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Friday, March 29, 2013 at 9:43 am

GCEDC board approves tax breaks for developer of former Lowe's location

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Batavia Showtime, business, GCEDC, Le Roy

CLARIFICATION: Regarding the headline and the item below: The GCEDC board approved the COR project being set for a public hearing, but its project has not yet received final approval.

COR Development Company, owners of property at 4180 Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia, is planning a $4.5 million investment in the former Lowe's location for renovation, adding space and retrofitting the existing structure. The renovations will pave the way for one or more retailers to lease the space. Total tax incentives: $1,052,104. The project is part of Town Center Batavia, which is 350,000-square-feet of "destination retail space," according to the Genesee County Economic Development Center's release. In 2007, COR received incentives to build the project. The former Lowe's location is currently 138,778 square feet. Under the proposal, COR will receive $180,000 in sales tax exemptions, a $43,750 mortgage tax exemption and a $828,390 property tax exemption on the increased assessment value of the property. COR projects 120 new retail jobs as a result of the project.

Batavia Showtime, 6 Alva Place, Batavia, is planning a $52,200 investment for the purchase and installing of a digital movie projector. Batavia Showtime is approved for a $4,176 sales tax exemption on purchase of the projector. GCEDC's release states that the board is looking to assist in the project because it qualifies as a tourism destination and provides a service to the area, being the only local movie theater, that would not otherwise be available. The theater was in danger of closing prior to Batavia Showtime purchasing the facility. The owner is planning upgrades beyond the purchase of the digital projector. An estimated three new jobs will be created and four jobs retained.

Le Roy Plastics, 59 Lake St., Le Roy, is planning a $885,000 investment for the consolidation of all operations and processes into one facility. The company plans to renovate portions of the new facility and purchase furniture, fixtures and equipment. The GCEDC board approved $43,931 in tax abatements for the project, including a $24,800 sales tax exemption, $9,063 mortgage tax exemption and a $10,068 exemption on property taxes above the current assessed value.

Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 11:21 am

Empire State Development announces $1.5 million in funding for STAMP project

post by Howard Owens in Alabama, business, GCEDC, STAMP project

Press release from Empire State Development:

Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park – Priority Project (Finger Lakes Region – Genesee County) – Grant - $500,000; Loan $1,100,000

Designated a Priority Project by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, the Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) will create significant opportunities for semiconductor, flat panel display, photovoltaic, and bio-manufacturing projects.

The Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC), which serves as the recipient of ESD’s grant and loan, was established in 2004 to handle industrial park development and serves as a conduit for assistance to private companies. Since its inception, GGLDC has completed five park developments across Upstate New York – each of which have infrastructure completed and are able to accommodate new business developments.

In 2005, GGLDC identified a market need to develop a much larger park than those previously developed. Such a mega site, of at least 1,000 acres, would seek to attract a large-scale advanced manufacturing project. GGDLC identified a site in the Town of Alabama, and since 2008 has expended several million dollars for preliminary multifaceted feasibility studies, completed an Environmental Impact Statement, and conducted community outreach and began to acquire property. In order to continue developing STAMP as New York State’s third mega site, ESD is providing a grant of up to $500,000 and a loan of $1.1 million to assist in the purchase of 364 acres of land at the site for the next phase of development.

GGDLC currently owns 143 acres with the option to purchase another 1,073. This real estate transaction will allow for design, engineering and construction for the initial infrastructure at the site, which will be completed by the end of 2014.

This project will position Western New York State as a hub for advanced technology manufacturing and spur significant regional economic growth. There is potential for up to 1,200 jobs at the STAMP site by 2016, and over 9,300 projected jobs at full build-out in 2032.

Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 2:15 pm

GCEDC approves incentives for five business expansions

post by Howard Owens in batavia, bergen, business, Darien, GCEDC, Oakfield, pembroke

Reed Batavia Properties, LLC, 39 Washington Ave., Batavia, has been approved for $140,861 in tax incentives for upgrades to its building. Reed purchased the building from Batavia City Schools. The 13,452-square-foot building is the former administration building. Reed will renovate the building for medical/office use. Genesee County is currently designated a Health Professional Shortage Area. The assessed value is $475,000. The property was formerly tax exempted and will become taxable at the current assessed value. Reed will receive a tax abatement PILOT on the increase in assessed value over the current assessed value, which is an anticipated tax savings for Reed of $76,361. Reed will also receive sales tax exemption on construction materials, furniture and fixtures of $52,000 along with a mortgage tax exemption of $12,500. Reed is investing $1.5 million in the project and expected to create six new jobs.

Yancey's Fancy, Inc./D&Y Cheeses, Inc., 857 Main Road, Pembroke, is planning a $10.2 million expansion. GCEDC has approved $980,000 in incentives. The expansion will increase capacity and create new flavors and cheese types. All packaging will be performed at the facility. The company will also build new offices. The current facility is 29,000 square feet. The expansion is 65,000 square feet plus a 25,000-square foot expansion of the second floor. The sales tax exemption is $320,000 with a mortgage tax exemption of $112,500 and PILOT of $547,533. Yancey's Fancy has pledged 50 new jobs within three years.

Darien Lake Theme Park, is investing $5.2 million in new rides and upgrades to the park and accommodations. The company will receive a $328,939 incentive package through GCEDC. The project includes construction of new cabins, a new "launch ride," and a laser light attraction. The upgrades are expected to take three years to complete. GCEDC has approved a sales tax exemption of $181,600 and a PILOT of $147,339. Darien Lake provides more 400 full-time equivalent jobs, including 2,000 seasonal workers. The expansion is expected to create six new jobs and retain 422 FTEs.

Fontrick Door, Inc., 9 Apollo Drive, Batavia, is expanding through acquisition of the building at 1 Treadeasy Ave., Batavia. Frontrick Door is investing $500,000 to purchase the $31,919-square-foot building, where it plans to develop a window manufacturing location in 2014. GCEDC has authorized a mortgage tax exemption of $6,250. 

Bonduelle is planning to make a $3.2 million capital investment in its plants in Oakfield, Bergen and Brockport. This is mainly a retention project to upgrade facilities, according to GCEDC. The majority of the investment will be made at the Oakfield plant, where a lima bean line will be installed. Bonduelle has secured contracts with farmers for 2,500 acres of lima bean production. The upgrades are expected to lead to 12 new seasonal -- five months -- jobs in Oakfield. Bonduelle is receiving a $250,000 grant for the project. Jobs retained: 305.

Friday, March 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm

GCEDC holds annual meeting, touts recent successes

post by Howard Owens in GCEDC

More than 200 people were at Genesee Community College this afternoon for the Genesee County Economic Development Center's annual meeting at which CEO Steve Hyde gave his annual report on the progress of the Industrial Development Agency.

Mary Pat Hancock (top photo), chairwoman of the Genesee County Legislature, was among the speakers and praised the agency for its contributions to the local economy.

"This agency has initiated, planned and implemented much of the successful economic growth in this county over the last 15 to 20 years," Hancock said. "They put their money where their mouth is, by loaning and backing potential investors who are willing and able to do business in New York and Genesee County, with a little help. Their success has sometimes made them a target, but none can deny their role in making this area flourish during a time of economic stagnation in much of this Upstate area."

Below is a press release from GCEDC about the meeting:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) held its annual meeting at Genesee Community College to unveil the organization’s 2012 annual report to the community. During the meeting, National Grid was honored and recognized for its collaboration in the community as the company received the Economic Development Partner of the Year Award from the GCEDC.

Among the attendees at the annual meeting included U.S. Congressman Chris Collins, New York State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, New York State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and Genesee County Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock as well as other local government and business officials. 

“We have the most progressive economic development agency in New York State and that is attributable to everyone here today,” said Charlie Cook, GCEDC Chairman. “Through the leadership of the public and private sectors we have built a solid foundation for success now and in the future and in fact, the GCEDC board has already approved five major projects for 2013.”

