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July 18, 2017 - 5:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in HP Hood, GCEDC, batavia, business, news, notify.

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(Photo of HP Hood Chairman John A. Kaneb taken this afternoon at his company's new processing facility in Batavia's Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.)

With existing plants at capacity and demand growing, HP Hood was looking for a facility the company could get up and running quickly for long-shelf-life dairy and nondairy products, said its Chairman John A. Kaneb today in an exclusive interview with The Batavian at the company's new processing facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. 

The plant was built in 2012 for $206 million as a joint venture between PepsiCo and Theo Muller Group and became known as the Quaker Muller Dairy plant.

Now, it's the HP Hood plant, which Hood acquired June 30 from Dairy Farmers of America for $54 million.

Kaneb said Hood knows Upstate New York well -- with four existing plants -- and knew the area had a good supply of raw milk, so when the plant became available, Hood took a keen interest.

"This plant happens to be located fairly well for us -- not ideally -- but fairly well," Kaneb said.  "The availability of the plant, that overcame a lot of, let's say, whatever reluctance we would have because we have to do a lot of very expensive repurposing here. We're moving from a plant that was designed for mass production of lots of yogurt to two fluid products. So that there were some warts and such, but we're very happy to be here."

The staff at Genesee County Economic Development Center made the whole process easy, understood it needed to be expedited, and that added to Hood's interest in locating in Genesee County, Kaneb said.

"Your economic development people here are superb," Kaneb said. "I mean they really are good and they're knowledgeable and they're friendly to business. Hopefully, we will not disappoint them."

Scott Blake, senior vice president of operations for HP Hood, added that the GCEDC staff provided a wealth of information on the area, businesses, and people, which helped them get comfortable with the decision to open a plant here.

HP Hood has committed to creating 230 jobs at the plant. They will take on the original PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) agreement signed by Muller Quaker to receive $7 million in tax abatements over 10 years. The state is also providing a $2 million capital grant from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

If employment goals are met, Hood is also eligible for $5 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits. 

The 170-year-old, Lynnfield, Mass.-based company is adding 100,000 square feet of refrigerated warehouse space to the plant, which is already 363,000 square feet. After the expansion, with retooling the plant, and the purchase price, Hood will have sunk nearly $200 million into the new facility by the time it goes into production in early 2019.

There has been a rumor recently that the Hood plant could eventually employ 500 people. That's too far down the road to think about, Kaneb said, and he doesn't want to promise that level of growth. He believes they will hit the 230 employee target, but in the first priority is hiring 140 people over the next 12 months.

"I think we're we're confident that it will be reached, but I don't want to get into when we get to 230 or 250 or whatever," Kaneb said. "As far as going beyond that, I hope so. I will tell you that the only other situation that's halfway comparable to this is a greenfield plant we built from the ground up in Winchester, Virginia. We built that in basically 2000 to 2001. Today, 17 years later, here it is employing about 600 people. This plant has the acreage and, et cetera, et cetera, to do something like that, but that took 17 years."

(For photos of the Winchester plant, click here.)

Kaneb is a former Navy man. He graduated from Harvard in 1956, before joining the Navy, with a bachelor's degree in Economics. He acquired a controlling interest in Gulf Oil, tripled its sales to $4.5 billion, and got out of the business in 2005.

The Kaneb family acquired HP Hood in 1985.

It was almost happenstance that the family got into the dairy business, Kaneb said. The only way to grow the oil business was through acquisition, and with growth opportunities limited, they were sitting on excess capital that needed to be put to work. Hood was a great brand and as a native New Englander, Kaneb grew up drinking HP Hood milk. So did his children. But the company had fallen on hard times.

"(Hood) was a company with a great reputation and a great name," Kaneb said. "It was in some difficulty. In fact, a lot of difficulty. As we looked at we thought it might benefit from management that was highly motivated and with energy, et cetera. We thought we could bring some money to the table. We said, 'you know this isn't the business we know but it doesn't look like a complex business. It looks like a basic blocking and tackling business.' "

Since the acquisition, HP Hood has grown to $2 billion in annual sales and has opened new facilities around the Northeast and around the country, such as Virginia, California and Minnesota.

Hood’s portfolio includes its own brands and licensed products. The familiar names include Crowley Foods, Simply Smart Milk, Heluva Good!, Lactaid, Baileys Coffee Creamers, Hershey's Milk and Milkshakes, and Blue Diamond Almond Breeze.

When the Kaneb family took over Hood, they replaced much of the management, though they also identified some bright young talent, such as Blake, Kaneb said. Since then, Hood's executive team has been stable.

"(Blake) is certainly one of those stars who could take on more responsibility," Kaneb said. "We found those who had the skills that have helped us build the company into what it is today," Kaneb said. "It's really common sense, frankly, having a true partnership with your employees. If you want to put a motto on it, how we as owners look at the business and the employees, is that 'You take care of us, we take care of you.' Very simple."

