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February 3, 2012 - 2:08pm

The county is scheduled to receive a $7,200 grant to help fund training for potential food-processing workers, as part of the Finger Lakes Food Processing Cluster Initiative.

The grant will likely assist Genesee Community College in developing food-training classes, said Scott Gage, director of the Job Development Center, and comes at a good time, with companies like Alpina opening factories in Batavia, along with existing businesses such as Yancey's Fancy in Corfu.

"Workers need to learn manufacturing techniques, process control, and health and safety issues," Gage said. "We’re seeing this as a tool to help us with these new businesses moving into the town."

Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, said there is an effort going forward from government agencies, schools and food-processing companies themselves to create a better trained work force for these types of businesses.

He said developing such tech-based job-training programs (and food processing is now a tech-based job) is hugely important for the region.

"We are better aligning education with industry needs," Hyde said. "If you really start being able to deliver (a better trained work force), boy, you are at a key strategic advantage (for attracting new businesses to the area)."

January 31, 2012 - 9:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, Mike Ranzenhofer, STAMP.

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has written to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, requesting his continued support in the form of a $9 million investment in the STAMP project for each of the next two years to bring the project to Shovel-Ready-Lite status.

“Support is now needed in the form of a funding commitment to complete the process needed to bring this site to Shovel-Ready-Lite status. Over the next several years, this is anticipated to require funding of $20 million. The 2011-12 SFY Budget has already committed $2 million to this project,” Senator Ranzenhofer said.

“A commitment for an additional $9 million per year over the next two fiscal years to assure timely Shovel-Ready-Lite status will allow immediate marketing of the STAMP site to national and international tech companies to expedite the successful build out of this project.”

The STAMP project has the potential to create up to 10,000 high-paying jobs at full development, in addition to jobs created during construction and development of the site, and up to $2.5 billion in private investment. In the letter to Governor Cuomo, Senator Ranzenhofer also noted the possible economic benefits to residents beyond the Buffalo and Rochester regions.

“This project, with its offer of advanced manufacturing, is the only one of its kind in Western New York. In fact, we believe that it is the only remaining available Mega-site in New York State. It provides the legitimate promise of a significant private investment and thousands of desperately needed high-paying jobs for the residents of the Buffalo and Rochester areas as well as all the residents of the region including Erie, Monroe, Niagara, Genesee, Orleans, Livingston and Wyoming counties.”

Senator Ranzenhofer forwarded copies of the letter to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, Genesee County Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock, Empire State Development Corporation President and CEO Kenneth Adams and Genesee County Economic Development Center President and CEO Steve Hyde.

The Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) is a 1,243 acre mega-site modeled after the Albany area’s Luther Forest development. Located in the Town of Alabama, the site is strategically ideal due to its access to three high-level electric transmission circuits, close proximity to the Empire pipeline – a 24-inch natural gas line– and only five miles distance from the New York State Thruway.

January 30, 2012 - 2:16pm
posted by The Batavian in business, Sponsored Post, IR Systems.

(Shown from left are: Owner Tim Tucker, project manager Jimi Soccio, administrative assistant Leanne Moore, sales rep Mike Kelly, sales manager Chris Ball, and head technician Geoff Harloff.)

The dispute between Time-Warner Cable and the Buffalo Sabres has left many local hockey fans out in the cold, but it's not like Sabres fans are without an option to watch their favorite team.

According to Tim Tucker, owner of IR Systems, a local DirecTV distributor, Sabres fans have been calling DirecTV in droves in order to switch service.

That's great, Tucker said, but because many of these customers are calling DirecTV directly, they're spending more than the would if they called the locally owned and operated IR Systems.

"We can help local customers save money," Tucker said. "We also have 12 dedicated local employees whom customers tell me all the time provide great, personal customer service."

Among the advantages IR System offers:

  • Lower monthly prices;
  • Face-to-face customer service;
  • Flexibility to offer lower monthly price plans with in-house service plans and a lifetime warranty on equipment;
  • Experienced professional installation team;
  • Free in-home analysis of your best entertainment system set up;
  • Installation service within 48 hours, sometimes within 24 hours.