Among the economic development highlights for the region as outlined in the 2012 annual report include.

  • The attraction of 12 new businesses;
  • The ground breaking of the Muller Quaker Dairy facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, which helped exceed investment goals in 2012 by more than $205 million as well as a multiplier effect of $27 million of income across the region from direct, indirect, and induced wages annually and the creation of approximately 692 jobs across various support sector industries and construction wages of $10 million;
  • The closing of 38 projects, with these companies contributing $225 million in capital investment and pledging the creation of more than 400 new jobs;
  • Expansions and fulfillment of job creation at Alpina Foods LLC, which also is located in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park;
  • Economic growth as a result of projects at O-AT-KA Milk Products, Yancey’s Fancy, Liberty Pumps, Perry Vet, and Darien Lake; and
  • The unanimous vote by the Town of Alabama Board to rezone the Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (WNY STAMP) site, which allows the GCEDC to proceed with land acquisition.

“It is imperative that we continue to maintain the momentum generated in 2012 for 2013 and as such among our goals this year is to bring the Buffalo East Technology Park to full shovel-ready status, bring $29 million of new capital investment to the County as well as finalize plans to bring a new middle-income housing development to the community,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC.

“Lastly, we will continue our efforts to make STAMP a reality as it has the potential to transform the Western New York and Finger Lakes region into a high-tech nano-manufacturing hub that over the next 20 years could create 30,000 jobs onsite and by supply chain companies,” Hyde concluded.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 7:46 am

Batavia named top micropolitan city for ninth consecutive year

post by Howard Owens in batavia, GCEDC

Press release:

Site Selection Magazine has once again recognized Batavia/Genesee County as one of the top micropolitans in the United States. For the ninth consecutive year, Batavia/Genesee County has made the Site Selection Governor’s Cup rankings for top micropolitans and is now ranked tied for fifth on its national list.

“It is very difficult to jump up so many spots, especially with the intense competition among the top micropolitans throughout the United States,” said Mike Glennon, regional marketing director of Site Selection Magazine. “Congratulations to all in economic development in Genesee County; this is a superb job and a testament of the strength of the business climate and assets Batavia and the region have to offer.”

The ranking of Top Micropolitans is based on cities of 10,000 to 50,000 people which cover at least one county.  There are approximately 576 micropolitans in the United States according to Site Selection Magazine.  Batavia tied Shelby, N.C., for fifth place in the national rankings.

“This is a great recognition in an extremely competitive industry and it once again reinforces that when the public and private sectors work together we can accomplish great things for the region,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Council. “We look forward to continuing the momentum of this collaboration in our economic development efforts for 2013.”

The GCEDC will unveil its 2012 Annual Report highlighting performance results at the organization’s annual meeting on Friday, March 8 at Noon at Genesee Community College.

Among those attending include Congressman Chris Collins, New York State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, New York State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, Genesee County Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock and other local government and business officials.

National Grid will be recognized by the GCEDC as economic development partner of the year. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance by calling the GCEDC at 343-4866.

Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Applications being accepted for course in food processing

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC

Press Release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) announced that applications to its Food Processing Training Program are available beginning March 4th. The deadline for submitting applications is April 15.

Applications will be available at the Genesee County Career Center, located at 587 E. Main St., Suite 100, Eastown Plaza in Batavia. Applicants will need to complete a Customer Registration Form at the Genesee County Career Center as well as submit an up-to-date resume, and, if required, participate in a math/reading test and a follow-up interview.

“This is a very exciting initiative because it is an integral component of our business operations, creating opportunities for employment for our residents,” said GCEDC Chairman Charlie Cook. “The program also continues our commitment of collaboration among various public and private sector partners throughout the community.”

In addition to receiving a non-credit certificate from the Genesee Community College (GCC), participants will have a permanent record and transcript for successful completion of the program. They will also receive certificates in Lean Systems Six Sigma Yellow Belt (Rochester Institute of Technology), Team Building (GCC), Basic Dairy Science & Sanitation Certificate (Cornell University), and an OSHA Certificate for Safety in a Manufacturing Environment (GCC).

