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January 26, 2016 - 7:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, batavia, land use, sign ordinance.

Businesses with digital signs should be able to change their message every 10 seconds, City Council President Eugene Jankowski suggested during Monday's council meeting.

He wants the city's Planning Board to review that suggested rule change and come back to the council with a recommendation. His fellow council members unanimously concurred.

The current ordinance is interpreted to prohibit a business from changing the message more than once every 24 hours.

Jeremy Liles, owner of Oliver's Candies, raised the issue with the city a couple of months ago after installing a new digital sign outside of his business at Main and Oak streets.

The suggested change, Jankowski said, is an important step toward supporting local businesses.

January 21, 2016 - 9:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bdc, batavia, business.

2016_01_torrey_and_chaya.jpg

Press release:

At a Special Meeting of the Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) early January, President Ray Chaya thanked fellow Board Member Gregg Torrey for serving eight years as a director of the City’s economic development agency. The BDC instituted term limits during Torrey’s tenure. He has represented City business development efforts since June 2007 and served many years as an officer of the organization.

The BDC also elected three new members:

· Mary Valle, second generation Valle Jewelers business owner, active Vibrant Batavia volunteer and former Business Improvement District director;

· Steve Pies, fourth generation Max Pies Furniture business owner and past Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Board president;

· Pier Cipollone, former City Councilman and past BDC Board president.

Fellow Board members include Ray Chaya, Susie Boyce, Peter Casey, Kathy Ferrara, Jay Sackett, Barb Shine and ex-officio member, City Manager Jason Molino. The Board meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7:30 a.m. in City Hall.

January 20, 2016 - 4:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, STAMP, Alabama, business.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center and 1366 Technologies have developed an online intake form for local companies interested in pursuing potential supply chain/operational opportunities. The 1366 Technologies solar wafer manufacturing facility will be constructed in the town of Alabama and is scheduled to open in 2017.

“There is a tremendous amount of talent and skill in the Genesee County area. We’re excited to begin the process of identifying those companies across the region that will contribute to the success of our project and our operations in Alabama,” said Brian Eller, COO, 1366 Technologies.

The form can be accessed atwww.1366tech.com or www.wnystamp.com.

“The exciting thing about economic development is not only the direct jobs created by companies like 1366 Technologies, but the indirect jobs that are created through supply chain opportunities,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde.

informANALYTICS, an economic development software tool, calculated that approximately 1,600 indirect jobs will be created. The overall economic impact of the direct, indirect and induced jobs is expected to be in the range of $1.5 billion.

One of the ways in which 1366 Technologies will conduct outreach to the supply chain network is through the marketing and business networking assistance of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise (BNE) and Greater Rochester Enterprise (GRE), both of which played a key role in attracting the company.

“Because of the highly skilled and talented workforce in the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions, 1366 Technologies is not going to have any problems finding the right partners to make their operations in New York State a tremendous success,” said Mark S. Peterson, president and CEO of GRE.

“The launch of the 1366 Technologies intake form provides great opportunities for Western New York companies and their employees to capitalize on this exciting high tech industry,” said BNE President and CEO Thomas A. Kucharski. “It also reinforces the longer term value of our economic development efforts by reminding us that 1366 Technologies’ economic impact extends well beyond their initial investment and job creation. That benefit will continue to grow with the success of this great company in our region.”

January 20, 2016 - 1:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business, Announcements, wilmot cancer institute.

Press release:

UR Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Institute Batavia has installed a new linear accelerator, which delivers beams of high-energy radiation to treat a variety of cancers. This new machine provides image-guided and intensity-modulated radiation therapy treatments, which can more precisely and effectively target tumors.

“Because about half of all cancer patients receive some type of radiation during the course of their treatment, technology like this can have a significant impact for many people,” said Kevin J. Mudd, M.D., radiation oncologist at Wilmot Cancer Institute Batavia. “Precision is extremely important in delivering radiation therapy, and we are excited to offer these cutting-edge options to patients in our community.”

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by damaging the cells’ DNA. Using a linear accelerator, a beam of radiation is delivered from outside the body to the tumor. To protect nearby healthy tissues and organs, that beam must be tightly focused to the size and contours of the tumor.

That process can be complicated by the tumor’s location and how it shifts as a patient breathes and as nearby organs move. A prostate tumor, for example, can move as much as 8 millimeters a day depending on factors such as how full the bladder is.

