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Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 9:16 am

Land sought for composting facility to support mushroom farm at ag park

GCEDC released this notice today:

For several months it has been widely reported that a mushroom growing farm, involving a $20 million investment and up 100 new jobs to the region, is being planned in the Batavia Agri-Business Park. As this initial first phase of this project continues to move forward, we are now actively pursuing Phase 2, which seeks to purchase a minimum of 5 acres to 10 acres of vacant land for the development of a composting facility.

Besides the 5-10 acre size, other features that we are seeking are as follows:

  • Zoned for Agriculture -- it may be possible that commercial or industrial zoned land can work as well;
  • Water and electric service to the site;
  • Topography: flat and cleared is ideal but anything reasonably close will be considered;
  • Topsoil -- active farm land with topsoil is "not" required, therefore, if you can use or derive additional value by using/selling this topsoil then please do;
  • Preferred location is on the west side of Batavia in zip codes 14020 / 14036 /14013 / 14005 but areas anywhere within a 5-mile radius around the Agri-Business Park will be considered;
  • Landowners be assured that the buyer is a well-qualified cash purchaser.

Should this opportunity be of interest to you please contact Steve Blake at (716) 362-8707 or e-mail at : [email protected]

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Photos: Muller Quaker hosts information session at GCC

If you've wondered what Muller Quaker Dairy is all about, or want to find out about employment opportunities, today was the day to meet executives, try out some yogurt or put in a job application at GCC.

Hundreds of people turned out in the afternoon and the event continues until 8 p.m. in the forum.

"We're excited to be a part of the local community, so we wanted to open our doors and let people know a little more about us," said Scott Gilmore, director communications for PepsiCo, one of the partners in the new yogurt plant at Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

There were executives on hand to explain plant design and operations, the booming yogurt industry and the nature of the partnership between PepsiCo and the Germany-based Theo Muller Group.

The yogurt plant is expected to employ nearly 240 people in its first round of hiring, and some local residents have already landed jobs with the company.

Muller Quaker HR personnel were on hand today accepting applications, meeting with job candidates and explaining more about employment options at the new plant.

At one point today, the job applicant line was more than a couple dozen people long.

Gilmore said people in blue jeans and people in suits showed up today, demonstrating the diversity of jobs that will be available at the plant.

If you're not able to make it to GCC by 8 p.m., Gilmore said the company plans more such community events, or job applicants can e-mail their resumes to [email protected].

Monday, September 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Alpina officially opens new yogurt plant in Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park

Big event in Batavia today that I wish I could have attended and covered -- the grand opening of the Alpina yogurt plant. We did assign a photographer and should have more coverage later, but meanwhile, here's the official photo and press release from Alpina:

Alpina Foods today celebrated the official Grand Opening of its first North American manufacturing facility, the latest yogurt plant to open in Upstate New York. Though the 67-year-old company has sold its broad line of dairy products in American markets for several years, the Batavia, N.Y. facility is its first plant in the U.S.     

Joined by U.S. Congresswoman Kathleen Hochul, New York State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, and Empire State Development President and CEO Kenneth Adams, top officials from Alpina Foods and its Colombian parent company, Alpina, marked the occasion with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

“This is a momentous day for Alpina,” said Julian Jaramillo, Alpina’s CEO. “We would like to recognize the many people and organizations across the state that have helped make this moment a reality. We are excited to get started and continue to grow along with our employees, the region, and the yogurt industry in New York.”

The Alpina Foods plant already employs 30 new employees, and expects to hire at least 20 additional team members in the coming months. This is in addition to the 20 employees located in Alpina Foods’ Miami offices and in regional positions elsewhere in the U.S.

Over the past year, with the help of co-packing partners, the company has launched several new products for U.S. consumers: Alpina Revive Greek yogurt, Alpina Restart traditional yogurt, Alpina Renew oat smoothie, Bon Yurt by Alpina low-fat vanilla yogurts, and Juan Valdez Café Latte by Alpina.

“Today’s opening of Alpina Foods marks an exciting new phase of economic development in Genesee County and Western New York,” said Rep. Hochul. “With the initial creation of up to 50 jobs, Alpina will significantly contribute to the economic vitality of the region. I look forward to working with Alpina, the Genesee County Economic Development Center, and local farms as we work to strengthen Western New York’s economy.”

