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Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Development pipeline for Town of Batavia getting crowded

It will be another summer of new commercial development in the Town of Batavia, with three  projects already up for Planning Board review, and that doesn't include the expansion project at Batavia Towne Center.

  • GCEDC/GGLDC is planning a second two-story building at the Upstate Med-Tech Center on R. Stephen Hawley Drive, across from GCC. The complex will be 60,000 square feet and be planned for industrial, research and office space.
  • An as-yet-undisclosed company is planning a 60,000 square foot cold storage facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. It will be on 10 acres adjacent Alpina's plant and serve Alpina's cold storage needs. The facility require a 42-foot high silo, which is seven feet higher than allowed under current code without a variance.
  • A local man is planning a plant that will digest waste from yogurt production -- about 70 percent of the milk product from making yogurt becomes waste -- into products that can be used for other needs or converted into energy.

All three projects will be discussed at the planning board's meeting May 21.

Applications for COR's conversion of the former Lowe's location into four retail spaces hasn't reach the town yet.

There's also the housing development off Seven Springs Road that's still going through the planning process.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm

UMMC receives surgical care award

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

Press release:

On April 29, 2013, Univera Healthcare presented United Memorial with an award recognizing the greatest improvement in Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP) Measures for the 2012 Hospital Performance Incentive Program (HPIP) Measurement period for the Western New York region. Daniel Ireland, COO and VP of Support Services accepted the award on behalf of United Memorial at the annual HPIP Quality Forum.

The Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP) is a national quality partnership of organizations interested in improving surgical care by significantly reducing surgical complications.

United Memorial was selected for this prestigious award out of participating HPIP hospitals in Western New York because it improved its Surgical Quality of Care Composite score from 91.53% to 95.87%. The composite measures the organization’s effectiveness in implementing eight evidence based measures in Surgical Care Improvement. Such measures include use of Beta-Blocker therapy during surgery when indicated; use of preventative antibiotics in a timely manner and discontinuance of those antibiotics at the appropriate time; urinary catheter removal promptly following surgery (within the first two days from the date of surgery); use of venous thromboembolism prevention strategies on all surgical patients when indicated; and others.

United Memorial increased this composite score over a period of one year through multiple strategies including physician engagement, staff education, and standardization of clinical practices. This award follows closely on the opening of the new Surgical Center in 2011 which provided state-of-the-art surgical facilities and processes to the Genesee County region.

“Participation in initiatives to improve quality of care demonstrates United Memorial’s commitment to continuously improve the healthcare of our community,” stated CEO Mark Schoell. “It furthers our promise of delivering quality care, right at home.”

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Child care center opening at Robert Morris

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Robert Morris School

Press release:

Imagination Station Child Care & Preschool will be opening its third location in Batavia on June 3. The newest center will be located at the Robert Morris Elementary School, in the heart of Batavia. The center is centrally located and easy to access from Main Street or Route 98 (Oak Street).    

This family owned and operated child care center opened in Alden, where owners Erik and Kelly Kronbeck reside and are a part of the community. Since opening the Alden location in January, 2011, they have opened a second location in Le Roy, and are excited to be adding a third location to service the needs within the surrounding communities.  

Imagination Station contributes its success to their high standards.

Owner and operator Kelly Kronbeck said “Our program encompasses everything that we wanted as parents, a safe and nurturing environment, one that’s high quality and is professionally run. Of course the teacher in me also wanted one that was academically based and stimulating for our children.” 

Prior to opening her first center, Kelly Kronbeck worked for one of the leading child care centers in Buffalo and taught second grade in Glens Falls, which is where her passion for teaching and importance of early childhood education blossomed.                   

Imagination Station provides care for families with children 6 weeks to 12-years-old. Full-time, part-time, and flexible schedules are welcomed, along with public assistance. 

Imagination Station is offering its new families the first week free when they enroll for the Batavia center prior to June 3rd! Tours are offered daily during operating hours and in the evenings by appointment at one of their other locations. Visit www.istationccp.com for more information or call 585-768-8025 to set up a tour today!

