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April 28, 2017 - 12:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Welch and Craine Trading Post, batavia, business, news.

welchcraineapril2017.jpg

The shuttering of the Muller Quaker Dairy opened doors for Michael Welch.

The part-time pastor always wanted to own his own business, be his own boss, and with a three-month severance package and a program through the unemployment office aimed to help the unemployed start companies, Welch decided it was time to turn dream into reality.

"I’m a pastor and I believe in God and I just asked the Lord if this what we’re supposed to do, just let the doors all be open," Welch said. "And if it’s not, just stop, stop it. All of the doors have been open all along the way, not to say it hasn’t been hard work. It’s been extremely hard work, especially at the end here."

At first, his wife, Paula, was skeptical, even though she also enjoyed his hobby of garage sales, estate sales, and auctions. But as doors along the way kept staying open, she realized a retail store of their own might be exactly what God wanted them to do.

Tomorrow, they open Welch and Craine Trading Post, 60 Liberty St., Batavia (the main entrance is really on Liberty, behind the Pok-A-Dot).  

The store features home furniture and decor, architectural salvage, handcrafted and repurposed furniture and household items.

 Welch added "trading post" to the business name because he wanted people to know the store sold a variety of items.

"We’re not just going to have like 100 beds, or 100 dressers," Welch said "We’re going to have a whole different mix of things. Some of it is going to be old. Some of it is going to be new."

Michael and Paula long enjoyed going to garage sales together and then about six years ago, Michael discovered auctions. He enjoyed the hunt for antiques and the rush of bidding and winning on favorite pieces.

"At first, I was bringing pieces home and it fit perfectly, and then I was bringing more pieces home and then it didn’t fit too perfectly," Welch said. "Finally, Paula is like, ‘this stuff, you’ve got to do something with this. There is too much stuff.’ "

That's when he started to think his hobby could maybe someday become a business.

As he was going through the unemployment business program, he mentioned some of his ideas to Brian Kemp, co-owner of T-Shirts Etc., and Kemp loved his ideas.

"I'd like to do something like that," Welch said Kemp said.

As they talked, Kemp told Welch about the Batavia Development Corp. and how they have low-interest loans and grants to help small businesses get started in Batavia.

That started a whole other long process. He had to write a business plan and the BDC Board had him revise it a few times before his plan was approved and the project was approved for assistance.

Tomorrow, the grand opening is at 11 a.m. and then from 7 to 11 p.m., the Tommy Z Band, out of Buffalo, plays a free blues concert.

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April 28, 2017 - 11:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tompkins Bank of Castile, business.

Press release:

Tompkins Financial Corporation announced today that its Board of Directors approved payment of a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.45 per share, payable on May 16, 2017, to common shareholders of record on May 8, 2017.

Tompkins Financial Corporation is a financial services company serving the Central, Western, and Hudson Valley regions of New York and the Southeastern region of Pennsylvania. Headquartered in Ithaca, NY, Tompkins Financial is parent to Tompkins Trust Company, Tompkins Bank of Castile, Tompkins Mahopac Bank, Tompkins VIST Bank, Tompkins Insurance Agencies, Inc., and offers wealth management services through Tompkins Financial Advisors. For more information on Tompkins Financial, visit www.tompkinsfinancial.com.

April 28, 2017 - 11:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tompkins Bank of Castile, business.

Press release:

Tompkins Financial Corporation (NYSEMKT:TMP) reported net income of $15.7 million for the first quarter of 2017, an increase of 10.8% from the $14.3 million reported for the same period in 2016. Diluted earnings per share were $1.03 for the first quarter of 2017, a 9.6% increase from $0.94 reported for the first quarter of 2016.

President and CEO, Stephen S. Romaine said “We are excited to start off the new year with the best first quarter earnings in our history. Solid loan growth and an improved net interest margin were key drivers of improved earnings over the prior year. At the same time, we have seen continued positive improvement in credit quality trends, with nonperforming assets improved from already low levels.”

SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS FOR FOURTH QUARTER:

  • Diluted earnings per share of $1.03 represent the best first quarter in Company history
  • Net interest income was up 9.1% compared to the same period last year, and up 3.6% compared to the fourth quarter of 2016
  • Net interest margin improved over the most recent prior quarter and over the same period last year
  • Total loans of $4.3 billion were up 12.5% over the same period in 2016; and are up 1.0% over December 31, 2016
  • Total deposits of $4.9 billion reflect an increase of 6.5% over the same period last year, and are up 4.9% from December 31, 2016.

NET INTEREST INCOME

Net interest income of $48.0 million for the first quarter of 2017 increased by $4.0 million, or 9.1% compared to the same period in 2016, and was up 3.6% compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. The increase in net interest income over prior year was largely driven by growth in average loans of $472.6 million or 12.5% as well as an improved net interest margin. The net interest margin was 3.38% for the first quarter of 2017, up from 3.30% for the fourth quarter of 2016, and 3.36% for the first quarter of 2016. The margin improvement benefited from improved yields on investment securities as well as maturities of some higher cost borrowings.