"The State Legislature, working with Governor Cuomo, has made tremendous strides in improving New York State's business climate,” said Senator Ranzenhofer. “Especially during the last two budget cycles, the decision to cut spending and lower taxes has signaled to many companies that New York is the right place to do business, and for many yogurt companies, such as Alpina, it has positioned Genesee County and Batavia as the 'Yogurt Capital' of the world. I applaud Alpina for opening its first U.S. facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park."

Drawn by access to the thriving agriculture and dairy industry of Upstate New York, along with a ready labor market, Alpina chose Batavia for its 10th global manufacturing facility, following locations in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. The company worked closely with the State’s Excelsior Jobs Program and numerous state and regional economic development organizations on the location of the 10-acre site, and was further attracted to the region after its work with nearby Cornell University and Rochester Institute of Technology.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the production of Greek yogurt has become a critical job creator and driver of economic activity in New York State,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams.  “A number of major yogurt manufacturers have taken advantage of this region’s existing infrastructure, including the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, which is available for dairy processing, as well as its skilled workforce, proximity to milk supply and ability to reach target markets. We welcome Alpina Foods to the U.S. and are so proud that they have chosen to locate its first specialty yogurt plant in the U.S. right here in Genesee County.”

All Upstate New York residents are likely to appreciate Alpina Foods’ new location. The company is well known for its commitment to the communities in which it operates. With a philosophy that leadership refers to as “collective prosperity,” Alpina Foods wants to transfer success beyond the company, and positively impact the surrounding community, including their employees, business partners, the environment, and others in the region.

“We are committed to our success in Batavia and the U.S.,” said Alpina CEO Julian Jaramillo. “It is our corporate practice to grow with our surroundings, hand-in-hand with our neighbors.”

Photo, from left: Juan Pablo Fernandez, GM, Alpina Foods; Julian Jaramillo, CEO, Alpina; Roger Parkhurst, Director of Operations, Alpina Foods; Congresswoman Kathy Hochul; state Senator Michael Ranzenhofer; Kenneth Adams, President & CEO, Empire State Development.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 11:31 pm

New roadway will connect agri-business park to Route 63

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park

Town of Batavia planners are pushing forward with a proposal to add a second roadway into the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, connecting the park with Route 63.

Town Engineer Steve Mountain said the need and opportunity for the roadway is driven by the requirement of the Muller Quaker yogurt plan for a gas main into the park and a $1 million grant for infrastructure upgrades from state's Office of Community Renewal.

The roadway was always part of the plan, Mountain said, but not until Phase 3.

In the nearer term, the town was going to construct an emergency vehicle access road through the County Highway Department's lot on Cedar Street, but it is more cost effective, Mountain said, just to build the connector to Route 63 now.

The design of the roadway needed to coincide with the gas main design for Muller Quaker, and Muller Quaker wanted to bring the line in through vacant property to save costs.

The vacant land is primarily made up of parcels owned by O-AT-KA Milk Products and local farmer Don Partridge.

The town is negotiating now with both property owners for a right-of-way access, but all of that land (in green on the map) was always intended to be part of the Phase 3 development of the agri-business park (and has already been through the environmental review process).

Mountain said Phase I of the park is already nearly full and it's his understanding that Partridge has received offers on his land.

Currently, the only developed roadway into the park is from Route 5.

Alpina Products will hold a ribbon-cutting Monday for its new facility, which will initially employ 50 people.

Next year, the Muller Quaker plant, a joint venture between PepsiCo and the Theo Muller Group, will open with an original staff requirement of about 200 people. A mushroom farm and labeling facility (already open) are also among the park's first announced tenants.

Initially, Phase 2 of the development was to extend the rail line into the park, but there's been no demand for it yet from potential tenants.

Among the benefits of the Route 62 access point is that O-AT-KA will be able to use the roadway for truck traffic to his own facility, making the intersection of Route 63 and Cedar Street safer.

A public hearing on the revised planning map is set for Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Batavia Town Hall. More details of the project will be revealed then.

Monday, August 20, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Gillibrand announces $200K USDA grant for secondary road at ag park

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park

Press release:

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a federal grant worth $199,821 for a secondary access road at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

The funding is allocated through the USDA’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant program, and is being awarded after Senator Gillibrand toured the nearly finished Alpina Yogurt facility and called for more federal investments in infrastructure at the ag-park in Batavia.

