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February 24, 2015 - 12:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, city centre, mall merchants association.

So far, attorneys have been paid a combined $207,000 for the City of Batavia and the Mall Merchants Association to battle in court over who is responsible for what in the rapidly deteriorating structure.

There's a chance now the case may go to mediation, the City Council was informed Monday night.

After losing a motion for a summary judgement, City Manager Jason Molino said the MMA is willing to submit to mediation. 

A final agreement on mediation has not be completed.

The city and MMA have locked horns over responsibility for concourse maintenance, major repairs, ownership and governance.

In 2009, the MMA filed suit against the city.

Since then, the city has spent $104,199 on legal fees, while the suit has cost the mall merchants $103,317, according to Molino's memo.

"A thriving and healthy City Centre is critical to the City's downtown revitalization, and the City is very interested in an overall resolution that will best support long-term and prosperous solutions for all parties involved," Molino wrote.

February 24, 2015 - 12:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

A $200,000 federal grant could help create from five to 10 new businesses in Batavia, the City Council was told Monday night.

The "micro-enterprise" grant program is designed to help fund businesses with fewer than five employees either through a start-up or growth phase.

The minimum federal requirement for the program is that five business owners receive benefits and five new jobs are created.

Recipients would be required to attend classes at GCC's Best Center covering the fundamentals of owning and operating a business, including planning, legal issues, accounting and financing. 

The program would be supervised by the Batavia Development Corp. with the assistance of a grant administrator.

In total, $150,000 would be available for grants to small business owners, with $31,300 for program delivery, $10,000 for grant administration, and $8,700 for classroom instruction.

The money given out would be in the form of grants, not loans.

City Manager Jason Molino told council members that it's his understanding the federal government would require some sort of claw back for businesses that fail or move out of the city within the first three years after receiving the grant.

The City Council will vote on a resolution to accept the federal money at its March 9 meeting.

February 20, 2015 - 2:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Wiard Plow, Wiard Fire.

Old industrial buildings off of Swan Street that weren't destroyed by arson in 2010 are being felled by code enforcement in 2015.

Tom Mancuso, current owner of what was once the Wiard Plow Factory, appeared in City Court today to update Judge Michael Del Plato on his progress toward bringing the property into code compliance after citations were issued by the City of Batavia.

The case was continued to April 17, giving Mancuso time to complete demolition of the half-dozen brick structures on the property.

The only thing that will be left of what was once one of Batavia's landmark companies will be the former office building, which is owned by Smart Design and undergoing renovation.

Two of the old factory buildings were destroyed in a fire in 2010 that was deliberately set by a 14-year-old resident of the city. (For The Batavian's complete and comprehensive coverage of the fire and its aftermath, click here.)

For decades after Wiard Plow closed up shop, the buildings were used to house several small businesses. The Mancuso family invested money to help bring in business and support those businesses, but the buildings were all vacant by the time of the fire.

Tom Mancuso still had plans for the wood and brick industrial buildings, but the fire was a big set back.

"The arson fire destroyed everything we had invested," Mancuso said. "The insurance proceeds did not cover the loss, so we came out of pocket on the fire and now we're going to be out of pocket again on the demolition."

It took some time to get the necessary demolition permits from the state, but Mancuso is through that process and a contractor is on site, preparing the property to be ripped apart beam-by-beam, brick-by-brick.

Asked how much the demolition is costing his company, Mancuso said, "Too much. More than we have."

Still, Mancuso is looking at the bright side.

"It will make the street better," Mancuso said. "It's a good thing for the community. You hope something good will come of it. For years, we've tried to find somebody to build something or do something there so we can redevelop it. We'll hope this allows something good to happen sooner."

February 19, 2015 - 3:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in business.

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is offering a tour of China, as well as a tour of Thailand and Hong Kong.

This will be the Chamber’s 11th trip to China with more 1,000 travelers having taken advantage of this unique opportunity to see first-hand how business is done in China while experiencing many of the most famous sightseeing destinations such as the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. This year’s trip will visit new locations never offered before on previous Chamber China tours.

The China tour will depart on Oct. 14 and return on Oct. 22.

The Thailand and Hong Kong tour is a new offering from the Chamber this year. It is through the same company as the China trip, Citslinc International, and offers the same exceptional value and experience. Travelers will experience the culture, famous landmarks and architectural details that Thailand and Hong Kong have to offer.

The Thailand and Hong Kong tour will depart on Oct. 31 and return Nov. 8.

Both trips include air fare, four and five-star hotel stays, three meals each day, deluxe bus tours, English-speaking tour guides, admission tickets to all tourist spots and airport taxes.

