Online News. Community Views.

>> Download <<
The Batavian Mobile
Droid | iPhone

Recent comments

Site Sponsors


October 30, 2015 - 10:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, GGLDC, business.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC) passed a budget for Fiscal Year 2016 at its board meeting today with anticipated cash outflows of $2.4 million. Funding will be realized primarily through grant revenue (restricted to the project for which the funding was awarded), rents and loan repayments. 

Major sources of revenue includes a $750,000 grant from the New York State Department of Homes and Community Renewal program for the p.w. minor project and the remaining balance of a $200,000 grant from New York State Empire State Development. The balance of the ESD grant will be used for the development of the Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (WNY STAMP). 

Rent revenue of $672,000 will be generated from the MedTech Centre facility and common area maintenance fees from the Buffalo East Tech Park and Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park (Ag-Park). In addition, $672,200 in revenue will be received through the Empire Pipeline PILOT Increment Financing (PIF) and grant revenue from the United States Economic Development Administration that is restricted to support development at the Ag-Park.  

Additional revenues include $14,000 in grants from National Grid and $498,600 in principal and interest payments from several different companies for loans made in previous years.

Anticipated 2016 expenditures include the distribution of the state grant to support the p.w. minor project and building maintenance, an economic development program support grant, professional services and site/corporate park maintenance.

In 2015 the GGLDC made progress on a number of projects including: the widening of Route 63 to support commerce in the Ag-Park; assisting Bergen and Le Roy in securing an America’s Best Communities grant to create an economic development revitalization plan; and, completed enhancements to Buffalo East Tech Park, including roadway installation and improvements to the Route 5 entrance. The improvements at the Buffalo East Tech Park enabled the construction of Yancey’s Fancy new $20.6 million facility. 

“Thanks to the County’s assistance and our funding partners, the GGLDC has been successful in completing many projects,” said Thomas H. Felton, chairman of the GGLDC Board of Directors. “We continue to see significant attention from new businesses interested in locating in our County, and we are excited to work with our partners to bring new jobs and investment here.”

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 21, 2015 - 3:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, GCEDC, oakfield-alabama, schools, education.


Before the start of the school year, John Ioge figured he was interested in a career in civil engineering, maybe mechanical engineering or perhaps the medical field or even teaching. Whatever it was, he figured he would eventually wind up in a job far from home.

Now, the sophomore at Oakfield-Alabama is honing in on a career in mechanical engineering and feeling pretty certain he will be able to find work in Genesee County.

The developments recently with WNY STAMP as well as a new course at O-A in STEM is driving much of John's change in thinking.

"I now realize there are going to be jobs in this area," John said. "At one point, I didn't think I was going to stay here because there's not any jobs, but now there will be jobs at home. So why not stay home? Why not stay where my family is?"

O-A Principal Lynn Muscarella sought to start the STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for students just like John. She realized that with STAMP coming to Alabama, she wanted to make sure Oakfield-Alabama students had a good grasp of career opportunities in STEM.

"Last year I had seniors who weren't even aware of what is happening in their own backyard," Muscarella said. "I said, I can't allow this to happen. These kids are right here, so why not get them somewhat prepared to think about what's going to be here so they can stay if they want to."

STAMP stands for Science, Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Park, a 1,340-acre parcel in Alabama that the Genesee County Economic Development Center and its economic development partners from throughout the region are marketing as an ideal location for high-tech manufacturing.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in town to announce the first new development in the park, 1366 Technologies, a Massachusetts-based company that will construct a new plant to make silicon wafers for solar energy panels. The plant will employ from 600 to 1,000 people once fully operational, perhaps as soon as early 2017.

The STEM classes at O-A are part of the sophomore-year curriculum for the first time and will run throughout the school year with classroom time every other day for the participating students.

The instructors are Kathy Rushlow and David Porter, with Rushlow developing most of the course.

Seven weeks after the start of the school year, Rushlow is seeing some progress among her students, many of whom came to class without a clear understanding of what sort of degrees colleges offer and what their post-high-school educational options are.

"I think they are much more aware of what STEM is and what the different career choices are in the STEM field," Rushlow said. "I think that's been eye-opening."

The classes aren't intended to give students any kind of training that will lead them to a particular job; rather, it's an overview to expose them to the array of options available to them if they decide STEM might be something of interest.

The class also reinforces the importance of the other coursework in high school.

"It's surprising to them to see there's a second side to that coin, that even in the medical fields, they need that science and math, that background, on top of the medical information," Rushlow said.


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


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.



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


 ADK Hospitality CEO Anthony Baynes.


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


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 12, 2015 - 5:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in brownfield opportunity area, BOA, batavia, GCEDC.

Areas in urban communities known as brownfields can sometimes be expensive to redevelop because of the environmental cleanup costs, and that cost drives away potential developers because projects that might turn a profit without the cleanup quickly become unprofitable. 