With image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), high-quality digital CT images of the tumor and/or x-rays of bony landmarks near the tumor are captured real-time and compared to those taken during treatment planning for each daily treatment. This allows Mudd and his team to verify the tumor position in the alignment with radiation beams. If needed, they can make fine adjustments of the patient’s position to align with the radiation beams and deliver the treatment with extreme precision.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) uses 3-dimensional digital images to guide treatment. Based on these images, the radiation dose is shaped to the exact size and contours of the tumor, minimizing radiation exposure to surrounding tissues. The radiation oncologist can then aim thin beams of radiation of varying intensities at the tumor from many angles.

“Both of these technologies allow us to target the radiation beam more effectively while protecting healthy tissue and organs. This gives us clinical advantages particularly for prostate cancer, head and neck cancers, lung cancer, brain tumors, and tumors of the gastrointestinal tract,” said Mudd, who has provided radiation oncology services in Batavia for 15 years. “For patients, this can mean fewer side effects and lower risk of long-term complications.”

“The enhanced features of radiation treatment technology also enable us to continue building access to cutting-edge clinical trials through the combined radiation and chemotherapy service on site at Wilmot Cancer Institute Batavia,” said Yuhchyau Chen, M.D., Ph.D., chair of UR Medicine Radiation Oncology. “With Dr. Mudd and his team, patients in the Batavia area can be confident that they will receive high-quality care with advanced cancer treatment technology closer to home.”

###

UR Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Institute is the Finger Lakes region’s leader for cancer care and research. As a component of Strong Memorial Hospital, Wilmot Cancer Institute provides specialty cancer care services at the University of Rochester Medical Center and a network of locations throughout the region. The Institute also includes a team of 100 scientists who investigate many aspects of cancer, with an emphasis on how best to provide precision cancer care. To learn more, visit wilmot.urmc.edu.

January 19, 2016 - 4:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in farmers markets, BID, batavia, business.

Press release:

The Batavia Business Improvement District (BID) would like to announce the merger of the Downtown Batavia Public Market and the Genesee Country Farmer’s Market. The joint venture would consolidate the markets and their vendors into one large farmer’s market located Downtown at the corner of Bank Street and Alva Place.

The market would retain the name Downtown Batavia Public Market and would be run by the Genesee Country Farmer’s Market Board, in which Executive Director of the BID, Laurie Oltramari, was named as a board member.

With the City’s approval, the market would increase its operations to be open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. After visiting surrounding businesses to get their feedback, the increase of operations was well-received by area businesses who enjoy using the market to buy fresh fruits, vegetables and more.

The markets' merger addresses the City of Batavia’s “highly distressed” census tracts to have access to essential goods for healthy living. The public market is located with the City of Batavia’s BOA plan and with the City in its process of updating its Comprehensive Plan, which is focused on smart growth and sustainable practices, the merger was a well-timed collaboration.

The Downtown area has had a walkability audit to record the needs of both walkers and drivers. Within the immediate vicinity of the downtown public market is senior housing, healthcare facilities, the historic downtown core, and the bordering neighborhoods. With this mix, it lends itself to the greater success of the Downtown Batavia Public Market.

The BID envisions the market growing and it is excited to have the Genesee Country Farmer’s Market ready and able to take on the new venture. The Genesee Country Farmer’s Market enjoyed being at the Batavia Downs parking lot and thanks them for their support through the years, but the new move will reinforce the sustainable model for the farmers and tap into the trending desire to be located in downtowns.

If you would like more information regarding the merger of the markets or the BID in general, please contact Laurie Oltramari at (585) 344-0900 or e-mail[email protected]. If you are interested in volunteering or being a vendor at the Downtown Batavia Public Market, please contact Bob Austen at[email protected].

January 19, 2016 - 3:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Oakfield, U.S. Gypsum, steve hawley..

hawley_gypsum2016.jpg

Submitted photo and press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) visited the U.S. Gypsum Plant in Oakfield last week as part of his ongoing local business tours. Hawley, a small-business owner for over four decades, commended U.S. Gypsum on its unwavering commitment to safety and dedication to its employees, 30 percent of whom have worked at the plant for more than 25 years.

U.S. Gypsum has won numerous MSHA Sentinels of Safety Mining Awards and was named one of the safest companies in 2015 by EHS Today Magazine.

“I was impressed by the safety procedures and precautions in place at the Oakfield plant, and the large number of employees who have been there for over 25 years and are multi-generational employees of the company,” Hawley said. “This speaks to their presence in the local community and U.S. Gypsum’s devotion to its employees.

"It is important that young people remember that trade or factory work can open many doors for a fulfilling career, and companies such as U.S. Gypsum are always seeking employees who are looking to build a career in the skilled trades.