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm

UMMC recognizes volunteers at annual awards dinner

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, batavia, business, UMMC

Press release:

United Memorial Medical Center held a dinner on May 2, 2013 at Bohn’s restaurant to recognize volunteer service within the organization. Their gifts of time were spent filing records in Human Resources, assisting visitors, comforting family members waiting for a loved one in surgery, stuffing envelopes in the Foundation, helping patients on Hope Haven, serving coffee at the refreshment kiosks at the Hospital and at the Jerome Center, and helping someone choose just the right item in the gift shop.

Their dedication and compassion assists United Memorial in caring for patients and visitors every day. Volunteers are part of our team and part of our UMMC family. We depend on them and turn to them when we need a helping hand with a daily task or need their input on a large project.

Each year, United Memorial and our auxiliaries, the UMMC League and St. Jerome Guild, Inc. honor volunteers who have reached milestones in the cumulative number of hours they have volunteered. This year Guild members Priscilla Dirisio, Jean Havens and Rosemarie Monachino received pins commemorating 100 hours of service. Debbie Pellegrino, Marge Rimmer, Judy Thrasher, and Fran Wigton were honored for 1,000 hours; Betty Luperino received her 2,000 hour pin; and Mary Grace Demarse was honored for 3,000 hours.

Dorothy Baker, the 2011 Genesee County Health and Humanitarian honoree, received her 20,000 hour pin; the equivalent of more than 10 years of full time employment. Dorothy volunteers at the Jerome Center Gift Shop and Refreshment Kiosk and organizes the annual poinsettia and spring flower sales.

League members who were honored include Kathy Hoerbelt and Norma Meyers for 300 hours; Lil Irrera and Carol Smith for 500 hours; Anne Barone and Tim Weatherbee received pins for 700 hours; Doris Lindebauer reached the 1,000 hour milestone; Kay Benton the 1,500 hour; and Linda Pembroke, 3,500.

Augustine Fleming, has volunteered at United Memorial’s Hope Haven unit for over 7,000 hours. Her dedicated volunteer hours to patients recovering from addiction would equal nearly four years of full time employment.

Last year, 79 individuals volunteered 14,689 hours to United Memorial; over 20 months of time compressed into one year.   United Memorial measures the time they have donated since their true gifts of compassion, empathy and care they each bring to the lives of our patients, visitors and colleagues is immeasurable.

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Resturant owner Mike Bohn passes at age 70

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

Longtime local restaurant owner Mike Bohn, 70, died Wednesday following a brief illness.

Bohn operated Bohn's on Clinton Street since 1985.

Calling hours will be Sunday from 2 until 7 p.m. at Bohm, Smith Calarco Funeral Home in Batavia. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church.

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 9:42 am

Collins proposes payroll tax deferral for small businesses with new employees

post by Howard B. Owens in business, chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) pushed the Main Street Revival Act (H.R. 952) in Batavia today. The bipartisan legislation will help promote economic growth and fill vacancies along America’s main streets. Collins is the lead Republican cosponsor of the legislation in the House.

“If Washington is serious about getting our economy back on track, we need to get serious about supporting American small business,” Collins said. “Encouraging and incentivizing new small businesses, particularly in struggling areas, will be critical to rebuilding our economy and this legislation does just that.”

The Main Street Revival Act would allow a small business to defer payment of payroll taxes for one year after it hires its first employee. The taxes will be paid back in equal installments over the subsequent four years. The deferment would hopefully provide meaningful relief to a new small business, or one which is just at the beginning stages of growth, which is traditionally a hard time for my small business owners.

“The ability to defer payroll taxes for one year may be just enough of a break to help a new small business owner hire one more person or purchase a new piece of equipment,” said Collins. “This legislation represents the practical, commonsense solutions Washington needs to take to nurture small business development, create jobs, and spur real economic development in our communities.”

To encourage growth in hard-hit areas, the legislation provides the tax deferral incentive to businesses located in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZones) as defined by the Small Business Administration. In NY-27, sections of Batavia, Depew, Lancaster, Lockport, Medina, and Livingston County are designated as HUBZones.

The bill is also limited to true small businesses, those which expect to hire no more than 25 people during the year period for which payroll taxes can be deferred. Lastly, the H.R. 952 makes clear that nothing in the bill will reduce the Social Security or Medicare trust funds.

Collins was joined by Genesee County Chamber of Commerce President Lynn Freeman who praised the legislation.