Kaneb said he thinks that approach has been good for the company and it's what potential employees can expect in Batavia.

"You take care of us, we take care of you," Kaneb repeated when asked about company culture. "I mean, do your job and do it well and then you'll find the company will appreciate it and take care of you. We prize low turnover and we have low turnover, I would say, very low turnover, at every level."

As for the kind of corporate citizen Hood will be in Batavia, Kaneb said getting involved in the community is something Hood will strive to do, but the first order of business is getting the plant into production.

"First of all, get our business set up," Kaneb said. "We need to get to the level of employees we need to get going. I would call that, from my Navy days, as the shakedown period. Then we can be open to being a reasonably active corporate citizen. I don't think it's a great idea for us to do anything but get ourselves comfortable here, with the employees we need, and get our production going and so on. That should be our sole activity for the foreseeable future."

July 15, 2017 - 9:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in HP Hood, batavia, business, GCEDC, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Public Notice:

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that the Genesee County Legislature will hold a public hearing on the submission of an application for Community Development Block Grant funding from the New York State Office of Community Renewal to provide financing to assist in the establishment of milk processing operations at the former Muller Quaker Dairy facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in the Town of Batavia, New York by HP Hood LLC.  More detailed information regarding the project will be presented at the hearing.

NOTICE IS FURTHER GIVEN that the public hearing will be held at the Old Courthouse, 7 Main Street, Batavia, NY on the 19th day of July, 2017 at 5:30 PM. All persons who wish to speak will be heard. Written comments are invited and will be accepted upon delivery to: Clerk, Genesee County Legislature, 7 Main Street, Batavia, NY 14020 prior to the hearing. The hearing location is in compliance with accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

July 13, 2017 - 4:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve, hawley, news, business.

Press release:

With the advent of Independent Retailer Month, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia), who himself has been a small-business owner for more than 40 years, is encouraging his neighbors to shop local this month.

It is a chance to support the local economy and strengthen community growth in Western New York.

“This month is the perfect opportunity to support your neighbor’s businesses and show the strength of our community,” Hawley said. “As a local business owner, I know the importance of the issues so many business owners face.

"The regulation and taxes meted out by Albany stifle the prosperity of all of us. It is with this in mind that we use this month as a symbol to band together as neighbors and show that our local economy has never been stronger and will continue to keep local money in local pockets.”

Hawley is a strong opponent of regulation and governmental oversight that prevents local businesses from operating efficiently in New York State.

This motivated him to sponsor the Red Tape Reduction Act (A6916) to help start cutting back harmful laws sent down from Albany. Less regulation and less red tape means more jobs, lower taxes, and more money in your pocket at the end of every day.

July 13, 2017 - 12:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Creekside Inn, Farmer's Creekside Inn, Le Roy, business, news, notify.

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It's been years of effort and expense for Bill Farmer, but nearly a decade after he acquired the Creekside Inn, after a fire destroyed most of the building, the tavern that is part of so many local memories, is once again welcoming customers.

The 200-year-old building has been completely refurbished from top to bottom and is gorgeous. Farmer has hired a top-notch staff and the Creekside is set to become a local favorite, but a regional dining destination.  

Tavern dining on the second floor and the patio bar are open. The third-floor fine dining won't open for a few weeks yet.

This weekend, during Oatka Fest, the Creekside is not accepting reservations. It is first-come, first-served.

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July 12, 2017 - 4:28pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in news, business, batavia, Movies in Motion.

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Lynda Edenholm and her husband, Jeff, announced Tuesday that Movies In Motion, their video rental business located at 511 E. Main St. in Batavia, will be closing down. While they are sad, Lynda said she is excited to start their new venture, in the same building, called “Lynda’s Custom Wooden Signs and Furniture.”

“Technology took over,” said Lynda. “Even at the dinner table, people are on their phones. We’ve lost sight of the whole reason why we’re here.”

There is no definite closure date, but Lynda said the transition will be over the next two months. They are liquidating more than 10,000 DVDs and Blu-rays starting at 25-percent off. The percentage off will increase as the inventory diminishes.

Movies In Motion has been at its current location for nine years, but opened in 1996 with 180 movies.

Lynda said she has become a big part of the community over the last 21 years.

“We’ve donated to many different school functions, church functions and special fundraisers,” Lynda said. “We did it mainly for the people. We like the interaction with people.”

Because the video store was open seven days a week, Lynda said she has missed many birthdays, anniversaries and special events.

“You can’t just close down anytime you want,” Lynda said. “I want to spend more time with family.”

The best part of running the video store has been watching people grow up, Lynda said. She said she is going to miss all the faces that they normally see.

Lynda has been making custom wooden signs for about two years. She said it seems to be the source of most of her income right now.

“We’re hoping that we’ll get a following after we leave,” Lynda said. “But it’s bittersweet. It really is.”

Lynda said she is not sure how long they will stay in the current building because eventually she would like to move the wood signs and furniture business to online and at their residence in Stafford.