“As impressive as its safety measures is U.S. Gypsum’s ongoing effort to stay environmentally friendly. I was amazed to learn that the Oakfield plant is completely energy efficient, burning natural gas and selling off the excess. Furthermore, its products are made with 100-percent recycled paper. U.S. Gypsum is a shining example of a well-functioning company that cares about more than just its bottom line, and that is commendable.”

January 15, 2016 - 1:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, business, batavia.

leaningscafbd_jan152016.jpg

A portion of Park Road is being shut down this afternoon so work crews can remove a scaffold raised for the construction of the new hotel at Batavia Downs that was damaged in last week's windstorm, Town of Batavia Supervisor Greg Post said.

It's a matter of public safety, Post said, to close the road while the scaffolding is removed.

The project took some time to get to, Post said, after the damage, because the project needed to be carefully planned.

Batavia Downs will remain open, Post said, as well as the other businesses on Park Road.

There's no estimate on how long the project will take to complete.

January 15, 2016 - 11:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, business, batavia.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming has closed the books on another record year, making it 10 straight years in which the facility increased revenues from the previous one. In 2015 the 787+ video lottery terminals at the track’s gaming facility generated $52.6 million in net winnings, up 7.37 percent from 2014’s $48.9 million. This percentage increase in net growth was first among NYS facilities for the second year in a row.

“After the completion of our gaming floor expansion and the opening of our new lobby, patron visits have increased as have revenues,” said Michael D. Kane, CEO and president for Batavia Downs Gaming. “With the construction of a new 84-room hotel, opening in midsummer, we look forward to further serving our customers in the Western New York area while expanding our reach even further.

2015’s increase comes on the heels of 2014’s 5.37-percent net winnings increase over 2013. In 2014 Batavia Downs was one of only two NY state facilities to show an increase. This marks the third time in the last four years that Batavia Downs Gaming leads NYS facilities in terms of percentage growth.

“We’re happy to show continued growth,” said Ryan Hasenauer, director of Marketing for Batavia Downs Gaming. “We also had a record year of payouts, with $627 million in winnings paid out to our visitors. These increases also benefit the counties and cities that own us. As a public benefit corporation, all revenues net expenses are distributed to our member municipalities.”

Western OTB is a public benefit corporation owned and operated by 17 Western New York municipalities: Cattaraugus County, Cayuga County, Chautauqua County, Erie County, Genesee County, Livingston County, Monroe County, Niagara County, Orleans County, Oswego County, Schuyler County, Seneca County, Steuben County, Wayne County, Wyoming County as well as the cities of Rochester and Buffalo. Headquartered in Batavia, WROTB owns and operates 27 OTB branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility.

January 15, 2016 - 11:07am

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) at its Jan. 14 board meeting authorized the transfer of a PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) agreement to Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) as a result of the sale of the former Muller Quaker Dairy plant in Batavia. The PILOT agreement will be in effect for the remainder of 2016.

A key provision of the PILOT that will be transferred to DFA is a $300,000 payment from DFA for water and waste water/sewer infrastructure sustainability to the town of Batavia and the assumption of fire district fees.

“We are extremely pleased that Dairy Farmers of America has agreed to purchase the manufacturing facility in the Genesee Agri-Business Park,” said Paul Battaglia, chairman of the Board of Directors of the GCEDC. “I think it shows that DFA is a company with a great deal of integrity as well as a commitment to our community.”

“This is another great example of how all of our public and private partners in the economic growth and sustainability model we embraced over the last 10 years continue to excel in making sure our taxpayers and water/sewer customers are well served and able to rely on stable rates in the face of unpredictable events,” said Gregory H. Post, supervisor of the Town of Batavia.

“The efforts made on behalf of the Town of Batavia and the region by Steve Hyde and the staff at GCEDC and the extraordinary investment in our Town by DFA during the transfer of PILOT agreement allow us to continue to offer and provide the infrastructure and support necessary to efficiently serve our community’s ever growing needs. We stand ready, willing and able to assist the new owners and offer thanks to all involved in this negotiation.”

It is expected that within the next few months that DFA will present its plans for operating the manufacturing facility and submit its own application for assistance at the appropriate time.

“We expect many, if not all of the jobs lost from the plant’s closure last month to be restored, but that is going to take some time as DFA prepares its plans,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO, GCEDC. “We remain committed to assisting the DFA in this transition to ensure the plant will continue operations as one of the region’s largest agricultural food production facilities, as well as serve as a major economic driver in the region.”

Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) is a national dairy marketing cooperative that serves and is owned by more than 14,000 members on more than 8,000 farms in 48 states. DFA is also one of the county’s most diversified manufacturers of dairy products, food components and ingredients and is a leader in formulating and packaging shelf-stable dairy products.

January 15, 2016 - 10:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, business.