NONINTEREST INCOME

Noninterest income represented 26.4% of total revenues in the first quarter of 2017, compared to 28.4% in the same period in 2016, and 26.0% for the most recent prior quarter. Noninterest income of $17.2 million was down slightly from the same period last year, and up 5.7% over the fourth quarter of 2016. Revenue from Insurance and Investment services are the two largest components of noninterest income, representing 41.3% and 22.0% of noninterest income, respectively at March 31, 2017.

NONINTEREST EXPENSE

Noninterest expense was $41.4 million for the first quarter of 2017, which was up 4.7% compared to the same period in 2016, and up 5.0% compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. The increase in noninterest expense was mainly related to higher salaries and benefits in the first quarter of 2017. The first quarter of 2017 also included $262,000 of deconversion expenses related to a core system conversion planned for this year.

ASSET QUALITY

Asset quality trends remained strong in the first quarter of 2017. Nonperforming loans and leases were down 3.1% compared to first quarter of 2016, and down 7.3% compared to the most recent quarter end. Nonperforming assets represented 0.36% of total assets at March 31, 2017, unchanged from December 31, 2016, and improved slightly from 0.39% at March 31, 2016. Nonperforming asset levels continue to be well below the most recent Federal Reserve Board Peer Group Average1 of 0.57%.

Provision for loan and lease losses was $769,000 for the first quarter of 2017, down from $855,000 for the first quarter of 2016. Net charge-offs for the first quarter of 2017 were $358,000 compared to $329,000 reported in the first quarter of 2016.

The Company’s allowance for originated loan and lease losses totaled $35.9 million at March 31, 2017, and represented 0.92% of total originated loans and leases at March 31, 2017. The ratio is unchanged from the most recent prior quarter and is down from 0.95% one year ago. The total allowance represented 180.02% of total nonperforming loans and leases at March 31, 2017, improved from 164.98% at December 31, 2016, and 156.88% at March 31, 2016.

CAPITAL POSITION

Capital ratios remain well above the regulatory well capitalized minimums. The ratio of Tier 1 capital to average assets of 8.36% at March 31, 2017, compared to 8.41% reported for December 31, 2016. Total capital to risk-weighted assets at March 31, 2017 was 12.41%, compared to 12.22% reported at December 31, 2016. Both ratios are down from the same period last year, in large part due to the redemption of $20.5 million of 7% fixed rate Trust Preferred securities.

ABOUT TOMPKINS FINANCIAL CORPORATION

Tompkins Financial Corporation is a financial services company serving the Central, Western, and Hudson Valley regions of New York and the Southeastern region of Pennsylvania. Headquartered in Ithaca, NY, Tompkins Financial is parent to Tompkins Trust Company, Tompkins Bank of Castile, Tompkins Mahopac Bank, Tompkins VIST Bank, Tompkins Insurance Agencies, Inc., and offers wealth management services through Tompkins Financial Advisors. For more information on Tompkins Financial, visit www.tompkinsfinancial.com.

"Safe Harbor" Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform of 1995:

This press release may include forward-looking statements with respect to revenue sources, growth, market risk, and corporate objectives. The Company assumes no duty, and specifically disclaims any obligation, to update forward-looking statements, and cautions that these statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks, and uncertainties, all of which could change over time. Actual results could differ materially from forward-looking statements.

More ... 

April 27, 2017 - 4:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business, ferrellgas, Announcements.

Ferrellgas in Batavia will hold a Customer Appreciation Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 13th.

There will be $5 grill tank exchanges and raffles for a new grill, Omaha Steak packages, Ferrellgas merchandise, a flat-screen TV, plus drawings for free propane for all Ferrellgas customers.

All proceeds will benefit the locally based Michael Napoleone Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research.

Ferrellgas is located at 655 Ellicott St. in Batavia.

April 27, 2017 - 2:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, news, batavia, elba, pembroke, byron-bergen.

Submitted photo: Batavia CTE Center FFA members, from left: Alex Morales (Batavia), Rebecca Meyers (Batavia), MacKenzie Fox (Byron-Bergen), Melissa Keller (Pembroke), Tracy Rudgers (Attica), Stella Glosser (Warsaw), Cherie Glosser (Warsaw), Rebecca Semmel (Warsaw), Elizabeth Jurs (Elba), Allison Pajda (Attica), Rachel Smith (Churchville-Chili), and Tyler Curbelo (Batavia).

Press release:

Two Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center students will be representing the Western Region at the New York State FFA Convention in Leadership Development Events on May 11-13 at the State University of New York at Morrisville.

While competing at the FFA sub-states competition on March 18 at Pioneer High School, Allison Pajda, an Attica High School junior in the Animal Science program, placed first in the People in Agriculture Leadership Development Competition, and Melissa Keller, a Pembroke High School senior in the Agri-Business Academy, placed second in the Employment Interview Skills competition.

