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July 23, 2013 - 12:24pm

Middle school students from throughout Genesee County are participating this week in the 4th Annual Math, Science and Technology Camp put on by the Business Education Alliance.

Today the students were at the Genesee County Airport where they learned about aviation, airplane mechanics, air traffic control, Mercy Flight and racecar driver Val Stevens brought her car out to talk to the students about the science behind race cars.

The week includes learning about robotics at Post Farms, GPS-guided farm equipment at Empire Monroe Tractor, and GPS mapping, among other technologies.

"We make it fun and hands on," said Eve Hens, program coordinator. "The kids get to touch things and do things, explore and learn about careers they might not otherwise know about."

The cost to students is only $40 for the week thanks to underwriting by sponsors Liberty Pumps, Turnbull Heating and Air, Boshart Enterprises, Time Warner Cable and Odyssey Controls.

July 18, 2013 - 6:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Yotwisters.

This sign is in the door of the former Salsa & Curry location on Jackson Street, Batavia.

The owners are not ready to discuss their plans, but as you can see, they're getting ready to open a frozen yogurt bar, hopefully by the end of the month. Workers were busy today installing the counter. 

You can follow the progress on the new shop's Facebook page.

July 18, 2013 - 12:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, economy, jobs.

There were 100 fewer jobs in Genesee County for June compared to June 2012, but the month-over-month number looked much, much better.

According to NYS Labor Department statistics just released, Genesee County gained 600 jobs from May to June, going from 23,300 non-farm jobs to 23,900 non-farm jobs.

There were 24,000 jobs reported in June 2012.

The county's unemployment numbers are not yet available, but the state's unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent, the lowest it's been since early 2009 and lower than the national rate of 7.6 percent.

July 15, 2013 - 5:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, Premiere Credit.

Previously, we published a press release from GCEDC that announced an expansion for Premiere Credit. Here is a press release from Premiere Credit with more information.

Premiere Credit of North America, LLC, a leading national accounts receivable management company headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., announced today the addition of 50 jobs to its Batavia call center operation on Mill Street.

Premiere Credit will be hiring managers and collection cpecialists. Interested applicants can apply online at and click on the Employment tab. These are solid jobs with good benefits and great earning potential for top performers.

“Premiere Credit opened an office in Batavia 17 months ago and we have been so impressed with the workforce in this location. We are excited to have the opportunity to expand our business here,” said President and CEO Rob Meck. “I am also proud to be part of a team that so willingly gives of their time and resources to this community through their involvement in local charities.”

“Premiere Credit’s expansion of its Batavia office is a testament to a high quality, productive and home-grown workforce,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center. “This announcement builds on the positive economic development continuing to gain traction in Batavia and throughout the county.”

The Mill Street location started with 50 employees in March 2012 and will employ nearly 200 people after this expansion is complete.

July 15, 2013 - 12:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, Le Roy.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) reviewed and approved four items at the organization’s July 11 board meeting. The projects would create approximately 60 new jobs, including 50 new jobs at Premiere Credit in downtown Batavia while retaining approximately 50 jobs at Leroy Plastics.

The board also approved the sale of 10 acres of land to Alpina for a future use as yet not unveiled by the company. Alpina has already surpassed its commitment to create 50 new jobs to receive benefits from the GCEDC as 55 new jobs have already been created.

Le Roy Plastics received approval for a $100,000 loan fund from the GCEDC in order to purchase a building at 59 Lake St. in Le Roy. The company is seeking to consolidate its processes from current facilities located at 15 Lent Ave. and 7835 E. Main St. The loan would have a term of seven years.

Premiere Credit, which opened operations in the city of Batavia in 2012, received a sales tax exemption of approximately $26,000 in return for an investment of $325,000 to expand the footprint of the company’s existing call center at 1 Mill St. The expansion will create an additional 50 new employees for a total workforce of 135.

Imagination Industries is constructing a 7,015-square-foot facility at 8240 Buffalo Road in the Town of Bergen. The multiuse facility will house an indoor firing range, training center, gunsmith services and a laser engraving business. The company is investing nearly $400,000 and will create 10 new jobs. 