“This is an important investment that can help attract more businesses to the Genesee Valley ag-park, and support more jobs right here,”Senator Gillibrand said.

“I know the potential the ag-park has to help local businesses grow and be a major economic driver for the region. Investing in transportation infrastructure is one of the fastest, most effective ways to create new jobs now, and lay the foundation for more jobs to come.”

In September 2011, Senator Gillibrand helped secure an additional $58,000 from USDA Rural Development for initial infrastructure upgrades at the agri-business park, including expanding existing roads and utilities.

Senator Gillibrand also brought a USDA official to Batavia in April 2012 to tour the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park and hear firsthand from local leaders about the need for federal investments to grow this critical industry for the region.

In addition to the USDA, Senator Gillibrand has been active in pushing for federal funds through the U.S. Economic Development Administration to complete infrastructure improvements at the ag-park.

The federal grant funding will be used to design, engineer and construct a secondary access road at the ag-park, a key component of a range of planned infrastructure improvements, including the construction on an aquifer that is required by food processors.

Muller Quaker Dairy, an international yogurt producer, and Alpina Foods would greatly benefit from the completion of the aquifer and would contribute to an increased investment in Genesee County.

Upon the completion of the infrastructural improvements to the Ag-Park, Muller Quaker Dairy would be able to complete a $206 million yogurt manufacturing facility that they expect could generate approximately 186 jobs in the near-term, with the ability to create up to 600 jobs in the long-term. Alpina also expects to be able to create approximately 50 new jobs as a result of finishing the construction.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Photos: Silo raising at Alpina plant

Workers today are installing the first two silos at the new Alpina Products plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, Batavia.

The first silo is 40 feet tall and will hold up to 20,000 gallons of raw milk. The second silo is half the height and will hold 12,000 gallons of whey.

More silos can be added as the capacity of the Greek yogurt plant increases.

More pictures after the jump (click on the headline to continue):

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 10:13 am

Schumer announces $1 million public works investment for ag park

Press release:

Today, Senator Charles E. Schumer announced a critical funding commitment for the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC) through the Economic Development Administration (EDA), to complete essential infrastructure improvements at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park (GVAB) in Batavia.

In March of 2012, Schumer urged the EDA to support the ag park’s water system after the GGLDC applied for a $1 million investment from the EDA Public Works Program, which will go toward infrastructure improvements needed to support Muller-Quaker partners' -- Theo Muller Group and PepsiCo -- new $206 million yogurt manufacturing facility in the ag park.

Today, the EDA notified the GGLDC that the agency was granting it a $1 million preliminary award pending receipt of final supporting documents.

“This federal investment will mean more jobs and economic activity in Upstate New York, and more demand for our dairy farmers’ product. It is great news for the Genesee County’s Agri-Business Park that further solidifies Upstate New York’s place at the top of the rapidly expanding Greek yogurt production industry,” Schumer said.

“I urged the Economic Development Administration to support this project so that Genesee can pave the way for a major new water system at the Agri-Business Park in Batavia, helping to sprout hundreds of new jobs and Pepsi’s new Greek yogurt plant.

"The Agri-Business Park is going to be a huge driver of jobs and economic growth, and it’s clear that EDA agrees we need to make this investment to create jobs and new markets for our farms and dairies. The EDA made a smart choice and will get real bang for their buck with this investment.”

In March of 2012, Schumer wrote and personally called EDA Acting Assistant Secretary Matthew Erskine to issue his support and noted that this investment would allow the ag park to construct an aquifer-direct water system, which is required for food processing and yogurt-product manufacturing.

The federal award will also help the project leverage millions in private-sector investments and will create approximately 186 jobs at the plant, all while providing a critical boost as Genesee County and Upstate New York work to keep pace with the lucrative and fast-growing yogurt production industry.

The GGLDC will use the $1 million, plus a local match, to construct an aquifer-direct water system required by food processors as municipal water is not optimal for the manufacturing process of yogurt products.

In addition to PepsiCo’s Muller-Quaker plant, the aquifer system will be utilized by other tenants at the park, such as yogurt product producer Alpina Foods. Alpina is in the process of constructing a 40,000-square-foot yogurt processing facility in the ag park and anticipates beginning production late this summer with the hiring of 50 new employees.

