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October 23, 2015 - 12:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Empire Tractor, batavia, business.

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Pete Colantonio, of Empire Tractor, goes over some of the controls of a New Holland Skid Loader with Pete Kingston, of Geneseo, during Empire Tractor's Skid Loader Rodeo.

The most skilled entrants can win prizes.

The rodeo involves driving the skid loader through a timed obstacle course.

Empire Tractor, on East Main Street Road, Batavia, is hosting the event through this afternoon and then again tomorrow starting at 9 a.m.

Lunch is being served both days.

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October 22, 2015 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Brach Machine Inc., batavia, business.

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Bill and Nancy Brach clearly love their business, Brach Machine, Inc., which is now in its 30th year in Batavia. Yesterday, the Brachs showed a visitor around their shop with verve and eagerness to share the details of what they do, how they do it and why it's important. 

Going through the stockroom of completed parts, Nancy stops and remarks, "These are parts that most people wouldn't have a clue as to what they are."

"I have no idea," the visitor admits.

"Right, exactly," said Nancy, "but there's someone for whom these are a vital part of their business."

Making vital parts for business is what Bill Brach set out to do when he started his business in 1985. Brach machine makes the tools that make it possible for other manufacturers all over the world to make the parts that make our daily lives a little bit easier.

The ignition on your car, die cast. Your refrigerator handle, probably die cast. The sprinkler head on your hose, die cast.

"You've had your hands on hundreds of die castings," Bill said.

When asked to describe his business, Bill has a ready answer that he enunciates clearly in a voice of good cheer that tells you it's a well-rehearsed line intended to precisely describe the business he's in, as precisely as the tools his employees make.

"We manufacture consumable tooling for the high-pressure die-casting industry."

That's it. That's what Brach Machine does. In a nutshell.

High-pressure die casting involves injecting metal in liquid form -- zinc, aluminum, magnesium, copper, lead, and tin -- into molds to make parts, tools and pieces. Brach Machine makes the parts that make the injection possible.

It's no wonder Bill chooses his words carefully. What he does isn't easy and mistakes are measured in fractions of a millimeter. After showing a visitor a tool that can measure a gap that is a quarter of the width of a human hair, Nancy explains such exacting specifications are necessary for their customers to achieve the quality their customers expect.

A tool that comes out of Brach Machine, cut and crafted from a piece of iron with no do-overs, might be worth $4,500 or more. It needs to be cut and shaved and polished to exact specifications. 

That means the people Bill and Nancy hire need to be able to do quality work and have some level of experience suitable to the task. Such employees are hard to find, especially in a tight job market with the unemployment rate hovering near 4 percent.

Brach Machine is advertising for employees more than they ever have and is hosting a pair of open houses to celebrate both 30 years in business and to commemorate Manufacturing Day.

The open houses are Tuesday Oct. 27 and Thursday Nov. 5 with three times available for tours each date: 8 a.m., 11:30 a.m., or 2:30 p.m. Spots are limited, so the open house will be on a first-come-first-serve basis. RSVP to: Tim Gleba, production supervisor, via e-mail [email protected] or phone 343-9134.

Prospective employees are welcome as well as anybody interested in one of Batavia's world-class businesses and manufacturing sites in general.

"The thing we want to share with people is this is a place where you can get a job, and it's a good job and it's a stable job and it's a fair-paying job," Nancy said. "It has benefits and we'll keep you here as long as you will stay."

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Brian Doktor

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Dave Beedham

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Al Bailey

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October 22, 2015 - 1:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Announcements, Brach Machine.

Press release:

Brach Machine is welcoming the community to support Manufacturing Day! First held in 2012, Manufacturing Day highlights the importance of manufacturing to the economy and draws attention to the many high-skill jobs available in manufacturing fields.

For more than 30 years, Brach Machine, Inc., has been a leading worldwide supplier, providing innovative shot-end components for all makes and models of zinc and aluminum high-pressure die-casting machines. With a greater demand from our customers and new products in development, finding machinists with the skills we need to join the Brach Machine team has become even more important.

Brach Machine is pleased to announce they will be hosting two open houses this year to observe Manufacturing Day. Guided tours of the facility will take place, showcasing modern manufacturing technology and careers.

Tuesday, Oct. 27 -- three times available:  8 a.m., or 11:30 a.m., or 2:30 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 5 -- three times available: 8 a.m., or 11:30 am, or 2:30 p.m.

Spots are limited, so the open house will be on a first-come-first-serve basis.

RSVP to:
Tim Gleba
Production Supervisor
Brach Machine Inc.
www.brachmachine.com
4814 Ellicott Street Road
Batavia, NY 14020
[email protected]
585-343-9134

 

October 21, 2015 - 4:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, jobs, employment.