In the Employment Interview Skills competition, students had to complete a phone interview, an in-person interview with three evaluators, and write a follow up letter. In addition, students’ resumes, cover letters, and applications were also evaluated. The judges’ scores in all of the above areas were averaged to determine the overall placing. For the People in Agriculture competition, Allison had to research and present on five different careers in agriculture and choose one career to write an essay about. Allison interviewed a local livestock producer and wrote her essay on his career.

New York State has three different sub-state regions and the top two students in each region move on to compete at the State Convention for the Leadership Development Competitions. Prior to the sub-states competition, 12 Batavia CTE Center students competed at the district competition, which was held at Springville High School on Feb. 28. Those 12 students scored high enough to advance to the sub-states competition.

The Batavia CTE Center FFA program focuses on premier leadership, personal growth and career success. The advisors are Holly Partridge, Animal Science instructor, and Kerri Richardson, Agri-Business Academy instructor.

Sub-states Competition Results:
Employment Interview Skills -- Melissa Keller (Pembroke), second
People in Agriculture -- Allison Pajda (Attica), first
People in Agriculture -- Tyler Curbelo (Batavia), third
Parliamentary Procedure Team -- third

District Competition Results:

Prepared Public Speaking -- Melissa Keller (Pembroke), first
Prepared Public Speaking -- Rebecca Meyers (Batavia), sixth
Extemporaneous Public Speaking -- Tracy Rudgers (Attica), fifth
Extemporaneous Public Speaking -- Cherie Glosser (Warsaw), ninth
FFA Creed -- Liz Jurs (Elba), third
FFA Creed -- Alex Morales (Batavia), fourth
Employment Interview -- Tracy Rudgers (Attica), second
Employment Interview -- Melissa Keller (Pembroke), third
Employment Interview -- Stella Glosser (Warsaw), fifth

People in Agriculture -- Allison Pajda (Attica), first
People in Agriculture -- Tyler Curbelo (Batavia), second
Agricultural Issues – MacKenzie Fox (Byron-Bergen), Rachel Smith (Churchville-Chili, and Rebecca Myers (Batavia), second
Parliamentary Procedure -- Rebecca Semmel (Warsaw), Melissa Keller (Pembroke), Tracy Rudgers (Attica), Cherie Glosser (Warsaw), Elizabeth Jurs (Elba), and Stella Glosser (Warsaw), second

About the Batavia Career and Technical Education Center

The Batavia Career and Technical Education Centeris a program of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. The Partnership operates as a Board of Cooperative Educational Services providing shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Steuben counties in New York.

April 26, 2017 - 6:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, business, GC Business Education Alliance.

The Genesee County Business Education Alliance will host its annual Spring Breakfast on Friday, May 19, at 7:30 a.m. at Terry Hills Banquet.

This year’s breakfast will include a number of presentations and awards.

“We will be highlighting job shadows and WNY Tech Academy and discussing how business and school collaboration has impacted our students and programs. We will pay special tribute to former BEA board member Allan Davis, who passed away in December, and his many years of service in the community,” said Karyn Winters, Genesee County BEA director. “Davis was a longtime BEA supporter and retired employee of Liberty Pumps.”

For more information or to register, contact Winters, at [email protected] or 585-343-7440.

This event is open to the public, however, registration is required by May 5. The cost for the breakfast is $20 per person. Terry Hills Banquet Facility is located at 5122 Clinton Street Road, Batavia.

The Genesee County Business Education Alliance is a program of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. The Partnership operates as a Board of Cooperative Educational Services providing shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston, and Steuben counties.

April 26, 2017 - 2:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, dairy, NY-27, business.

Press release:

Representative Chris Collins (NY-27) today led a bipartisan letter sent to President Trump applauding the president’s acknowledgements of Canada’s protectionist trade policies related to dairy products and advocating for swift action to ensure Canada upholds its trade agreements.

“President Trump campaigned on putting America first, and protecting American jobs,” Collins said. “Today’s letter highlights how vital the U.S. dairy industry is to Western New York and dairy producing regions across the country. The U.S. dairy industry supports billions of dollars in exports and hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs.

"Unfortunately, due to unfair competitive practices by Canada, we must take action to ensure our dairy products will be able to compete on a level playing field. I am glad President Trump has recognized how important this issue is to hundreds of thousands of hardworking Americans, and I will continue working with my colleagues to protect the U.S. dairy industry.”

The letter which 68 lawmakers signed on to was also co-led by Representatives Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Ron Kind (WI-03), Sean Duffy (WI-07), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), and Peter Welch (VT-AL).

The letter details Canadian trade practices that “may violate Canada’s existing trade commitments to the United States by effectively discouraging U.S. dairy exports to Canada.” It also reinforces that “our districts and states rely on the jobs the dairy industry provides and cannot afford further protectionist policies from our northern neighbor.”