The training program, developed by GCEDC, GCC, RIT and Cornell University, will benefit the area’s existing food-processing companies. It will also prepare a workforce for companies in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

The training program is being funded by an Area Development grant obtained by the GCEDC from the National Fuel Gas Corp. with additional financial support from the Finger Lakes Food Cluster Initiative — funded by the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration in the amount of $38,000 or 28 percent of the program. The program is expected to train approximately 120  people while creating a model for future food processing and technology training programs.

“If we are to continue to market and grow the food-processing industry we need skilled and educated workers,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “The investment we make to train and educate our workforce is just as important as the investment we make in bricks, mortar, water, and sewer infrastructure that makes our properties shovel-ready to bring business here.”

Monday, February 11, 2013 at 1:38 pm

GCEDC approves tax assistance for three projects, including Darien Lake expansion

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, Darien, darien lake theme park, GCEDC

The Genesee County Economic Development Center Board of Directors has approved assistance with the following projects:

Darien Lake Theme Park. Darien Lake is planning new cabins and new rides for 2013. The total investment by Darien Lake is $5.2 million and theme park management sought assistance with $1.9 million of the investment. The board approved a PILOT (reduced property tax on the increase in assessed value due to the improvements) worth $147,339 over 10 years. The project will also save $132,000 on sales tax for construction materials. The project is expected to generate six additional full-time equivalent jobs. Darien Lake employees more than 400 FTEs.

Reed Batavia Properties, LLC. Reed is in the process of purchasing the former Batavia City Schools administration building at 39 Washington Ave., Batavia. The company is planning $1.525 million in improvements to the building, converting it to medical offices. The GCEDC board approved a $76,361 PILOT, $52,000 in sales tax exemption, and a $12,500 mortgage tax exemption. The project is expected to generate six new jobs.

Batavia Hospitality, Inc. (Days Inn / Super 8). The company is planning on investing $530,000 in building improvements, including a new pitched roof, exterior facelift and interior upgrades. GCEDC's board approved a PILOT worth $54,198 over 10 years and sales tax exemption of $28,000. The project is expected to create five new jobs and help retain 16 jobs.

Monday, February 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Proposal to curtail sales tax exemptions could hamper job growth projects locally

post by Howard Owens in batavia, GCEDC, taxes

A proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to curtail sales tax exemptions on new development and redevelopment projects could hurt such projects locally, according to City Manager Jason Molino and Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

"Losing the ability to offer state portion of sales tax exemptions dilutes our financial assistance offerings at the local level," Hyde said. "That hurts since we remain the 49th most expensive state to do business in."

Nearly all projects that come to the Industrial Development Agency for assistance and the promise of job growth receive a sales tax exemption on building materials, plant expansion and/or new equipment.

The City of Batavia has been aggressively pursuing projects that redevelop commercial parts of the city -- called "brownfield redevelopment" -- and the loss of the sales tax exemption could be a setback for those plans.

While Molino is reserved in his judgement since the governor's budget is still in the early proposal phase, he said if the elimination of sales tax exemptions goes through, it won't be good for Batavia.

"I think it has the potential to negatively affect any economic development effort that would use sales tax exemptions as part of its model for development," Molino said.

Hyde said much of the redevelopment necessary in the city won't qualify for the state's "excelsior program," which provides tax credits for strategically targeted industries, so maintaining the sales tax exemption is critical.

"We can support some really exciting things developing in the city to the fullest extent possible," Hyde said.

The Buffalo News carried a story this morning about how the budget proposal will be a setback for redevelopment in Buffalo.

Hyde encouraged constituents to reach out to the governor's office and express concern about the proposal.

"This topic is important as community development projects will be negatively impacted considerably and those are the lifestyle projects important to our  residents," Hyde said.

Friday, February 1, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Charlie Cook, successful business leader, hopes for success in improving image of GCEDC

post by Howard Owens in bergen, business, GCEDC, liberty pumps

If Charlie Cook can do one thing as chairman of the board of the Genesee County Economic Development Center it is improve the public perception of the agency.