"Most DirecTV customers love the service, but when I've come across customers who've had a bad experience, it's either because of billing issues or a faulty installation," Tucker said. "With our face-to-face customer service and guaranteed, lifetime warranty on our installation, these issues cease to be a problem."

IR System's superior customer service record has enabled the locally owned company to earn a "Preferred Partner" designation from DirecTV.

The DirecTV service provided by IR Systems is the full package of programming from the nation's #1 satellite company, including all of the sports channels (Sabres and the full lineup of available NHL games, NFL Sunday Ticket, MLB baseball, NBA and college basketball, college football, national and international soccer, among other sports offerings), as well as all the movie, news and information channels that come with DirecTV service, along with premimum services and pay-per-view (various fee options exist for the different packages available).

"We're really eager to show local customers what we provide," Tucker said. "Wind, rain or snow won't stop us from giving customers the best possible service."

To contact IR Systems, call (800) 319-2129.

NOTE: This is a Sponsored Post, paid for by IR Systems.

January 29, 2012 - 6:05pm

More than 100 brides visited Terry Hills today for a bridal show that featured 33 local vendors, such as Valle Jewelers, Stella's Bridal Boutique, Charle's Men Shop and Sweet Ecstasy Bakery.

It's the second year for the show and Lisa Fickel, marketing manager for Terry Hills, said the number of vendors is three more than a year ago, but the show can't get much bigger (maybe one or two more vendors next year) and she thinks that's a good thing.

"Rochester and Buffalo already had their shows and brides say lines are 12, 14 people deep and a lot of times they can't even get a business card from a vendor," Fickel said.

The show is helping expose local brides to the advantages of shopping locally for their gowns, cakes and accessories, Fickel said.

"People are very surprised to find we have all of this locally," Fickel said. "A lot of brides automatically think they need to go to Buffalo or Rochester for a quality wedding dress or a quality photographer," Fickel said. "They have been amazed to find they can find it all right here."

For a complete list of vendors who participated this year, click here.

January 27, 2012 - 6:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Ellicott Street.

When Dennis Taber heard from a friend in another town how well he was doing with a gold, silver and coin exchange business, he decided it sounded like something he should do.

His friend actually invested in Taber's business and helped him open American Trust Gold and Coin Exchange at 239 Ellicott St., Batavia.

"He said it was a lucrative idea and I decided to take a chance on it," said Taber, who has worked for 30 years as an antiques dealer.

The lifelong Batavia resident said he deals in gold and silver, coins and any antiques he thinks he can make a buck on.

January 26, 2012 - 9:27am

We've heard for some time that while PepsiCo is paying for grading for a possible construction of a food processing plant in Batavia, the same work is "being done in three other locations."

One of those locations is in Avon, and as WHAM13's Sean Carroll discovered yesterday, no site work is taking place in Avon at all.

At the same time, however, the economic development directer in Livingston County says the site is much closer to being "shovel ready" than the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. His park, he said, doesn't need a USDA grant for sewer and water because it already has all the infrastructure in place.

"If they chose this site, and we made it very clear, literally they could plug in and all the utilities are in the ground and there's no infrastructure needed here or at the sewage treatment plant," Rountree explained

While Genesee County clearly has the lead in the race to land the project, Livingstone County isn't giving up.

The support of a U.S. Senator and the fact that dirt is actually being moved at the Batavia site appears to indicate Project Wave’s final destination may only be a formality at this point in the process. Yet Rountree and his team are staying optimistic after an aggressive pitch that included top representatives from Barilla.

Either way, regional dairy farmers will be pleased with either outcome.

"I think for the dairy industry in this area specifically it spells a good feeling about long-term stability," Coyne explained. "To have end-product manufacturing this close, it just adds to the confidence that we can invest in our own farms long-term and be able to be in business."

The other two supposedly competitive sites are in Pennsylvania. A contractor familiar with the project told me some time ago that those sites are graded and have infrastructure in place, but we currently have no way to confirm that assertion.

