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October 6, 2017 - 10:12pm

Ten million dollars is a lot better to propel Batavia forward than a set of steak knives

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, business, news.

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Batavia didn't win the steak knives.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo told a crowd gathered at City Centre for the announcement of who won the Finger Lakes region competition for the state's Downtown Revitalization Initiative contest that there would be more than one winner this year, and getting second or third place isn't so bad.

"Now everyone likes to win first place," Cuomo said. "I understand it, you know, first is first. But second place, $8 million is a lot of money. And if it wasn't for the fact that we had offered a $10 million first place, people would have been very, very happy with $8 million because it's a big win. $6 million is a big win. We have a fourth-place winner, which gets a set of steak knives. That's not so great. But second place, $8 million is great, really great."

Batavia didn't get the $8 million, either. Nor the $6 million. Batavia received the grand prize, $10 million.

And when Cuomo announced that, more than 100 community members gathered for the announcement burst into a standing ovation.

Empire State Development Director Howard Zemsky said the award was well deserved.

"You did a great job on your plan," Zemsky told the crowd. "You understand downtown revitalization. You understand all of the components that have worked down through the years from historic preservation, the workforce initiative, the innovation initiative. You know exactly where your future lies."

The next step in the process is for the state to form a steering committee that will decide how to allocate the funds. City Manager Jason Molino said based on what he's seen taking place in other regions, the committee will include local people with a diverse set of backgrounds and interests.

"You're going to see folks that touch on all elements, whether it's arts and culture, whether it's business, whether there is small business or larger business," Molino said. "I think the state will, as they have in all the other regions, get a good cross-section of good decision makers that can really process and can take some of the planning and move forward."

Julie Pacatte, economic development coordinator for Batavia Development Corp., said the goal is to make Downtown Batavia a more livable and vibrant community for residents and business owners.

"The way we believe it should be spent is arts, culture, entertainment and make it a truly livable downtown," Pacatte said. "So, housing, entertainment dining, arts, walkability, all of those things we've talked about for a number of years. They should be able to bring it all together in Downtown."

BDC President Pier Cipollone said the award will also help the agency fulfill its agenda to help small businesses.

"We need to make downtown a destination," Cipollone said. "I'm a big proponent of clustering. We need to get shops, we need to get restaurants, we need to get bars, we need...These things will cause people to come downtown and then walk around and create the foot traffic that all the businesses need."

Molino said the award is a confirmation the city has been on the right track the past few years in trying to turn around the local economic climate.

"The past decade has been an interesting roller coaster for this community," Molino said. "Perseverance comes to mind as to what they've been able to endure and to grow by ... new leaps and bounds. It's a relief to see everyone's hard work come together. We're excited about what this means -- what's the next chapter of the community? What's the next chapter for the city and in our lives?"

In his speech, Cuomo told the story of how his administration has embraced economic development in the state and attempted to turn around decades of economic neglect, from bringing Robert Duffy into the administration to appointing Zemsky as head of ESD.

"For a lot of decades we just ignored it," Cuomo said. "We denied it. Or we didn't care enough about it. And so we said we are actually going to come in and do something about it and turn it around."

But in a way, Cuomo said, Batavia was already ahead of the curve.

"Actually, the first turnaround and recognition was in many ways done in Batavia," Cuomo said. "Johnston Harvester moved out, and that was the big employer back in the '50s. Part of the manufacturing phase-out, right? Buffalo loses steel. And Rochester loses Kodak. And Batavia loses Johnston Harvester. And in the old building, you started a business incubator.

"I don't know if it was called a business incubator there, but the thought was 'We have to change economies. We're no longer manufacturing. We lost this big employer. We have to get to the economy of tomorrow. And it's going to start by bringing in small businesses and feeding them and growing them and helping them incubating them into bigger businesses -- literally in the same building.' That was ahead of its time by 50 years."

The recognition is great for Batavia, Pacatte said.

"I think what we've been doing has been working and it caught the attention of the state government and their ideas seem to be in alignment with where we're at," she said. "It just caught fire. Another ten million dollars really just propels us forward."

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Empire State Development Director​ Howard Zemsky

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The Batavia High School Band and cheerleaders (not pictured) were outside City Hall to welcome the governor to Batavia.

Ed Hartgrove
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"Johnston Harvester moved out, and that was the big employer back in the '50s."

Actually, as stated from http://www.farmcollector.com/company-history/the-johnston-harvester-company , "In 1917, Massey-Harris bought up the rest of the outstanding Johnston Harvester shares and the factory became Massey-Harris Harvester Co. Inc., dropping the Johnston name."

So, Johnston Harvester was not Batavia's "big employer back in the '50s". Johnston Harvester no longer existed by then.

Dave Olsen
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Uncle Andy don't care about accuracy, Ed so long as he can make something fit his narrative.