Press release:

The Batavia Police Department has received multiple complaints of fraudulent posts on social media (Craigslist, Facebook, and other similar Web sites) claiming to be John Gerace, a realtor of RealityUSA with property “for rent.” The postings are requesting a $700 deposit in exchange for keys to the residence. The only contact information on the postings is for [email protected].

The Batavia Police Department with the assistance of John Gerace, would like to remind the community not to give money upfront for a rental apartment without first walking through the apartment and signing a lease agreement. This is a reoccurring issue. If you feel have been part of this scam please contact the Batavia Police Department at (585) 345-6350 to report the incident.

Previously: Real estate agent turns the tables on craigslist scammer

January 14, 2016 - 2:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee ARC, business, batavia.

Press release:

Genesee ARC is moving ahead with plans to close down one section of its recycling operation and work with individuals employed there to find new positions.

The change affects the sorting line at the recycling center where as many as 14 people work each week. In the restructuring, the individuals with disabilities employed at the transfer station, on the trash and recycling routes, redemption center and Genesee Data Management will maintain their jobs.

“We will still be picking up recyclables from our curbside trash customers and accepting them at our transfer station,” Executive Director Donna Saskowski said.

Cardboard will still be sorted and bundled at the plant but all other recyclable materials will be collected and shipped to larger facilities with automated sorting.

“The cost of operating the line has increased over time and the prices we were able to secure for the baled recyclables have decreased considerably over the past 18 months, resulting in an untenable financial situation,” the director said.

Key employment services staff will be working with the individuals to assist them with job placement through the NYS Office of People with Developmental Disabilities and Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR). A job at ARC’s Sheltered Work Center on Walnut Street is not an option due to State regulations, effective July 2014, prohibiting the acceptance of any new (or returning) work center placements.

Genesee ARC was the sole trash and recycling contractor for residents of the City of Batavia, from 1983 to 2013. The nonprofit began offering private trash collection and recycling services after a decision by city council to opt out of the trash business altogether, leaving residents to find their own local provider. This created its own set of challenges as Genesee ARC for the first time had to develop pricing, options and an entire new system to bill for the services. And, while a few new providers sprang up overnight, Genesee ARC has a majority of City of Batavia residents as its customer base for curbside trash and recycling. A large percentage of city residents also take advantage Genesee ARC’s transfer station services.

“This was a very tough decision for our leadership and Board of Directors,” Saskowski shared.  “We will do everything we can to help secure new job placements – this is a priority.”

January 13, 2016 - 2:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, bergen, business, america's best communities.

It's the end of the competition, but not the end of the line for Le Roy and Bergen, Legislator Shelly Stein said today after learning that the two communities will not be finalists in the America's Best Communities competition sponsored by Frontier Communications.

The joint effort by Le Roy and Bergen to enter the competition, which could have resulted in a $3 million prize to spend on economic development, did lead to a $50,000 grant to develop an economic development plan, and that will pay off for the northeastern corner of Genesee County for years to come, Stein said.

"We already won," Stein said. "We had the $50,000 that we were able to take from Frontier and match that up with a long-term revitalization and economic plan for both Le Roy and Bergen. It brought out communities together and we found some significant commonalities that we can work towards. Having that plan in hand is something both communities can work from going forward."

The contest has proven highly competitive, said Claudia Maroney, area general manager for Frontier. 

'It was a great plan," Maroney said. "They put a lot of effort into it. There were 50 communities that submitted great plans, and unfortunately, Le Roy did not make it to the finalist round."

The planning and cooperation process led to some great community events, some great meeting of the minds and the realization there were projects the communities could undertake outside of the ABC competition.

The grants applied for and received during the process include $420,000 for land acquisition at the Le Roy Tech Park, the Village of Le Roy is getting $100,000 for downtown sidewalks and $20,000 for a waterfront strategy plan; and the Village of Bergen is getting $20,000 for a revitalization plan and $30,000 to study upgrading the sewer system.

All of these activities gained support and are better guided by the revitalization and economic development plan developed for the contest, Stein said.

And through the process, the communities learned a little bit more about themselves, too.

"Everyone is just a little bit more aware of how our community has a great reputation," Stein said. "We have a great work ethic. We really didn't know that our workforce is so highly skilled and that got pointed out during the process. We walk a little taller. We have a smile on our faces a bit longer and there's a bounce in our step."

January 8, 2016 - 11:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

Funeral Services for Michael R. Houseknecht, a successful local businessman and devoted father, will be at 10 a.m., Tuesday, at St. Joseph’s Church, 303 E. Main St., Batavia.

The 38-year-old Houseknecht passed away unexpectedly early Thursday morning.