The slight bump in Genesee County's unemployment rate for September over August can be attributed to people leaving the workforce, said Scott Gage, director of the Job Bureau.

The local labor market remains tight, with an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent.

The local trend holds statewide, Gage said.

"The labor force went down by 81,000 people (statewide)," Gage told WBTA. "Some 55,000 people retired, the other 21,500 either are going back to school or left just because their summer job ended."

There were 700 people in Genesee County who chose to leave the workforce at the end of the summer.

The 4.4 percent rate is still three-tenths of a percentage point than a year ago and much improved over the 5.9 percent rate in 2013 or the 7.1 percent rate in September 2012.

Employers continue to report they're finding it difficult to fill open positions and help wanted signs dot the landscape locally.

The NYS Labor Department reports 23,100 non-farm jobs in Genesee County, down for the 23,800 in August and down from the 23,400 in September 2014. Government jobs have dropped by 300 year-over-year while goods-producing jobs and private-sector service jobs have held steady at 4,100 and 13,500, respectively.

"We're seeing job openings across all sectors," Gage said. "Manufacturing, retail, service jobs, health care. There are job openings."

October 21, 2015 - 4:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, GCEDC, Alabama, business.

From Steve Hyde, president and CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center:

As we take a collective breath from this month’s exhilarating announcement about 1366 Technologies becoming the first tenant at the Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama, we can look back as a community and realize what a magnificent accomplishment this is for Genesee County.

Governor Cuomo’s announcement created a buzz unlike anything we have experienced in recent times; and why not – the first tenant at STAMP is the largest economic development project in the County’s history. It triggers the first phase of what we believe will be a transformative economic development game changer for the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions for generations to come.

The public and private sector support throughout the 10 years to bring STAMP from a concept to this first development has been building steadily. This support gained steam and momentum especially over the last 24 months when it became a crescendo after a coalition of local and state government officials, organized labor, regional business and economic development agencies, higher education and others helped secure $33 million in the state budget as part of the Fiscal 2014-2015 budget deliberations last year.

Like any effort of this magnitude, you need a solid foundation of support, or else the effort crumbles. The foundation for STAMP was built at the local level and in particular the annual funding provided to the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) by Genesee County. This foundation was further enhanced and enabled through the longtime support of the Town of Alabama.

Last week the Governor and other state leaders as well as local and regional elected officials, regional economic development partners and others from the Buffalo and Rochester metropolitan regions came to Batavia to celebrate this monumental achievement. I wanted to take this opportunity on behalf of the GCEDC Board and staff to thank the Town of Alabama for its steadfast support of our efforts to make STAMP a reality. 

From the town’s representatives in the state legislature, Senator Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Hawley, to Genesee County Legislative Chairman Ray Cianfrini to the members of the town board: Supervisor Dan Mangino, Deputy Supervisor Janet Sage, Council members Bill Cleveland, Pam LaGrou, Kevin Fisher and Planning Board Chair Ron Gilbert – thank you! The work of the town was further enhanced through the participation of town officials Sage, Fisher and Gilbert on their STAMP Committee.

It also should be noted that elected officials represent the interests of the constituents in the communities they represent. In this regard, the town has been extremely forthcoming in sharing information about STAMP to residents. These meetings also have provided town residents a forum to provide their feedback and comments. It is a process that we look forward to continue to work with the town on now and in the future as we move to implement our first project on the STAMP campus.

There is an old saying that local government is where the rubber meets the road. In this instance, local government in the Town of Alabama is where the silicon meets the solar wafer.

October 19, 2015 - 4:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Neptune's Gardens, batavia, business.

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Start a business and make it well into your second year and you're doing better than nearly 20 percent of the other people who tried doing the same thing. Make it to five years and you've lasted longer than nearly half of your compatriots. How about 30 years? Well, the Small Business Administration doesn't publish those stats, but does tell us 75 percent of new businesses are closed by year 16.

And in the age of speedy delivery from computer to doorstep, it gets even tougher on retail businesses.

That makes 30 years of owning Neptunes Gardens for Nick and Cathy LaFarnara quite an accomplishment.

Nick said customer service and an ongoing effort to diversify what they offer has helped them survive, especially against growing Internet competition.

Just this past Thursday, as an example of going above and beyond for a customer, Nick said he drove nearly 150 miles to retrieve a saltwater aquarium filter and deliver it to an elderly customer after she tried unsuccessfuly to purchase it at Petco.

"It's stuff like that, you kind of bend over backwards to try to make ends meet," Nick said.

A big part of their business now is live bait, and they do well in the summer with goldfish for fairs and carnivals, and stocking fish for residential and commercial ponds.