January 25, 2012 - 10:05am

Press release:

Today, Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide several hundred thousand dollars in federal funds for sewer and water infrastructure work to prepare a Genesee County site to host a massive food processing plant.

Build out of the new plant will occur in two phases and could bring hundreds of jobs to Genesee County over the next several years. The Genesee County Economic Development Center is currently preparing a site to host a 363,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, capable of hosting 300 to 400 jobs just three years after it is completed.

The GCEDC is currently finalizing a contract with a food producer for the site, and is seeking federal funding to cover part of the costs of infrastructure improvements to ensure that the site is compatible with the needs of the food company. Today, Schumer called on Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to provide $300,000 to $500,000 in USDA funds for several projects that will ensure the site is ready to serve as a major job creator in Western New York.

“This massive plant could be a game-changer for Genesee County and Western New York,” Schumer said. “We can’t let inadequate sewer systems and wastewater lines, stand in the way of jobs. The USDA should realize the massive potential this project has and provide the seed funding that will help grow jobs and economic prosperity in the county.

"The funds are there to spur development and USDA would be hard-pressed to find a better return on their investment than this new plant. Secretary Vilsack should do the right thing and help us make these infrastructure improvements as quickly as possible to ensure that we don’t miss out on a chance to bring hundreds of good-paying jobs to Upstate New York.”

To ensure the site is ready to host the manufacturing plant, GCEDC must complete $1.8 million in infrastructure upgrades to the site. These upgrades include the construction of a second access road into the park, the addition of a new turning lane and road re-striping at the site’s main entrance as well as up to $500,000 for wastewater and sewer pump station upgrades. The GCEDC is seeking $300,000 to $500,000 in USDA rural development funds to complete these upgrades.

With Schumer’s encouragement and support, GCEDC plans to apply for funding through the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program. The application is due to USDA in April and funding would be awarded in June. Schumer noted that in 2010, Genesee County applied for and won over $200,000 under this program to build out sewer infrastructure to land the Alpina Yogurt Plant, which will serve as another major job creator for the county.

Schumer is pushing the USDA to help Genesee County build on this success by providing funding that will help the county ensure that the site is prepared to host a major food manufacturer in the months ahead.

In his letter, Schumer wrote, “Simply stated, securing USDA funding to complete these new upgrades will bring this $247 million project and its associated 300 jobs to Batavia, NY. As such, and with my full support and encouragement, GCEDC is submitting an application for Rural Development funding by the April 2012 application deadline.

“Funding this upgrade will create an enormous return on investment. Already New York’s rural and agricultural regions are quickly becoming centers of tremendous job growth due to the rise in yogurt and other food processing. This new food processor will join the ranks of the 900-employee Chobani Greek Yogurt manufacturing facility in New Berlin, NY, the 240-employee Fage plant in Jamestown, NY, and the 50-employee Alpina yogurt facility in Batavia, NY.”

CLARIFICATION: Rachael J. Tabelski, with GCEDC, said the USDA grant is intended to fund sewer improvements. Needed upgrades at the site include a secondary roadway and aquifer water.


January 23, 2012 - 11:41pm

Top executives from Alpina Products were in Batavia on Monday touring the site of their future Greek yogurt plant in the Genesee Agri-Business Park, and they heard from Jim Billington, project manager, that construction is right on schedule.

A mild winter has certainly helped, Billington said.

"We've been pouring concrete every day, and according to some of the locals, that's quite unusual," Billington said. "We've been trying to take advantage of that."

CEO Julian Jaramillo (top photo, left) was all smiles during the tour and nodded enthusiastically when Managing Director Carlos Ramirez (top photo, right) said they consider it a good sign that Project Wave is under construction (The Batavian has previously reported Project Wave appears to be the work of PepsiCo).

"It says we made a good decision in coming here," Ramirez said.

He added that with the milk supply, the transportation, the labor pool and now the chance to be in a location with a complimentary business will only benefit Alpina and could lead other yogurt makers to come to the same conclusion.

"I think developing a yogurt cluster is a really good idea – the Silicon Valley of yogurt," Ramirez said.