He leaves behind his wife of 15 years, Jennifer Anne Thornton Houseknecht, and the daughters he cherished, Meghan Elizabeth and Ella Grace.

Most recently, Houseknecht opened the House O' Laundry on West Main Street in Batavia. He also owned Statewide Machinery. He formerly owned Loose Ends Vending.

A 1995 graduate of Batavia High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in business from SUNY Brockport in 1999.

He is also survived by his mother Sheila Mitchell, of Batavia, and his father and stepmother Ralph (Buddy) Houseknecht Jr. and Katy Gorton Houseknecht, of Perry, as well as his paternal grandparents, Ralph and Agnes Houseknecht Sr., of Stafford.

Friends may call on Monday from 2 to 8 p.m. at the H.E. Turner & Co. Funeral Home, 403 E. Main St., Batavia.

For his full obituary, click here.

Photo: File photo from the opening in November of House O' Laundry. Micheal Houseknecht with daughter Ella.

January 6, 2016 - 1:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, Alabama, business.

1366hearingjan52016.jpg

After the questions, concerns, challenges and outright objections to 1366 Technologies coming to the Town of Alabama to build silicon wafers to capture the energy of the sun, resident Dave Dunn said, "I think we've all forgot one thing here tonight: Thank you for coming here."

That statement drew a round of applause from most of the 75 or so people who attended the public hearing Tuesday night on proposed tax incentives to help Bedford, Mass.-based 1366 Technologies build its $700 million facility on 105 acres of the planned high-tech park known as STAMP (Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park).

There were only a handful of speakers during the hearing, and only a couple more who raised objections during a follow-up question and answer period, including one man who stormed out during an impassioned speech by Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, on the need for economic development to help keep our children in Western New York.

The state is planning on spending more than $5 million on land acquisition and infrastructure to make STAMP possible, and 1366 could receive another $56 million in incentives from New York along with tax abatements of more than $35 million through GCEDC.

It is those local incentives that the GCEDC Board will be asked to approve in an upcoming vote and last night's public hearing was required in advance of it.

Mark Masse, VP of business development for GCEDC, opened the hearing with an overview of the financing and financial impact of the proposed 1366 project.

The venture is expected to lead to 1,000 jobs at the plant within a few years, with another 1,593 jobs generated by companies that will provide services and support to the new company, and some 2,600 jobs created by local economic growth.

That's more than 6,500 local jobs within 10 years, Masse said.

Entry-level jobs will start at $16 an hour, with production jobs going up to $24 an hour based on duties and experience.

The 1366 payroll is expected to reach nearly $40 million. The indirect payroll could exceed $60 million and induced jobs would add another $30.3 million in payroll, for an anticipated increase in local payroll of $130 million. (CORRECTION: In my notes, I left off some zeros. The payroll numbers have been updated to correct that mistake.)

To help finance the project, GCEDC is proposing a PILOT -- payment in lieu of taxes. That's a break on the property tax. There would be property tax due on the current assessed value of the 105-acre parcel, but there would be no new taxes on the increase in assessed value over the first two years of the project. The taxes would then gradually increase over the next eight years. 

There are also proposed tax abatements on the sales tax on construction materials as well as relief from the mortgage tax.

Masse then turned the floor over to Brian Eller, chief operations officer for 1366, who shared some of his company's plans and an overview of what 1366 will manufacture.

Eller explained that 1366, working with scientists at MIT, have developed a whole new manufacturing process for silicon wafers -- the main component of solar panels, that the company believes will be cheaper to manufacture and produce less waste than the process used by every other company in the world.

Silicon is the second most plentiful mineral on Earth and is usually extracted from sand. For solar wafers, manufacturers receive ingots of silicon that are typically cut and ground into square objects. 

That's an extremely wasteful production process, according to a video Eller played for the audience. Much of the silicon is wasted, as well as the blades and diamond-tipped twine used to cut the wafers.

The process developed at MIT involves melting the silicon and rolling out flat wafers, much like modern glass manufacturing.

The process is a third faster and a third cheaper than current techniques, and no silicon goes to waste, and it uses less energy.

The goal of 1366 is to use its technology to produce wafers that eventually make solar power as cheap to consume as coal energy.

What 1366 isn't doing is making entire solar panels. They are only making the wafers, and they aren't making solar panels.

Elon Musk's Solar City plant, going up in Buffalo, will make rooftop panels, but 1366 isn't producing wafers for rooftop panels, so there isn't currently an opportunity for the two companies to work together directly. The wafers produced by 1366 are intended for industrial solar energy farms, which currently makes up 70 percent of the worldwide solar energy market.