For more information visit the Chamber’s Web site www.geneseeny.com or contact the Chamber at 585-343-7440.

February 19, 2015 - 2:25pm
posted by Billie Owens in business.

The annual meeting and luncheon of the Genesee County Economic Development Center will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 6, at Batavia Downs. To register, please contact Rachael Tabelski, GCEDC marketing and communications director, at  [email protected] or phone her ar 343-4866.

2014 was certainly an exciting year from an economic development standpoint as unemployment was at a historic low of 4.8 percent in August, per capita income grew 6.16 percent, and businesses invested more than $50 million in our community. The food industry across the region, and especially in Genesee County, continues to flourish while investment and developments at the WNY STAMP project occur on a daily basis.  

The GCEDC Annual Meeting is an opportunity for you to find out what has been achieved in Genesee County over the last year and to get a exclusive preview of what the economic landscape will look like for 2015. The Annual Meeting is also an excellent opportunity to network with economic and elected leaders from around the region. At the event the GCEDC will also unveil the "2015 Economic Development Partner of the Year Award."

February 19, 2015 - 12:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, preservation, D.A. Tufts Construction.

There are few examples of Mid-century Modern architecture in Batavia, especially among commercial buildings, and one that has been neglected for a long time has found a savior.

D.A. Tufts Construction has purchased 438 East Main Street, which is at the corner of Main and Harvester and is perhaps most often thought of as the former WBTA building.

Dave Tufts said he's admired the building since he was a little kid and is a big fan of Mid-century Modern, so he want to be sure to preserve the era's clean lines and Jetson-style modernism of the structure.

"It's one of my favorite periods, so we're excited about it, to be honest with you," Tufts said. 

Tufts plans to convert the 2,900-square-foot first floor to office space, suitable for business or medical use, and the second floor will become two large apartments (1,300 square feet each) with open floor plans (appropriate for the era) and high-end amenities.

In a statement about their plans, the Tufts said, "The repurposing of the building goes along with the current trend of people returning to urban areas to enjoy downtown living."

They will also construct two more apartments on the property and all four apartments will have private garages.

The exterior will be upgraded with a new entry way and balconies for the apartments, but preserve the stamped brick facade common to the Mid-century Era and simple lines that dominate the look and feel of the current building.

The last tenant of the building, T-Shirts Etc., moved downtown four years ago, and the building has been vacant since. It's sort of gone to seed over all those winters and summers of emptiness.

Renovation work has begun inside, but there's a lot of work ahead for his crews, Tufts said, to bring out the best the building has to offer.

Tufts said Julie Pacatte, economic development coordinator for the city, has helped them throughout the planning process.

Pacatte said she helped the Tufts by developing a marking list for potential office space tenants and also helped them with an application for a grant from National Grid for main street revitalization projects, which she expects will be approved.

"We're thrilled about the project," Pacatte said, because it hits on so many of the city's economic development goals -- from providing mix-use buildings; bringing more viable commercial space and residential space to the central city corridor; and providing higher-end housing (apartments with garages) that doesn't currently exist in the market.

"We love that they're honoring the architectural style of the property," Pacatte said.

Lucine Kauffman, president of the Genesee County Landmark Society, said the Tufts' plans sound like good news.

"I think it's great to start raising awareness to start saving Mid-century buildings," Kauffman said. "When we think about preservation, we usually think of buildings from the 1800s, especially in this area, but there are a lot from the first half of the last century that are certainly worth preserving."

Converting a former commercial building into a mix-use structure (apartments and commercial) fits right in with the trend nationally toward what planners call "new urbanism," Kauffman said, which has so many benefits for local communities, such as economic growth and reduced crime, and it's good for the environment, by reducing the need for commutes and not filling landfills with demolished buildings.

"It's especially true in a city like Batavia, where there has been so much urban renewal and so much devastation," Kauffman said. "I think it's important to move forward and make the best of what we have now. When you see the plans for the Save-A-Lot building, what was done with the Williams building (Alberty Drugs), and what Tompkins has done with their building where WBTA is now, where they're kind of dressing it up, that's the best we can hope for, where people make the best of it."

Kauffman is aware Mid-century Modern may not be to everyone's liking, but that doesn't mean Mid-century Modern shouldn't be preserved.

"Buildings don't have to be grand," Kauffman said. "They don't have to be fancy. They don't have to be anything. They don't have to be esthetically pleasing to everyone. So long as a building represents a specific era or a specific architectural style, it's worth saving."

February 18, 2015 - 4:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in business.

Press release:

David Steel, the celebrated expert in marketing and social media is coming to Genesee Community College, Batavia Campus, at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, to share his presentation "Be Heard: Influence Marketing -- Locating, Engaging & Motivating Customers Online."