“Our plan is to stay here and still service the community,” Lynda said. “Just on a different level this time.”

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July 12, 2017 - 3:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Capish Brick Oven Pizza Ristorante, Le Roy, business, news, notify.

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Jim Frascati started working on his plans to open an Italian restaurant somewhere nearly two years ago, but the big hang up was finding the right location.

He visited the Village of Le Roy, but the location he looked at didn't seem quite suitable to him. He missed the vacant, 110-year-old building at 49 Main St.

At an event one day, he met a Le Roy resident who asked him if he had looked at the former Pontillo's Pizzeria building.

He hadn't, so he did.

"When I came to see it, once I stepped inside the building, I fell in love with it," Frascati said, a resident of Monroe County. "Even though the condition of the building wasn't great, the outside was very attractive. I think it's one of the best looking buildings downtown."

In the interior, he was taken by the exposed brick on the eastside wall and the big arched window at the front of the building.

That's when he knew for sure he was going to have his own restaurant, he said.

Finding the right name for the business wasn't a straightforward journey, either.

Frascati was born in Sicily, raised by a Sicilian mother. His family immigrated, making an eight-day boat journey, when he was 12 years old. 

He knew his ristorante would have a fired brick oven (really, the way to cook pizza, as far as he's concerned), and feature his mother's homemade Sicilian recipes, so he wanted a name that spoke to his Sicilian roots.

When his father was a young man, he would walk to work with a bag with his lunch in it hanging from a stick, so his nickname became "la caffa." A la caffa is a kind of purse or satchel that was originally designed to hang on donkeys for transporting small items.

So, Frascati planned to use "la caffa" as his business name, but his daughter said "No, dad, that's a stupid name. Nobody will know what it means."

He tried to come up with other names, but none ever seemed quite right. Then one day he was talking with a friend about plans they were making. The friend laid out the summary of the plans and ended his sentence with, "capiche?" Frascati replied almost in rote, "capiche."

Then it struck him. When he was a boy, whenever he would do something bad ("I wasn't always a perfect kid," he said), his mother would scold him, often with threats with words along the lines of, "if you do that again, I'm going to break your legs," and end the threat with, "capiche?"

Frascati told his friend, "Thank you. Thank you so much."

"For what?"

"You just gave me the name of my restaurant."

Capish! Brick Oven Pizza Ristorante, 49 Main St., Le Roy, has been open for about three months now, long enough for Frascati to see if customers return.

"We are starting to see some of the same faces over and over," Frascati said. "We're glad to see them come back. It's a nice testament to our food that they do come back."

Besides pizza, the restaurant has a full bar and a menu filled with a variety of Italian dishes.

Le Roy is starting to become a nice destination village for people who like to eat at good restaurants and Frascati is glad to be part of that mix. He thinks his brick oven offers people throughout the region something different because there is no other brick oven pizzeria close to the area.

Frascati is excited about talk of revitalization along the waterfront of Oatka Creek. That will only help bring people in from Rochester and Buffalo.

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On the mantle above the bar, a model of the ship Jim Frascati and his family spent eight days on when they immigrated to the United States.

July 11, 2017 - 10:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in HP Hood, Andrew Cuomo, batavia, news, business, notify.

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Some businesses fail and some thrive, and if New York is going to grow economically, it needs to take the risk that not every business that receives state aid will live up to expectations.

That was the theme of comments by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Howard Zemsky, president and CEO of Empire State Development, today in Batavia.

Muller Quaker Dairy didn't work out after being promised millions of dollars in state aid (most of which the project never received), but Cuomo and Zemsky are confident HP Hood is a good company for the state to assist as Hood prepares to expand the 363,000-square-foot facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

"If you want to be in the economic development business, you have to get accustomed to the adjustments," Cuomo said. "You know, only 50 percent of the businesses that start exist after five years. Fifty percent. By the time you get to the 10-year mark, only one-third are still in business. That's the nature of business.

"In the state of New York, we're doing economic development," he added. "We're creating hundreds of businesses, creating thousands of businesses. Well, then, you have to be prepared to have that number of defaults because that is the way the world works. The trick is to keep the fundamentals sound. Keep taxes low. Stay pro-business."

Both Cuomo and Zemsky said they believe Hood will succeed in Batavia.

"Think about the spectrum of industries out there," Zemsky said. "On the one hand, you've got relatively low-risk industries -- I would consider fluid milk to be a pretty stable. We're not figuring out if consumers like milk or not. You're not breaking new ground and producing milk.

"So milk is a pretty low-risk investment in the whole spectrum of things. On the other side, you've got chip fabs or really next-generation industries. We do take some calculated risk, but I'd say this is very low on the scale of calculating risk."

HP Hood is a 170-year-old company based in Lynnfield, Mass., with four other locations in New York. The company is licensed to produce, or has produced, brand-name dairy and non-dairy products throughout the United States.