Dave Olsen
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Unpopular Opinion, I'm Sure Follows:
This is money taken involuntarily, for the most part, from someone else. Just because it benefits the local area, does not make it any less wrong. This isn't some great "grand prize" lottery jackpot, this is other New Yorkers' hard earned money they had to give up due to NY's onerous taxation so Andy and his crony committee could decide who they wanted it to benefit, not the people who actually earned it. So, go ahead local luminaries stand up there and grin and backslap that stinkbag of a Governor, you are no better than him.

Scott Chismar
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Dave Olsen, what a sad and twisted thought process. Your hatred for Cuomo has you not thinking clearly. $10 Million coming to GLOW and you call the guy a Stinkbag. Unreal. I am sure there are many that would wonder why he would bother selecting Batavia for such a prize when so many of the area residents think just like you. Maybe it would be much smarter to give it to the various Cities in NY that actually need help and offer him somewhat of a bit of support? I may be wrong, but I tend to think if he wrote a check for $10 million of his own personal funds you would still be ungrateful because of the source.

Rick Hensel
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Dave Olsen, I couldn't agree more. Little Andy is nothing more than a self serving moron and an even bigger crook than his father was if that's possible.

Dave Olsen
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Mr. Chismar, I think quite clearly, thank you. True, it's sad but there is nothing twisted about understanding that this money is available only because New York State is one of the highest, (in some recent years THE highest) tax collecting states and it has overcharged municipalities all across this state for years. that's pretty straight forward. This is very nearly blood money, as many people and businesses have left this state and this county because of it. The only way to encourage economic prosperity is to cut government, lower the cost of the government you absolutely need (which ain't much) end the cronyism inherent in the 2 party system and let people keep the fruits of their labors and invest in their communities as they see fit, not compete for scraps from the table of the political godfathers. You're right, if Cuomo was offering his personal funds, I'd decline it, not because I hate him, in fact I don't, I don't even know the man, I only can judge him by his actions. He is a crony-capitalist and a nanny state big government elitist. In my opinion, one can't succeed in that world without being corrupt and dishonest.

Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.

Howard B. Owens
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Actually, New York is ranked #48 in state income tax

https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-to-be-a-taxpayer/2416/

It only raises to #1 when property tax comes in,

https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-highest-lowest-tax-burden/20494/

which is entirely a local taxing jurisdiction issue and has nothing to do with where this $10 million comes from.

I'll take $10 million from downstate bankers and billionaires to make Batavia better. I'll take $100 million. Bring it on. More, please.

John Roach
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Of course, a lot of the property taxes are to pay for unfunded mandates from the State. They pass the cost to us to keep the State income tax down, and the local governments get the blame.

Howard B. Owens
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True, so we get something back this way.

Lisa Woltz
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May I just throw something in the air which just dawned on me?
It's funny how Cuomo is proposing to do all of this when he knows this is also in Chris Collins' district. Also, I've seen where he has also signed an executive order for his state agencies and State Police from asking about or disclosing an individual's immigration status. He also set aside $10 million for the illegals get an attorney.

Little Andy has been using tax payer money to fly around to Germany, Puerto Rico and God knows what else he's doing. He's helped Puerto Rico again and again. Now, Cuomo is taking from taxpayers, yet again because he's been "called upon" for help. You can look back at the years this little man has bent over backwards to help them and take away from us.

Little Andy needs to be investigated because he's got this budget and yet he's spending like it's candy. Something just don't fit his agenda.

Just my ramblings

C. M. Barons
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Chris Collins is federal government. If one were to draw a parallel legislative association in state government it would be Steve Hawley who must be supportive of this award, he's front row in the photograph. As for the police asking about immigration status: it violates the 4th Amendment (court attested). As for flood relief aid to Puerto Rico... Why should the state of New York behave any differently toward Puerto Ricco than it has for any other flooded region involving U.S. citizens? As for the state tax laws- they are written by the legislature, and downstate has been lopsided subsidizing upstate for decades. If anyone should complain it is the residents of Westchester, Nassau and NYC.

david spaulding
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Mr. Olsen, I couldn't agree with your posts more. Right on and well said. Sometimes when I complain on here about government spending I feel like I'm all alone. Glad to read your posts and see that in fact I am not..I signed on just to agree with you and to give your thoughts a thumbs up which I usually do not do. On that note, I never give a thumbs down as I may not agree with how you feel I always respect you sharing it...

Dave Olsen
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Thank you, Mr. Spaulding. You are most certainly not alone

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Little Andy and his band of thieves NEED to be voted out and thrown out next election. Enough is enough, let NYC and downstate pay it's own way. We don't need to keep funding medicate and food stamps for illegals when our own are in need. Our seniors and disabled citizens are in need and it would be much better to fund them rather than illegals and PWR's (professional welfare recipients). A household of two adults, both receiving Social Security Disability and totally disabled and unable to work owning their own home with a total combined income from Disability checks receives $1,790.00 net per month (deductions are taken out for Medicare Part B which covers basically nothing). With that $1,790.00 they have to pay property taxes, school taxes, house and vehicle insurance, electric bills, gas bills, water and sewer bills, phone bill, cable TV bill, internet bill, vehicle upkeep and maintenance, home and property upkeep and maintenance, clothing, paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, etc.), groceries and any additional expenses that crop up from time to time. And they receive a WHOPPING $15.00 a month in food stamps to help them out. That won't even but mild for a month! Yet we hand out millions of dollars a month to support Illegals and others that are fully capable of working. A total disgrace. Hope you're proud of yourself Little Andy and the rest of your corrupt group.