The event is FREE and open to the public and will take place inside the Conable Technology Department / T102 Lecture Hall. (The program will be (video/audio) streamed to all six of GCC's Campus Centers in Albion, Arcade, Dansville, Lima, Medina and Warsaw.)

Steel is the chief viral officer of Sneeze.it, a digital marketing agency, a division of The Steel Method. He is the author of "The Care and Feeding of Highly Aggressive Sales People" and also the soon-to-be-released, "Sneeze.it." A renowned keynote speaker, author, motivator and marketing strategist, Steel is widely recognized for his ability to help organizations monetize their social networks. At Sneeze.it, he teaches company executives the fundamentals of utilizing social media channels to attract prospects, build a lead pipeline and convert those leads into paying customers. He has a proven track record of turning business owners from social media novices into savvy social media marketers.

Steel has captivated audiences from New York to Nairobi with interactive speaking engagements that teach guests how to create targeted landing pages, use LinkedIn InMails and Facebook ads/tabs to successfully market their products and services. His presentation illustrates how to think and act like a consumer, and how to establish trust within a brand. Participants will learn the many ways companies get their message and brand out to the masses using a variety of social media and marketing tricks and tips.

Steel's visit to GCC is being sponsored by the College's CEO (Collegiate Entrepreneur's Organization) Club, Business Forum Club and DECA (Distributive Education Club of America) Club. Following the presentation, Steel will have copies of his book available for autographs.

February 14, 2015 - 2:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, p.w. minor.

When Pete Zeliff and Andrew Young first walked onto the factory floor of the p.w. minor building on Treadeasy Avenue, they knew nothing about the shoe industry.

"We could tie our own shoes," Young said with a wry smile Friday morning following a tour of the production line with Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

In the six months since Zeliff and Young rescued the 150-year-old shoe factory from closure, the two local businessmen have not only proven quick studies of the shoe business, they've pulled the firm from the brink of an abyss and placed it on the precipice of success.

After his walking tour, Hawley was impressed with what he saw and heard.

"With Pete and Andrew's investment here, and their hard work, the possibility of success in their eyes, their demeanor, and the people I've seen here working today with their smiles, you can see it," Hawley said. "It's great for the local economy, it's great for Western New York, to see people take a chance and that's what these two gentlemen have done. The State of New York ought to use them and p.w. minor as an example of how to be successful."

As neophytes in the shoe business, when Zeliff and Young first sat in their new offices, they wondered, why do shoes that feel good on your feet need to look dowdy and unimaginative?

The p.w. minor speciality are shoes designed and constructed for people with orthopedic needs, but why should orthopedic shoes be frumpy?

"We've been able to, with some stitching and some designs and some beautiful leathers that we're using, to upgrade those shoes," Young said. "The same lasts (forms used to make shoes), same fit, same feel, but it looks way more 'today,' I guess would be the word."

p.w. minor has long had some great-looking shoes in its line -- one shoe was bought as a prop for the former HBO series "Boardwalk Empire," after all -- and there are high-end brands that turn to p.w. minor to shod voguish-minded Wall Street bankers and urban hipsters.

But the persistent image of p.w. minor is for shoes that favor comfort over fad, In recent years, much of the shoe line had the look of something a doctor might prescribe to dowagers or retired postmen.

"When we got here, we were wondering why people who had to wear shoes that they needed for their feet, but they couldn't also look good," Young said.

One of the first of their new hires was a shoe designer out of Michigan who had experience with shoe company turnarounds.

Every shoe the company sells is getting a makeover. The first samples of the new line will make their industry debut at a trade show in Las Vegas.

"This is a company that designed about three shoes in the previous decade and we're going to a show next week where we're going to introduce three dozen shoes," Young said.

Of course, nobody is going to buy shoes if there are no feet on the street selling the revamped shoe lines to retailers and distributors.

The old p.w. minor got rid of the last of its sales staff years ago, Young said. He and Zeliff have hired five new sales reps so far and plan to hire as many as five more.

"That's already paying dividends," Young said. "We need to get our name out there. I think most of the marketplace thought we were basically dead, and there was good reason for that because we sort of were. I think they're starting to see, and they will really see it at this show next week, that we're definitely back."

The total new hires for Zeliff and Young is 16 so far, and Young says there's more to come. Part of the reason to let the media tag along on Friday's tour was to get the word out locally that p.w. minor is truly a new company. It's a place people should want to work, Young said, and Young wants to attract the best local employees.

p.w. minor was also a company that needed to do a better job of meeting the needs of existing customers. To that end, back orders have been cut tremendously. The company has gone from making 80 pair of shoes a day to 160. It used to take 25 to 26 days for a pair of shoes to wind through the production line. On Wednesday, the crew completed a line of shoes in 4.8 days.