Hood’s portfolio includes its own brand, Crowley Foods, Simply Smart Milk, Heluva Good!, Lactaid, Baileys Coffee Creamers, Hershey's Milk and Milkshakes, and Blue Diamond Almond Breeze.

The former Muller Dairy plant is the largest dairy processing plant -- even before Hood adds 100,000 square feet of the refrigerated warehouse -- in the United States and in the middle of Upstate dairy country. It cost PepsiCo and Theo Muller Group $206 million to construct. Pepsi took a $60 million write-off when the plant closed. It's unknown how much money Muller lost on the venture.

Muller Quaker was attempting to enter an already crowded and competitive Greek yogurt market with a product that tried to position itself as Greek yogurt but really wasn't.  

Dairy Farmers of America purchased the plant shortly after it closed in December 2015 for $60 million. News broke in June (as first reported by The Batavian) that HP Hood was acquiring the plant from DFA and last week, Hood closed the deal for $54 million.

To assist Hood with its $200 million investment in the plant, Empire State Development will provide up to $5 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits. As with Muller Quaker, these tax incentives are withheld until employment targets are met.

There is also a $2 million capital grant from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center is also amending the current PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes), which will provide Hood with more than $7 million in tax abatements over 10 years.

In return, Hood is planning upgrades and equipment purchases and labor costs for reconstruction of more than $150 million. Construction will create more than 500 jobs. There will be another 230 to 250 permanent jobs at the plant.

The support the state is providing HP Hood has an immediate payoff, regardless of what comes down the road, Zemsky said. He called the support a "no brainer."

"This is huge for the dairy farmers," Zemsky said. "It's huge for the whole footprint of the dairy industry. The returns are immediate. Fifty-four million to buy the plant, about $150 million to repurpose it. Two hundred and fifty jobs. That's more than was here at the peak when it was Muller."

During his public remarks, Cuomo said he's trying to reverse 40 years of Albany's neglect of Upstate's business needs, that includes commiting more than $25 million to the Finger Lakes Region for economic development. He said that's more than any governor in history.

"You keep raising taxes, you make it difficult for businesses to be here," Cuomo said. "I'll tell you what's going to happen at one point -- they're going to leave. And they did. We had what I call a 'hangover New York arrogance.' Well, wait, the businesses will stay here. Where else are they gonna go?

"There are actually other places they can go. You look at a map you will see around the State of New York other shapes squares and triangles. Those are called other states. If you force people, they will leave New York and we have essentially forced people (to leave). It's been a tough business, high-tax environment, high-regulation environment.

He expanded on that theme with the press after his speech.

"We have businesses in New York who just get calls at their desk from other states -- come to my state and you won't have to pay any taxes and we'll send the plane and we'll bring you and your wife for the weekend," Cuomo said.

"It is amazing, the competition. So if you said, 'Well, I'm not going to try to do economic development,' you would just be sitting there as a target for every other state.

"One by one they would pick off your companies, and in a relatively short period of time, you'd be sitting there alone -- losing jobs, losing people, which is what happened to Upstate New York."

Representing Hood at the event was Vice President Jeffrey Kaneb. He is the son of John Kaneb, who first tripled revenue for Gulf Oil to $4.6 billion before selling it in 2005.  The Kaneb family acquired Hood in 1995, growing annual revenue from $600 million to more than $2.3 billion. 

"We're very excited to have this opportunity to grow our business here," Kaneb said. "We are very very grateful for the support that we've gotten from the governor's office, from his staff, from the county, from the entire community, in getting us to this point. We look forward to becoming a supportive member of this community, a good neighbor, and an employer of choice here in Batavia."

Hood is hiring. People interested in a job should call (1-800) 428-6329.

As for STAMP (Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park), the super site in Alabama intended to attract high-tech manufacturers, Zemsky said he thinks it's inevitable that big businesses start to move into that park, because of the location and its access to hydropower and fresh water.

However, Zemsky sounded a cautious tone about whether 1366 Technologies, the solar wafer startup from Massachusetts, that was the first announced tenant for the park, ever breaks ground. 

"I have met with them," Zemsky said. "I haven't talked to them in a while and I think, again, these businesses are competitive. They have to raise capital. I think they have some more capital to raise, so whether or not it happens depends, but it's not going to be all state-financed."

One of the holdups may be the change in presidential administration, from one that supported renewable energy to one that may be more skeptical about the need to support wind and solar. While 1366 has raised substantial private equity, receiving backing from the Department of Energy seems to be a key component of its financial package. The company was previously promised a $150 million loan guarantee from the DOE.

"I think, like anything, the changing of the landscape politically through regulations of the federal government, the vagaries of the financing market, the price of alternative energies -- these are all factors that make being in business really difficult," Zemsky said.

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Hood VP Jeffrey Kaneb.

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July 10, 2017 - 9:32pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Andrew Cuomo, batavia, GCEDC, business.

Announcement: 

From Governor Andrew M. Cuomo:

Fellow New Yorker,

New York is one of the largest dairy producers in the country, being home to nearly 5,000 dairy farms and more than 600,000 dairy cows.

