree Acres, bergen, business, GCEDC, liberty pumps

It's going to take a good deal more electricity to power an expanded Liberty Pumps in Bergen and adding more transmission lines to Appletree Acres will cost a bit of money.

To help pay for it, Genesee County Economic Development Center is proposing a financing scheme known as a PIF -- PILOT Increment Financing.

Liberty Pumps already has an approved PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) for its expansion, and a PIF reallocates some of their PILOT payments toward infrastructure payments.

In this case, GCEDC is proposing a 50-percent PIF, meaning the taxing jurisdiction will get half of the PILOT payments and half will go toward a fund to pay for the additional power lines and poles.

The cost of the electricity project is estimated at $150,000.

The power expansion will benefit all of Appletree Acres, making it more attractive to potential businesses considering the park and Village of Bergen residents, said Mark Masse, VP of business development for GCEDC.

It will also mean ratepayers in the Village of Bergen -- which has its own power utility -- won't see a rate increase as a result of infrastructure upgrade.

Of the 10-year period of the PILOT/PIF, the county will receive nearly $80,000 in PILOT payments and $80,000 will go to the electricity project. For the county, the gain/loss of $80,000 is not currently either a budgeted expense or budgeted revenue.

For the Village of Bergen the split is $17,600, and for the Byron-Bergen School District, it's $287,850.

All three jurisdictions will need approve the PIF.

Masse will explain the project to the Byron-Bergen School Board tonight.

A PILOT is a mechanism to relieve a new or expanding business of some property tax burden on projects expected to create new jobs. The property is either owned or leased by the nonprofit GCEDC so there are no property taxes owed; the business then makes payments in lieu of those taxes during the PILOT period. The payments increase on a graduated scale over a 10-year period, usually started at 20 percent of the increase in assessed value.

A PIF, then, takes those payments and allocates at least a portion to a specific community project.

The County's Ways and Means Committee learned about the PIF plan for Appletree Acres on Wednesday, but was not yet asked to vote on the project.

Liberty Pumps is planning to add 100,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space.

Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm

GCEDC announces annual meeting for March 7

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will hold its annual meeting on Friday, March 7, at Genesee Community College to unveil the organization’s 2013 annual report to the community.

The attendees at the annual meeting will include Congressman Chris Collins, Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and Genesee County Legislature Chairman Raymond Cianfrini.  

“Because of the strategic leadership of the public and private sectors in 2013, the economy of Genesee County remains strong and the business climate continues to remain positive,” said Charlie Cook, GCEDC chairman. “We will discuss at this meeting our plans to continue making business attraction and expansion a priority for 2014.”

Among the economic development highlights for the region as outlined in the 2013 annual report include:

** Recognition of Genesee County as one of the to five fastest-growing food processing regions in the country by Business Facilities magazine;

** Recognition of Genesee County by Site Selection magazine as one of the top fastest-growing micropolitans in the United States due to continued growth and business attraction;

** Economic growth as a result of projects like Muller Quaker Dairy LLC, a yogurt manufacturing facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business (GVAB) Park located on Route 5 in Batavia; and

** An unemployment rate of 5.8 percent during the summer of 2013 according to the New York State Department of Labor, one of the lowest unemployment rates of the 62 counties in the state.

In addition to the GCEDC’s annual report highlights, the recipient of this year’s Economic Development Partner of the Year Award will be unveiled.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the annual meeting, please visit www.gcedc.com. Tickets for the event cannot be purchased at the door and seating is limited.

Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Hearing set to subdivide Batavia Towne Center for new Kohl's

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

The Town of Batavia Planning Board will hold a public hearing Jan. 7 to consider an application for a subdivision of property in Batavia Towne Center.

The subdivision would make it possible for Kohl's Department Store to own its own property inside the shopping center, much like Target does now.

Kohl's would be purchasing the parcel from COR Development.

In June, the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board approved $1.8 million in new tax abatements for COR (on top of the $4.6 million in tax breaks COR received from GCEDC in 2006), ostensibly to attract new businesses that provide goods or services not readily available in Genesee County.

Kohl's is a department store chain that sells furniture, clothing, bed and bath items and other general merchandise.

The store will be located where Lowe's once had its garden center, just south of the new Dick's Sporting Goods.

To the north of Dick's will be a Five Below and possibly Marshall's; both are discount retailers.

In order for Kohl's to own its own parcel, the property currently owned by COR must be subdivided.

All subdivisions must go through a public hearing, which is a chance for the public to learn the facts of the project relevant to the subdivision and comment on the issue.

The same process was used to subdivide Batavia Towne Center for Target. A portion of the tax breaks secured by COR in 2006 are now applied to the Target property.

While it's possible for Kohl's to apply to transfer tax abatements received by COR to the new parcel, Rachael Tabelski, director of marketing and communications for GCEDC, said the agency has yet to receive an application for the tax abatements from Kohl's.

The hearing will be held at Batavia Town Hall, 3833 W. Main Street Road, Batavia, at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 7. Written comments will be accepted prior to that date.

Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 6:05 am

GCEDC board to vote on two food processing company expansion projects

post by Howard B. Owens in Alpina Products, GCEDC, Yancey's Fancy

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider at its Oct. 3 board meeting final resolutions for tax exemptions related to Yancey’s Fancy’s new processing facility and an expansion project proposed by Alpina Foods.

Yancey’s Fancy is seeking sales tax and mortgage tax exemptions and a property tax abatement to build a new facility within the Buffalo East Technology Park (BETP) located in Pembroke. Yancey’s Fancy plans to purchase approximately 12 acres within the BETP and build a 112,000-square-foot facility. The company plans to keep its artisan cheese operation and retail store in the current location on 857 Main Road in Corfu, while operating the new processing facility for its other product lines.