Collins is partnering with Congressman Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, on the legislation. “Good ideas that help our small businesses know no political party,” Swalwell said. “I welcome Rep. Collins of New York as the lead Republican cosponsor of the Main Street Revival Act. This bill was inspired by walking the Main Streets of my district and talking with business owners – Republicans and Democrats – about ways the federal government can help them get off the ground, hire employees and succeed. This is sensible legislation to speed up local economic development in the neighborhoods that need it most.”

Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 6:17 pm

GCEDC board passes tax breaks for COR Development unanimously

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

All five members of the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board present for today's meeting voted yes on $1.8 million in tax breaks for COR Development to help the Syracuse-based company bring national retailers, such as Dick's Sporting Goods, to Batavia.

Legislator Shelly Stein, who sits on the GCEDC board, praised COR for all it's done for local schools and the community by generating new tax revenue.

While she said she agrees with much of what speakers said at Tuesday's public hearing on the proposed abatements, particularly about the current state of affairs in New York, she considered the proposed development a "great win for the county, the town and the city." 

New York's high tax rates, she said, makes such incentives necessary.

"I thank you for bringing this project forward," she said to COR VP Joseph B. Gerardi. "That 18 million of investment, and not asking for that PILOT to restart at zero and start at 40 percent, makes a lot of sense for us."

Board Member Jim Vincent said that clearly the public doesn't understand what GCEDC does.

"The public comments signify that we've still got a way to go to convince the populace of Genesee County about what we do and why we do it," Vincent said. "I appreciate projects like this coming forward because in my opinion just the sales-tax factor alone adds an annuity to reduce the tax burden on every business, farm and family that resides in Genesee County."

No other board members spoke.

After the vote, GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde thanked the board for approving the project.

"Just to remind everybody that inside the resolution, the predominate finding was that this was a unique facility project to meet the retail restrictions under the law," Hyde said. "This is the only 36-acre major shopping center inside this entire county. As the law states, this is the opportunity to bring more, varied shopping offerings and services to the community and without this particular project, as the law states, the availability of these broader services and offerings would not be readily accessible to the residents of the community.

"Hence, that was really the underlying basis of the retail restriction and the request for the board to consider, because at the end of the day, we're trying to attract large-scale, tech-driven manufacturing here. ... The last thing you want to do is have a large, empty building while we're showing our community."

John L. Rizzo and Mary Ann E. Wiater were not present at today's meeting.

Voting yes were Stein, Vincent, Charlie Cook, Wolcott T. Hinchey and John F. Andrews.

COR estimates that the four possible tenants -- which COR has previously confirmed includes Dick's Sporting Goods -- will generate more than $16 million in annual gross sales and the four tenants will likely invest $11 million to get their stores open.

After the meeting, walking down the hall, we tried to ask Gerardi why $1.7 million in tax breaks are necessary when the revenue estimates and total capital investment indicates there is market demand for the project. He said questions needed to be directed tomorrow to the company's CEO, Steve Aiello, and made a sharp left turn into the men's room.

Aiello has not previously returned calls nor answered e-mails from The Batavian.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Photo: Chris Collins gets first look at Alpina yogurt plant

Roger Parkhurst provided Rep. Chris Collins with a tour of the Alpina Foods plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park today.

Parkhurst, left, gave Collins, who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, an overview of Alpina's history, the Greek yogurt market in the United States and the process Alpina uses to make yogurt locally.

The plant started production in October and Parkhurst said the operation has already grown to what it projected for its second year of business. There are 55 permanent employees with Alpina locally, and to help meet production demands, the plant uses up to 100 temporary employees at times.

There are already plans on the drawing board to expand the plant.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Goodwill opens its first thrift store in Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Goodwill Industries

Goodwill Industries opened its first thrift store in Genesee County this morning, and the store was immediately a big hit with long lines of bargain hunters at the cash registers.

The location is 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, in the Valu Plaza.

"We hope to further our mission in the Genesee County community by adding more variety to the retail landscape," said Lisa Churakos (pictured), director of donated goods/retail. "Goodwill has quality, affordable selections for every shopper."