And the majority of the farms in the state are family-run operations -- that's why it's crucial the state invest in hard working New York families and ensure they have the support they need to succeed.

Tomorrow, I am announcing the details of a new partnership that will create hundreds of new jobs at an idle dairy facility in New York.

Join me tomorrow, July 11th at 12:30 p.m. as I unveil the details of this new investment.

WHAT: Announcing new investment in New York dairy industry
WHEN: Tuesday, July 11th at 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park
5140 Ag Park Drive, Batavia 14020

Thank you for your support, ever upward.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

July 10, 2017 - 3:41pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in corfu, news, Wind Turbines, energy, agribusiness, business.

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(Submitted photo)

Northern Power Systems, a Vermont-based wind energy company, will host an “Open Turbine Day” at 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on July 21, at Miller Sonshine Acres Farm in Corfu.

Attendees will celebrate the successful operation of two wind turbines on the farm, highlighting significant energy cost savings, as well as getting an up-close look at the turbines.

“This is a great opportunity for those who don’t have it and don’t know how they work,” said Maureen McCracken from Northern Power Systems.

The family-friendly event will be held in conjunction with Buffalo Renewables and the Miller Sonshine Acres Farm, located at 10021 Simonds Road in Corfu.

At the event, attendees will learn about the benefits of wind power and talk to representatives from the companies.

Miller Sonshine Acres Farm has two wind turbines. McCracken said the farm has had one of them for two years and recently installed the other at the end of last year.

McCracken said they will be opening the door to the turbine, for attendees to see how it works.

The turbines that will be shown at the farm are not for home use, but companies do sell smaller wind turbines. At the event, people can learn about financing options. Wind turbines allow people to use wind energy to cut costs, McCracken said.

“In New York, there are good incentives through NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) and the costs for the turbines have decreased,” McCracken said. “Now more than ever, it is easy for people to own a wind turbine.”

Residents can register for the event by July 17 by emailing:  [email protected] or by calling 877-906-6784, ext. 6070.

July 8, 2017 - 2:09pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in Hearth & Soul, batavia, news, business, notify.

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Saturday morning, Siobhan Larkin (left) and Jennifer Petry (right) celebrated their grand opening of a holistic home goods store, Hearth & Soul, located at 214 Ellicott St. in Batavia.

Hearth & Soul offers handmade Bohemian décor, holistic accessories, jewelry, organic skin care, clothing and more. 

Petry said the building recently got a new coat of paint, just in time for the grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

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Visitors enjoyed wine tastings, courtesy of Christine Crocker, owner of The Yngodess Shop on Main Street, music from local artist Justin Reynolds, and light hors d’oeuvres.

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July 7, 2017 - 5:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, business, bergen, Bethany, batavia, news, notify.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider approving incentives for three projects at its meeting on Thursday, July 13, in the Innovation Zone board room on 99 Medtech Drive, starting at 4 p.m.

The Board will vote on whether to approve incentives for a $7.1 million expansion for a new 40,000-square-foot warehouse and service center for West Seneca-based Freightliner Western Star.

The expansion will create 24 new jobs and the center will be located adjacent to the New York State Thruway and next door to the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP).

The GVEP graduates are seen as an "ideal" workforce for the new facility. Freightliner Western Star is seeking approximately $662,000 in sales, mortgage and property tax exemptions.

The popular Coach Tony’s, which makes a wide variety of food sauces, is seeking to expand its operations in the Town of Bergen. The company is expanding and planning on constructing a 5,000-square-foot building on three acres at Apple Tree Acres. The project will create three new jobs. Coach Tony’s is seeking approximately $50,000 in sales, mortgage and property tax exemptions.

The third project for consideration by the GCEDC is a $170,749 GAIN! loan fund for First Light Creamery in East Bethany. The loan will be used to assist with its existing production of goats' milk cheese from local distribution to regional distribution by adding to their barn, and associated infrastructure, to house more goats.

The GCEDC Board meeting is open to the public.

July 7, 2017 - 11:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in HP Hood, batavia, business, news, notify.

HP Hood, the Lynnfield, Ma., dairy processor who is taking over the former Muller Quaker Dairy facility, already has human resources staff in Batavia so the company can start hiring immediately for its new dairy plant.

The company hopes to break ground on reconfiguring and expanding the plant this fall, and it won't be until early 2019 that the new plant is in production. But a source familiar with HP Hood's plans said the company is excited about coming to Batavia and is eager to start lining up its workforce.

People interested in applying for a job at the plant can call (1-800) 428-6329 for more information.

According to public documents, Hood plans to hire 250 people locally and expand the plant with a new 100,000-square-foot warehouse.

The source said details are still being worked out, but the plant will be used to manufacture extended-shelf-life beverages, both dairy and nondairy.