That's a lot of change not just for the marketplace to absorb, but it's even been an adjustment for p.w. minor's employees.

There have certainly been some bumps along the way, Young indicated.

"I always say if I had a nickel for every time somebody says that's not the way we used to do things, I wouldn't need to sell any shoes," Young said. "This company was on a trajectory down, steeply down, and we want it to be on a trajectory steeply up. The change is sometimes hard for us to get through and hard to understand and accept. We're making great progress in that regard, but I like to say it's a big ship to turn. It's turning, but it takes some time."

Top photo: From a fit and feel perspective, the two shoes are essentially the same. They're made with the same fasts, but the one of the left uses more attractive leather and an updated design.

Hawley, Zeliff and Young in the leather room at p.w. minor.

Hawley holds another example of a p.w. minor shoe transformed by design and the material used to make it.

A pair of newly designed fashion boots near the end of production.

Soles waiting to become shoes.

A worker making a shoe.

Hawley with Young and Zeliff.

Glue on shoes.

Cork spread on the bottom of a shoe before the sole is attached. The cork helps ensure the comfort of the shoe's wearer.

This all-weather sole is on a shoe made for another company that sells it under its own brand name. Young said he and Zeliff love the sole, but it's only made in England, and p.w. minor's own shoes will be 100-percent made-in-America.

Nearly finished boots on the factory floor.

Zeliff, Hawley and Young with an employee near the end of the production line.

The slide show below is of pictures sent over by Young of some of the shoes that will be making their industry debut in Las Vegas next week.

February 12, 2015 - 2:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, tourism, Darien, darien lake theme park.

Darien Lake Theme Park draws thousands upon thousands of visitors from all over Western New York each summer, but General Manager Chris Thorpe says Genesee County residents are going to be especially pleased with what they find at the park this season.

Two new massive rides are going to add a lot more value for season-pass holders, he said, and local season-pass holders are an important customer base.

"We are excited to present these two new attractions this year," Thorpe said. "We think it cements us as the best entertainment value in Western New York, particularly from a local perspective. For Batavia residents, local Genesee County residents, our season pass will offer so much more this year. We're excited to give them the opportunity to come out and visit the park frequently, over and over, to see what a great value we are."

The new rides are called Brain Drain and Rolling Thunder.

Brain Drain is a massive, seven-story waterslide that offers twin free-fall drops through tubes that loop and cross, with riders zooming through at 38 feet per second until they're blasted into a pool of water at the base.

Riders start in an enclosed launch capsule, with both riders dropping into the tube simultaneously when the floor beneath them gives way.

Roling Thunder is a compact steel loop that stands 73 feet at its apex and propels 24 riders at time through a closed loop on a high-speed train. The ride hangs passengers upside down and rockets back and forth through the loop.

Construction will begin soon and the rides are expected to be ready for opening day, May 9.

The expansion gives the park 47 rides for visitors to choose from, with enough variety to please all guests, Thorpe said.

"There's so much to do, but what's even better, is there's something for everybody in the family here," said Thorpe, who is originally from Buffalo and first started working at Darien Lake in 1995, rising to the level of general manager, transferring to other theme parks for the past couple of years and now returns home.

Noting how important Darien Lake is to the local economy in the jobs it creates and the tourism dollars it attracts, Chamber President Tom Turnbull said it was great to see the theme park adding rides.

"One of the things I've learned from our friends at Darien Lake -- they've kind of schooled me on the amusement park business -- is how important attractions are in driving attendance," Turnbull said. "To have not just one new attraction, but two new attractions means, I think, we can expect a banner year at Darien Lake."

Adding rides is a departure from last year's strategy to draw visitors to the park, using entertainment, such as the Harlem Globetrotters, a Latin music festival, and, of course, Nik Wallenda to draw in crowds.

To be sure, Wallenda brought guests to the park, but he's moving on to other venues this season and Thrope said the new rides are a good fit for what the park already offers.

"We'll still have our traditional entertainment in place, the magic shows and things like that, but last year's focus was Nik Wallenda, which was a very strong attraction," Thorpe said. "This year, we're going more with a hardware focus and looking at attractions that will peak people's interest."

The park will still work to maintain its identity as a destination with strong Western New York roots, Thorpe said, a branding effort begun by park management two seasons ago.

"It's important for us to be woven into the cultural fabric of Western New York and those things like the Anchor Bar and Tim Horton's and all the local vendors we work with are critically important to our success," Thorpe said.