Nick's father opened Neptune's Gardens at 33 Liberty St., behind the Pok-A-Dot, in 1967.

Nick and Cathy's daughter, Jamie, works in the store now and will likely run it someday, but Cathy thinks a fourth generation is already eager to take over.

"Our grandkids are already involved," Cathy said. "One time we had a customer looking for a fish and I was, 'I don't think we have it,' and Victor, I think he was 6  years old, said, 'Grandma, we have it.' He took the lady right to it."

Now 9, Victor has a way with reptiles in the store and he thinks nothing of walking around with a snake wrapped around his waist.

"He probably sells more reptiles and snakes than I do," Nick said.

October 19, 2015 - 3:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, ADK Hospitality, business, GCEDC.

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Dignitaries, politicians and business leaders gathered at Batavia Downs today for an official groundbreaking ceremony for a new $5.4 million hotel being developed by ADK Hospitality, a company from Buffalo that reached an agreement earlier this year to build the hotel on land formerly owned by Western OTB.

The project turns the land from tax-free acreage to tax-generating acreage and is expected to create 25 full-time equivalent jobs in the 82-room facility. To help finance the project, Genesee County Economic Development Center has granted more than $600,000 in tax relief. Once open, hotel guests with balconies will be able to watch harness racing from their rooms.

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Western OTB VP Mike Nolan, left, and CEO Michael Kane.

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 ADK Hospitality CEO Anthony Baynes.

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October 17, 2015 - 3:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in Notre Dame, batavia, business, Milestones.

Press release:

The Business Teachers Association of New York State awards the Julian A. Milkes Award for Outstanding New Business Educator each school year. Notre Dame High School is proud to announce that its Business Teacher, Lindsay Warner, is the recipient of the 2015 award.

The Julian A. Milkes Award recognizes exemplary efforts of new business educators early in their careers. Individuals must have made significant contributions to Business Education through some combination of program development, professional association activities, professional contributions (through presentations/publications), and civic and community involvement. They will have been involved in innovative, unique and novel programs and have shown extraordinary professional commitment early in their careers.

Retired principal Joseph Scanlan, Ph.D., said “Mrs. Warner has brought Business Education into the new millennium at Notre Dame High School.”

Lindsay’s hard work and diligence have resulted in Notre Dame obtaining college course accreditation for three high school business courses she currently teaches in conjunction with Genesee Community College.

“She is a mover and shaker who teaches business courses using real life business applications," Scanlan said. "Course requests for the courses she teaches are off the charts as the word has traveled quickly that her classes are indeed the real deal."

Warner also masterminded her senior-level marketing class’s participation in the Virtual Business Competition held at GCC in March. The Notre Dame “Cupcakery” team captured four first-place awards and one for second in the competition with 12 other regional schools. She planted the seed, encouraged them to do their best and oversaw their efforts.

Warner has also started a quality shadowing experience program, which is placing interested juniors and seniors in real-life career opportunities during the school year and summer vacation.

A Notre Dame High School graduate, she received her master's in Education from Nazareth College in 2009. She holds a NYS Professional Certification in Business and Marketing Education. She lives in Le Roy with her husband, Jeremy, and two young sons. Congratulations to Lindsay on this prestigious award!

October 15, 2015 - 6:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in mark fanara, batavia, business, High Voltage Tattoo & Piercing.

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Four years ago Mark Fanara, whose Batavia tattoo business High Voltage had become very successful, thought he should do something to give back to the community that had nourished him his entire life, so he decided to hold a charity tattoo event and donate the proceeds to local community groups. The event was so popular and raised so much money for local charity that he decided to do it again the next year, and the next, and the next.

This year, Mark needs the community's help. Hospitalized with lymphomatoid granulomatosis, a rare cancer, the father of little two boys has only limited means to deal with his illness.

To help him out, two of his employees, Andrew London and Jeremy Fridman, are holding their own three-day event of tattoos and piercing to benefit Mark. The event is from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 23 through Oct. 25. Customers can select from a specific set of designs for a small tattoo for $30. Piercings are $15. Proceeds benefit Mark Fanara.

High Voltage is located at 110 W. Main St., Batavia.

There will also be a spaghetti dinner at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, at the Alexander Fire Hall. Live music with Nix Vega starts at 6 p.m.

October 15, 2015 - 10:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced the availability of $1.4 million in grant funding through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund to support a pilot program aimed at helping farms implement projects that mitigate adverse environmental impact and protect against dramatic weather conditions.

Funding will be available to farmers who best develop projects which reduce greenhouse gas and carbon emissions as well as aid farms in their constant struggles with drought and flooding.