Since this is a retail business, a public hearing was conducted on July 9 for community feedback to the project as part of the passage of new state legislation to determine if the project makes available services which would not be, but for the project, reasonably accessible to residents of the municipality where the project is located. After it was determined that the project fulfilled the new criteria, Imagination Industries received approval for sales tax and mortgage tax exemptions and a property tax abatement.

“These are all very high-quality projects that we believe will have a positive economic impact in the region,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “While the main function of our organization is to create new jobs, it’s also important to remember that we are here to help existing companies such as Le Roy Plastics retain jobs and keep them here for the long term.”

July 13, 2013 - 7:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, thebatavian, present tense books and gifts.

Tom Rivers, editor of the online-only site to the north of us, Orleans Hub, was in Batavia today for Dan Kennedy's appearance at Present Tense Books.

Kennedy is author of "The Wired City," a book about the future of journalism that includes a section about the news business in Batavia.

Rivers spoke with Kennedy and shares some of the things he learned.

July 13, 2013 - 7:06pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in batavia, business, yoga.

Nancy Jo Rademacker has a joy for teaching yoga that is no more evident than when she teaches one of her regular classes for young children at her new studio in City Centre.

More than 13 years ago, Rademacker reached out to BOCES to see if it offered yoga classes. They didn't, so she offered her services. That was her first job teaching yoga and it's been her passion ever since.

She said it's her "inner calling" and why she also decided to open Maya Yoga Studio across from Sunny's Restaurant in the mall.

The studio is named after her 11-year-old daughter, who also practices yoga.

“Yoga is a way to take care of yourself positively," Rademacker said. "It focuses on the whole of who you are -- physical, emotional and spiritual."

All classes are taught by her. She recently completed an advanced yoga training degree through the Kripalu School of Yoga and Health. The studio space is newly renovated and it is warm, comfortable and inviting. Classes are taught in low lighting with peaceful music playing softly in the background.

The classes that are offered range from gentle yoga for the beginner, to vigorous yoga for the experienced. There are several classes in between, as well as specialty classes, such as prenatal yoga, chair yoga and meditation classes.

There is even lunchtime yoga, which allows you to drop in for a few minutes or spend the whole hour. For some classes, drop-ins are welcome, while the more specialized classes require advance registration.

For more information visit the Web site at or call 716-913-9616.

July 13, 2013 - 9:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, GCEDC.

Press release:

Fisher Sports has decided to close its doors. We have thought about the situation and have had many discussions over the last month and we feel with being a new business we just haven’t had enough time to build our business to where we could withstand a hit like the one the GCEDC gave us paying Dick's to come to town.

We would have liked to stay open through the end of the year but with my son Jonathan’s football season at Syracuse starting next month I will be doing a lot of traveling and thought this is as good a time as any to start the closing process. We are having a 50-percent off everything in the store sale to reduce our inventory so please come in and take advantage of the savings.

July 12, 2013 - 12:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, housing, Peter Zeliff, Oakwood Estates.

As soon as the early season corn that was planted this spring is picked in a couple of weeks, Peter Zeliff will be ready to begin construction of his planned 76-unit housing development off East Main Street Road and Seven Springs Road in the Town of Batavia.

Zeliff has acquired title to the property, according to his agent Tony Mancuso, and with one more final approval, expected Tuesday at the town's planning board meeting, the path will be clear for Zeliff to start grading the farmland.

Just as soon as that corn is harvested.

Thursday night, the county planning board recommended approval of the final approval of the 109 acre subdivision, which will be known as Oakwood Estates.

The project will include 44 townhomes (the maroon area in the photo above) and 33 single family homes.

It's the first major subdivision in Genesee County in a number of years and will be located near the fast-growing Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Mancuso said the first house should be ready for occupancy next spring.

July 12, 2013 - 10:46am

Press release:

Alpina Foods has confirmed its intent to purchase 10 acres of land adjacent its brand-new plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. The acquisition doubles the company’s footprint, and comes only nine months after the grand opening of its 40,000-square-foot, $20-million facility that specializes in Greek yogurt production.

Alpina selected the site to build its first-ever North American manufacturing facility in 2011, after researching locations throughout the country. Company leaders felt the highly skilled Western New York workforce, thriving local dairy industry, and convenient access to major U.S. markets made Batavia an optimal location. The site is Alpina’s 10th global manufacturing facility, following locations in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

“This purchase reinforces our commitment to Batavia,” said Gustavo Badino, general manager of Alpina Foods. “We intend to expand here, and maintain this operation as our primary U.S. manufacturing location.”