Full text of the letter along with signatories can be seen here and full text can be read below.

April 26, 2017 - 12:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in labor, jobs, business, news.

The number of people in Genesee County who are part of the labor force dropped by 800, from 29,800 in March 2016 to 29,000 this March.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.

It could be a sign of a tightening labor market.

In fact, the county's unemployment rate year-over-year fell from 5.4 percent to 5.1 percent even as the total number of county residents fell from 28,200 to 27,500.

At the county level, not all employment statistics are available, but on a national level, the number of prime-age workers in the labor force has been steadily increasing since 2011, when the percentage of 25-54-year-olds in the national labor market was 75.1 percent. This march, the number it 78.5 percent, which still isn't as high as the pre-recession level of 80.2, but a marked improvement.

Tammy Morino, an economist with the Department of Labor in Rochester, said the two trends -- growing number of prime-age workers in the labor market and declining labor force participation could mean we are at or near full employment.

The 800 labor force drop in Genesee County could be explained mostly by more Baby Boomers aging out of the workforce, and whereas those retiring workers were replaced in recent years by prime-age workers re-entering the workforce, there just aren't as many workers sitting on the sidelines these days.

"It's not a phenomenon unique to the county," Morino said. "We're seeing it across the nation, the aging out of the labor force."

More than 30 percent of Genesee County's workers commute to either Rochester or Buffalo, and Morino said Monroe County has added 30,000 new jobs since the end of the recession.

The number of non-farm jobs in Genesee County held steady year-over-year at 21,900, still below the pre-recession peak of 22,900.

The idea of a tight labor market in Genesee County also fits with what Scott Gage, director of the Job Development Bureau, is seeing at his agency. The year started off with about 400 people locally re-entering the labor force, he noted, and in March, 100 people who had been drawing unemployment found work, he said.

"We’ve got a lot of jobs," he said. "We just ran the list yesterday, there are 760 jobs just in Genesee County. Some of those are seasonal jobs, but that's a lot of jobs."

According to state data, there are 1,500 people in Genesee County who are part of the labor force but do not have jobs.

To an economist, the concept of "full employment" doesn't mean at any given moment every single working-age person has a job -- because there is always some flux involved in changing jobs, changing job circumstances, changing seasonal jobs or other factors, such as workers holding out for better jobs or better pay, that put people temporarily out of work -- but that enough jobs are available to employ all those who want jobs.

"The biggest problem we're having is finding people who are willing work," Gage said. "Most of the people who were able to come back into the labor force are finding job opportunities and now there are more opportunities than available workers."

Wage data for the county is available only on a quarterly basis and the third quarter of 2016 is the most recent available data. Total quarterly wages in:

  • Q3, 2016, $227,365,299
  • Q3, 2015: $217,005,273
  • Q3, 2014: $213,124,736
  • Q3, 2013: $203,875,721
  • Q3, 2012: $193,643,054
  • Q3, 2011: $203,179,005
  • Q3, 2010: $192,917,830
  • Q3, 2008: $182,668,038
  • Q3, 2007: $191,733,289
April 25, 2017 - 9:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Torrey Farms, agriculture, elba, business, news.

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Maureen Torrey, co-owner of Torrey Farms in Elba, was at the White House today along with other representatives of the country's farmers, for the signing by President Donald J. Trump of an executive order aimed at boosting agriculture and rural communities (Full text of the order).

Torrey said the farmers also met with the president and his staff and there was a productive, positive discussion about labor, infrastructure, research, trade, NAFTA, Canada and Western NY dairy.

Torrey is pictured on the far left, back row.

UPDATE: Here's a related press release from the NYS Farm Bureau:

New York dairy and vegetable farmer, Maureen Torrey from Genesee County, joined 13 other farmers from across the country for a roundtable discussion yesterday with President Donald Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall was a part of the discussion as well on issues the White House believes are most pressing for American agriculture.

Following the roundtable, President Trump signed an executive order that acknowledges a reliable, safe, and affordable food, fiber and forestry supply is critical to America’s national security, stability and prosperity. The order also establishes an interagency task force, to be chaired by Secretary Perdue, charged with identifying legislative, regulatory and policy changes that would enhance American agriculture, rural economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security and quality of life in rural America. The report from the task force is due within 180 days.

“It is an honor to have a representative of New York agriculture invited to play an integral role in the roundtable discussion at the White House,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.  “Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the administration and Congress on issues like trade, farm labor and regulatory reform, with the goal of boosting American agriculture and increasing access to New York-grown food.”

The event is an historic occasion, as it is believed the last time a group of farmers met with a U.S. president this early in an administration was prior to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.  

