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Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 1:15 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 4:05 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 5:05 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 4:47 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 9:05 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.

Friday, September 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Dick's hangs its sign on former Lowe's building

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

Today workers just about completed installing the Dick's Sporting Goods sign on the former Lowe's building.

Syracuse-based COR Development received $1.8 million in local tax breaks in order to retrofit the building so Dick's could come to town and compete against existing locally owned sporting goods stores.

One store, Fisher Sports, has already closed because of the preferential treatment given to COR by the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Dick's is expected to open within a couple of months.

Friday, September 6, 2013 at 8:50 am

Update on GCEDC projects for Graham and Yancey's Fancy

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, graham corp, Yancey's Fancy

From Rachael J. Tabelski, marketing and communications director, GCEDC:

Please be advised that the two projects that came before the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board for incentives at the Sept. 5 board meeting passed. The details of the projects are below. Please note that the project summary for Yancey's Fancy has been updated with further details of the project. The board approved an initial resolution which directs the GCEDC to schedule a public hearing on the Yancey's Fancy project and related incentives. As soon as the public hearing for Yancey's is scheduled we will send you the details. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Graham Corporation Expansion
Discussion: Proposed sales tax and property tax abatement.

Graham Corporation would like to renovate the "old" plant area, located at the corner of Harvester Avenue and Howard Street in the City of Batavia. A new bay will be constructed (12,439 square feet) that will enclose the area between two manufacturing bays located facing Harvester Avenue along with renovations of office and manufacturing areas. In addition, a new building (3,800 square feet) will be constructed on the 20 Florence Street campus. This new building will be used for X-ray inspections of welds done during the fabrication process. Graham currently has 311 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees and anticipates adding 30 more over three years after the certificate of occupancy is obtained for these renovations. At the Aug. 1 board meeting an initial resolution was approved to schedule a public hearing. A public hearing was held on Aug. 21 to solicit public comments on the project as the total incentive amount is more than $100,000. No members of the public attended the hearing.

Board Action Request: Approval of final resolution to approve the incentives for the project. The application for the expansion project includes an estimated sales tax exemption of $240,000 and estimated property tax abatement on the incremental increase in assessed value of $243,396.

Historical Look: The last expansion project that Graham undertook and the GCEDC assisted was in 2011. At the time Graham had 278 FTEs and pledged 30 new jobs in three years for a total of 308 FTEs. According to its 2013 application the company exceeded its employment goals and plans to keep growing.

Yancey’s Fancy Project -- *Updated Summary
Discussion: Proposed sales tax and mortgage tax exemptions and property tax abatement.

Yancey's Fancy has updated its project specifications since submission of its original application for incentives. The original application was received by the GCEDC in April. According to the original application, Yancey’s was planning an 112,000-square-foot expansion at its existing facility, 857 Main Road in Corfu. After moving forward with planning and permitting for the expansion, the company has decided to build a new facility within the Buffalo East Technology Park (BETP) located in Pembroke. Yancey’s Fancy would like to purchase approximately 12 acres within the BETP, and build a 112,000-square-foot facility. The capital investment is estimated to be $18.2 million.

The company plans to keep its artisan cheese operations and retail store in the current location (857 Main Road), and to undertake an expansion at this location as well. The second part of the project will include the addition of 3,500 square feet at the 857 Main Road location where they will install a new reverse-osmosis system. The instillation of a reverse-osmosis system will allow whey produced during the cheese-making process to be dried and sold. Currently, whey is transported by local farmers at a cost to Yancey’s. By utilizing reverse-osmosis technology, it is possible to concentrate the solid content enough to sell whey to processors and animal feed operations. Recent technological advances also allow the water removed from the whey to be pumped back into plant operations. These advances, as well as the expansion of the town and village sewer system, have made the reverse-osmosis project a viable opportunity in the overall growth strategy that Yancey’s Fancy in undertaking. The capital investment of this project is estimated to be $2.5 million.

The total capital investment for Yancey’s project is estimated at $20.7 million. The company 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 this new facility. Due to the changes in the project, a new public hearing will be held to solicit public comment on the incentives sought by the company, as they are more than $100,000 in savings.