GCEDC claims 3,581 jobs creation commitments since 2003 spread over 349 economic development projects with a total capital investment of $835. In 2012, GCEDC was able to announce at least 300 new jobs at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park and WNY STAMP’s regulatory approval promises thousands of more new jobs in the coming years, according to the agency.

Local residents should take pride in hosting an such aggressive, forward-thinking, job-creating industrial development agency, Cook believes.

Turning public opinion from one of skepticism over employee compensation into one of appreciation for its accomplishments won't be a quick or easy process, Cook said.

"Nobody questions the accomplishments of the EDC and how successful we've been over the past 10 years," Cook said. "It's just been huge, but it can be a short-lived success when you shoot yourself in the foot. Certainly this incentive compensation thing was a bad decision and that's been taken away, and that's good.

"I'm determined," he added, "to turn public perception into pride for what this agency does."

Like most entrepreneurs, Cook is an optimist. He's an engineer, so he is hardwired to solve problems. He's also one of Genesee County's most successful business leaders, so he knows what success looks like.

As a Genesee County native, born and raised in Bergen, Cook is a cheerleader for our region and its prosperity.

"The ultimate goal is to keep more of our graduates, our kids, in the area."

But it's not just job creation that motivates Cook to serve as a volunteer on the GCEDC board, it's about boosting the standard of living for us all.

"It's about the well being of our entire area, whether it's job creation or just an improved quality life, that's the real reason I'm on the board. Job creation is just one of the things that leads to that."

Cook has some experience in job growth.

Liberty Pumps was founded in 1965 by his uncle, Fred Cook. Charlie Cook took charge of the company in 1975 when it had only about a dozen employees. Today, Liberty Pumps employs 135 people in its 124,000-square-foot facility in Apple Tree Acres.

Gross annual revenue for Liberty Pumps is about $55 million.

Cook is proud that his company is one where people generally enjoy their work and share in the profits, when there are profits to share.

"We have a hard time here tolerating negative attitudes or an attitude that doesn’t lend itself to performance. It’s not so much me or the managers looking for it. It’s more the peers.

"If there’s somebody who is just not with the program, it’s best for us, obviously, but it’s also best for the employee to move on and go do something else. Fortunately, doesn’t happen too often, but when it does everybody ends up better for it. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a job you really don't like."

After high school, Cook moved to Missouri to study at Parks College of Aeronautical Technology of St. Louis University.

He went to work for McDonald Douglas at night.

"I had no money and I didn't want to take out a loan," he said.

After graduation, Cook moved to a day shift at McDonald Douglas, but was drafted into the Army a few months later.

He was trained as a radio teletype operator and of the 96 people in his school, 93 were sent to Vietnam. Cook was transferred to South Korea.

Cook served his 21 months and then returned to McDonald Douglas, but soon realized he preferred the lifestyle of rural Western New York, wanted to be near his family and didn't fit in with the corporate culture of a large company.

His uncle hired him as an engineer.

"The reality was, we only had seven employees in the company," Cook said. "We did everything. We would build pumps in the morning, in the afternoon, if I had a chance, I would do some design work or I'd go out on the road selling. We did whatever it took to get the job done."

New employees are much more specialized and it's easy to get pigeon-holed into a particular job, but it's still part of the company's culture to expose every employee to as many aspects of the business as possible.

It's also part of its culture to communicate what's going on with the company. The most important communication just might be about profits.

Cook has taken only one business course in his life, at Genesee Community College, and one of the memorable lessons the instructor tried to impart to the class was that a business owner takes all the risks, so the owner should reap all the rewards.

It's a philosophy he has never agreed with.

"I feel like the rewards should be shared with the people who got you there. Ever since the beginning, we've had a pretty aggressive and generous bonus program, profit sharing."

Innovation is also important to Liberty's success.

The sales and marketing departments are really good, he said, at listening to customers and coming up with new ideas, but Cook also subscribes to the notion -- shared by great entrepreneurs from Henry Ford through Steve Jobs -- that often customers doesn't know what they want until you show it to them.