The store is open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

The new store also serves as a donation center.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 1:14 am

Tax breaks for reuse of Lowe's space essential, argues COR Development VP

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

Syracuse-based COR Development is planning four retail spaces for the south end of Batavia Towne Center, VP Joseph B. Gerardi said at a public hearing Tuesday night, and to fill those spaces, COR needs more than $1 million in tax abatements.

Filling those spaces is "better for all the tenants in the center," Gerardi said.

"It would provide a diverse shopping experience so tenants can help attract other tenants to the shopping center," Gerardi said.

Without the tax incentives, the four potential companies -- which Gerardi said could generate $1 million in local sales tax revenue -- may not come to Batavia.

Even though the four businesses would generate $16 million in gross sales, going by Gerardi's sales tax estimate, Batavia isn't an attractive enough market without the tax breaks.

And even though the four potential businesses would spend, on top of the $7 million COR would invest in the project, $11 million before the first cash register recorded the first sale, Batavia is too marginal a market to attract these retailers, Gerardi said.

Gerardi (top photo) refused to talk with reporters to clarify these points following the public hearing.

COR's plan is to convert the former Lowe's location from 138,000 square feet of retail space into 170,000 square feet of retail space.

In previous media reports, COR CEO Steven F. Aiello has said COR doesn't need to lease out the Lowe's space because Lowe's is obligated to another 15 years of rental payments, but Gerardi argued Tuesday that the proposed expansion is critical to Batavia Towne Center's viability.

"The dark store is not, in our opinion, a good reflection on the center and it's not a good reflection on the community," Gerardi said.

The one retailer COR has confirmed as a potential tenant is Dick's Sporting Goods.

In 2012, according to the company's annual report, Dick's generated $5.8 billion in annual sales and achieved a net profit of $291 million, or an average of $405,000 in net profit for each of its 518 locations. On average, gross sales of $11.2 million per store.

Two of Dick's locations are in shopping centers in Webster and Clay developed by COR without the kind of tax breaks COR is seeking in Genesee County.

A group of about a half dozen local Libertarians spoke at the public hearing, arguing that tax breaks for COR would benefit national chains at the expense of existing competitors.

"I believe your intentions are good, but I find fault in your logic," Jim Rosenbeck said (second inset photo). "The reality is you can't give money to one business without disadvantaging its competitors. You are picking winners and losers and that is simply wrong."

Current state law prohibits tax incentives to develop retail outlets, unless the local IDA -- in this case Genesee County Economic Development Center -- can find that the retail center will attract tourists (defined in the law as people who travel from outside the IDA's jurisdiction) and the stores will fill a need not yet met by existing retail.

Gerardi said Batavia Towne Center does attract shoppers from outside Genesee County and the stores in the center do offer goods and services not previously available in Batavia.

Phill Ricci (top inset photo) took issue with the idea that Batavia Towne Center could be considered a tourist destination.

"Hotels are not filling to the rafters because we have a Target," Ricci said. "Little Jimmy doesn't dream about seeing his favorite animi characters in the halls of Bed Bath & Beyond. To attempt to justify it as a tourist destination is hollow at best and laughable at worst."

COR initially received a promise of $4.6 million in tax abatements to build Batavia Towne Center with the promise of creating 297 full-time equivalent jobs. Gerardi said the development peaked in at 277 FTEs before Lowe's closed.

Rosenbeck said it was as if GCEDC helped COR build a new house and now COR wants more money to remodel it.

Gerardi said the four new stores would create 100 FTE jobs.

Elba resident Fred Read said that's just what they are -- FTEs, not real full-time jobs, but jobs with low pay and few benefits.

"They're not the kind of jobs that are going to keep young people here," Read said.

None of the speakers supported COR receiving another round of tax incentives for the project.

A letter from local business owner Jerry Arena was read into the record. Arena, who owns Jerry Arena's Pizza and Ten Cent Millionaire Tavern, said he opposes tax incentives for national retailers.

"Independent small businesses in Batavia are an endangered species and offer much more quality of life and stability to a community that many of us will ever realize," Arena wrote.

The GCEDC board will vote on the proposed tax incentive package for COR at its regular meeting Thursday. The public portion of the meeting is expected to begin at 4:40 p.m.. The board meets at the Med-Tech Center on R. Stephen Hawley Drive, Batavia.

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