It followed the swearing-in of newly confirmed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. New York Farm Bureau is supportive of Secretary Perdue and is pleased to see him finally in place as the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Secretary Perdue is one of us. He grew up on a dairy farm, raised row crops, and was an agri-business owner. It is important to have someone in this position who understands trade, immigration and a whole host of other issues that are vital to a farmer’s success. Secretary Perdue spoke about having the opportunity to visit New York during his confirmation hearing, and New York Farm Bureau would like to personally invite him to our great state to showcase the opportunities and challenges that exist for our diverse membership,” said Fisher.

April 24, 2017 - 11:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, STAMP, Alabama, business.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) today announced that William Kent Inc. in Stafford will conduct an auction for items in vacant structures on the site of STAMP -- Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park. The items to be auctioned are from 6758 Allegany Road; 6725 Crosby Road; and, 6840 Crosby Road. 

The auction will be held online from April 27 through May 2.  All items purchased must be removed from the properties by May 12.  The auction will precede asbestos removal and demolition of the structures.

The agreement between the GCEDC and William Kent Inc. states that the auction company will receive 10-percent commission of the sale of all items. William Kent Inc. also may deduct their fee from the gross sales receipts resulting from the sale of the items. The notice of the auction was published in The Batavia Daily News, Genesee Valley PennySaver (Oatka and Batavia editions) and the Lake Country PennySaver.

“There are items in the vacant structures that have some value and funds from the online auction will be used to mitigate costs associated with preparing the site for development,” said Mark Masse, senior vice president, GCEDC.

Since 1970, William Kent Inc. has conducted thousands of auctions across upstate New York from farm and commercial properties to estates and antiques.

For more information about the online auction please visit www.williamkentinc.com.

April 24, 2017 - 10:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tompkins Bank of Castile, batavia, business.

Press release:

Tompkins Bank of Castile is expanding its presence in Western New York, adding a new role to lead the further development of its commercial lending customer base in Erie and Niagara counties. The bank is also beginning a search for office space in the Buffalo area to support this expansion.

Adam Desmond, a banking industry veteran who is native to Buffalo, has been named Regional Market Leader for the Buffalo market. Desmond joined the company on April 3 and will lead the efforts to further grow the bank’s presence in the area.

“We are excited to have Adam lead our effort to significantly expand our growing presence in the Buffalo area,” said John McKenna, Tompkins Bank of Castile President & CEO. “He brings extensive banking experience, a deep network and knowledge of the Buffalo market to our team.”

Desmond joins Tompkins Bank of Castile with more than 15 years of financial services industry experience in Buffalo. In addition to his professional experience in Buffalo, Desmond was born and raised in the area and lives on Grand Island, N.Y., with his wife and children. He is active in the community, including serving as Vice Chairman of the board of the Buffalo chapter of Literacy New York. Desmond completed a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in Finance at the University of Buffalo and an MBA with a concentration in Accounting at Canisius College.

As the company looks to establish an office location in the Buffalo market, there are plans to add additional team members to support banking, insurance and wealth management customers. Founded in 1869, Tompkins Bank of Castile has a tradition of providing long-term value for its clients in Western New York.

“As a community bank, we pride ourselves on our local decision-making, which allows us to help local businesses grow,” said McKenna. “Establishing an office in the Buffalo area will allow us to provide even better service to our growing customer base across all Tompkins businesses in Erie and Niagara counties.”  

April 21, 2017 - 6:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Falcon Re-Furnishings, Harvester Center, batavia, business.

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The idea of starting a business, not working for somebody else, seemed like a good idea to Matt Cryer after he recently retired from the Army, so he and his wife Michelle talked it over and decided to work together on a new venture.

They've started Falcon Re-Furnishings, with manufacturing space in the Harvester Center.

The business is all about creating unique home decor and furnishing using salvaged items that can either be repurposed or restored. They either come up with their own ideas for their finds or they take custom orders.

"The beauty of it is we can build what you want," Michelle said. "How many times have you looked for a specific table for a specific spot in your house and it has to be this many dimensions? We needed one for in our bathroom. We only had a nine- to 12-inch space and we couldn’t find anything. Now we can do special orders for people, certain sizes or you need special colors to match your decor."

Their workspace has a few old chairs and tables that they will restore or repurpose -- Michelle is planning on recovering an old loveseat with lush, pink fur.

Matt does a work with discarded pallets, making tables, shelves, chairs and even a bar for a client.

One of the tables now is made from pallets and cast off cast iron from an old porch railing.

They're building a website, can be found on Facebook and plan to sell through Etsy.  They didn't want to open a retail store just yet, not until they understood the business better and see how it's going to grow.

Matt said with his military pension, as a fresh retiree, it seemed like the perfect time to give owning a business a try.

"If it works, it works," he said. "If it does, it doesn’t. At least I say I at least tried it."

Michelle thinks Batavia is a great market for them to try this type of business because much of what they'll make isn't available here, or there isn't much competition.

"You would have to go to Rochester or Buffalo to get a lot of this," she said. "We've got a lot of good feedback so far."

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April 21, 2017 - 4:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in downtown, batavia, business, news, freshLAB.