Board Action Request: Approval of an initial resolution to set a public hearing for the Yancey’s Fancy project. The estimated sales tax exemption is valued at $638,608, and the estimated mortgage tax exemption is valued at $233,388. The new building and land located within the Buffalo East Technology Park will have an estimated property tax savings of $686,314, and the incremental increase in assessed value that will apply to the additional square footage at the 857 Main Road location will have an estimated property tax savings of $49,022. The total estimated property tax exemption is valued at $735,336.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Gillibrand stops in Bergen to pump up Foreign Trade Zones

post by Howard B. Owens in business, foreign trade zone, GCEDC, liberty pumps

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand stopped for a tour of Liberty Pumps in Bergen today to promote Genesee County's "Foreign Trade Zone" designation.

Liberty is the first company in Genesee County to apply for the benefits of an FTZ.

Charlie Cook, president and CEO of Liberty Pumps, said the designation will help his company grow and create more jobs.

"It's certainly going to help reduce our costs," Cook said. "We are initially limited to three companies because it's crucial to monitor everything and control the inventory on the floor, so our most expensive components are duty free and there's an advantage there. It's our intent to flow the savings to the bottom line and generate more profits, which fuels future growth."

Profits, Cook, explained, means more research and development and more funds to bring new products to market, which means expansion.

Liberty Pumps is surrounded by three parcels of land that are suitable for expansion and Cook mentioned that the company is considering it options and will almost certainly expand in the next couple of years.

The FTZ allows Liberty Pumps to buy some of the parts it needs to build products without paying tariffs, but then it can also avoid tariffs on its exports.

Cook wanted to note, however, that not every component it could buy overseas is imported.

"We really try to limit our foreign purchases of components," Cook said. "If we can buy it domestically, we always prefer domestic components, but the fact is, these particular motors you can't get from a U.S. manufacturer anymore. They've all closed down these lines. Other components, like castings, we could do that, but we're trying to contain that business, a lot of it, to domestic sources rather than foreign."

Gillibrand said FTZs are important to help New York's economy grow.

"I encourage all manufacturers who can benefit to apply," Gillibrand said. "We make some of the most amazing things in the world right here in New York. We produce some of the greatest agricultural products of anywhere in the world. We want to be able to increase the world markets for our goods and services. We want to keep local busineses in a position of strength."

Monday, August 26, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Publication ranks Genesee County as 4th fastest growing food processing region

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

For the fourth year in a row, Genesee County, New York has been recognized as one of the fastest growing Food Processing Industry Metros by Business Facilities, a national site selection publication.

The Agricultural and Food and Beverage Sector employs more than 1,500 workers in Genesee County, and throughout the Western New York and the Finger Lakes Region there are more than 20,000 employees within the Food and Beverage Cluster. This number has increased significantly in recent years with the opening of Alpina Foods, LLC, and Muller Quaker Dairy along with the expansion of other food processors in the County.

“The recent construction of two new food processing facilities demonstrates a substantial return on our investment in our Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC). “We are honored to be once again recognized by Business Facilities as it keeps us on the radar screen for site selectors throughout the United States and the world.”

The Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park encompasses 211 shovel-ready, pre-permitted acres strategically located between Western New York and the Finger Lakes region in Batavia, NY.  On site, there is access to low cost process water via a local aquifer, a short and main line rail access to move products, and large capacity municipal sewer and water. Through the support of National Grid and National Fuel the site has an enhanced utility infrastructure.

“Genesee County and our strategic partners, GCEDC, GCC, our utility companies, Farm East and other local governments like Batavia, Pembroke, Bergen, etc., made sure that nine-plus years of planning and preparation are paying off in terms of infrastructure, shovel-ready site, employment and training opportunities and good paying, long-term employment options for our community and the region,” said Mary Pat Hancock, chairwoman of the Genesee County Legislature. “The vision and collaboration necessary to make this happen and to sustain development and progress is what our community has always been about.”

Alpina Foods, LLC, a leading dairy producing company in Colombia and South America, recently opened its first specialty yogurt manufacturing plant at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. This is Alpina’s first United States facility and the company recently exceeded their original job commitments of 50 employees. PepsiCo, in a joint venture with German dairy company Theo Müller, also recently opened its own $206 million yogurt manufacturing facility, Muller Quaker Dairy, and as of June 2013 have hired 110 employees for their Batavia facility. 