One speaker during the public hearing expressed concern that 1366 would get all of these tax breaks, build this big building, and then pull out like Pepsi did with the Quaker Muller Dairy plant.

There are, however, some significant differences between the Quaker Muller operation and 1366's plans. Pepsi and Muller entered a market that we now know was saturated in an industry that is so competitive that profit margins are always squeezed. There was no chance for Muller's imitation Greek yogurt to achieve a dominant market position.

In his best-selling business book, "Zero to One," venture capitalist Peter Thiel says new businesses should be built around innovations that are a 10-times improvement over anything currently in the market. Thiel also advises startups to aim for only a segment of a market and achieve dominance in that segment before growing. Pepsi and Muller appear to have violated both of those guidelines by entering a market that already had dominant manufacturers, such as Chobani, Dannon and Fage, and aiming for a share of the entire market, not just a segment where it might have a chance to dominate. 

Eller thinks that 1366's lower cost, less wasteful process is that 10-times improvement Thiel recommends (though he hadn't yet read Thiel's book when asked about it) and that 1366 is going after a segment of the market where it can achieve dominance.

Only a portion, less than $100 million, of $700 million required to build the 1366 Technologies plant to full capacity is coming from public investment. There is also a $150 million loan guarantee backed by the Department of Energy. When the project was announced at Genesee Community College in October, company CEO Frank van Mierlo indicated he was investing his own money in the project. The company has reportedly raised $70 million in venture capital from investors such as Hanwha Chemical, a major user of silicon wafers, as well as from Ventizz Capital Fund, North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners. The company has not discussed any other efforts to raise additional capital or the timing of capital needs. They would not need the entire $700 million in the bank to start construction.

Construction is expected to start in May or June.

The first jobs should be filled in the fall or early winter of this year, with hiring continuing through the middle part of 2017 and then more jobs added as production capacity is increased.

Eller will move to here from Bedford to join the ranks of the locally employed, along with as many as five current 1366 managers and executives, though the company will remain headquartered in Bedford. That's also where the company will continue research and development operations.

There was a bit of discussion between Eller, Masse and meeting attendees about workforce development and who will get hired at the new plant. 

Lorna Klotzbach had several objections to the proposal, among them were questions about whether there were really sufficient potential employees in the region. She also shared with some other speakers a concern that STAMP was converting farmland and wildlife refuge into industrial land.

Al Files, who would later get up in a huff and storm out during Hyde's speech, said he thought it made a lot more sense to build where there's already big buildings and infrastructure.

"In my opinion, I think it's stupid," Files said. "We're wasting all of this property when it could be built in Rochester, Buffalo or Batavia."

Eller said 1366 was attracted to STAMP, out of 300 locations considered, for two primary reasons. First is cheap and clean hydroelectric power, and then there is the regional workforce. Eller said the company hired a consultant who studied a number of variables for several possible plant locations and STAMP scored the highest for workforce potential.

Creating local jobs and reversing two generations of economic decline is what STAMP is all about, Hyde said.

"At the end of the day, what drove us to work so hard to attract a company like 1366 to our community and our region is creating jobs for our kids so they can either stay here or come back home," Hyde said. "All the rest of these questions are good and relevant, but if we take a little look at the big picture, we’ve all been losing tax base and these guys are going to start that trend of turning that around. 

"We can’t guarantee that companies are going to be successful, but even with the situation in Batavia, where Muller Quaker was, we built that ag park, two companies came in and spent over $200 million there. The market didn’t work. They entered the market late. They ended up having to shut down and that’s a disappointment, but the beauty is, one of the best dairy companies in the nation is coming in because that ag park is there and they're filling it back up and probably hiring more people than Muller ever would have. The investment model that we’ve used over the last decade is working. It’s creating good jobs for our people and our community. It’s creating tax base.

"I just wanted to paint a little bit of the bigger picture," Hyde added a few sentences later. "We’re absolutely fortunate to have a company like 1366 be willing to come here and start to build that high-tech, entrepreneurial ecosystem. It will mean a lot of jobs for our kids. … I’ll tell you right now if we get a thousand jobs from this company over the next decade, and that turns around to be about four thousand jobs all over this area, you’re going to see an economic boom around here that we haven’t seen in 50 years."

At which point, Files interjected, "This is an agricultural area. This is not a manufacturing area."

Hyde said projects like 1366 will take the pressure off of ag to support the entire local economy, and that the land the plant will use is less than 3 percent of the available acreage in Genesee County, and it's the least productive land in the county.

"We looked at all of that," Hyde said.

But Files was no longer in the room to hear it.

1366hearingjan52016-2.jpg

I couldn't find online the video Eller showed, but in looking for it, I found this interesting video.