The company already employs 55 at the plant, exceeding the goal of 50 the company committed to hiring by 2014, and expects to bring in additional team members in the coming months as production continues to increase.

Alpina will lay out its plans for the land over the next 24 months. Company leaders have worked closely with the Genesee County Economic Development Center, as well as the State’s Excelsior Jobs Program and numerous other state and regional economic development organizations in establishing – and expanding – its presence in New York State.

Alpina Foods is committed to its presence in Batavia, and works with many community organizations to make a positive impact on the region. Through the company’s philosophy of “collective prosperity,” Alpina strives to deliver success beyond its business dealings and constantly improve the community in which it operates.

“We are committed to our success in Batavia and the U.S.,” Badino said. “It is our corporate practice to grow with our surroundings, hand-in-hand with our neighbors.”

July 11, 2013 - 11:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, redevelopment.

Genesee County Economic Development Center -- through its financing arm, Genesee Gateway LDC -- is committing $500,000 to redevelopment projects in the City of Batavia as well as the business districts of Genesee County's towns and villages.

The money to start the new revolving loan fund is seeded from revenue generated for the LDC by the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, which in the last year has seen two companies construct yogurt plants there.

"Fortunately, some of the risks we've taken and some of our strategies we've taken have created some capital," said GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde said during a joint meeting Thursday of the GCEDC and LDC boards of directors. "I'm now recommending to the local development board to say, 'let's take some of the strategic investment money from the success of the ag park and reinvest it to support the redevelopment activities and revitalization here in the city and the business centers in the towns and villages.'"

The board approved the proposal unanimously.

The vote followed presentations by Batavia Development Corp. Economic Development Coordinator Julie Pacatte and City Manager Jason Molino.

The city, which is largely built out and has some aging industrial and commercial buildings, has been developing a strategy to pursue redevelopment, adaptive reuse and in-fill development.

An example of redevelopment, Pacatte said, is the Masse Gateway project, which took old manufacturing buildings and turned them into office buildings.

Adaptive reuse would be the project now under way to convert the former Carr's warehouse in Jackson Square into retail, office and apartment space.

In-fill would be the kind of project that Pacatte said needs to take place with the Della Penna property on Ellicott Street where there's one building on the property now and another could be added to create more density and expand the range of uses for the property.

"These projects are very difficult to fund," Pacatte said, "the Carr's warehouse for example. It was a warehouse. It's becoming residential and commercial. The condition of the building today, he (the buyer) would never get a traditional mortgage to do anything with that site, so he needed to start with a lot of equity. He has to look for some other opportunities so he can cash flow the project before the the grants will come in on the back end to reimburse him."

The kind of loans available through the new Batavia Micropolitan Redevelopment Fund could have helped the Carr's Warehouse project.

The loans will need to meet a long list of requirements to be granted and can range from $25,000 to $100,000 at 80 percent of prime.

To qualify, a developer would need to have at least a 30-percent equity stake in the project or already have another traditional bank loan in place. Collateral is required and the developer must make a personal guarantee for repayment.

Legislator Marrianne Clattenburg -- who both while City Council president and as a legislator has been critical of the scant attention GCEDC has seemed to pay to redevelopment in the city -- was pleased with today's decision and was on hand to witness the vote.

"It meets what I'm looking for," Clattenburg said. "It's a start. It's a beginning and it's gratifying to see the culmination of what I believe is a partnership that's forming and a recognition that the county development agency should be into redevelopment while it's doing greenfield development. I'm gratified it's coming about and I look forward to much more in the future."

For more than a decade, at least, GCEDC has been focused on building shovel-ready parks to attract manufacturing and other industrial businesses. Its biggest success so far, with the opening of the Alpina and Muller Quaker yogurt plants, has been the ag park.

The LDC will administer the loan fund. GCEDC could become involved in projects where tax abatements are needed to assist the redevelopment effort, Hyde said.

Molino said it's really been a collaborative effort to develop the new program.