Yancey’s Fancy currently has 108 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees and expects to add 50 more over three years after the certificate of occupancy is obtained for the new facility.

Alpina Foods is seeking approval of a final resolution for sales tax exemption valued at $40,000 related to its proposed expansion plan. Alpina is planning a $2.5 million investment in new production equipment and $500,000 in interior construction (furniture, fixtures, and non-manufacturing equipment). Associated with this expansion plan, Alpina has committed to adding an additional 15 full-time equivalent employees to its workforce over the next three years after completion of the expansion project.  

A leading South American dairy products company, Alpina Foods constructed its first U.S. manufacturing facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in 2011. The facility employs 50 full-time workers on site and has met initial job creation commitments ahead of schedule.

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, second floor, across from Genesee Community College.

Friday, September 13, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Bonduelle highlights local investment in food processing plants, plans for growth

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, Bonduelle, business, food processing, GCEDC

If you're a vegetable processing company, "growth" better be your favorite word.

It's a word tossed around dozens of times today during an open house for local officials and regional media at Bonduelle's facility in Bergen.

The family-run, France-based firm purchased the plant, along with plants in Oakfield and Brockport, from Allen Foods in March 2012.

It was a strategic purchase. Bonduelle, which specializes in packaging frozen vegetables under the labels of retailers, sees the United States as a place to grow and the Northeast as suitable target market.

Company executives made four trips to Allen's facilities and decided the plants were under-utilized but were in great locations with great employees, said Daniel Viefaure, CEO of Bonduelle Americas.

"When we visited the plants, what we saw were people eager for improvement," Viefaure said. "They were working under a company that was not as eager for growth as we were and the employees realized that. When they saw we were visiting, they were really interested and I got the feeling that they were the right people to do what we really wanted to do."

To date, Bonduelle has invested for $5.5 million in the four former Allen plants (there's also one in Wisconsin), including $3.5 million in the Bergen facility.

Bonduelle was so eager to grow in its first year that it applied for -- but didn't use because the timing wasn't right -- a $250,000 state grant through the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

While Allen was reportedly losing money on the facilities it sold to Bonduelle, Viefaure said his company was profitable its first year of operations.

The company plans to continue growing its WNY operations and Vielfaure said Bonduelle will likely seek out future assistance from GCEDC to assist with that growth.

Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, said Bonduelle is a great success story for Genesee County, helping to shore up the vegetable end of the county's food processing industry.

“This is a game changer,” Hyde said. “The companies that owned this plant previously were really allowing it to decline and they weren’t investing and they weren’t growing, and now what you see is a 180 (degree change).”

The move into WNY by Bonduelle has certainly had a big impact on its employees in Bergen and Oakfield, who were on the cusp of unemployment under Allen. Bonduelle made a point of retaining the 69 year-around employees at the two plants.

The facilities also employ 188 seasonal workers.

Currently, the Bergen facility processes 107 million pounds of corn, carrots, beans and peas, said James Newcomb, facilities manager for Bonduelle.

Newcomb has 42 years experience working for the companies that roll up into the history of the Bonduelle plants.

On one of the tours today, Newcomb repeatedly emphasized the great care for quality Bonduelle has instilled in the plants, making equipment upgrades, improving training and ensuring only the best produce is purchased from family farms within 75 miles of the plants.

"Our customers were asking for more product, but we didn't have the capacity," Viefaure said. "Our customers are very happy to buy more product from us. They are experiencing growth and they needed more vegetables."

Among Bonduelle's clients is Wegmans, which Viefaure said is a great customer for Bonduelle because of Wegmans insistence on quality vegetables for its brand-name frozen foods.

"Wegmans is a state-of-the-art company," Viefaure said.

While Viefaure did not discuss today the specific expansion plans for his company, he did make clear the company is looking to grow its market share in the Northeast and that will mean expansion in Bergen and Oakfield.

James Newcomb demonstrating how corn kernals are stripped from the cob.

A worker sorting through kernals of cut corn, picking out imperfections. Newcomb said this was his first job in the industry and said it's one of the hardest jobs in the plant.

Monday, September 9, 2013 at 10:05 am

GCEDC announces 2014 budget

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) passed a budget for Fiscal Year 2014 at its board meeting today, adopting a balanced budget that totals $1.2 million.

Approximately $1.041 million in revenues will be realized through grant revenue, sale and lease back fees, interest income, and county funding. Another $175,000 in cash payments will be collected through project participation fee annuity streams. Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) interest will generate approximately $22,000 in revenue through 13 active loans in RLF 1 and five active loans in RLF 2. Meanwhile, workforce development activities continue to be self-sustaining due to grant funding. 

“The GCEDC was created to retain and create jobs and generate new revenues for local government by increasing the property tax base,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “For every dollar of public money that supports the GCEDC, there is an $18 return on investment to the community as a result of various economic development projects supported by our agency.”

As a public benefit organization, the GCEDC generates fee revenues from economic development projects. The GCEDC also projects continued funding from Genesee County as well as other sources to run its operations, programs and services. The funding provided by Genesee County helps the GCEDC with core base-level operational funding while the remaining project revenue is raised through the ongoing work of the GCEDC.

“Genesee County is a vital partner in our efforts to bring new business and growth to our region,” Hyde continued. “We are extremely grateful to the members of the Genesee County Legislature who support the GCEDC’s ongoing growth strategy.”

Expenditures have been controlled and reduced wherever possible, however compliance with New York State mandates continues to cause significant cost increases for the operating budget. For example, a 13-percent increase in health insurance premiums is anticipated based on current estimates from health insurance brokers.

“The GCEDC’s budget assumptions are conservative due to uncertainties related to future project activity levels, but we anticipate that 2014 will be another great year,” said Lezlie Farrell, CFO of the GCEDC.

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