To address that issue, local agencies, including the City of Batavia, have come together with a plan to help reduce the expense for developers who wish to complete projects on brownfield sites.

They're calling it the Batavia Prosperity Project, or BP2, and the City Council will get a presentation on the proposal tomorrow.

"This is really a partnership, an example of cooperation among all the parties, city, county and schools, that recognizes the common interest in a revitalized urban core," said City Manager Jason Molino. "We can focus on this together because we recognize there is a greater reward for everybody concerned."

The program would take fees paid by developers on future projects in the city -- brownfield or otherwise -- that qualify for PILOTs (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) from each of the taxing jurisdictions and pool those fees in a common fund that could be tapped down the road by brownfield opportunity area (BOA) developers to help offset environmental remediation costs.

Such PILOTs would need to be approved by the Genesee County Economic Development Center and Steve Hyde, the CEO, will be at Tuesday's meeting to help explain how the program will work and the benefits for the community.

The program, as proposed, is the first of its kind on a citywide basis in the state.

"This could help us clean up contaminated sites, increase our tax base and increase employment opportunities," Molino said.

The city's three BOAs are all in what are identified as low-income, blighted neighborhoods, which means under New York State law, they are eligible for tax breaks for retail projects, which expands the redevelopment opportunities. And since under the law, census tracts next to low-income, blighted neighborhoods are also eligible for those same tax breaks, every census track in the city is eligible for such projects.

Molino isn't predicting that because of that big retailers are going to swoop in and build new stores, but that "isn't necessarily a bad thing," he said.

It's all up to the free market.

"I think the market is going to dictate what comes in here, and what can and what cannot work," Molino said.

Market studies show that what the urban core needs more of are restaurants, medical offices, office space, housing and warehouse space, so those are the kind of projects most likely to be attracted to development, brownfield or otherwise, in the city.

"There is an increased demand from people who want to live Downtown," Molino said. "I think mixed use is where we're going to see an increase in development."

The STAMP project recently announced -- solar company 1366 Technologies -- creates an opportunity for Batavia.

"We want to capture some of that overflow," Molino said. "This policy is another tool for dealing with development of our urban core."

The properties in the BOA have generated a good deal of interest, Molino said, ever since a development forum hosted by the city in 2013. There may be a project coming soon, but the city also needs another tool to help make development in the city more attractive to investors.

The City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

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.


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."


Gov. Andrew Cuomo.


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


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.


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 - 7:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, GCEDC.

Sources tell us Gov. Andrew Cuomo is coming to GCC tomorrow to announce a major investment in the WNY STAMP project in Alabama, but nobody has been willing to confirm anything on the record. The governor's office and Empire State Development have even declined to confirm the governor will be in town.

Tonight, the D&C reports that the CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise is planning on attending the announcement tomorrow and said this is "the largest project in our organization's history."

The name of the company coming to STAMP has not yet been disclosed, nor the segment of tech industry it represents.

The most recent schedule for Gov. Cuomo for tomorrow does not include a visit to Batavia, but it's not unusual for the governor's office send out multiple updates over a 24-hour period.

UPDATE Oct. 7, 11:34 a.m.: The governor is expected at Genesee Community College's Stuart Steiner Forum at 2:15 p.m. today. He will announce that a solar company based in Bedford, Mass., (a suburb of Boston) plans to create between 700 to 1,000 jobs over a five-year span at the planned Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Alabama. Here's a link to the Democrat & Chronicle story:

October 2, 2015 - 10:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, chamber of commerce, batavia, business.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved final resolutions for applications for assistance from the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and Reinhart Enterprises, Inc., at its Oct. 1 board meeting.

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is planning to purchase and renovate an existing building at 8276 Park Road in the Town of Batavia for its new offices, as well as to house Genesee County’s tourism office. The project will involve the construction of a two-story glass structure for a visitors' center, which will be located off the Batavia 48a exit of the New York State Thruway. The Chamber was approved for $71,535 in sales tax, mortgage tax and property tax exemptions. The planned capital investment will total $930,000.

“Tourism is an important revenue generator for our community and having a visitor’s center strategically located at the Thruway exit will only enhance the Chamber’s efforts to continue to grow this industry,” said GCEDC Chairman Paul Battaglia.

“The Park Road location will allow us to take tourism marketing to the next level in Genesee County,” said Tom Turnbull, president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. “With 800 hotel rooms, Batavia Downs, shopping plazas and popular restaurants all within a one-half mile of this location, we believe an attractive, welcoming visitors' center will allow the Chamber to market our many assets and attractions, and stimulate tourism spending throughout Genesee County.”

Reinhart Enterprises, Inc., a property holding company, will expand its facility located 36 Swan St. in the City of Batavia by adding 16,000 square feet of additional warehousing space to accommodate a tenant’s growing distribution center. The company was approved for sales tax, mortgage tax and property tax exemptions totaling approximately $182,460 in estimated incentives. The project’s capital investment will total approximately $600,000.