With Jaramillo and Ramierz was Alpina' Colombia General Manager Ivan Lopez, who was seeing the location for the first time.

"It’s going to be great," Lopez said. "We have a huge operation in Colombia and when I see this, we can see the future in United States. I think we can do good things here, just like in Colombia."

The 40,000-square-foot plant should open in early spring and initially employ 50 people, with the first shipment of product going out in June.

Ramirez said Alpina remains excited about the opportunity to sell Greek yogurt in the United States.

"It’s one of the few categories where America is an emerging marketing," Ramirez said. "It's grown like crazy over the past three or four years and we think there is still room to grow."

For previous Alpina coverage, click here.

January 23, 2012 - 6:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown.

Press release:

Java Farm Supply is expanding its operations to the City of Batavia by subleasing the entire two-plus-acre property located at 45 Center St., formerly known as United Rental. Java Farm Supply will be hiring up to 15 sales and service employees for this new tractor dealer location. Renovations to the property will begin immediately in preparation for a late February opening.

“I have been working to secure this lease for a while,” said Tony Mancuso, of Mancuso Commercial Realty. “We are really happy to be filling another vacant downtown building and creating jobs. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Java Farm Supply represents more than 20 different brands of new and used farm equipment from advanced agriculture machines and compact tractors to lawn and garden equipment.

“Opening the Batavia location is a leap of faith for us,” said John Bookmiller, owner/partner. “Our business has grown steadily but, it is still a big commitment for our family-run operation.”

Mancuso Commercial Realty coordinated the transaction with help from the Genesee County Economic Development Center and the Batavia Development Corporation. City Manager Jason Molino also helped the process by highlighting the favorable zoning and daily drive-by traffic counts at the corner of Ellicott and Center streets. The summer farmers’ market across the street from the site was also a factor in closing the deal.

"The GCEDC is excited to have assisted Java Equipment on securing a site for their expansion into Genesee County", said Chris Suozzi, VP Business Development for GCEDC.  "It's a perfect use of the former United Rentals building in the City of Batavia."

Java Farm Supply has been in business since 1951 in North Java, Wyoming County, and currently employs 25 people representing two locations. The first company expansion was the opening of a sales office in Yorkshire, Cattaraugus County. The City of Batavia will host Java Farm Supply’s third sales office as well as the company’s second equipment servicing location.

Both the Batavia Development Corporation and the GCEDC are likely to support the project through financing and/or tax exemptions.

Interested job seekers should visit to download an employment application.

January 23, 2012 - 12:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC.

The following projects were approved for tax abatements by the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board:

Premier Credit of North America: Total capital investment, $150,000; Sales tax exemption on equipment purchases, $12,000; Anticipated new jobs, 50; Premier will be leasing 8,500 square feet and up to 13,500 square feet at 1 Mill St., Batavia (the former Pioneer Credit location). Premier will be hiring 50 full-time employees with a target start date of March 1; Premier originally sought locations in Hamburg, Springville, East Aurora, Orchard Park and West Seneca, but not Batavia; GCEDC won the bid with the sales tax exemption, according to the GCEDC-produced project summary.

Tri County Welding: Total capital investment, $111,000; Sales tax exemption, $4,440, Mortgage tax exemption, $938, PILOT, $24,945; Jobs retained, five, new jobs, two and a half; Tri County is expanding its facility to support an increase in business. The expansion includes a 35 x 85 foot addition during the first quarter of 2012.

Als Enterprises (Batavia Pediatrics): Total capital investment, $150,000; Sales tax exemption, $6,000; Retained jobs, eight, new jobs, two; Batavia Pediatrics is planning on renovating its office space of 6,700 square feet, including 1,000 square feet of space not currently being used. The sales tax exemption will apply to new equipment purchases.

