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Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Survey hopes to discover why people leave Genesee County to eat out

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, restaurants

Press release:

Why do you leave Genesee County to eat? That’s exactly what the Restaurant Creativity Advocates want to find out. In response to sales leakage reports provided by W-ZHA and The Community Land Use & Economics Group, a brief survey was developed for area residents to explain their dining and travel habits. The survey is available now through July 12th online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N6SCRMV.

The Restaurant Creativity Advocates is a local group formed by representatives of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Genesee Community College’s The BEST Center, Batavia Development Corporation, downtown's Business Improvement District and Senior Corp of Retired Executives. This group voluntarily organized to research and improve the local dining options throughout the county.

“We gathered in response to two recent reports that suggest area residents spend more than $12.4 million annually to eat and drink at restaurants beyond our County borders,” stated Julie Pacatte, Batavia Development Corporation. “We want to understand why people leave the County to dine-out. Ultimately, we want to do what we can to try to ensure more dining dollars stay local.”

The Restaurant Creativity Advocates began discussion early February 2013. Since then, they conducted their own local restaurant assessment facilitated by Lina LaMattina, director of The BEST Center.

“We began by asking team members to finish the open-ended question, wouldn’t it be great if...,” LaMattina said. “Allowing this cross-functional team to begin to consider the possibilities open to the County helped the group to generate some big picture thinking, think creatively, and develop the foundation for some real conversation with stakeholders without giving way to the  traditional stumbling blocks typically encountered when dealing with significant challenges,” LaMattina added.

The group categorized more than 100 committee responses and found that six areas of focus could potentially improve the local restaurant scene. Upon completion of the customer survey, the group will share all results with the local restaurateurs in hopes of devising an action plan to reduce the sales leakage.

The restaurant customer survey is brief, but it does end with the same valuable question “Wouldn’t it be great if…?”

The Chamber of Commerce has mailed a separate restaurant owner survey directly to their listing of 126 existing restaurants in Genesee County. That survey will also be complete at the end of next week.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Aviation school owner says NYS Taxation and Finance driving him out of business

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee County Airport, taxes

The way Bob Miller sees it, before long, if you want to learn to fly, you will need to go to Pennsylvania or Ohio because there will be no flight schools left in New York.

"The state is holding all the cards on this," Miller told members of the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

Within the past year, NYS Taxation and Finance has started auditing the owners of airplanes that are used as rentals for flight school students.

The state is demanding payment, Miller said, of taxes that were once exempt.

According to Miller, he can't legally charge students tax for their flight hours, but when private plane owners rent their planes to flight schools, the state is now demanding the owners pay sales tax on those fees.

As a result private plane owners who have been audited by the state will no longer rent their planes to flight schools.

More than two months ago, plane owners in Lancaster were audited and Miller was forced to close his school there. Now the state has gone after Batavia plane owners and he must shut down his aviation school here.

"It's not a new law," Miller said. "It's a new interpretation. The executive branch is holding all of the private airplane owners hostage to their interpretation of the code."

According to Miller, this hasn't been an issue in New York for 40 years, and certainly not during the 20 years he's been involved in aviation instruction.

"The state is so desperate for sales tax revenue they're going after everything," Miller said.

Currently, according to Miller, investors buy airplanes without sales tax if they are renting the planes to flight schools. If the planes are rented to private pilots who are not students, then the owners must pay sales tax; if the owners take the planes on a flight for their own private use, they must pay a portion of sales tax for the usage, but for 40 years, there's been no sales tax, he said, on student rentals through flight schools.

The state is requiring plane owners to pay for past unpaid sales taxes going up to five years back.

As a result, Miller said, the plane owners are just ceasing rental services to aviation schools in the state.

Miller has a lease for hangars and office space in the Genesee County Airport through 2015 and he's being asked to be let out of the lease because he's now out of business as a result of the state's actions.

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens recommended the Legislature require Miller to pay rent for 90 days, giving the county time to find a new tenant.

Hens said he isn't worried about filling the hangars -- there's a waiting list for hangar space, but he isn't sure the office space in the terminal will be filled, especially since it will be hard to find another filght school under the current circumstances.