Schumer highlighted the fact that multiple economic development projects would be set to utilize this aquifer system once constructed, and noted that the project fits squarely in line with the administration’s focus on developing regional clusters of growth in specialized high-tech manufacturing.

This funding will help Genesee County close an over $1 million funding gap needed to upgrade the park’s road and sewer infrastructure to accommodate forthcoming new tenants like Muller-Quaker, Alpina, and Genesee Valley Mushroom.

In May, Schumer led the effort to secure $105,000 from the USDA to upgrade an essential pump station necessary to increase the park’s wastewater system’s capacity to support the park’s new tenants. To overcome the last of this funding gap, Schumer is also spearheading an effort to secure a $200,000 grant from USDA to construct the required secondary access road into the park. The USDA expects to announce winners of that grant within the next few weeks.

Earlier this year, Schumer urged Muller-Quaker partner PepsiCo, to source as much of the milk for their product as they can from New York’s dairy farmers. The new plant, to be built in Batavia, will create 186 jobs primarily around the manufacturing of various Greek yogurt products. Schumer noted that the plant will be the largest manufacturing operation to locate in Genesee County in the past 50 years.

Dairy processing has significantly increased, thanks to the opening of several new yogurt plants in the state, and the new Muller-Quaker plant represents the latest opportunity to increase demand for New York dairy products, a welcome boost for New York’s long-suffering dairy farmers.

The EDA Public Works Program provides funding for distressed communities to revitalize and upgrade physical infrastructure to attract new industry, encourage business expansion, and diversify local economies.

The Economic Adjustment Assistance Program helps address the needs of communities experiencing adverse economic changes that may occur suddenly or over time caused by international trade, long-term economic deterioration, loss of major community employer, or loss of manufacturing jobs. Funding can be used for infrastructure improvements like sewers.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 11:08 am

Gillibrand tours Alpina, says she's excited by signs of local economic growth

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand spent some time in Western New York on Tuesday, including at least two stops in Batavia.

Gillibrand met with area Democratic leaders for lunch at Larry's Steakhouse and then toured the Alpina Products factory under construction at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

The facility, which will produce Greek yogurt and other dairy products, is nearing completion and should open in late August or September.

Gillibrand said seeing what is happening at the ag park -- which includes construction of a dairy production facility across the road from Alpina by PepsiCo and the Theo Muller Group -- is "really exciting."

"It's such an opportunity for agricultural growth in this region," Gillibrand said. "Not only is Greek yogurt production one of the fastest growing products in New York, but nationwide, and it's so well located with all of our dairies that are so close by. It makes business sense. Not only do we have a great workforce, but we have a great product, so it's going to be exciting to create these jobs, to have this industry grow in Western New York."

While there's been conflicting reports on whether New York dairies can produce enough milk to meet the demands of the new and existing Greek yogurt factories in the state, Gillibrand said she believes the dairies can meet the demand.

She said she has also introduced legislation to help New York's small dairies increase production without driving up their insurance costs.

Currently, if a small dairy wants to add a significant number of milk-producing cows, they're going to hit a cap on production imposed by insurance rules.

Gillibrand's legislation would remove the cap.

"That might give the ability of a small dairy to go up to 300 or 400 cows to meet the needs of their customers," Gillibrand said. "That would make a big difference for these projects."

Yogurt producers, Gillibrand said, don't want the expense of trucking in milk from other states to keep their production lines going and her legislation would keep the local milk flowing, she said, adding that there would be no regulatory burdens for small dairies to grow to meet local demand.

Steve Hyde, CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center, also introduced Gillibrand to the STAMP project -- the 1,300 acre high-tech/nano-tech park that has been in planning for five years.

The senator took quite an interest in the project. She noted that with New York's previous success in Luther Forest -- the nano-tech corridor developing between Buffalo and Albany -- the surrounding technology-oriented university system, and the investment already made in the project, STAMP has a good chance to attract major manufacturers.

It was a validation of how the community and region came together on the ag park to have Gillibrand in Batavia on Tuesday to tour the Alpina facility.