Chris Thorpe explaining Rolling Thunder.

Tom Turnbull

February 10, 2015 - 9:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, pembroke, National Grid, Yancey's Fancy.

Press release: 

National Grid has awarded grants of up to $350,000 to support improvements in Yancey’s Fancy current manufacturing operations, and the construction of a new, 112,000-square-foot cheese manufacturing, packaging, warehousing and distribution facility. The new site will be built on 12 acres in the Buffalo East Technology Park in Pembroke.

The new facility has a capital investment of $20.6 million, will create approximately 50 new jobs, and retain 100 existing jobs. It is expected to officially open next month. National Grid will provide up to $250,000 toward electric infrastructure costs.

A second grant of up to $100,000 is available to assist with the design of advanced technology to manage the whey by-product that is generated through the cheese-making process. That will be part of a 3,500-square-foot expansion of its current operations at 857 Main Road in Corfu. The new system will allow for more efficient processing of the whey, which is used as a common food additive and for animal feed production. The project requires an upgrade of the current electric service to meet new demand. The $2.64 million project will create 17 new jobs and retain 30 jobs.

“Yancey’s Fancy is a thriving local company that is creating jobs and a strong brand here in Western New York and across the country,” said Dennis Elsenbeck, regional executive for National Grid in Western New York. “Genesee County continues to be a model for economic development through its collaborative approach to creating a positive climate for businesses to grow and expand, like Yancey’s Fancy.”

“National Grid has been a great partner through the years in our economic development efforts,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC). “In this instance, National Grid is providing critically important grants to sustain and grow the operations of one the largest employers in our region. It’s another example of the public and private sector collaboration that is resulting in the creation of new jobs and investment.”

The grants to Yancey’s Fancy are from National Grid’s Electric Capital Investment Incentive Program, which assists growing customers with costs of upgrading utility infrastructure to accommodate a business expansion or new construction that creates and retains jobs.

Information about National Grid’s suite of economic programs is available at www.shovelready.com.

February 9, 2015 - 6:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, UMMC.

A proposed new cancer center at UMMC will help the hospital treat more patients in Genesee County and provide those patients with a comprehensive, one-stop location, according to spokeswoman Colleen Flynn.

New new $6.5 million addition to the hospital will be fitted in the triangle area on the west side of the hospital known as the Summit Street entrance.

The wing will handle chemotherapy, radiology, infusion and include a linear accelerator. The staff will include a board-certified oncologist and a radiation oncologist.

"This has been in planning for a long time," Flynn said. "It will help save some patients that 45-minute drive each way to Rochester. One of our goals was to keep care in Genesee County for those who are our most vulnerable."

The proposed expansion will be reviewed this week by the Genesee County Planning Board and the City of Batavia Planning Board.

The new building will be 9,850 square feet and while it is currently planned as a one-story addition, the construction engineering will allow for a second floor to be added if needed, Flynn said.

UMMC, already expanded to 800 employees since the affiliation with Rochester General, will add more employees as a result of the addition, Flynn said.

Plans for the cancer center were started many months ago, before the affiliation with Rochester General was finalized, but the affiliation is helping the process along.

A license is required for a linear accelerator and Rochester General happened to have obtained a license it had no immediate plans to use. The NYS Department of Health has approved the transfer of the license to the UMMC location.

Among the issues planners will consider with the addition is the loss of parking outside the Summit Street entrance.

There are currently 15 spaces. The expansion will require 20 spaces, creating a deficit of 35 spaces. 

Officials plan to draw on the 71 spaces in the existing parking lot on the west side of Summit Street, which is shared with 207 Summit St. and 215 Summit St.

Employees will park at St. Jerome's on Bank Street, which currently has 50 to 60 extra spaces available and is already served by a shuttle for hospital employees.

The shared parking lot will have signs and markings to ensure the spaces closest to the cancer center are reserved for cancer center patients.

Officials hope to break ground on the new facility in the Spring with completion and opening for patient treatment in January.

The County Planning Board meets at 7:30 p.m., Thursday.

Also on the agenda is a plan by Darien Lake Theme Park to add a new ride called the Turbo Twister. The slide, which covers an area that is 191 feet by 76 feet, features an 80-degree drop angle to start, an inclosed tube, and it propels people at an average speed of 35 feet per second.

Plus, the agenda includes plans by East Pembroke Fire District for a new, voter-approved fire hall.

February 9, 2015 - 3:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in business.

Press release:

“Marketing Your Small Business” will be the subject of a small business workshop to be hosted the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Feb. 11.