“As the owner of a family farm for many years, I understand the daily struggles of Western New York farmers as they try to protect their crops from harmful New York weather conditions,” Hawley said. “As large agricultural producers, we must also be mindful of our environmental footprint, and this funding will help our state’s farms develop procedures which reduce detrimental environmental impact without damaging the farms’ ability to grow produce and livestock. This is a victory for our environment, as well as farmers who could use increased funding to protect their livelihoods from flooding and drought.”

County Soil and Water Conservation districts will apply for competitive grants on behalf of farmers and must be submitted for one of the following categories: soil health systems, on-farm riparian, floodplain and upland water management systems, or agricultural waste storage cover and flare systems.

Applications must be received by Dec. 14 and can be submitted at https://www.grantsgateway.ny.gov

October 14, 2015 - 9:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, GCEDC, business, brownfield opportunity area.

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A vibrant and prosperous urban core in Batavia is vital to all of the economic development projects the Genesee County Economic Development Center is working to bring to fruition, said CEO Steve Hyde, during a presentation Monday night during Batavia's City Council meeting.

Hyde joined the discussion Monday about a projected called Batavia Path to Prosperity, or BP2. The project is being set up to take some of the fees paid by developers in future projects in the city that receive PILOTS (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) from the GCEDC and allocate half of those funds to a pool of money that can help spur development of blighted properties, properties that are part of the city's Brownfield Opportunity Area.

"My passion all along has been about growth in our community," Hyde said. "How can we build economic growth outside so it will flow back into the inside. This is an opportunity to shine a bright light on troubled areas in our community so that we have a multifaceted redevelopment strategy so that we have a path of growth for our kids."

City Manager Jason Molino kicked off the discussion by saying the program can help address poverty in the city's most economically distressed neighborhoods, increase employment opportunities nad expand the city's tax base.

In the three census tracks considered distressed, the poverty rate is 30 percent (it need be only 20 percent to be considered distressed) and the unemployment rate in excess of 7 percent is more than 2 percentage points higher than the rest of the community.

Hyde, Molino noted, is fond of saying that economic development isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. But dealing with brownfield areas, Molino said, isn't a marathon. It's a triathlon, because the issues to deal with are so big and so complex.

Often brownfield properties need a great deal of environmental remediation, which substantially increases the cost of redevelopment and scares off those who might otherwise sink their investment dollars into a commercial or mixed-use project.

BP2 will help address that issue by providing funds that can help with brownfield cleanup.

Hyde said he's seen attempts at creating other such projects around the state, but they never get off the ground because of infighting among the various taxing jurisdictions. He's encouraged by the cooperation so far from the city, county and school district.

At Monday's meeting, nary a negative question or comment came from council members, who will be asked at a future meeting to pass a resolution authorizing the city's participation in the project. Similar resolutions will need to be passed by the County Legislature and the Board of Trustees for Batavia City Schools.

Only projects within the city limits that are approved by GCEDC for PILOTs would contribute to the funds, and only brownfield projects in the three census tracks that make up the BOA could receive funds from the pool.

Under state law, development projects in all six census tracts in the city are eligible for PILOTs, even retail and commercial development, which are normally excluded, because of the highly distressed nature of three central census tracts.

The fund could be used, Molino said, to: mitigate the extraordinary cost related to hazardous material cleanup; demolish buildings that contribute to blight; rehabilitate buildings that can and should be saved; modernize infrastructure;  install broadband/WiFi downtown to support economic growth initiatives; and to advance the planning and engineering of the Ellicott Trail, which will run right through the heart of the BOA, and help secure more project capital for the BOA.

Within the BOA there are five critical, strategic sites:

  • Creekside, behind the Falleti Ice Arena
  • The Dellapenna building on Ellicott Street
  • City Centre
  • The medical corridor, particularly around where the old Elks Lodge used to be
  • The Harvester Center

"If over the next five years we really spent some time trying to redevelop these areas, it could have a tremendous impact on our community," Molino said.

Hyde is optimistic about our community's future, reversing the trend that has seen Genesee County go from 5,000 manufacturing jobs in 1990 to 3,500 today.

"We're on the cusp of great growth here, especially in light of last week's announcement (the new project in STAMP)," Hyde said. "The state and feds are investing in the innovation economy, especially up and down the I-90 corridor, and we've now got the largest project in the state right along that corridor."

Batavia needs to be ready for that growth and strengthening the urban core is vital to benefitting from economic development elsewhere in the county. 

For every high-tech job, studies show there are five additional jobs created along the economic chain, Hyde said. Those jobs only come to Batavia if Batavia is ready for the opportunity. That means upgrading the housing, increasing office space, fixing infrastructure and "making this place as beautiful as the people who live here."

October 13, 2015 - 8:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Calling All Dogs, animals, pets, batavia, business.