Howard B. Owens
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Undocumented immigrants do not collect welfare or food stamps. The fact they don't have documentation prevents it.

They pay more than $10 billion a year in sales taxes.

They contribute about $15 billion a year in Social Security and Medicare taxes for benefits they will never receive.

John Roach
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Undocumented = illegal. They should not receive Medicare or Social Security.

Jack Dorf
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The cost to State and Federal Gov. is estimated at 7 times more than what illegal immigrants contribute to our country which brings that number to approx. $115 Billion per year. I have no problem with people coming to this country legally and following the law and the process to enter just like a lot of our ancestors did years ago.

Howard B. Owens
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John, nobody is saying they should collect. But our fiscally unsound Social Security system and Medicare system would be a heck of a lot worse off without that revenue that will never be paid out to the people who paid in. Undocumented (which is a civil code term, not criminal code, because it's not illegal to be in the country without documentation) workers subsidize a broken system.

Jack, not even the Heritage Foundation estimates the cost is that high. http://www.heritage.org/immigration/report/the-fiscal-cost-unlawful-immi...

And their study fails to account, as most anti-immigration studies, for economic benefits from undocumented workers. Most of the costs attributed to undocumented workers are shared costs, such as education, law enforcement, and fire protection, which are not likely to be reduced by the estimated amount if undocumented workers were removed from the workforce.

And if they were removed from the workforce, a lot of citizens would be put out of work, a lot of farmers would go out of business, the cost of food and many services would go up, and we would all be worse off as our own pocketbooks get squeezed by higher costs and fewer job opportunities.

When I see people say, "I have no problem with people coming to this country legally and following the law and the process to enter just like a lot of our ancestors did years ago."

I never see those same people proposing that we go back to the immigration laws of those "years ago" (when there were no immigration laws), let alone suggest that the best way to end illegal immigration is to make legal immigration easier.

John Roach
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Howard, I was really just trying to point out that "undocumented" really should be "illegal".

Howard B. Owens
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John, not really. I emailed you this link, but I'll just add it here:

http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2014/07/is-illegal-immigration-a-crime-...

as that article points out, you can enter the country legally, overstay your visa and you are not "illegal." You are in the country unlawfully, which is a civil offense, not a criminal offense. The crime for the "illegal immigrant" isn't in being in the country, it is in crossing the border illegally.

John Roach
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To me, if you are here unlawfully, you have broken the law. That, in my opinion, makes it illegal. However, I could settle for "law breaker".

Jack Dorf
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So you think it's fair to those that have gone through the process legally? So I guess you are in favor of open boarders to just let anyone in and not follow the laws that are on the books. Sorry Howard people just can't pick and choose what laws they agree with and follow those and disregard ones the don't agree with. Then you toss in the typical argument about farmers when in reality most have paperwork working here legally.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/439738/illegal-immigration-america...

https://cis.org/Report/Illegal-Not-Undocumented

Howard B. Owens
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Jack, it's not really it's not really about what's fair. It's about what makes economic sense.

The main reason people cross the border illegally is because they want to make more money than they can make in their home country. If there were not jobs available to them, then they wouldn't cross. The fact their are jobs clearly demonstrates our economy needs them. If our economy needs them, why not change the law to make it easier for them to work in this country. If you really want fewer people crossing the border illegally, why not make it easier for them to cross legally?

"Most" farm workers are not here legally. We just did a story about this the other day. At least half are undocumented. And farmers all across the nation are hurting for workers, and no so much because it is harder to cross illegally (it is), but there are fewer people from south of the border, especially from Mexico, who want to make the crossing because economic conditions in their country and educational opportunities have improved significantly over the past several years. That is hurting agriculture.

Plus, if you want to pay for social security in the era of declining birth rates and aging seniors living longer (and since I'll be eligible in about 11 years, this is kind of important to me) you better increase the immigration rate to pay for it.

Jack Dorf
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Maybe someday the law will be changed to give you everything you wish for.

Tim Miller
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Jack - I read and re-read Howard's comments, and failed to see anything he "wished for". Howard was stating the economic realities of undocumented workers. Please point out where he "wished for" anything in his statement.

Howard B. Owens
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Well, to be fair, one could suppose that I'm wishing for Social Security to have plenty of money flowing in when I'm ready to collect.

david spaulding
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illegal.. undocumented ..alien.. Call these people whatever you wish, bottom line is they are human beings ..no matter where they come from, no matter where you come from, as a human being we all share rights call human rights. If you think you are better than them you are mistaken.

Tim Miller
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Howard.... definitely wishful thinking there.

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