"Developing this over the past few months has been a good opportunity for everybody and hopefully there will be more opportunities where the city, the BDC and the EDC can partner and take advantage of some of the development that's happening throughout the county and really help redevelop and improve some parts of the city," Molino said.

July 11, 2013 - 2:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, BID.

Merchants are lining the streets in Downtown Batavia today for the first of three Thursday sidewalk sales sponsored by the Business Improvement District.

The other sidewalk sales are also on the second Thursday of the month -- in August (Aug. 8) and September (Sept. 12). Time is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Above, Chris Merrian, Don Brown and Bryce Rogers with Charles Men's Shop, and below, John Roche, Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles.

July 11, 2013 - 1:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming will be closing at 10 p.m. on Monday, July 15 and reopen no later than 3 p.m. on the following day, Tuesday, July 16 to accommodate construction work.

Management is confident that the facility will reopen prior to 3 p.m. that day. Those wishing to find information on the reopening of the facility should check Batavia Downs’ Web site ( as well as their social media pages on Facebook ( and Twitter ( for up to date information that day after 11 a.m.

The newly expanded gaming floor is scheduled to open on Aug. 30.

July 10, 2013 - 2:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, taxes, Bob Miller Flight School.

On July 2, we published, Aviation school owner says NYS Taxation and Finance driving him out of business. At the first opportunity the next morning, we sought comment from the NYS Taxation and Finance. After much unnecessary wrangling, we received answers to the following questions from the department's spokesman, Geoff Gloak.

Is Miller's general assertion true that the state has reinterpreted rules regarding sales tax on planes leased to flight schools? 

No. Any charge that DTF has suddenly reinterpreted rules regarding sales tax on planes leased to flight schools is inaccurate. There hasn’t been any recent change in the Tax Law on this matter, nor any court decisions we’re aware of that affects the matter. We have always taxed aircraft rental for flight training.

Is it true that over the past 40 years, there has been no sales tax on private planes used by students at flight schools and now there is?

No. An aircraft purchased for flight school training is not, and has not been, exempt from New York State sales tax. There has been no change in practice here.

Is it true that auditors are demanding payment of back taxes from plane owners for up to five years?

Your question seems to suggest that there’s some systematic campaign against people who own airplanes – and any such charge is categorically false. Our focus when it comes to audits is always exactly the same: Was tax due, and was it paid? This is the case for any business, in any industry.

Is it true that auditors are systematically going around to the state's flight schools and looking at whether sales tax has been paid on student's flight hours?

No. That's incorrect. There hasn’t been any change in our audit procedures, which is to examine in some form every tax return filed with the State – whether it’s personal income, corporation, or sales tax. That has been and continues to be our standard audit posture. 

If these assertions are true, what is the rational by taxation and finance? Not applicable.

Is taxation and finance concerned that private plane owners are choosing to end their association with flight schools because of this allegedly new enforcement?

There isn’t any “new enforcement.” Our goal is and always has been to help taxpayers understand the laws and regulations and to enforce those laws and regulations across the board in a fair and equitable manner.

July 8, 2013 - 2:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, thebatavian, present tense books and gifts.

A few summers ago, Dan Kennedy, a journalism professor at Northeastern, visited Batavia while researching a book on the future of journalism, focusing on digital efforts to provide communities with news.

In May, his book, "The Wired City," was released by the University of Massachusetts Press.

While the majority of pages in The Wired City are devoted to the New Haven Independent, a nonprofit community Web site in Connecticut, there is a section in the book about for-profit sites, including The Batavian.

For the book, Kennedy interviewed me, of course, and Tom Turnbull  and Mark Graczyk at the Batavia Daily News, Dan Fischer at WBTA, City Manager Jason Molino, Chamber of Commerce President Lynn Freeman, and Patrick Weissand, then HLOM director, among others.

In the book, you can find out a little more about the background of The Batavian, a little insider information and what some people -- Turnbull, say -- were saying about The Batavian when we were barely a year old.

Kennedy remains fascinated by an off-hand remark I made while we were driving past the Stafford Country Club during his visit -- that if I were ever a member, he'd know I was doing well with The Batavian. He mentions it his book and in a column today updating readers on the progress of The Batavian on Nieman Journalism Lab (spoiler alert: I'm not a member, not even a social member, even though I recently found out membership is a heck of a lot less expensive than I thought back during Kennedy's visit to Batavia.)