“Food manufacturers value our region’s abundant milk supply and access to fresh water,” said Mark S. Peterson, president and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise. “These assets are just some of the reasons Genesee County has become a magnet for leading yogurt manufacturers such as Alpina Foods and Muller Quaker Dairy.”

“A wealth of agricultural assets, shovel-ready sites, transportation infrastructure and access to major U.S. and Canadian markets have helped to establish Genesee County as a leading location for the food processing industry,” said Thomas A. Kucharski, president and CEO of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise.

“Leading dairy companies like Alpina Foods, Muller Quaker Dairy, Yancey’s Fancy and O-AT-KA Milk are among the almost 400 food processing companies that have grown and prospered in Genesee County and the surrounding area,” Kucharski added.

Thursday, August 1, 2013 at 7:45 am

Details released on four projects up for consideration by GCEDC

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

Rachael J. Tabelski, communications director for Genesee County Economic Development Center, released the following details on the four projects that will be considered by the GCEDC board this afternoon. The board meets at 4 p.m. at the MedTech Centre, 99 MedTech Drive (across from the college).

1. (GCEDC) Proposed sales tax and property tax abatement -- Graham Corp.
Graham Corporation would like to renovate the "old" plant area, located at the corner of Harvester Avenue and Howard Street in the City of Batavia. A new bay will be constructed (12,439 square feet) that will enclose the area between two manufacturing bays located facing Harvester Avenue along with renovations of office and manufacturing areas. In addition, a new building (3,800 square feet) will be constructed on the 20 Florence St. property. This new building will be used for X-ray inspections of welds done during the fabrication process. Graham currently has 311 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees and expects to add 30 more over three years after the certificate of occupancy is obtained for these renovations. Board Action Request: Approval of an initial resolution to accept the application, and schedule a public hearing as benefits exceed $100,000. The application for the expansion project includes a sales tax exemption ($240,000) and property tax abatement on the incremental increase in assessed value ($243,396). Historical Look: The last expansion project that Graham undertook and the GCEDC assisted was in 2011. At the time, Graham had 278 FTE’s and pledged 30 new jobs in three years for a total of 308 FTEs. According to its 2013 application the company has exceeded its employment goals and plans to keep growing.

2. (GCEDC) Proposed sales tax and mortgage tax exemption and property tax abatement -- Guthrie Heli-Arc, Inc. 
Guthrie Heli-Arc, Inc., is a federally certified repair facility for transportation vessels. For the past 22 years its has operated out of a rented facility in Bergen. That facility has been sold, and the lease will terminate. CLR Industries, LLC, real estate holding company, has purchased a facility at 6276 Clinton Street Road in Stafford. The company plans on moving into the Stafford facility after a 7200-square-foot addition to the existing structure is completed. The addition is necessary to accommodate workflow. Board Action Request: Approval of a final resolution to approve incentives for the proposed project. The application for the expansion project includes a sales tax ($14,400) and mortgage tax exemption ($3,750) and property tax abatement on the incremental increase in assessed value ($58,902).

3. (GCEDC) Proposed RLF  for business expansion Pellegrino Auto Sales
The company is seeking a 16’x48’ expansion to the current facility and office renovation of 12’x38' at 4060 Pearl Street Road in the Town of Batavia. This will allow for three times the office space for future growth. The company is investing $150,000 and pledging 2.5 FTEs and retaining 5.5 FTEs. Board Action Request: Approval of a $75,000 from the revolving loan fund.

4. (GGLDC) Proposed RLF from the Batavia Micropolitan Area Community Redevelopment Loan Fund -- Jackson Square, LLC.
The former Carr's warehouse was built around 1880 in what is today known as Jackson Square. The company is looking to convert the former warehouse into a mixed-use, commercial and residential site. The ground floor will have flex office/light industrial and four new market rate apartments on the second and third floors. The City of Batavia is current owner of building and will transfer the title to the Batavia Development Corporation for sale to 13 Jackson Square, LLC. It is our understanding that the City of Batavia is looking to assist the project with its 485-A real property tax exemption. Board Action Request: Approval of a $100,000 from Batavia Micropolitan Area Community Redevelopment Loan Fund. Historical look: Board approved final resolution in July 2013 for sales tax ($24,816) and mortgage tax exemption ($2,994) contingent upon 13 Jackson Square, LLC, purchasing the building.

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