The following project received a loan from GCEDC's revolving loan fund:

Batavia Enclosures, Inc: Batavia Enclosures is moving from the Batavia Industrial Center (Harvester Center) to 6 Treadeasy Ave., Batavia (the former Prime Materials Manufacturing location). GCEDC is providing a $50,000 loan from the revolving loan fund, payable over seven years at a fix rate of 80 percent of prime, with a floor of 3 percent. The loan will be used to assist with purchase of the building. Batavia Enclosures intends to create three new full-time positions (a punch press operator, programmer and press brake operator).

January 21, 2012 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Bourbon & Burger Co..

When I stopped in to Bourbon & Burger Co. this afternoon, co-owner Derek Geib said, "You want to try a clear whiskey? It's the smoothest whiskey you'll ever drink."

He poured me a shot and I took a sip -- it was good. On my first taste, I thought, there's nothing to it, it's water. But the finish retained that satisfying whiskey burn, followed by a lingering vanilla sweetness. A nice complex flavor that is smooth, but still with some bite.

The whiskey is called Kansas Clean, and it's distilled in Kansas and not sold much outside of America's middle state.

After Geib heard about Kansas Clean through a friend, he contacted the distiller's CEO and she helped find a distributor in New York who could get it bottled and shipped to Bourbon & Burger -- making Bourbon & Burger the first, and so far the only, bar in New York to serve Kansas Clean.

January 20, 2012 - 7:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown.

Brian and Beth Kemp have moved their successful apparel business to Downtown Batavia, and are sure glad they did.

"We liked the location and needed more space," said Brian Kemp, whose T-Shirts Etc. started in the Harvester Center more than 14 years ago. "We thought it would be good to be more central, right downtown. The atmosphere is awesome and we're more visible."

In just two weeks since the move, Kemp said, he's already seen an increase in T-shirt sales and picked up a few new customers.

T-Shirts Etc. offers custom printing on clothing, embroidered items, decals, banners, canvas prints of photographs, plus a variety of promotional products.

The front of the store is retail space selling T-shirts and sweatshirts with a hometown flair, from Batavia Blue Devils T-shirts to sweatshirts with the city seal on the front.

It's also a place where Brian and Beth have hung dozens of their own paintings.

The old location on the corner of East Main Street and Harvester Avenue seemed to get overlooked by a lot of people, he said, but now more people are stopping in the store on a daily basis.

The new location is 110 Main St., which sat vacant for a couple of years after Main Street Coffee closed.

Kemp said they're happy to finally be part of the BID (Business Improvement District) and look forward to participating in popular events such as Summer in the City and the fall Wine Walk.

January 19, 2012 - 8:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Ray Cianfrini.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center can generate a lot of money for itself, Legislator Ray Cianfrini said Wednesday, so he would like the county legislative body to start looking at how much this Industrial Development Agency gets from the county budget.

"I just think we should look very close at their budget and revenue," Cianfrini said. "I’m sensitive to the fact that we had to cut a lot of things out of the budget for nonprofits that do not generate revenues and they’re hurt by the fact that we cut them."

His comments followed a Ways and Means Committee meeting in which a resolution was approved authorizing the county to accept, on GCEDC's behalf, a $750,000 state grant to help bring a mushroom farm to the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

While Cianfrini was less direct about his concerns during the meeting, afterward, he said, yes, he does question bonuses being paid to GCEDC's executives while the county is providing $234,000 in supplemental funding to the agency.

"I personally received a lot of phone calls from constituents," Cianfrini said. "This riles them and they’re angry over the bonuses. I think that maybe that I, as a legislator, and we as legislative board, should be looking at GCEDC a little more closely and say, 'if you have the money to pay the bonuses, should we be funding you at the current level?' "

The bonus issue has been controversial for a year now, sparked by a state audit report that questioned the method of bonus disbursement, and it reignited a month ago when $120,000 in new bonuses were announced.

At the same time, the county has been forced to cut some programs, such as Meals on Wheels.

Cianfrini used the mushroom farm grant as an example of how GCEDC and its nonprofit Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. generate significant profits.

With the $750,000, GCEDC will be able to sell the land for the mushroom farm and make a profit, make a loan and get the principle repaid plus interest, and collect a $16,000 fee for the operations expense of putting the deal together.