It's expected that Dairy Farmers of America, who initially purchased the plant from Muller Quaker for $60 million and held onto it until last Friday, when the cooperative sold the plant to Hood for $54 million, will be at least one of Hood's milk supplier. There are several DFA dairy farmers in the region.

There is still a lot of work and planning to do, but the source said that right now, Hood's focus is hiring a workforce for the plant.

Since DFA acquired the $206 million plant in December 2015, there have been seven to eight workers at the plant helping to keep it maintained and ready for the next producer. That staff has been offered jobs with Hood and our source believes all current workers accepted positions with Hood.

The source said the acquisition process has taken a year and now that the deal is closed, Hood executives are eager to see things move forward and get the plant into production.

Multiple sources have told The Batavian that staff for Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been trying to coordinate a visit by the governor to Batavia to celebrate the acquisition of the dairy plant by HP Hood. That could happen within the next couple of weeks.

Previously:

UPDATE: Here's a video about HP Hood:

July 6, 2017 - 2:09pm

One of the Northeast's largest dairy producers now officially has a footprint in Batavia.

HP Hood, based in Lynnfield, Mass., closed on the deed to the former Muller Quaker Dairy plant on Friday, paying $54,216,000 to Dairy Famers of America for the facility.

DFA acquired the property from Muller Quaker in December 2015 for $60 million.

As part of the deal, Hood agreed to take over the obligations of Muller Quaker for the property, which includes making payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) along with paying a variety of fees to Genesee County Economic Development Center.

The GCEDC board has yet to improve a new PILOT agreement for the 363,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art milk processing facility, but is considering providing Hood with more than $7 million in tax abatements over 10 years, with an anticipated total economic benefit to the region of more than $330 million.

Hood will pay GCEDC $1.7 in annual installments of $280,000 over six years, starting with an initial payment delivered Friday at closing.

There is also an annual $1,000 administration fee and a $5,000 annual property maintenance fee to assist with maintenance of the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, where the plant is located (next to the Genesee County Fairgrounds on Route 5).

Hood is reportedly planning to add a 100,000-square-foot warehouse to what is already the largest dairy processing facility in the United States.

The plant cost PepsiCo and Theo Muller Group $206 million and Hood is planning to invest significantly more into the plant. Reconfiguring the plant from one that made just Quaker Muller's own take on Greek yogurt and adding the warehouse will create more than 500 construction jobs with a payroll of $26 million. 

While Muller Quaker topped out at 162 jobs created, Hood promises 250 jobs at the plant, with an average annual salary of $47,000.

Hood plans to begin construction this summer and be operational by the first quarter of 2019.

Previously:

July 3, 2017 - 10:41am
posted by Maria Pericozzi in Hearth & Soul, batavia, news, business.

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Siobhan Larkin (right) and Jennifer Petry (left) always wanted to be surrounded by beautiful things, which inspired them to open a holistic home goods store, Hearth & Soul, at 214 Ellicott St. in Batavia.

Hearth & Soul offers handmade Bohemian home décor, holistic accessories and crystals, jewelry, organic skin care, and everything people need to create a nurturing and comfortable home. They also feature local artists in the store.

“We want to make sure we’re educating the community,” Petry said. “We want to try to make sure we build the community we wish we had when we were growing up here.”

Petry said anything in the store that is not handmade, such as diffusers, are high quality products recommended by professionals.

The products in the shop come from all over the country, including Vermont and Oregon, and from Ontario, Canada. A line of clothing in the store is also made in Nepal and there is a selection of organic baby clothes made in Peru.

“We’re really proud to support these small businesses,” Petry said. “We’re trying to get things for everyone.”

Larkin grew up in Medina and Petry was born in Arizona, but grew up in Pembroke. Petry opened up a daycare when her children were little, so she has experience as a business owner, while Larkin spent time in management positions while working at a hotel.

Larkin and Petry met when they were both working at a local hotel in Batavia. They hit it off right away and have been friends ever since. Larkin said it was a mutual goal of theirs to open a holistic home goods store. They put off the idea for a while, but the timing fell into place.

Both Larkin and Petry come from families where small business ownership was common, so it was not hard for them to take the leap into entrepreneurship.

The community has supported them every step of the way, Larkin and Petry said.

“We cannot say enough how amazing it has been,” Petry said. “All of these people have in some way encouraged us or gave us business information. The support has been tremendous.”

Petry said they will eventually have meditation classes in the shop, but when they will start, has yet to be determined.

Larkin said they are trying to get a feel for what people in the community want to see at their shop.

“Any products that people want to see here and that fit in the naturally made or support small businesses thing, we’re taking suggestions,” Larkin said. “We really want to be able to offer everyone something.”

They are still working on their website, but can be found on Facebook here. They plan to do a sharing contest to give away a salt lamp. Larkin said community involvement is important to them and they appreciate the support everyone has given them. 

On July 8, there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11:30 a.m., followed by wine tastings, courtesy of Christine Crocker, owner of The Yngodess Shop on Main Street, light hors d’oeuvres, and music from local artist Justin Reynolds.