This Saturday, Kennedy will be at Present Tense Books on Washington Avenue to talk about the book and sign copies.

Fischer will interview Kennedy and me for Friday morning's Main and Center on WBTA, so tune in. I anticipate a lively discussion about local journalism, past, present and future.

July 6, 2013 - 11:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, agriculture, byron.

I took a break from the Ramble this afternoon to go out to Ted and Patricia Hawley's barley field in Byron to get some pictures of the harvest.

The Hawleys are opening a malt house -- the first in New York in about 100 years -- and this barley will be used to create malt that can be used by microbreweries throughout the state.

All the rain we've had in the past week have made the harvest a challenge. The grain has to reach a search moisture level -- not too moist -- to be harvested. But in waiting for it to dry out there's a chance the grain could pre-germinate on the stock, which would affect the malting process.

This grain will need to be dried a bit before being stored in a bin because it's a just a bit too moist.

Above is barley grain that has been separated by the combine from the straw. The cut straw is left on the field and will be collected later. It can be used for a feed supplement, for mulch or -- according to Hawley -- dropped in ponds to purify the water. Hawley said it is very effective at cleaning pond water and the Hawleys may eventually try selling some of it for such a use.

Kevin Scroger gave me my first ride in the cab of a combine. Scroger has been operating combines since he was 14 years old. Back then, cabs weren't air conditioned. There weren't even cabs and Scroger said the combines were smaller and harvested fewer acres per hour. Not only are today's cabs air conditioned, they can be driven over a pre-defined route by a GPS system.

July 6, 2013 - 8:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Bob Evans.

Bob Evans Restaurant, 196 Oak St., Batavia, will be closed from July 7-14 for a remodel that will update the interior and exterior appearance, according to Assistant General Manager Jonathan Allen.

The restaurant will add a bakery section as part of the project.

July 3, 2013 - 4:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, housing, real estate.

The Batavian is partnering with Rochester-based Property Source to launch a whole new way for finding and selling homes in Genesee County on a site run by Property Source under the brand

The new site will replace our housing link in our main navigation on July 15.

For the first time we will be able to offer our readers access through The Batavian to MLS listings and offer local agents great tools to feature their businesses and and their listings.

The site also features sections for rentals, home improvement and senior living.

We will also be managing the Wyoming County real estate site for ZagPad/Property Source.

We think the new site is going to offer both people looking for housing and the real estate community a set of tools and features that haven't truly been available locally before.

As Genesee County's #1 online news source, the #1 Web site of any kind locally, we are excited to bring the county one centralized, go-to place for real estate.

One of the things we liked about ZagPad is the platform gives us the opportunity to deliver to our local readers and advertisers a Genesee County-focused real estate Web site -- one that is tied into a regional network of real estate listings and media partners (such as WHAM13 and WHEC in Rochester and the Bee Newspapers in Erie County). This gives local users and advertisers the best of both worlds -- a local focus with a regional reach.

Real estate agents and brokers who need more information should call Lisa Ace at (585) 250-4118.

July 3, 2013 - 12:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Oakfield, Viking Cives.

Every five years, the Town of Oakfield replaces one of its plow trucks. This year, the town board decided to keep it local and asked Highway Superintendent Alan Dennis to explore the idea of having the new truck built by Viking Cives.

The truck company moved to a location on Judge Road in Oakfield several years ago.

"We thought that was important to support the local economy and business located right here in town," Dennis said.

The $228,000 plow truck replaces a 15-year-old plow and is state-of-the-art, Dennis said. The computer controls are LCD lit and touch control. Using a joy stick, the truck driver can operate all of the truck's functions as a one-man-operation.

Supervisor Mike Cianfrini said with Viking's solid reputation for quality and service, it was really a simple choice to go with the local company.

"From the town perspective we wanted to support a business in our community," Cianfrini said. "They've been a great neighbor, supporting a lot of activities within Oakfield and we thought the least we could do is support them."

The town took delivery of the truck today and plow truck operator Mike Schultz, pictured below, couldn't wait to get in the new machine and drive it off to the town's garage.

July 2, 2013 - 10:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, downtown.

Press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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