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We think of dogs who bite, lunge, snarl and bark as aggressive, but that isn't necessarily the case, according to Tori Ganino, co-owner of Calling All Dogs, on Harvester Avenue.

Those behaviors are often a response born of fear, Ganino said, and dogs can be taught to be less fearful in situations they find stressful.

"What we do is train them that these situations aren't so bad, that you don't have to be afraid, you don't have to bite to make the person or thing go away,"  Ganino said. "Instead, we're going to help you feel better about it. So we change their emotional responses from a fearful one to a good one so that when I they see this person coming along, it's not such a bad thing. It's a good thing."

Ganino is a certified animal behavioralist, certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, the only such certified consultant in Genesee County.

The certification process includes more than 400 hours of coursework, 500 hours of work with clients and a 12-part, essay-based exam. Certification also requires ongoing training and keeping abreast of the last research-based behavior and training techniques.

Ganino started on the path toward certification after becoming the owner of a dog who had become fearful after a bad experience with a man in a pet store where the dog had been available for adoption. Ganino said in certain situations, the dog would just shake with fear. She wanted to help her pup handle fearful situations better so she sought some training.

The first training class used what's known as "flooding," which is repeated exposure to the fearful situation until the dog learns not to fear the stimulus any longer, usually by just emotionally shutting down. Ganino didn't feel good about that technique for her dog, so she sought out alternatives and discovered animal behavior training.

"I wanted to find a way to help him feel better about the situation and not put him in a situation he couldn't handle," Ganino said.

Unlike techniques that rely on punishment or dominance, behavioral training is about positive reinforcement for correct behavior.

If a dog snarls and lunges at certain people, the owner shouldn't scold, but rather divert the dog's attention, elicit the desired response and then reward the dog for the correct behavior.

"If he's in a situation where he's growling, he's over the point where he's comfortable with what's going on, so you need to take him away from it so can get him at a place where he's comfortable and then start the training," Ganino said. "That's where the behavior work really starts. You can't reinforce the emotion. You can make changes to get him to feel better, but at the time that he's seeing that person and thinking, 'I'm upset and I'm getting yelled at, too,' he learns that it validates his concerns. He's feeling a threat. It's not a good situation and he's getting yelled at."

Dogs look to their owners for leadership and an owner who is upset in a bad situation is telling a dog "This is a situation where you should be upset."

"With behavior work, we don't say, 'I don't want you to bark at this person,' " Ganino said. "Instead, we say, 'Why don't you look at me. Why don't we go over here and do this.' because 'no' just means stop, but you're not helping him understand what he's supposed to do. When he's lunging at another person, back him up and work with him so he realizes, 'I can look at that person, but what am I supposed to do when I look at him? I'll look back at mom and dad and they'll guide me through it. We'll play. We'll get rewards for it and then we'll go on our way.' "

Ganino owns Calling All Dogs with her husband, Rich, and while Ganino specializes in working with fearful and aggressive dogs, Calling All Dogs offers a range of obedience classes and personal training sessions as well as doggie day care.

A typical six-week class is $99, but on a space-available basis, owners of foster dogs can sign up for free classes.

Well-behaved dogs are socialized, get plenty of exercise and ample mental stimulation. They know what's expected of them and can count on their owners to provide a stable routine. Obedience classes are as much about training the owners as training the dogs, and it helps the owners understand how to avoid situations that maybe their dogs can't handle and then raising the fear factor.

"Any dog can have that emotional change to 'I'm upset and I'm scared,' " Ganino said. "A lot of times biting is a response to 'I'm afraid.' We can help a dog feel better, but it's up to the owners not to put them in situations they're not ready to handle."

October 10, 2015 - 12:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ziebart, batavia, business.

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Ziebart, an auto service shop, held its ribbon cutting this morning to celebrate opening the new location. Franchise owner Tony Mattiacio holds the giant scissors. This is Mattiacio's fourth franchise location for the national chain of outlets that provide a variety of services including detailing, wraps and starters.

October 9, 2015 - 10:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pellegrino Auto Sales.

 

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Pellegrino Auto Sales in Batavia is growing -- again.

In 2013, the company added office space to the front of its building, then it bought the acre of land next door so the car lot could be expanded and now Pellegrino's is adding a new five-bay service center with an expanded customer service area.

"We're just growing," said Guy Pellegrino (pictured). "We're doing more business, both service and sales. We're busting at the seams."

Pellegrino has added 5,000 square feet of blacktop and the lot's inventory will expand from 75 vehicles to 100.

The new five-bay service center will mean more employees and Pellegrino's will also start doing alignments in-house.

The current service bays, which provide service on inventory cars, those sold by Pellegrino's as well as to service-only customers, will be used for space to take pictures inside of cars for marketing, online sales and for detailing. 