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June 30, 2017 - 2:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, news, bergen.

 

Submitted image and press release:

Bergen-based Liberty Pumps introduces NightEye® wireless enabled products.

The app and cloud-based system designed by Liberty Pumps allows Internet connection of a pump via the home’s wireless router and provides alarm and other performance information to your mobile device.

The NightEye® system sends information via text, email and push notifications, to up to four different address/phone numbers i- anywhere in the world.

NightEye® connected products include the ALM-EYE series indoor pump alarm, 442 battery backup pump systems and the SumpJet® water powered backup pump.

The system is easy to use and setup -- all through your portable device. No need to log into a computer. Simply download the app, register the device and connect to the equipment using BlinkUpTM technology. The NightEye® app is a free download and is compatible with Apple® iOS and Android® devices.

There are no subscription or service fees for use of the NightEye® system. For more information visit www.libertypumps.com/nighteye or look for Liberty products with the NightEye® logo.

June 29, 2017 - 4:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, STAMP, business, news.

A company that could revolutionize the solar industry, with manufacturing based in Genesee County, is making progress on bringing its solar wafer technology to market at scale.

This week, 1366 Technologies announced that a Japanese energy company has opened a new power station using wafers manufactured with its proprietary high-performance wafers.

Though work is proceeding to prepare the STAMP industrial park in Alabama for its first tenant, there is no word yet on when there will be a groundbreaking for STAMP or for the 1366 plant, which could eventually employ as many as 1,000 people. The plant is expected to manufacture solar wafers primarily for export to industrial solar installations, such as the new facility in Japan.

Press release:

Silicon wafer manufacturer 1366 Technologies today announced that Japan’s IHI Corporation, through its wholly owned subsidiary IHI Plant Construction Co. Ltd (IPC), has completed the grid connection and begun commercial operation of a 500-kW solar installation featuring 1366’s high-performance wafers. During its lifespan, the array is expected to displace approximately 9,500 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. 1366 and IHI celebrated the completion of the system this week at a ceremony in Tokyo.

“This commercial installation delivers all of the expected benefits specific to solar power and then some, the energy payback of an installation featuring Direct Wafer products is accelerated to less than a year due to the fact that our technology uses just one-third the energy,” said Frank van Mierlo, CEO, 1366 Technologies. “IHI has a long history of identifying and adopting groundbreaking technologies, we’re proud the Direct Wafer process is part of that story.”

The array, located in the Japanese prefecture Hyōgo and consisting of IEC-certified modules fabricated by a Tier 1 manufacturer in China, includes more than 120,000 wafers made with 1366’s revolutionary Direct Wafer® process. All the wafers were produced at 1366’s demonstration facility, using the Company’s production-ready Direct Wafer furnaces.

This installation builds on the success at test sites in the United States, Germany and Japan and demonstrates the Company’s ability to run the Direct Wafer process at scale. It also underscores the broad appeal of the technology downstream where customers want advanced, high-quality systems with lower carbon footprints.

“It has been our goal to expand our portfolio of renewable energy systems with innovative technologies that dramatically reduce cost and deliver superior performance of photovoltaic systems. This installation achieves that goal,” said Otani, of IHI Corporation.

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June 29, 2017 - 4:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake theme park, darien lake, Darien, business, news.

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The folks at Darien Lake are celebrating the 35th anniversary of The Viper, a roller coaster that was not only revolutionary for the theme park industry but led to other changes, including a name change from Darien Lake Fun Country to Darien Lake Theme Park.

The Viper was the first roller coaster in the world with five inversions.

General Manager Chris Thorpe said the addition of the Viper really put Darien Lake on the map in the amusement park industry and allowed the park to expand its marketing reach beyond the immediate Western New York area.

Riders and staff were invited to a ribbon cutting and ice cream social this morning to celebrate the anniversary of the historic ride.

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Here's a 1982 promo video from WHEC featuring the ride:

June 28, 2017 - 1:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, agriculture, business.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins and local Farm Bureau presidents applauded the Trump Administration’s decision to either rescind or revise the Waters of The United States (WOTUS) rule imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Obama administration.

“This rule was an example of reckless government overreach, that brought undue burdens to farmers in Western New York,” Collins said. “I was proud to lead the bipartisan effort in Congress to scrap the WOTUS rule and applaud President Trump and Administrator Pruitt for taking this common sense step to support our nation’s agriculture industry.”

Both Congressman Collins and Farm Bureaus located within New York’s 27th Congressional District have been vocal in their opposition to the WOTUS rule. In May 2014, Congressman Collins led a bipartisan letter signed by more than 200 members of Congress to former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Department of the Army Secretary John McHugh outlining concerns related to this rule. Congressman Collins believed the WOTUS rule was “built on incomplete scientific study and a flawed economic analysis” and formally requested the rule be returned to their respective agencies.