"This is a great moneymaker for the LDC," Cianfrini said. "And what do they put into it? Nothing. What are they going to get out of it? A lot.

"I just wanted people to understand how this works," Cianfrini added. "The state puts up the money. We dispurse it. They get to loan it out. They get income, they get revenue, they get operating expenses."

Cianfrini said the GCEDC executives are well compensated for what they do, but he's opposed to bonuses.

"If they continue to pay bonuses, then I’ll look at their funding and see if it's legtimate," Cianfrini said.

January 17, 2012 - 8:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

Press release from Genesee County Economic Development Center:

Premiere Credit of North America, LLC, a leading national accounts receivable management company headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., is expanding its operations and opening a call center located on Mill Street in the City of Batavia. Premiere Credit has signed a lease for 8,500 square feet, with the option of taking the total 13,500 square feet of space. Premiere Credit expects to employ 50 people at the Mill Street location and plans to be up and running by March 1 or sooner if possible.

“Premiere Credit is a dynamic and growing company. We are excited to open a call center in this location and look forward to welcoming 50 residents of the City of Batavia and the surrounding area to our team,” said Rob Meck, Premiere Credit president and CEO.

“This is not only a win for Batavia, but a national win; outsourcing of call center jobs has been going on for years, keeping these positions in the United States is ideal,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center. “It genuinely shows the quality of Premiere Credit as a leader in corporate responsibility. We welcome them to our community."

“We are thrilled Premiere leadership was able to recognize the talent, value and willingness of Batavia to support their business growth," said Jason Molino, city manager. “Mancuso’s ability to sell our community and Harris’ patience to land a call center tenant does not go unnoticed either.”

Premiere Credit contracted with CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) to find a suitable location to open its new call center. The request for proposal, seeking locations in Western New York, led to interaction with Chris Suozzi, VP of business development at GCEDC, who worked with CBRE to bring Premiere Credit to the Mill Street location.

After visiting many different sites throughout Western New York, Premiere Credit decided that Batavia was the best location.

“Given the variables of the project this was the ideal setting,” Suozzi said.

Suozzi and Tony Mancuso of Mancuso Commercial Reality have been working together since 2009 to fill this location.

“The Mill Street location, owned by Harris Mill Street Properties, has been vacant since July of 2009,” Mancuso said. “I was thrilled at the opportunity to show the building and believed it is the perfect fit."

Suozzi and Mancuso engaged Julie Pacatte, economic developer of the Batavia Development Corporation (BDC), and Louis Lopez, Business Services representative of the Department of Labor, to further assist with the project.

“The collaboration of GCEDC, BDC, Genesee Career Center, Mancuso Commercial Realty and Harris Properties sends a strong unified message that significant support is available for business in the City of Batavia,” stated Ray Chaya, BDC board president.

January 17, 2012 - 9:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park.

After a summer filled with bad publicity, Darien Lake Theme Park's owners, Herschend Family Entertainment, has announced changes in its top management at the park.

A veteran of the company, Bob Montgomery, has been named vice present and general manager of the park.

Chris Thorpe, who led the park staff through the accidental death of a patron and the closure for unrelated mechanical reasons of the park's signature ride, is now the assistant general manager and will report to Montgomery.

Rochester resident Steve Hallowell, a former director of marketing for Kodak, has been named director of marketing for Darien Lake.

For previous coverage of events at Darien Lake, click here.

Press release:

Darien Lake Theme & Water Park Resort (Darien Lake) has named Bob Montgomery as the park's new vice president and general manager. Montgomery has been employed by Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), the management company of Darien Lake, for over a decade. Prior to HFE, Montgomery worked as vice president of operations and development at LEGOLAND, director of operations at Toronto's C.N. Tower and director of attractions at Canada's Wonderland, the top two attractions in Canada.

Darien Lake also appoints marketing veteran and Rochester, New York, native Steve Hallowell as director of marketing. He has 25 years of marketing experience and a long tenure at Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, most recently serving as director of consumer experience marketing.