January 4, 2016 - 12:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tompkins Insurance, batavia, business.

Press release:

Tompkins Financial Corporation has announced the acquisition of Shepard, Maxwell & Hale Insurance by Tompkins Insurance Agencies, Inc., an affiliate of the financial corporation. The acquisition was effective Jan. 1.

“We are happy to continue to grow our business in Batavia and serve our neighbors through this expansion,” said David S. Boyce, president and CEO of Tompkins Insurance. 

The change is a win-win for customers, Boyce said.

“In addition to continuing to receive personal attention from local insurance professionals who place a high value on customer service, customers will have 'one-stop shopping' access to the comprehensive array of financial solutions offered by our affiliation with Tompkins Bank of Castile and Tompkins Financial Advisors,” Boyce said.

According to Boyce, Daniel G. Hale and Stephen S. Maxwell, will remain with the agency. Most current employees will be retained in the merger and will continue to service accounts. The Batavia location of Shepard, Maxwell & Hale will close and move operations to the Tompkins Financial Center at 90 Main St. on or about Feb. 1. The Hamlin office will continue to operate at its current location for the time being.

Effective Feb. 1, clients of Shepard, Maxell & Hale may receive service at any of the 28 locations throughout New York and Pennsylvania, including the 16 locations in Western New York. 

Tompkins Insurance serves 30,000 personal insurance customers and 7,600 commercial insurance customers, making it the third largest commercial insurance firm in the Rochester area and the 82nd largest agency in the country. The acquisition will add the approximately 4,000 Shepard, Maxwell and Hale accounts to its customer base. 

Established in 1957, Shepard, Maxwell & Hale has a long history of serving western New York through its two offices in Batavia and Hamlin. The merger with Tompkins Insurance makes sense for customers, according to Hale.

“Along with continuing to receive top-notch service, our customers will see additional benefits like access to 24/7 claims service 365 days a year, and more price and product options offered through Tompkins’ relationship with 50+ leading insurance companies,“ Hale said. 

Tompkins Insurance Agencies, Inc., operates 16 offices in Western New York, six offices in Central New York and six offices in Southeast Pennsylvania. A part of Tompkins Financial Corporation, (trading as TMP on the NYSE - MKT), the agency is affiliated with Tompkins Bank of Castile, Tompkins Trust Company, Tompkins VIST Bank and Tompkins Financial Advisors. It is an independent insurance agency offering personal and business insurance and employee benefits services through more than 50 different companies. Further information is available at www.tompkinsins.com

December 29, 2015 - 5:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, Alabama, business, GCEDC.

Here's a portion of a press release from Empire State Development about a series of grants recently approved.

Empire State Development today announced that its Board of Directors recently approved $101.1 million in economic development resources for 23 projects that are spurring growth and opportunity in every region of the state. The funding supports projects that are creating 634 new jobs and retaining 1,531 existing New York State jobs – many of which have already been created or retained. The approved assistance is leveraging more than $822 million in private investment and other public funding to support local businesses and projects that are strengthening local economies today, while building a strong foundation for future economic growth and job creation.

“The funding approved by the Board is supporting regionally significant projects that are fostering growth and creating new opportunities statewide,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “Whether it’s by aiding business expansion and retention, supporting local revitalization projects, or bolstering regional tourism, the funding approved today will boost economic activity from New York City to the Finger Lakes.”

...

Finger Lakes Region 
Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing (Finger Lakes Region - Genesee County) – $5,000,000
The Genesee County Industrial Development Agency, doing business as Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), will use a grant of up to $5,000,000 for the cost of land acquisition,  engineering, and soft costs related to infrastructure development for 1366 Technologies, Inc., the first tenant of the Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Alabama, NY. 1366 Technologies is a solar energy company with an innovative approach to manufacturing the silicon wafers that are the building block of solar cells. The company chose the STAMP site out of 300 possible locations due to the site’s positive momentum and commitment to growing manufacturing interests. This project will be completed in August 2016 and aligns with the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council’s plan in that it supports advanced technology and manufacturing and is identified as key to the region in the Industrial Development and Infrastructure category. 

December 26, 2015 - 9:24am
posted by Raymond Coniglio in Le Roy, Main Street Fitness, business.

main_st_fitness_122715.jpeg

Michele Martinez, right, is the new owner of Main Street Fitness in Le Roy. She bought the business from Fred Merica, left, who will continue to operate Le Roy Karate at 66 Main St. Martinez is joined by her fiance, Dan Saeva, whom she met at the gym.

Being a competitive weightlifter meant Michele Martinez was very serious about her workouts at Le Roy’s Main Street Fitness.

