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Friday, March 7, 2014 at 3:36 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 9:00 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 8:30 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 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.

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