The latest expansion project represents an investment by Pellegrino's of more than $200,000.

October 8, 2015 - 12:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, STAMP, GCEDC, business.

Video produced by Greater Rochester Enterprise covering yesterday's announcement at GCC.

October 8, 2015 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, GCEDC, STAMP, Alabama, business, GCC.

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Frank van Mierlo is clearly a man who believes he has a role to play in changing the world.

The phrase "change the world" did, in fact, pass over the lips of the solar energy entrepreneur once today while he addressed a room full of local and state dignitaries in Stuart Steiner Theater at Genesee Community College. Van Mierlo was there, joined by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to unveil ambitious plans for a $700 million investment by his company to build a silicon wafer factory on 105 acres of Genesee County land that could employ 1,000 people as soon as 2017.

Even the name of his company, 1366 Technologies, is a homage to van Mierlo's far-reaching global ambitions. Sunlight falls on the planet at the rate of 1,366 Watts per square meter, hence 1366. The number is significant because at that rate, the sun sends us 130,000 terawatts of energy each year. We only need a fraction of that, 17 TW, to power civilization.

"We need to rapidly deploy solar," van Mierlo said in an interview after the announcement. "We need to grow this industry at 30 percent a year. If we do that and we keep growing at 30 percent a year, by 2030, we will produce enough solar energy to power the planet."

And at a price cheaper than coal.

The solar energy market has been growing by 30 percent a year for 30 years, with rapidly improving technology, and like the power of compound interest, the rate of advancement is seemingly -- seemingly -- accelerating.

The technology that powers 1366 was incubated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and van Mierlo describes it as a game changer. The company's process cuts silicon waste, reduces the expense of production by 50 percent and takes a third less energy to produce a wafer than current manufacturing techniques.

Ely Sachs, a former MIT professor, is a partner in 1366 and the engineer behind the process 1366 uses to create its wafers. Rather than make clumps of silicon that are carved and cut into wafers, as is common in manufacturing solar wafers now, the 1366 process is more like making sheets of glass, poured directly from molten silicon.

The goal of 1366, van Mierlo said, is to make solar more affordable than coal.

"When solar was first introduced in 1970s, the cost was $7 per kilowatt hour," van Mierlo said. "A kilowatt hour, a little bit of a wonky term, but if you take an old-fashioned 100-watt lightbulb, you leave it on for 10 hours, that's a kilowatt hour. At the time, $7 per kilowatt hour, was extremely expensive. Now, 40 years later, unsubsidized, the cost on a good installation, in a sunny area, the cost is down to 7 cents per kilowatt hour.

Coal is currently about 3.2 cents per kilowatt hour.

The word unsubsidized is important. Solar may be one of the most heavily subsidized industries in America right now.

While states, including New York, offer tax credits for consumers and businesses to install solar panels, the federal government offers a 30-percent tax credit, but that's a tax credit set to expire next year and there is opposition in Washington to extending it. There is some concern that the solar industry has already grown "too big to fail" and ending the tax credit will cost more than 100,000 jobs nationally.

The political winds of the issue leave van Mierlo undaunted. Solar is simply an imperative society must pursue if we're going to change the world.

"A 30-percent growth rate only works when it's a team effort, so it's absolutely essential that everybody pitches in," van Mierlo said. "People like us have to pitch in. We have to come with the technology and the innovation. We have to deliver the cost reductions and we absolutely need broad support to keep growing fast enough. In the end, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you believe in it, you support it, the cost will come down and it will bring economic prosperity. If you say it's never going to work and you walk away from it, well, then it will become impossible to make progress and that also becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy."

Cuomo has bet big on solar, backing a $1 billion investment known as NY-Sun and WNY is now poised to become a hub of solar energy production. Earlier this year, Solar City began construction on a 1.2-million-square-foot solar panel factory in Buffalo with the promise of creating 1,400 jobs. A major investor in Solar City is Elon Musk, the entrepreneur who helped launch PayPal and used the fortune that company brought him to launch Space X and Tesla Motors. Officials with Solar City said just a week ago that the panels it will produce in Buffalo will be the world's most efficient, using its own proprietary technology.

Musk is well known in tech circles for dreaming of saving the world through technology. Like Musk, van Mierlo is leveraging prior business success to help fund his own plant-saving ambitions. Prior to cofounding 1366, he owned a robotics company, again based on technology developed at MIT, that he eventually sold.

"It's true that I have some economic freedom, and working on something that matters, that's just a fun thing to do," van Mierlo said. "Given a choice, you outta do something that is worthwhile. Energy is an interesting problem and one that needs solving and I think we're going to play a big part in the solution."