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Demolition has started on the interior of the former Newberry's building in Downtown Batavia. The project will convert the building into a brewery and an incubator for startup restaurant businesses, known as freshLAB. The second and third floors will become apartments.

April 21, 2017 - 1:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Calling All Dogs, batavia, business, pets, animals, news.

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Tori Ganino, owner of Calling All Dogs, in the Harvester Center, has been accepted for membership in the International Canine Behaviorists.

The England-based organization provides ongoing professional development for dog behaviorists and enforces a code of ethics and code of conduct and requires certification for membership.

Ganino said she believes she's the first member in the United States.

April 20, 2017 - 1:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen, Oakfield, business, Bonduelle.

Press release:

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced frozen food processor Bonduelle USA Inc. will expand operations at its locations in Monroe and Genesee counties. The company is investing in new equipment and machinery at its facilities in Brockport, Bergen and Oakfield, which will increase production and improve efficiency at the three plants. That growth will require the addition of 22 new full-time jobs and will mean the retention of 340 jobs in the region.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Bonduelle USA Inc.'s decision to expand their operations in New York State is a testament to the economic opportunities available in Upstate New York for companies that are looking to take their business to the next level. We look forward to seeing the company continue to grow and create jobs in the Finger Lakes.”

The canned and frozen vegetable producer is well-established in the Americas, operating several production sites including four in the United States, seven in Canada and one in Brazil. These sites are used to transform frozen and canned vegetables into a variety of canned sauces, baked beans, legumes and soups. As well as producing for major retail brands, the American subsidiary also markets vegetables under its own brands, including Arctic Gardens and Graves in Canada, and Bonduelle in Canada, the United States and Brazil. The company services supermarkets and catering circuits including restaurants, institutional food service and school dining halls.

Daniel Vielfaure, president of Bonduelle Americas Long Life said, Bonduelle is encouraged and excited to continue its business growth in the United States in which our New York State plants play an integral part. We are very pleased for the support and the commitment that the State of New York has for all agricultural businesses and we look forward to their continued support.”

In order to encourage Bonduelle to expand its operations in New York State, Empire State Development has offered up to $700,000 in performance-based Excelsior tax credits, which are tied to the creation of 22 new jobs and retention of 340 existing jobs. The total project cost is $20 million and Bonduelle expects the expansion to be completed by June 2018.

Supporting agribusiness is among the top priorities of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and the region's Finger Lakes Forward Initiative.

FLREDC Co-chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Wegmans Food Markets CEO Danny Wegman, said “The FLREDC is strongly committed to supporting agricultural endeavors like this in an effort to grow jobs as part of the overall Finger Lakes Forward strategy. Agriculture is an important industry, a key driver of our regional economy, which is helping to bolster our efforts to ensure the regions vitality for years to come.”

State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer said, “Today's announcement by a major frozen-food processor to invest and grow in Genesee and Monroe counties is further proof that our agribusiness economy is strong. Bonduelle's expansion will create new opportunities and jobs for our residents. I commend the leadership team for their decision to help move our region forward."

Bonduelle has more than 13,500 employees worldwide. For more about Bonduelle click here.

April 19, 2017 - 11:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Charles Schumer, trains, agriculture, business, bergen.

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Sen. Chuck Schumer was in Bergen today to talk trains and trade.

He's concerned about volatile sweet light crude oil being shipped from North Dakota by CSX on lines that pass through many populated Upstate communities, such as Bergen, and he's ready to get tough with Canada over new barriers to imports of dairy products from WNY.

He also answered questions about a potential wall along the border with Mexico, President Donald J. Trump's tax returns, immigration and high-speed rail.

"Even with the new oil cars, if the train is going faster than 25 miles (per hour) a big explosion will occur and that kind of explosion could occur on these tracks right here in Bergen," Schumer said. "Look, there are houses all around and businesses all around."

He reminded reporters of a derailment involving fuel cars in Canada few years ago that claimed several lives.

The fuel car issue has been on Schumer's radar for a few years, but what brought him to Genesee County today to raise the issue again was the derailment of a train carrying gun powder in Batavia during the windstorm in March.

As he held an enlargement of a picture of the derailment published by The Batavian, Schumer said, "as you can see it’s frightening to look at. These are large, large cars going at a very fast speed and if they had contained flammable materials they can be dangerous."

The fuel coming through Upstate New York in recent years comes from oil wells in North Dakota that tap reserves inaccessible until new technology changed the oil business. 

That has been a very good thing, though not without a cost, Schumer said.

"It's made us much less dependent on foreign oil," Schumer said. "It’s reduced the cost of gasoline and home heating oil and other things over the years, so it’s a good thing. But they don’t refine it out there in North Dakota. It gets on our rail cars and comes right across Upstate New York and Albany. They turn south and they go to those huge refineries in New Jersey."