"That's one of the secrets of our success -- coming up with products they just can't get from our competitors."

That's why Fred Cook's business caught on from the beginning.

Liberty was originally a spin-off of a Buffalo-based pump company and made only sump pumps.

But sales of sump pumps are vulnerable to weather conditions, so Fred needed to come up with a line of pumps that could be sold any time of year.

He designed a pump that was pre-installed in a basin and contractors liked it because it was easy to install.

Since then, Liberty Pumps has continued to refine products and expand its line of pumps -- sold to distributors who sell them to contractors.

As we toured the Liberty Pumps facility earlier this week, Charlie asked me not to take a picture of a pump casing because it hasn't been released on the market yet. He doesn't want to give competitors a sneak peek.

"Our competitors have always copied us and now it happens more frequently. Our challenge is to have the next generation already under way before that happens."

That innovative spirit is what makes Liberty Pumps a fun place to work, Cook said.

"It’s really dynamic and exciting. For a boring product like a pump, it’s amazing how interesting it can get if you really focus on innovation and things that aren’t out there currently."

In recent years, the growth of Liberty Pumps has been helped by the agency Cook now helps oversee -- GCEDC.

In 2000, the company moved from a 28,000-square-foot facility on Route 19 to a brand new building in a "shovel ready" business park built in Bergen by GCEDC.  Liberty received tax abatements to help with the move.

In 2008, the company expanded its Apple Tree Acres facility to its present 124,000-square-foot building, again receiving assistance from GCEDC.

In a comment on The Batavian last week, a reader questioned Cook's position as chairman of the board and a beneficiary of GCEDC benefits.

"I would like to invite him out here and show him how that money was invested," Cook said. "Is it sort of corporate welfare? It all depends on how a company uses that benefit. We reinvested that money. Would we have had the two build-outs without the investment, sure, but the fact is, we wouldn't have had the funding to put into product development to fill things up and do another one another eight years later."

Cook's term on the board ends in 2016, but before then, he anticipates more expansion for Liberty Pumps, and in that time he expects his company will again seek assistance from GCEDC.

By law, Cook will be unable to participate in any discussion, and he certainly won't be able to vote, on any proposal for GCEDC to help Liberty Pumps.

The same assistance Liberty Pumbs has received, Cook said, has helped dozens of other businesses in Genesee County.

The assistance helps level the playing field for company's like Liberty Pumps that are based in high-tax New York and must compete against companies based overseas or in lower-tax states.

If all GCEDC did was hand out tax breaks to businesses that promise jobs to the count, it might be controversial enough, but in January 2001, the Authorities Budget Office released a scathing report on bonuses paid to GCEDC employees, especially CEO Steve Hyde.

The public outcry has been at a near consistent high pitch since then and late last year, at the same time Cook was announced as the incoming chairman, the agency said the bonus program would be discontinued starting with the 2013 performance year.

Bonuses were still paid for 2012 because, Cook said at the time, the agency was contractually obligated to pay out bonuses earned by employees based on their performance during the year.

In all, for 2012, employees received $120,000 in bonuses.

In December, the board also announced a raise for Hyde from an annual $160,000 to $195,000. Hyde won't earn a bonus in 2012, but he will receive $10,000 in deferred compensation.

The other staff members, the board announced in December, would also receive raises. Those raises range from 8 to 12 percent.

Local residents continue to take issue with the compensation of employees because they question the announced job creation numbers of the EDC, but many people also object to the annual county government share paid to the agency each year.

For 2013, taxpayers will kick in $213,000 to help fund the agency's operations.

While Cook acknowledges the bonuses paid out previously were a mistake, he said the county's should continue partial funding for GCEDC.

"Looking at this last year, sure the EDC did extremely well and they did earn some money, but our commitments for reinvestment far exceed (that revenue)," Cook said. "I think it's appropriate that the county invest incrementally. There are going to be years where we don't have that kind of success and yet you want to maintain the caliber of staff that we have. I think there would be a danger, and it would be unfortunate, if we ask for substantially less from the county."