It also meant lots of advice for the gym’s proprietor.

“The truth is, Michele used to break my chops a lot,” Merica joked earlier this week. “ ‘You’ve gotta clean, you’ve gotta buy this, you’ve gotta buy that.’

“Finally I said, ‘Why don’t you just buy the place and do whatever you want with it!' ”

Which is pretty much what finally happened.

Martinez, who lives in Le Roy, took ownership this week. She’ll be leasing space from Merica, who owns 66 Main St. and will continue to own and operate Le Roy Karate.

Martinez is looking forward to meeting the public and sharing her plans for Main Street Fitness during an open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Main Street Fitness grew out of the karate studio Merica, 54, established in 2005. He gradually added weightlifting equipment to diversify the business. Now, the gym also features a cross-training room; a cardio room equipped with treadmills, stair machine and Arc Trainer (sort of a cross between a treadmill and an elliptical machine); and, in the basement, a circuit-training room.

In short, something for every age, skill level and interest.

“Everyone thinks it’s just weights, and it’s not,” Merica said. “I think that’s what separates this gym from most gyms in the area.”

It’s also a 24-hour operation, with keyless entry available to members. Merica said he preferred to focus on karate, and needed to find someone who could give the gym the attention it demands.

He said Martinez is the ideal buyer. 

They met in 2012, when Martinez enrolled her daughter Skyler, now 11, in one of Merica’s karate classes. At the time, Martinez was in training — at different gym — for the Ms. Buffalo Bodybuilding Championships.

“We started talking, and he ended up letting me work out up front to supplement my training,” Martinez said.

She went on to win second place in the women’s heavyweight division in 2012. The following year, she claimed first place.

“That’s one of the reasons I thought Michele would be a perfect fit,” Merica said. “It adds another component to the gym, because she’s competed; she’s got that experience.”

But Martinez was reluctant to take on the responsibility. She already works full-time as a training manager for Sutherland Global Services in Rochester; is a part-time sign-language interpreter; and is also raising a second daughter, 9-year-old Kori.

Her outlook changed with her engagement earlier this year to Dan Saeva, whom she met at the gym. He’ll oversee day-to-day operations at Main Street Fitness, while Martinez focuses on the business side.

Martinez and Saeva, also of Le Roy, are planning an April 26 wedding in Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, Martinez doesn’t expect major changes at Main Street Fitness. She will rearrange existing equipment in a way that makes better sense for bodybuilders, add more powerlifting equipment, and do some remodeling. Her contacts in the fitness field may mean expanded services, including nutrition supplements, fitness beverages and benching competitions.

She’ll also have special offers, including discounted rates on group memberships.

“I’m excited,” Martinez said. “I’m overwhelmed; I’m anxious. I think this next month will be the real test for us.”

For his part, Merica said he’s grateful to longtime members for their support as he bows out of the gym business. But he’s also thankful to have less on his plate.

“I’ll be getting more sleep,” Merica said.

And Martinez?

“I’ll be getting less,” she said.

For more information about Main Street Fitness, visit www.fitness-karate.com.

December 24, 2015 - 1:34pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Chapin Manufacturing, business.

(Submitted photo and story from Chapin Manufacturing, Inc.)

We do not often these days hear about lifelong employment and people who spend their entire career at one company. But, that very thing has happened here in Batavia at Chapin Manufacturing. Batavia native Ron Odessa joined Chapin in September 1965 and just celebrated his 50th anniversary with the company.

Mr. Odessa’s anniversary celebration was capped off by a presentation of a solid gold “Chapin Chip” presented to him at the annual shareholders’ luncheon by Andris Chapin, chairman of the Board of Directors. He accepted the gift graciously, saying with a sly grin, “Things are going well here, I’m thinking about making a career of it.”

Upon close inspection, a visitor might notice the name Ronald Odessa on many of the patents hanging in the hallway at Chapin. These innovations were made possible by Ron’s imagination, creativity and pragmatism developed during a lifetime spent in Manufacturing, Engineering and Quality.   

In his spare time, Mr. Odessa, an eighth degree Black Belt, teaches martial arts at Borell’s Karate Academy in Batavia, and was once considered somewhat of a rock star having played in a well-known Batavia-based band in the 1950s.                  

Chapin International, Inc., is a manufacturer of compressed air sprayers and broadcast spreaders. Homeowners and commercial customers know the familiar red Chapin logo means quality, innovative engineering and quality.

December 24, 2015 - 1:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Announcements.

Bergen-based Liberty Pumps, which is celebrating a half century in business this year, sent us this photo to share with you of their entire crew. They wish everyone "Happy Holidays!"

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