According to this NPR story, the number of train cars carrying oil out of North Dakota has increased 4,000 percent since 2008. It was shipped by rail because, at the time these new fields opened, there was no other infrastructure in place to deal with the new supply of oil.

The trains can be a hundred cars long, Schumer said, and that's just too dangerous. If the oil companies won't voluntarily change the way they do business, then he wants the Commerce Department and Energy Department to write new regulations requiring oil companies to burn off the mixture of methane, butane, and propane that comes out of the ground with the oil.

The natural liquid gasses, stored in a confined space, are explosive if suddenly exposed to air and a spark.

The oil companies already do what Schumer wants in Texas, he said, without government regulation.

That's one reason, Schumer said, the economic impact of his proposal would be minimal and since the gas is going to be burned off one way or another, there is no additional environmental impact by burning it off in North Dakota instead of New Jersey.

Schumer believes bringing pressure to the issue can lead to change. He said his efforts have already led to rule changes that forced rail companies to ditch older tanker cars, what he called 1-11 cars, for newer, safer tankers. 

"We pushed very hard, and it hasn’t happened as fast as I’d like, but the law now is they have to get rid of all of these unsafe cars and put safer cars in.  More than half the oil cars now are now safer."

Schumer also wanted to talk about changes in dairy import policies in Canada that he said are hurting New York dairy farmers and in particular, O-AT-KA Milk Products, which employs nearly 300 people in Batavia.

According to Schumer, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to protect Canada's dairy industry and has since started to implement measures that are closing the market to U.S. dairy products, mostly what's known as ultra-filtered dairy product, which is used in cheese production. O-AT-KA is one of 70 producers in New York and Wisconsin that are affected by the change in trade policy.

"I'm telling Trudeau to back off because it would just lead to a lot of trouble on both sides," Schumer said.

Canada exports some $260 billion in goods to the United States, and trade with New York includes $17.7 billion in goods being shipped to New York while it imports $12.6 billion worth. Top Canadian exports to New York include aluminum ($626 million), paper ($571 million), precious metals ($444 million), motor-vehicle parts ($417 million), plastics ($354 million).

Canada has a lot to lose in a trade war with the United States sparked by a fight over dairy exports, Schumer said.

"If they persist, they’re going to suffer with their exports, not necessarily with dairy, but with something else," Schumer said. "I am just adamant about this."

He said he was surprised that Trudeau has actually been pushing the issue.

"We didn’t really think they would go through with it at the end of the day," Schumer said. "We just thought it was a campaign promise up there, that they would realize the damage it would do to the Canadian economy if we started going back and forth, back and forth, but they’re persisting, so we have to up our game."

Schumer suggested Canada's actions are a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"That shows you what a lot of good NAFTA does," Schumer said. "I’m glad I voted against it way back when."

On trade, Schumer said he agrees on a lot more with President Trump, at least the way Trump campaigned, than people might think. He's not a fan of the World Trade Organization (on the dairy issue with Canada, he said it would take the WTO six years to issue a ruling and dairy farmers don't have six years to wait); he opposed NAFTA out of concerns with trade imbalances with Mexico and losing American jobs to Mexico; and thinks more needs to be done to promote and protect American jobs.

"My position on trade, frankly, has been closer to President Trump than to President Obama or President Bush," Schumer said. "Now I just hope he follows through on all of it. That hasn’t happened yet."

Schumer does have reservations about Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico. Trump wants to put it in the 2017 budget, but Schumer said he needs to slow down and come up with a workable plan.

"Here’s what no one knows about the wall: A -- how much it would cost?" Schumer said. "Today we were told there it is an estimate of $70 billion. That’s a huge amount of money. Wouldn’t we rather have that money fixing our roads and bridges and everything here?

"Second," he added, "no one knows where it should be or what side of the river it would be on. The Secretary of the Interior, whom the president appointed, said he can’t build it on the U.S. side because it would cut off us from the river. We can’t build it on the Mexican side because they won’t have it. Maybe we have to build it in the middle of the river. There are no plans for it. So you can’t go ahead and allocate money until there are plans.

"The final thing is, eminent domain, there are tons of property owners who own land right up to the border. It would take forever to get their property and you might not even succeed in court. So instead of rushing it through, there ought to be a discussion about it."

On immigration, he said he is pushing for reforms in the H1B visa program because foreign workers should be paid less than U.S. workers.

He said he understands the concerns local farmers have about immigrant labor but didn't express much hope that anything will change soon to help them get the help they need.

He noted that last year, there was an immigration reform bill that Dean Norton, an Elba dairy farmer who was then president of the New York Farm Bureau, helped draft, that would have given farmers the relief they need, but it didn't pass and he doesn't think there will be any movement on it this year.

"We had a really tough bill and it got bipartisan support in the Senate but it never made it in the House," Schumer said.

As for Trump's tax returns, he said the president will have an easier time with tax reform if he is completely transparent about his own tax returns. He said Trump is no longer a private citizen and he should release his returns.