This is the first in a series of business workshops for 2015 held in conjunction with the United States Small Business Administration and the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. The workshops are open to all Chamber and non-Chamber businesses and their employees and will offer expert advice from experienced business professionals designed to help small businesses succeed and grow.

“Marketing is a critical component to every small business’s survival,” said Tom Turnbull, chamber president. “In this workshop, participants will learn and understand the marketing mix, how to develop a marketing plan, the importance of marketing research and segmentation, as well as defining the business’s target market.”

All workshops will be held at the Chamber of Commerce office, 210 E. Main St., Batavia. The sessions will run from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Businesses may attend any one or all of the workshops. Cost for non-Chamber members is $10 for each attendee. Chamber members may attend all sessions free of charge but must make reservations to insure space for their employees.

To reserve a seat in any workshop or for more information, contact Kelly Bermingham at 585-343-7440 or by e-mail at [email protected].

February 6, 2015 - 2:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, COR Development.

Despite the presence of two long-established local jewelry stores, national retail chain Kay Jewelers is planning a new store in Batavia Towne Center.

Syracuse-based COR Development has received $6 million is tax abatements -- to help finance the construction of the strip mall in 2006, and then remodel a portion of it in 2013.

Tax abatements for retail developments, which are authorized by Genesee County Economic Development Center, are controversial in New York and have been criticized by both Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli and Sean Ryan, a member of the Assembly representing Buffalo.

When COR sought its second round of tax abatements in 2013, the anticipated retailers going into the area once occupied by Lowe's were Dick's, Marshall's and Kohl's, though DIck's seemed to be the only sure thing at the time.

The GCEDC Board approved the $1.7 million in abatements with a finding that the tax relief would help bring new business to Batavia that would provide goods and services that are not readily available to local residents from current retailers.

It's important to note, that the proposed location for Kay's -- sandwiched between the AT&T Store and Sally's Beauty Supply -- is not part of that 2013 expansion and is not covered by the second around of abatements, though it is covered by the 2006 round of $4.3 million.

We've contacted a representative of COR Development for comment and have not received a response.  

Lease agreements are not public record, so we don't know whether Kay Jewelers is receiving a discounted rent bolstered by the tax breaks.

Officials at GCEDC were unaware of COR's intention to lease space to Kay and have not offered a comment on the plans.

Batavia is served by two locally owned jewelry stores: Valle's, on Jackson Street, and Lambert's, on West Main Street.

Jim Lambert said he's heard rumors for months that Kay was planning to open in Batavia and was disappointed to learn the new shop would be in a tax-subsidized development.

"Nobody gave me any tax breaks to open my business," Lambert said. "Everything we do, we do on our own. We don't get anything."

Kay Jewelers, with an advertising budget that includes radio, TV and glossy national magazines, plus the ability to heavily discount, absorb losses and give credit to high-risk borrowers will provide the local shops with formidable competition, Lambert said.

"For a place like us or Valle's, you just can't compete with their budgets for advertising and so forth," Lambert said.

He said he finds it interesting that Kay would open in Batavia, with a population of less than 25,000, when the chain is closing stores elsewhere.

"I'd be surprised if they could do $1 million here," he said. 

It's not like they don't have several other stores in Western New York already, he said.

"Personally, I didn't think it would actually happen," Lambert said. "I thought Kay's would be smarter than invest all that money in Batavia, but they afford to lose money for years and use it as a tax write-off. I can't afford to lose money."

The owners of Valle's wanted to get more information on the issue before commenting.

Besides Valle's and Lambert's, Kay will be competing with JC Penney and Walmart. Lambert noted that Walmart is already the largest seller of jewelry in the nation.

How much more can the market be divided and everybody still stay in business? Lambert wondered. Given the revenue demands of the chain, he said he will be surprised if Kay lasts in Batavia through two Christmas seasons, but in the meantime, the local businesses could be hurt substantially.

"It just kills the little man again," Lambert said. "It kills anybody who was born and raised in Batavia. It's going to cut into Valle's profits and it's going to cut into our profits and then they'll be gone in a couple of years."
February 6, 2015 - 12:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, food, John & Mary's.

He's Ted and she's Mary and together they're the new owners of John & Mary's in Batavia.

If that sounds a little confusing, it might help to know a bit of the history of the venerable Erie County group of entries. 

John Guida opened his first sandwich shop in Cheektowaga in 1952. Mary, his wife, insisted her name be added to the sign, so it was. (Mary Guida is 88 and reportedly still working.)

Ted Ulm was born and raised in Cheektowaga and went to culinary school, became a chef, worked in a supper club and a bakery and hooked up with an instructor who owned a Greek catering business when he was 18.

"Once I learned the ropes, he could run two jobs a day," Ulm said.