"The combination of entertainment and accommodations offered at Darien Lake are unique in the industry, and I am excited about this opportunity," said Montgomery. Prior to moving to Darien Lake, Montgomery worked at Wild Adventures, also an HFE property, as vice president and general manager. "The community has a lot of enthusiasm for Darien Lake, and I look forward to leading this great vacation destination, especially as we introduce three new family rides this year."

In his new role, Montgomery oversees all aspects of the park. Chris Thorpe now serves as assistant general manager at the park, reporting directly to Montgomery. Thorpe is responsible for employee development and relations.

Steve Hallowell leads the marketing department with a unique local perspective. "I look forward to working with the marketing team and the Buffalo and Rochester communities to attract even more guests to our park and accommodations," said Hallowell. "As a father of two teenage boys who love to visit the park with their friends, this job definitely promotes me to cool dad."

January 17, 2012 - 9:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, corfu.

Members of the Rupracht family enjoy each other's company so much, they decided to go into business together.

Jim and Lori Rupracht owned and operated the J&L Feed Store in Corfu for 20 years. But as the number of hobby farmers in the area declined, they decided to change locations, build a larger store, add more products and focus on a larger customer base.

That's when son Ryan, who worked at the feed store from the time he was 8 years old, decided to become a partner in the business.

Ryan put up his own money and did the electrical and other work on the new building at 47 W. Main St., Corfu.

"We just really enjoy working working together," Lori said. "None of us can imagine going out and working for someone else. We’re all independent and we like being independent. It’s really important to just have us all together."

The 3,400-square-foot store sits on an eight-acre parcel and cost $250,000 to get up and running. It includes a greenhouse where the Rupracht will eventually grow greens in the winter and hold workshops on gardening.

Jim completed a master gardner course at the Cornell Extension in prepration for the new business.

The store still carries feed and other agricultural and home gardening supplies, but also a line of groceries -- from soft drinks to locally grown fruits and vegetables.

M&M Meats of Batavia are featured in the store and Jennifer Worthington moved her florist shop, Heaven’s Gate, to the new location.

Ryan said he decided to get involved in the retail business not just because he enjoys working with his family, he simply likes living in Corfu.

"We’re all people people," Ryan said. 'We’ve been here 20 years and we’ve gotten to know a lot of people here."

January 15, 2012 - 9:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in business.

Bill Greene, BS, LMT, has joined Massage by Diana at 154 Pearl St. in Batavia, which is above the chiropractic offices of Dr. Micheal DeAngelo.

Greene joins two other colleagues -- NIchole Douglas, LMT, with four years experience in assisting people to become healthier, and Diana Anderson Radley, BS, LMT, who has 14 years experience as a massage therapist and certified herbalist.

Greene has a bachelor's degree in Exercise Physiology and more than 20 years experience in sports rehab, working with many professional and semi-professional sports teams, and three years as a licensed massage therapist. He also has a background in training people in exercise
programs to improve their health and quality of life.

His new colleagues say he will be a tremendous asset in Batavia -- one of just two male licensed massage therapists in the area.

He maintains a private practice in Rochester and works with Unity HealthCare as a stress management educator for the medical staff.

Call Radley to set up an appointment with Greene at 993-5368.

"My feeling is he's going to book quickly," she said. "Bill is a very talented therapist. Bill is the person I've been looking for over many years, his education, experience, and skills set him way ahead and apart from the rest and will compliment the other licensed massage therapists in the area."

January 12, 2012 - 7:34pm

The possible "yogurt cluster" in Batavia is part of a statewide trend in the manufacture and distribution of Greek yogurt, according to a story just published by the The New York Times.

Alpina Foods, the United States arm of a major South American dairy company, is building a $20 million plant in Batavia to make Greek yogurt topped with granola. And state economic development officials are negotiating with another major food maker to set up a dairy products plant in the same area, creating the possibility for what one executive called a “yogurt cluster.”

Of course, readers of The Batavian (and no other local source in this case) know the "major food maker" is PepsiCo.

However, I spoke to some dairy product insiders recently who don't believe yogurt is what PepsiCo is planning. They said they expect Pepsi to announce a dairy-based nutrition drink.