The new 1366 plant will take up only about 8 percent of the 12,500-acre WNY Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park -- STAMP -- in Alabama, a project Genesee County Economic Development Center CEO Steve Hyde has been working on for more than a decade. Nearly every speaker today, including Cuomo, Empire State Development CEO Howard Zemsky, Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle praised Hyde's vision and tenacity in creating and sticking with STAMP, even as doubters and naysayers predicted it would never work.

"This is a game changer," Cuomo said. "A hundred-and-thirty-thousand-square-foot building. At the end of the day, as many as 1,000 jobs. Quality jobs. High-tech jobs. Well paying jobs feeding off an educated workforce being nurtured by some of the great educational institutions in this state. That is the future.

"And the way it happened is the way it should happen," he added. "The IDA worked with the county. The county worked with the region. Two regions collaborated. Western New York and the Finger Lakes, not competing, but actually collaborating and getting a world-class entrepreneur with a phenomenal product that not only can create jobs and make money but can also make this world a better world."

Van Mierlo said when the 1366 plant is fully operational, it will churn out enough wafers each year to generate three gigawatts of power. A nuclear power plant, by comparison, might generate a single gigawatt of power each year.

Increased production and distribution will help bring the cost of solar energy down, which is what van Mierlo said he is really after.

"When solar is 2 cents a kilowatt hour, we can pay for installations that are less than ideal, can pay for energy storage and you will end up with a clean solution that is actually affordable," van Mierlo said. "I'm a firm believer that it's actually possible here to have a solution that helps the economy, but it's not going to come easy.

"The important thing now: Manage the energy supply so that it doesn't threaten life on the planet and that we end up with a solution that doesn't compromise our economy either. We absolutely need investment. We need support. But we also need to bring the cost down so it helps the economy and not just a continuous investment plan."

With the first project scheduled to break ground in the spring, the state will now release some $33 million in grant money pledged to create the infrastructure -- roads, sewers, utilities -- necessary for STAMP to attract manufacturing businesses. While 1366 will benefit indirectly from this investment, the direct subsidies 1366 will receive are those frequently approved by the GCEDC board, from a reduction in taxes on the increased assessment of the property (and the increased assessment will be substantial in this case), to mortgage tax relief to sales tax abatement on materials. The total package will be worth $97 million over 10 years.

Those incentives certainly played a role in 1366's decision to come to Genesee County, van Mierlo said, but he was also attracted by the workforce the area's universities can provide, the central location between Rochester and Buffalo and, most importantly, the inexpensive, clean energy provided by Niagara Falls.

"Hydropower is a real attraction and will be one that is a real advantage to us," van Mierlo said. "It cuts the cost of making the wafer by a factor of three and it's clean. The use of hydropower means there is no C02 at all. Steve Hyde calls it 'clean to green,' and that's a phrase that has really come to life."

Now that 1366 is coming to STAMP and boosters have a real project to talk about with site selectors and potential tenants, it's going to get easier to attract the next business into the park, both Hyde and Mark Peterson, CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise said.

Those who make decisions about where to construct high-tech facilities are going to become believers in STAMP now, Peterson said.

"People are going to say, 'wow, holy cow, this is real,' " Peterson said. "This a mega site, 1,250 acres. You don't have very many of those with power and water to them in the world, so we're on the world stage right now and this is only going to make us more competitive. Genesee County is right in the middle of Buffalo and Rochester. This is going to be the place to be."

Peterson said computer models run by GRE indicate the 1366 plant, with an economic multiplier effect, will generate more than $4.3 billion in spending regionally over the next five years.

Like the governor, Hyde called the 1366 announcement a "game changer."

"This is a new day," Hyde said. "We have technology companies to the left in Buffalo, to the right in Rochester, and now they're right here right now. Where else would you rather be today? We have opportunities through investments and technology and terrific companies like 1366 Technologies that are going to be here for years and create thousands of high-paying jobs for our kids."

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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Steve Hyde flanked by Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the Gensee County Legislature, and Mark Peterson, CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise.

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Members of Genesee County SCOPE were set up on East Saile Drive, across the road from the County Airport, prior to the governor's arrival in Batavia, to protest the SAFE Act. There were also picketers on Bank Street Road, on R. Stephen Hawley Drive and just outside the GCC entrance.

October 7, 2015 - 5:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

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Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366 Technologies, a Boston-based, MIT-bred solar energy company, presents Gov. Andrew Cuomo with a commemorative silicon wafer during today's announcement of a $700 million investment by the company in a new production plant in Genesee County.

This is the first major project to sign on with WNY Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Alabama. The CEO said his company intends to break ground on construction in the spring and be fully operational by 2017. The facility will manufacture silicon wafers for solar panels and could employ as many as 1,000 people in what Cuomo described as good, high-paying jobs.