That led to a connection with John & Mary's and eventually, Ted Ulm owned his own John & Mary's location in Cheektowaga. 

He opened another location in Alden in 1999, which he still owns. He opened another in Arcade that he later sold, but he does own Theo's Greek Family Restaurant in Arcade.

He married Mary in 2009, and the coincidence of her name has led many people, Ted said, to assume his name is John.

The name may be different, but the quality is the same, Ulm said.

"Everything I make is all homemade, our dough, our sauces, our Souvlaki is out of this world," Ulm said. "I win awards with it all the time."

"It's a bigger menu, but it's all quality food," he added. "We use all of John & Mary's recipes. I stick by what they did in 1952. Their homemade hot sauce, top-line mayonnaise, top of the line cold cuts."

This John & Mary's is actually the second in Batavia. There was a John & Mary's here in 1974 and '75.

When Ted and Mary moved to Corfu, they started thinking it was time to bring John & Mary's back to Batavia.

From the time Ted opened his first John & Mary's in 1990, he expanded the menu so that there would be something for everybody. 

There's a full Greek menu and a full Mexican menu, Ulm said.

"John & Mary's is a place where a family can come and everybody will be happy," Ulm said.

John & Mary's is located at the old Scooter's location, 3711 W. Main Street Road, Batavia.

CORRECTION: The information about Mary Guida came from the John & Mary's web site, which is apparently very out of date. Mary Guida passed in 2007.

February 4, 2015 - 3:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, business, GCEDC.

The Genesee Economic Development Center will hold its annual meeting and luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 6. It will be in the Paddock Room at Batavia Downs, 8315 Park Road, Batavia.

To register, contact Rachael Tabelski, marketing and communications director, at 343-4866 or e-mail at  [email protected]

Press release:

2014 has certainly been an exciting year from an economic development standpoint as unemployment was at a historic low of 4.8 percent in August, per capita income grew 6.16 percent, and businesses invested more than $50 million in our community. The food industry across the region, and especially in Genesee County, continues to flourish while investment and developments at the WNY STAMP project occur on a daily basis.

The GCEDC Annual Meeting is an opportunity for you to find out what has been achieved in Genesee County over the last year and to get a exclusive preview of what the economic landscape will look like for 2015. The Annual Meeting is also an excellent opportunity to network with economic and elected leaders from around the region. At the event the GCEDC will also unveil the "2015 Economic Development Partner of the Year Award."

February 4, 2015 - 2:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Oakfield, law, Ray Cianfrini, Michael Del Plato.

Press release:

Del Plato Casey Law Firm, LLP and Raymond F. Cianfrini, Esq., of Cianfrini Law Firm, LLP, are proud to announce that Mr. Cianfrini has joined Del Plato Casey Law Firm as an “Of Counsel” attorney as of January 1, 2015. 

Mr. Cianfrini’s office will continue in its long-standing location of 31 Main Street, Oakfield, New York, where legal assistant and office manager Rhonda Natalizia will also continue to serve clients. 

Michael A. Del Plato and Peter M. Casey will also offer a wide range of legal services at the Oakfield office, in addition to their current location at 73 Main Street, Batavia, New York. 

Mr. Cianfrini, a 1972 Graduate of UB Law School, has been continuously engaged in legal practice in Genesee County and the surrounding area for 42 years.  He will continue to provide quality, client-focused legal services as part of Del Plato Casey Law Firm.  Mr. Cianfrini, Mr. Del Plato, and Mr. Casey may be contacted at either the Batavia office (585-344-1050) or the Oakfield office (585-948-5201).

Del Plato Casey Law Firm, LLP is a general practice law firm handling Commercial and Residential Real Estate matters, Wills and Trusts, Estates and Probate, Business Formations, Family Law matters, Divorces and Legal Separations, Criminal Defense, DWI matters, Traffic Offenses and Personal Injury.

Additional Note: Ray Cinanfrini is chairman of the Genesee County Legislature. Michael Del Plato is recently retired as a City Court judge.

February 4, 2015 - 1:56pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Le Roy, Milestones.

Jake M. Whiting, of LeRoy, was admitted to practice law in New York State on January 14, 2015. Jake is the son of Reid and Jackie Whiting of LeRoy.

Jake passed the July 2014 New York State Bar Exam after graduating magna cum laude in May 2014 from Michigan State University College of Law.

Prior to law school, Jake worked three years at J.P. Morgan Chase in New York City, is a 2008 summa cum laude graduate of Syracuse University and a 2004 graduate of LeRoy High School.

Jake will practice alongside his father with offices on West Main Street in LeRoy and Bank Street in Batavia.