The county will lose about $2,400 a month $2,700 per year in revenue with the flight school closed, due to a decrease in aviation fuel sales.

Monday, July 1, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Darien Lake Theme Park reopens after water main break forces two-hour closure

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park, tourism

Press release:

Darien Lake confirms that its amusement park and water park were closed for approximately two hours today, after the water supply was accidentally cut off.

Monroe County Water Authority had been conducting routine maintenance nearby, which adversely affected the park’s water supply at 11:30 a.m. During the outage, Darien Lake’s bathrooms, food service, and water park were affected.

Darien Lake management closed the park at noon for guest safety. The park’s maintenance crews restored service before 1 p.m., and the park was reopened by 2 p.m.

Friday, June 28, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Photo: New residents join staff at UMMC

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

UMMC welcomed a group of new residents to their team today. All six are training as doctors of osteopathic medicine. They are, from left, Tobin Carson, Adia Taylor, Cedric McKinney, Imeh Sampson Jr., J. Francis Asuquo and Mithun Daniel.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Alpina Foods expands line of popular Greek yogurts

post by Billie Owens in batavia, Alpina Foods, business

Press release:

In direct response to exploding consumer demand for Greek yogurt as well as the company’s continued commitment to expansion in the U.S. market, Alpina Foods is introducing a brand new Greek yogurt, and will be changing the name of its entire portfolio of Greek products to create a more cohesive brand identity.

Alpina Foods’ Alpina Greek, an all-natural, authentically strained Greek yogurt, is made entirely from natural ingredients and uses no artificial thickeners or flavoring. Alpina Greek will be introduced later this month available in six flavors: blueberry, strawberry, vanilla bean, mango, peach, and black cherry.

In addition to introducing its new yogurt, Alpina will rename its Alpina Revive Greek yogurt as Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas which comes packaged with certified gluten-free granola mix-ins that were created by a health and wellness chef and are prepared by Udi’s Gluten Free. 

Both products are created using an authentic straining process, and are the combination of the simplest ingredients: milk, active bacteria cultures, and fruit.

Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas will be available in seven flavors: blueberry with almond berry granola, strawberry with almond berry granola, vanilla bean with chai spices granola, honey with chai spices granola, mango with tropical chia granola, peach with tropical chia granola, and plain with superfoods granola.

“We made the decision to change the brand architecture of Alpina yogurts to increase the presence of our products on store shelves and simplify our portfolio,” said Gustavo Badino, Alpina Foods’ general manager. “We believe this expansion will be received well in the marketplace as consumers are continually searching for unique and exciting Greek yogurt options that are delicious and healthy.”

Alpina brand yogurts are currently available in a wide variety of retailers throughout the U.S., including Wegmans Food Markets; Ahold USA brand stores: Stop & Shop, Giant Landover and Giant Carlisle; Delhaize Group stores Hannaford and Sweetbay; Tops Friendly Markets; Duane Reade; and other national and regional food retailers. For a full list of retailers, visit www.alpinaus.com.

Alpina Greek yogurts will be available in late June with Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas following in late July. Retailers interested in carrying Alpina yogurts can contact Alpina Foods at [email protected].

About Alpina Foods

Alpina Foods is the U.S. arm of Alpina, which was established in 1945 by two Swiss entrepreneurs and visionaries who brought their families’ traditions and cultural expertise to South America. The company markets a wide range of artisan dairy products to the American Hispanic market, as well as mainstream brands Alpina Greek and Alpina Greek with Artisan Granola yogurts, Alpina Bon Yurt low-fat yogurt, and Juan Valdez Café Latte.

Alpina is proud to be a consumer-centric and environmentally friendly company that embraces the philosophy of collective prosperity, or encouraging success within the company, in its neighboring communities, and in the world.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Sign says shuttered store will reopen in the morning

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Molasses Hill Bulk Foods

The state's red "SEIZED" signs are out of the windows at Molasses Hill Bulk Foods on Ellicott Street in Batavia and a new sign is taped to the front door: "Closed til 9:00 AM Wed 6/26."