Cook acknowledged that all of the negative attention Steve Hyde seems to get over his compensation is a concern.  It's not come to the point yet, Cook said, that he feels the need to sit down and talk about it, but he understands that anybody can find their job less enjoyable if they face constant criticism from the public.

"How long can you really enjoy your occupation with the negative scrutiny? Certainly, scrutiny is not inappropriate for what he does. That's to be expected.  We're uncomfortable for the potential that he is uncomfortable to the point of being discouraged enough to the point of leaving."

Cook considers Hyde a bit of a superstar at what he does and wants to see him stick around.

"Without actually seeing all he does and knowing about his capabilities, it's difficult for people to understand that he would be hard to replace. It's not impossible. Anybody is replaceable, but even if you did, you would have to pay at least as much as what we're paying him to get that kind of talent. It's just a fact."

Over the next year or two, Cook hopes he can help refocus the public's attention on the agency's success and have people come to understand that Hyde and the rest of the staff are paid well because they do a really good job at creating employment and improving the quality of life in Genesee County.

"Any agency that can do what his agency has done and generate this many jobs in a rural county, especially in New York State, is pretty amazing," Cook said.

Monday, January 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Charlie Cook assumes chairmanship of GCEDC Board of Directors

post by Howard Owens in business, GCEDC, liberty pumps

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) announced today that Charlie Cook has been appointed GCEDC’s chairman of the board, while Thomas H. Felton has been appointed chairman of the board of the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC). Cook has served as president and CEO of Bergen-based Liberty Pumps since 1975, while Felton currently serves as a commercial lender for the Bank of Castile located in Batavia.

“I am honored and excited to assume the chairmanship of the GCEDC,” Cook said. “Hopefully my years of experience running and growing a business in Genesee County will help me in working with our very capable and diverse board to understand and provide what business leaders and entrepreneurs throughout the region need to be successful.

"The GCEDC will continue to foster increased economic activity through growth, expansion and retention of our existing business base, while also attracting new business development to help build a sustainable long-term economy.”

Under Cook’s leadership, Liberty Pumps has grown to become a leading domestic manufacturer of sump and wastewater pumps and systems for the professional plumbing trade in North America. Cook earned his bachelor's degree in Aeronautics from Parks College of Aeronautical Technology of St. Louis University and served in the Army.

Cook has also served in numerous community roles, including: chairman of the Genesee County Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee (2002-2006); Genesee Community College Foundation Board; vice chairman of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Board; and vice chair of the Gillam Grant Community Center Board of Directors.

He is a member of the Leadership Genesee Class of 2003, a past member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Small Business Advisory Committee, and currently serves on: the board of directors of the Genesee Patrons Cooperative Insurance Company; the Sump and Sewage Pump Manufacturers Association; and the Bergen Business and Civic Association. He was recently appointed by Governor Cuomo to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.

Cook will take over for John “Jack” F. Andrews, who was chairman of the GCEDC since 1991.

Thomas Felton currently serves as a commercial lender for the Bank of Castile. He is responsible for servicing agricultural and commercial loans in a multi-county area. Prior to his employment at the Bank of Castile, Felton was an agricultural lender at Pavilion State Bank and the district manager of Monroe Tractor. Felton graduated from Cornell University School of Agriculture and Life Sciences with his bachelor's degree concentrating in Business Management and Marketing.

Felton has served his community in a number of different roles, including president and VP of Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension, serving as supervisor of the Town of Byron as well as councilman and planning board member. He was the treasurer of the Byron-Bergen Education Foundation, an elder with the North Bergen Presbyterian Church, and a member of the Byron Kiwanis Club, and past board member with the Gillam Grant Community Center.

Currently, Felton is a board member with UMMC Foundation, Genesee Valley Rural Preservation Council, and the Cornell Dairy Farm Business Summary. He serves as the president of the Northeast Agriculture Bankers Association Rural Affairs Committee and treasurer of the North Byron Cemetery Association.

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