February 3, 2015 - 5:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, business.

This year Kozy Kabin is reopening early and you are invited to join us for door prizes, hot drinks, and a 3rd cabin!

Celebrate with us Friday and Saturday Feb. 6th and 7th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Address: 922 Genesee St., Route 33, Corfu. Phone 585-409-7424

* Spring Hours: Fri & Sat. 10-5 ~ Fall Hours: Thurs.-Sat. 10-5 ~ Winter Hours: Thurs.-Sat. 10-5 & Sun. 2-5pm

Some fantastic things are coming this year at the Kozy Kabin!
1.  First is our 3rd cabin addition filled with handmade USA furniture and even more home good finds!
2.  Our next addition is our DIY (do it yourself) step-by-step leader taught classes. Each season (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) Kozy Kabin will host a class that you can be part getting together with friends and enjoying handpicked projects that you can be proud of making!  Each class will be posted at the Kabin and on Facebook at  Kozy Kabin
Note:  Each class has a small fee, children are welcome to come and enjoy a movie, light refreshments included, must sign up by calling Lenora at 585-409-7424 or e-mail [email protected]
3.  Pembroke Harvest Festival is hosted by the Kozy Kabin and was a huge success last year!  This year's festival is held on Sat. Oct. 10th 10-5pm.  Even more great shopping this year!
We are taking registrations for vendors (free spaces). Plan to attend the Pembroke Harvest Festival  Oct. 10, 2015 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., 922 Genesee St. in Corfu. Visit our Web site to buy tickets for the 10'x20' cabin or $2,000 raffle held on Festival date!

Kohorst Family and all at Kozy Kabin

January 26, 2015 - 6:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, dining, business, food, bill cultrara.

Bill Cultrara and Larry Reisdorf are eager for the snow to clear from the smoker so they can get busy again with some serious BBQ.

Reisdorf has owned and operated Duke's Smokin' Bone, a catering service, for about a decade, and with business growing, he thought Cultrara's experience and expertise could help kick things up a notch.

Cultrara is a chef and former owner of Delavan's.

"With his experience, I thought it would be great if we could team up and work together," Reisdorf said.

Fans of Delavan's will be glad to see Cultrara cooking again, and happy to know Duke's will start offering his secret-recipe Italian sausage.

"I saw this as a different opportunity, nothing I've ever done before, and I like to learn," Cultrura said.

The new menu will include spatchcocked chicken and beer can chicken along with beef brisket and ziti and sausage (smoked or grilled). Duke's longtime favorites, quarter chicken, pulled pork and ribs, along with a several other meats, will also be available.

Duke's is available for private parties, corporate events and graduations.

For more information, visit Duke's Web site.

January 22, 2015 - 5:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, economy, jobs.

While the Department of Labor is boasting of 30,000 new jobs in New York in December, Genesee County was apparently not part of the boon.

The county lost 200 jobs from December 2013 to December 2014, according to the latest figures released by the DoL.

There were 21,900 jobs in the county last month, according to the report.

The nation as a whole added 240,000 jobs during the period and the national unemployment rate has dipped to 5.6 percent. New York's rate is 5.8 percent. The county's latest rate is not yet available.

During the same period, Wyoming County lost 100 jobs, down to 13,100. 

For jobs numbers, Orleans and Livingston counties are included in the Rochester count, which totals 129,200 jobs, down 200 from a year ago.

Buffalo-Niagara, however, added 800 new jobs, up to 558,400.

Here's the DoL's press release on the jobs report:

In December 2014, New York State’s private sector job count increased by 30,100, or 0.4 percent, to 7,638,200, reaching a new all-time high and outpacing the nation’s growth. Since the beginning of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration, the state’s economy has added 535,600 private sector jobs and experienced employment growth in 41 of the past 48 months. This period included 22 consecutive months of private sector job growth, the state’s longest streak on record (current data go back to 1990).

The statewide unemployment rate in New York declined from 5.9 percent to 5.8 percent in December 2014, reaching its lowest level since September 2008, according to preliminary figures released today by the New York State Department of Labor. In addition, New York City’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3 percent, remaining at its lowest level since October 2008.

The state’s private sector job count is based on a payroll survey of 18,000 New York employers conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly payroll employment estimates are preliminary and subject to revision as more data becomes available the following month. The federal government calculates New York’s unemployment rate partly based upon the results of the Current Population Survey, which contacts approximately 3,100 households in New York State each month.

“In December 2014, New York State’s economy experienced its largest monthly private sector job gain in two years and outpaced the nation. In addition, the state’s unemployment rate continued its recent downward trend in December,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, deputy director of the Division of Research and Statistics.

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