"He should do it because it's going to slow down tax reform," Schumer said. "Any proposal he might make for cutting something, people will say, 'is he doing that because it's good for the American people or is he doing it because it's good for his own real estate holdings?' "

The last time Schumer was in Bergen, it was to push construction of a high-speed rail line between Bergen and Churchville as a demonstration project. We've heard nothing about the proposal since then.

"We did get a big transportation budget and in that budget, there was money for high-speed rail," Schumer said. "The Republicans took out the money for high-speed rail. Now, this is an area where there is some agreement, if we could get a major infrastructure bill, there could be money for high speed rail.

"I know there is division here in Bergen about whether we should have it or not," Schumer added. "I would want to come back to the communities, but if people thought it was a good idea I would probably try to get the money."

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April 19, 2017 - 3:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, business, news, All About You'sd.

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If there had been a store around like "All About You'sd" (sic) when she was in high school, Kathy Allen says she would have been thrilled.  

She would have liked the idea that there was a place she could go to buy trend-current, name-brand clothes at a steep discount.

"I would have loved to have an Abercrombie sweatshirt but there was no way my parents were going to let me spend $125 on one," recalled the Elba native.

That's just one reason she decided to open her consignment shop at 102 S. Main St., Oakfield.

"If I had had a place like this when I was in my teenage years when I was making my own money and could spend it, I would have died to have a place like this," Allen said. "I also like the retail side of it. I like the retail management side of it. I like meeting with people."

Allen has a master's degree in Athletic Administration and Sports Management, but unless she is willing to move away from Genesee County, the job opportunities in that career field locally are limited. That's another reason she decided to go into business for herself.

The idea of a consignment shop had long been on her mind and the location she long thought would be perfect was the former photography studio on South Main.

It's 2,400 square feet with ample off-the-roadway parking.

"The first thing people say when they walk in is ‘oh, my God, this place is huge,’ " Allen said. "That’s the first thing. The second thing is ‘wow, you have really nice things’ and the third thing is, ‘I’m really surprised how it smells in here. It smells really good in here.’ "

Allen said she was determined that her consignment shop not come off as a thrift store or typical second-hand store. She's careful about what she accepts in inventory -- just quality items in good condition. Her 15 years working at Tops Friendly Market taught her about merchandising, which helped her plan the layout and displays.

A surprising number of items in the store have never been used.

"There are a lot of new things that people just bring in and say, ‘bought 'em, thought I’d wear 'em, here they are,' " Allen said.

One of the thrills of the business, she said, is "you never know what's going to come through the door."

The back of the store is filled with men's, women's and children's clothing, all clean and nicely arranged, but much of the store is given over to housewares, decorations, furniture, jewelry, accessories and other useful items.

There's also a room near the front that is mostly filled with locally made items, such as the booze bottles turned into lamps by Allen, and horseshoe art by a local crafter.

"I had a lot of local people who supplied me with some great stuff starting up," Allen said.

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April 15, 2017 - 11:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Foxprowl, batavia, downtown, business.

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The Easter Bunny paid a visit to Foxprowl today. Owner Bill Hume sent in these pictures.

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April 15, 2017 - 5:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, business, Le Roy Express, news.

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Brad Lamie and Kyle Palmer are putting the full meaning of full service back into the full-service gas station they took over at 100 W. Main St., Le Roy.

The station, now known as Le Roy Express, was full service before, but since buying the business, they've gone beyond just pumping gas for customers to also cleaning windows and checking oil, if needed, just like the old days of the gas station business.

"I think (full service) is what draws people, especially in the winter," Palmer said. "Nobody wants to get out of their cars and pump gas."

Lamie, from Elba, and Palmer, from Pavilion, have been spiffing up the business, which includes a car wash, and have even invested in matching shirts for themselves and employees (though not for the Easter Bunny, who paid a visit today).

The duo met while working together at Townsend Oil in Le Roy and when their boss decided to sell his gas station, they saw it as an opportunity to go into business for themselves.

"We've both always wanted to buy a gas station and this became available so we jumped on it," Lamie said.

April 14, 2017 - 1:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business.

Press release:

Raymond F. Cianfrini, attorney, announces that he will be retiring from the practice of law effective May 1. Clients, friends and colleagues are invited to an open house at his office at 31 Main St., Oakfield, from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, April 28.

Cianfrini, who has been engaged in the general practice of law in Oakfield since 1972, recently reflected in a letter to clients:

“When I began my law practice in 1972, I never imagined that I would still be in Oakfield 45 years later doing what I enjoy. I have always considered it an honor when clients put their trust in me to assist them in resolving their legal matters. I would like to thank you for your confidence in me over the years. It has been a pleasure to assist you.”

DelPlato Casey Law Firm LLP (Attorneys Michael A. DelPlato and Peter M. Casey) will continue to serve Cianfrini’s clients at the office location at 31 Main St., Oakfield.

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

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