More from the Times:

National retail sales of the thicker style of yogurt more than doubled last year, jumping to $821 million for a 52-week period ending in October ...

New York’s dairy farmers are among the biggest beneficiaries of the public’s love affair with Greek yogurt, since it typically takes three times as much milk to make a pound of Greek yogurt as it does for regular yogurt. “This is a ‘once every two or three generations’ situation,” said Bruce Krupke, executive vice president of the Northeast Dairy Foods Association. “All of the right forces have come together to make it very attractive to build in New York state.”

Data compiled by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets shows that the state produced 368 million pounds of yogurt in 2010, nearly 40 percent more than the previous year. Over five years, production rose almost 60 percent. Much of that increase is for Greek yogurt production. ...

The Greek yogurt boom has translated into jobs in rural areas of New York that badly need them. Chobani (a brand of Greek yogurt) said it currently employed about 900 people in New York and expected to add about 100 more. Fage said it had about 240 full-time employees and expected to add about 150. The new Alpina plant in Batavia will employ about 50 people.

We're still in a wait-and-see mode about Pepsi and how the rest of the ag park will fill out, but this was some interesting information from the NYT.

Read the whole article here.

January 5, 2012 - 5:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, UMMC.

Press release:

United Memorial Medical Center is pleased to announce that plans are under way to provide Urgent Care Services at the Jerome Center in Batavia.

“This continues United Memorial’s efforts to increase access to necessary health care services to residents of Genesee County,” said Mark Schoell, president and CEO.

United Memorial currently operates an Urgent Care Center on Tountas Avenue in Le Roy which opened in July 2010. Visits to United Memorial’s Urgent Care Center in Le Roy have grown from an estimated 3,500 to more than 6,000 annually. Analyzing patient demographics based on zip codes indicate that a great deal of that growth is from the Batavia area.

Urgent Care services are a cost effective and convenient way for patients to receive quality medical care when their primary care physician is unavailable and they do not want to spend time waiting in an emergency room to be treated for a non-life-threatening injury or illness. Co-payments for urgent care are typically less than emergency room co-pays.

UMMC’s Urgent Care Center in Batavia, like the center in Le Roy, will be well equipped to treat a variety of ailments, including: sprains and fractures; cuts and lacerations; animal and insect bites and stings; cold and influenza symptoms; ear infections; pneumonia; bronchitis; urinary tract infections; asthma; sore throats/strep and mono; and influenza vaccines.

Urgent Care at the Jerome Center will be supported by United Memorial’s state-of-the-art medical imaging services, the most advanced in Genesee County. The Jerome Center is conveniently located in the heart of Downtown Batavia at 16 Bank St. It offers handicap accessibility, convenient parking, a gift shop and refreshment kiosk.

An opening date will be announced soon and is expected to occur in early spring.

January 2, 2012 - 8:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Milestones.

Press release

Frank Collins, better known as Jimi Jamm from his 2 decades in the radio & music industry, has been elevated to Vice President of Marketing for Batavia-based Grease Lightning, Lightning Media, Lightning Shine & Johnny Pag Motorcycles U.S.A. He will report to company CEO’s Ben & Jackie Thompson.

Grease Lightning operates 18 auto repair shops in NY & Maine, including 2 in Batavia. Lightning Media provides marketing and consultation within the auto repair industries. Lightning Shine features 4 lines of polish and protection for vehicles of all kinds. Johnny Pag Motorcycles are sold worldwide and distributed for the USA and Caribbean locally.

Collins is a 1987 graduate of Notre Dame High School, was a recording artist for Buffalo, NY’s Amherst Records and enjoyed an award winning radio career that included programming what was Clear Channel Broadcasting’s second largest group of stations in Poughkeepsie, NY. He also worked for Howard Rosen Promotion, one of the leading independent music promoters in the. U.S. He can currently be heard locally as Jimi Jamm on WCJW.

(For questions and further information, you can contact Director of Marketing Jimi “Jamm” Collins at 631-704-9711 or





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