Previously: Molasses Hill closed, seized by state

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Genesee County's unemployment rate is lowest it's been since December 2008

post by Howard B. Owens in business, economy, jobs

Genesee County's unemployment rate for May 2013 is the lowest it's been in 57 months, according to data released today by the NYS Department of Labor.

At 6.2 percent, it hasn't been lower since Dec. 2008, when the rate was 5.6 percent.

The previous month, April, Genesee County's rate was reported at 7.1 and a year ago May it was reported at 7.4 percent.

In the prior 18 months, the county's unemployment rate dipped below 7 percent only once.

The lowest rate for the county since the turn of the century was 3.2 percent in October 2000.

The state's unemployment rate is said to be 7.4 percent, down from a year ago but up 1/10th of a percent since April 2013.

The nation's rate is 7.3 percent.

Orleans County is 8.4 percent, Wyoming 7.1 and Livingston 7.1.

The Rochester area's rate is reported at 7.0 and Buffalo at 7.3.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 10:30 am

Molasses Hill closed, seized by state

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Molasses Hill Bulk Foods

Molasses Hill Bulk Foods on Ellicott Street, Batavia, is closed after the store was seized by an agent of NYS Taxation and Finance this morning.

Neal Harder, husband of owner Shannon Harder, said he and his wife are trying to negotiate with Taxation and Finance to be able to reopen today with an agreement to pay taxes owed by July 15.

He said he felt the sudden closure was the result of a disagreement between his wife and the agent.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 8:53 am

Hawley lashes out at Albany after another employer in Orleans County announces closure

post by Howard B. Owens in business, steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) recently lamented the loss of 174 jobs through the announced closure of the Bernz-O-Matic manufacturing plant in Medina. Worthington Industries, owners of Bernz-O-Matic, indicated that local employees would have the opportunity to transfer to the company’s plant in Wisconsin, which served as little consolation for proud local residents, Hawley noted. The assemblyman has reached out to Worthington Industries Chairman and CEO John McConnell to discuss the best ways to mitigate the economic damage in Medina.

“The news of Bernz-O-Matic’s closure is heartbreaking for the people employed at the plant, their families and all of us across Orleans County,” Hawley said. “Our immediate priority must be to help those affected find new work here in our community as quickly as humanly possible. I offer my deepest regrets to all of Bernz-O-Matic’s employees and pledge my full support in working through this difficult time.”

Coming on the heels of Chase Bank’s call center closure, Hawley lamented the job-killing policies forced on Western New York by out-of-touch lawmakers at the Capitol.

“How many more local jobs must be lost; how many more local families have to suffer before the Capitol lawmakers see the destruction that New York’s anti-business climate causes?” Hawley asked. “Runaway taxes, overregulation and regressive policies have run countless job creators out of our community, yet legislative leaders continue to repeat the mistakes of old that have left our hardworking families out in the cold. It’s time to open our eyes and change our courses before Western New York’s families are forced to watch another company take their jobs across state lines.”

Monday, June 24, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Funeral arrangements pending for Steve Carr, popular local businessman

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Carr's, downtown

Steve Carr, a popular local businessman who managed the C.L. Carr store in its final years, passed away Friday after suffering a heart attack while swimming at Stafford Country Club.

Carr was 66.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but will be handled by H.E. Turner.

His death comes as a shock to many people who remember him as a warm and fun person.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian remembers that Carr helped her get reestablished in Batavia after she returned to her native city 40 years ago.

"He was a generous person," Christian said.

Peter Mumford, Carr's cousin, said they were both born in 1947 and grew up together and remained close.

"He was always trying to help people out," Mumford said. "I always considered him a bon vivant. He liked to travel. He liked people a lot. He liked music, especially blues."

Carr was the grandson of C.L. Carr who opened a retail store in Batavia in 1917. That store would become one of the mainstays in the city until about 2001, but changes in the local market made it difficult for the family to keep the large department store open.

Carr was the majority shareholder, but members of the Carr, Minor and Mumford families also held shares, Mumford said.

A member of Rotary, Carr remained active in the community after the store closed.

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