While STAMP has benefited from state and federal grants to build infrastructure to support the kind of manufacturing facilities officials hope to attract, the only subsidies going directly to this project are standard tax breaks on the increased assessed value and sales tax abatements. The total incentive package is $97 million spread out over 10 years.

We'll have an in-depth story on today's announcement tonight or first thing in the morning.

October 6, 2015 - 2:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, tops market, Milestones.

(John Persons, Tops new president and COO.)

Press release:

As part of a long-term leadership strategy, Tops Friendly Markets has named John Persons, long-time Tops associate and executive, as president and chief operating officer while Frank Curci will continue to actively serve as Tops chief executive officer and board chairman, the company announced today.

“John’s appointment is the first step in an organized and planned effort to ensure we have consistent and experienced leadership to guide the future growth and success of Tops Friendly Markets,” Curci said. “Over the past eight years, John has played a significant role in building our organization and is committed to ensuring that Tops is providing the best value possible for our many customers.”

In his role as president and COO, Persons will oversee all store operations in Tops’ three-state geographic footprint and all sales, marketing and merchandising operations.

“I look forward as president and COO to working with all members of the Tops family – associates, vendors and suppliers – as we strive to provide Tops’ customers with what they want, when they want it, and saves them time and money,” he said. “I also thank Frank Curci and the Tops’ Board of Directors for the confidence they have placed in me as we continue to build a stronger Tops in the communities we serve."

Persons has been with Tops for more than 30 years, most recently serving as executive vice president of sales, marketing and merchandising. Prior to that, he was senior vice president of retail operations from 2007 to 2014 and vice president of retail operations from 2000 to 2007.

He has been a board director of the company since 2013, having been part of the management team, led by Curci, which bought out Tops from its previous owner, Morgan Stanley Private Equity, in December 2013.

Curci has served as president, chief executive officer and director of the company since December 2007 when Morgan Stanley Private Equity purchased Tops Friendly Markets from Koninklijke Ahold, N.V. (Ahold). He became chairman of the board of directors upon the 2013 management buyout, which returned Tops to local ownership.

Under Curci’s leadership, Tops has more than doubled the number of stores to 165 full-service supermarkets, expanded its geographic reach into eastern and northern New York, Vermont and northern Pennsylvania, invested more than $200 million in store renovations and updates, and created gourmet retailer Orchard Fresh in Orchard Park, NY.

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Tops Markets, LLC, is headquartered in Williamsville and operates 165 full-service supermarkets – 160 company-owned and five franchise locations. With more than 16,000 associates, Tops is a leading full-service grocery retailer in Upstate New York, Northern Pennsylvania and Western Vermont. For more information about Tops Markets, visit the company's Web site at www.topsmarkets.com.

October 6, 2015 - 10:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in p.w. minor, batavia, downtown, business.

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The product is Batavia made, so it should be Batavia sold, the way Andrew Young and Pete Zeliff see it, so they've opened up a downtown retail store for p.w. minor's shoes.

Not just seconds, but the full product line.

"That is something totally different from what the store was known for before," said Zeliff, speaking of p.w. minor's outlet at the factory on Treadeasy Avenue. "The store was always known for seconds and it was a discount store. We still have the factory seconds and all that, but we also offer everything we sell. All of our number one product is here in the store."

Young and Zeliff have been aggressive about growing the 148-year-old Batavia-founded business since acquiring it in August, 2014. They're moving manufacturing jobs from China back to Batavia and have hired top-tier professional product development specialists and designers.

As some of those new products are brought to market, they will be introduced in the Batavia store, Young said.

"It's neighbors making the product you're buying," Young said. "It couldn't be any neater."

The company has rented the retail space at 97 Main St. only through January. Young and Zeliff want to see how it goes before making a longer-term commitment. The store will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, starting today.

While they are continually asked by people in the community where they can go to buy p.w. minor shoes, they aren't often making it over to 3 Treadeasy Ave. The owners hope the new location is easier to find and more top of mind.

"I've lived here for 60 years and I didn't know where 3 Treadeasy Ave. was," Zeliff said. "So we'll try being here on Main Street, being in front of people and reminding people as they walk by that p.w. minor is here, it's hometown, it's hometown jobs."

For previous p.w. minor coverage, click here.

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October 4, 2015 - 10:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, BID, business, downtown.

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Nearly 700 tickets were sold to this year's wine walk in Downtown Batavia, with a couple of dozen businesses participating. Rain didn't dampen the good times.

Top photo is the service area for The Batavian in the entryway of the Masonic Temple building. Thanks to Dee Neilans, Lisa Ace and Lucie Ann Griffis for serving the food and wine, and special thanks to Dibble Family Center for catering our food service.

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