"It’s really kind of heartwarming because this ag park was really nine-and-a-half years in the making," Hyde said. "Once we found a way to get it all done, get it funded, get it built, having two very significant manufacturing projects land in our back yard – like we talked about today, talk about the multiplier effect, Alpina’s working with OA-T-KA, and Stueben Food and a company in Rochester on packaging -- it’s just really really awesome."

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Photos: Construction progress at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park

I stopped by the Ag Park this afternoon just to see how construction is coming along -- Haskell has made some visible progress on the Pepsi/Muller Project Wave plant.

I happened to be on hand when some bedrock was blasted from the ground.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this sign warns that only Pepsi products are allowed in the construction area.

For those keeping score, it look like a majority of the vehicles in the employee parking lot had New York license plates.

Meanwhile, most of the work for the new Alpina plant is now taking place inside the new building. Alpina is on schedule to start producing yogurt in Batavia some time in August.

I didn't get a picture, but the Marktec building is completed.

Friday, April 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Haskell and Pepsi say they are hiring local workers and are pledged to hiring local workers

The Haskell Company, general contractor on Project Wave, and PepsiCo both pledged today to hire, whenever possible, local subcontractors, and say they've been following that practice from the beginning.

In fact, both companies say they have a non-binding agreement with the Genesee County Economic Development Center to hire local workers.

Union representatives from Rochester held a press conference today outside the building site at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park and insisted that Haskell is not awarding enough contracts to builders from Western New York.

Dave Young, president of the Rochester Building and Construction Trades Council, as well as business manager of IBEW Local 86, told reporters to just walk through the parking lot (if allowed) and check license plates on the trucks pulled up behind the construction trailers.

"Pepsi has hired an out-of-state general contractor who is bringing up employees from Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia," Young said. "They're bringing them from everywhere but right in here New York State."

Young made his remarks flanked by union members -- Young said he represents 15,000 workers, 15 percent of whom are out of work -- and in front of a backdrop of earth movers grading the construction site.

The earth movers are owned and operated by Zoladz Construction, based in Alden.

Young (pictured) said the one solid piece of evidence his group has is a video he and some colleagues produced yesterday during their walk-through of the construction site parking lot.

When pressed to name out-of-state contractors who have been awarded contracts, Young named one, an electrical contractor out of Kentucky, but said he couldn't remember the names of the others.

He said the bid process for construction work such as this lacks transparency, which makes it hard to know for sure who is being hired for what jobs.

Yesterday, Steve Hyde told The Batavian that 50 percent of the contracts for the project have been awarded and 80 percent of those have gone to Western New York contractors.

Dave Balz, a VP with Haskell, said he didn't have the information in front of him to be able to confirm Hyde's numbers, but said Haskell is firmly committed to hiring local labor on all of its projects.

"In my experience, every community is concerned about the local work force and the local workers," Balz said. "We respect that concern. Local contractors with a good safety record are always welcome to bid on our projects."

Haskell signed a non-binding agreement with GCEDC to hire qualified subcontractors from the local area (which covers Genesee County as well as the surrounding counties), Balz said.

According to Scott Gilmore, a spokesman for Pepsi, the company signed a "local labor pledge" with GCEDC.

"Our pledge is to use a fair and competitive selection process for the construction of the new manufacturing facility, with a view to using as many New York State and local subcontractors and suppliers as reasonable," Gilmore said in a statement.

"As with any pledge of this nature, it is not legally binding, but it is a reflection of the goals and standards we seek to maintain as we proceed with development of the state-of-the-art dairy and yogurt production facility in Batavia, New York."

Gilmore also wrote, "We are committed to providing a measurable, positive impact to the Upstate local community and surrounding areas through the use of available, competitive local labor as we construct a state-of-the-art dairy and yogurt production facility in Batavia, New York."

Among Young's request is that GCEDC create a local labor requirement in its contacts with businesses, saying that the Monroe County IDA has such a requirement in its contracts.

The Batavian spoke briefly with a spokeswoman for COMIDA who said at first the claim was true, but when asked if such agreements were binding, she said she would need to double check. We've not yet heard back from her.

As for the video presented by the union, Balz said he would let it speak for itself, adding, "We are still early in a very long-term project to build a state-of-the-art yogurt plant. As things proceed on site, we intend and will take action on our pledge to do our very best to include local participation."

Previously: Union officials making waves over alleged out-of-state hiring practices of Wave Holding

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