“Farmers are simply trying to provide for their family, community, and the nation, so it is unfortunate the federal government imposed this type of rule in the first place,” said Jeffrey Simons, president of the Erie County Farm Bureau. “Plain and simple, more federal regulations will make it harder for farmers to do their job. Today’s decision is a tremendous victory for Niagara County farmers, and I want to thank Congressman Collins for fighting on our behalf since the beginning.”

“The WOTUS rule was an overreach since it was first proposed and we’ve seen the negative impact it has had and would continue to have on our local agriculture industry,” said Christian Yunker, president of the Genesee County Farm Bureau. “In the end, common sense prevailed and everyone’s hard work has paid off. I appreciate all of Congressman Collins efforts—this is fantastic news for all of agriculture, not just here in Genesee County.”

“Today’s announcement is great news for Ontario County agriculture and will help to protect the future of our region’s family farms,” said Lisa Grefrath, president of the Ontario County Farm Bureau. “We commend Congressman Collins for his efforts to repeal this burdensome mandate and look forward to continuing to work with him on the issues impacting local family farms.”

“For the last three years, we have worked with Congressman Collins to end this unfair federal overreach and protect local farms. Today’s announcement is exciting news for local farm families,” said Joe Swyers, president of the Livingston County Farm Bureau. “We will continue to work with Rep. Collins regarding protecting the future of family farms in Livingston County and appreciate his efforts to end WOTUS. No one cares about more about our environment than local farmers that make their living on our land and we will continue to be the best stewards possible.”

“Today’s announcement is a win for New York’s agricultural community. Wyoming County is a top agricultural producer in New York State and the repeal of WOTUS will help ensure the future of farming in Western New York,” said Jeremy Northup, president of the Wyoming County Farm Bureau. “We commend Congressman Collins for his aggressive efforts to repeal WOTUS and will continue to work with him on the issues important to Wyoming County family farms.”

“When the WOTUS rule was first proposed, we knew this was a blatant overreach by the EPA,” said Jim Bittner, president of the Niagara County Farm Bureau. “This rule would have had negative effects on practically every piece of farmland here in Niagara County. Congressman Collins understood this from the beginning, because requiring farmers to get either the EPA or Army Corps’ approval before farming would have been a nightmare. We’re very glad to hear this rule will be rescinded."

June 28, 2017 - 11:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Business Industrial Center, Harvester Center, batavia, business.

Batavia, and specifically, the Batavia Industrial Center, is featured in a story out today in "Wired Magazine."

How a 1950s egg farm hatched the modern startup incubator

The article contrasts the Silicon Valley ethos of using incubators to find the next unicorn (companies with a valuation of at least $1 billion), companies that often disrupt (or damage) community-based businesses, against the original goal, and still the goal, of the BIC -- to nurture Batavia-based businesses that employ local people.

But the world’s first business incubator cared less about disrupting the global economy than about resuscitating its local one. It still does, in fact. Fifty-eight years later, the Batavia Industrial Center still operates in the same location and under the same defiantly local mandate. “Our job here is to help people create businesses and jobs in Batavia,” says Tom Mancuso, who now manages the facility.

June 24, 2017 - 2:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in RTS, Regional Transit Service, business.

Press release:

RTS announced today that service improvements stemming from the Regional Service Efficiency Study conducted in 2016 will be implemented in Genesee and Wyoming counties on Monday, June 26.
 
“These improvements to our transit system are a direct result of the engagement and feedback from customers and stakeholders in these respective communities, and months of hard work from the RTS team,” said Bill Carpenter, CEO at RTS. “We encourage our customers to provide input on the new changes in the coming days and weeks to help us ensure the most efficient operation possible.”   
 
The improvements are as follows:
 
RTS Genesee
 
Routes 1, 2, 3 and 4 will be renamed 211, 212, 213 and 214. Aside from the renaming of the routes, the biggest changes include the addition of service on Saturdays, connections to Orleans and Wyoming counties, and the creation of a “Countywide Runner.” The details of these and other improvements are as follows:
 
·   We retained a good portion of current route system (routes 211 and 212);
·   Route 212 will begin earlier in the morning to continue service to the Middle/High School and create additional opportunity for rides to work;
·   We added transportation to Big Tree Glen 10 times a day, Monday – Friday;
·   We integrated the early morning Genesee Community College (GCC) run into current routes and added additional transportation for a total of six trips to GCC;
·   We added a midday service run to Le Roy;
·   We added Saturday service;
·   We now connect with Orleans and Wyoming counties at K-Mart on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 8:55 a.m., 11:55 a.m. and 2:55 p.m., and;
·   We merged our Dial-A-Ride and Countywide service to create a “Countywide runner.” This countywide service is now available Monday – Friday to anywhere in the county not within ¾ miles of the route. This service will focus on countywide and medical appointments.
 
Following are the links to the new RTS Genesee route maps on our website:
·   RTS Genesee Routes 210 & 211
·   RTS Genesee Routes 212 & 213
·   RTS Genesee Route 214

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