“It’s good to see continued investment being made in the City of Batavia by existing companies like Reinhart Enterprises,” said Battaglia. "Our agency will continue to work hand-in-hand with all businesses in our community that are expanding and adding employment.”

September 28, 2015 - 4:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, batavia, business.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider applications for two projects at its board meeting on Thursday, Oct. 1.

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce plans to purchase and renovate an existing building at 8276 Park Road in Batavia for use of its offices, as well as the County’s tourism office. The total capital investment is $930,000. The project will retain six jobs and create one part-time position. 

Reinhart Enterprises, Inc., plans to add 16,000 square feet of additional warehousing space to its current location at 36 Swan St. for its growing distribution center. The capital investment is approximately $600,000 and the project is expected to create six new jobs. 

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Innovation Zone Conference Room at MedTech Centre -- 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, on the first floor, across from Genesee Community College.

September 22, 2015 - 6:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, BID, genesee county chamber of commerce, GCEDC.

Press release:

The Batavia Business Improvement District (BID), Batavia Development Corporation, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will host investors and developers for a luncheon and tour prior to the sixth annual BID Batavia Wine Walk on Saturday, Oct. 3.

Prior to the wine walk, a lunch will be served followed by tours of various sites and commercial spaces in the City of Batavia, including Tompkins Bank of Castile’s new call center. The tour from 1 to 3 p.m. and the wine walk afterward are for any developer, business owner or investor interested in learning about economic development opportunities in the City and the various incentives that are available through the GCEDC.

“This is a great opportunity for developers to see first-hand some of our unique downtown properties and sites,” said Steve Hyde, GCEDC president and CEO. “This event is part of our ongoing efforts to inform and educate developers about the many business opportunities that exist in Genesee County, and specifically the City of Batavia.”

“The BID offers a unique and walkable downtown experience that is important to both the baby boomers and the millennium generation,” said Laurie Oltramari, the new executive director of the Batavia Business Improvement District (BID). “The needs of these large generations need to be addressed and have great potential for investment. Having a walkable downtown is essential to its success, and we have it. Now we need to show potential investors how eliminating gaps when walking down the street is critical to ‘creating a place.’ ”

“The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce supports and encourages business development throughout Genesee County,” said Tom Turnbull, president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. “With its location between Buffalo and Rochester in the heart of Western New York, no other county can offer the strategic advantages that Genesee County can. As the county seat and the logistical center of the county, the City of Batavia is an ideal spot for developers to grow their business footprint in the Upstate New York market.”

The registration deadline for the luncheon, tour and walk is Sept. 30. Free hotel accommodations are available for out-of-town developers and guests. For more information and to register, please contact Laurie Oltramari at the BID at 585-344-0900 or [email protected].

September 10, 2015 - 12:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in O-AT-KA Milk Products, batavia, business, GCEDC.


Officials with O-AT-KA Milk Products and Upstate Niagara Cooperative broke ground on a new warehouse expansion this morning at the company's plant off Ellicott Street, Batavia.

Participating in the top photo are Steve Hyde, Ray Cudney, Steve Golding, Bill Schreiber, Dan Wolf, John Gould, Dave Nutting and Mike Patterson. Second photo: Upstate's Board of Directors.

"This is an important day for the growth of the dairy industry in Western New York," said Wolf, a member of the cooperative's Board of Directors. "The 360 farms that I represent depend on this business and we're not going anywhere. This is our roots and we'll be here. We will continue to grow and develop here in Western New York, and (to) create jobs and so forth that go with that is critical to us."


Press release from Finger Lakes Economic Development:

Empire State Development today announced that O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative, Inc., a dairy cooperative based in Batavia, will be expanding their warehouse and material handling functions at their Batavia site. O-AT-KA is majority owned by Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc., headquartered in Buffalo and also by Dairy Farmers of America, a cooperative with a strong presence in Central NY.

O-AT-KA helps to ensure there is a market for milk produced by more than 400 farms in the Western, Finger Lakes and Central NY regions. A new warehousing facility and equipment room will allow the cooperative to continue to grow its production and create 24 new full-time positions within three years, raising total employment to more than 350 positions.

“We consider this project to be a game changer,” said Michael Patterson, O-AT-KA’s chief financial officer. “This not only enables us to meet our immediate needs but positions O-AT-KA for growth into the future. Three factors driving this initiative are worker safety, food quality and operational efficiencies. These three legs of the stool will be the backbone supporting O-AT-KA’s continuing growth here in New York State.”

The economic support and assistance from local and state agencies were critical factors in undertaking this project. New York State, through Empire State Development, will provide a $400,000 capital grant to assist in bringing off-site warehousing back on site by building a 195,000-square-foot warehouse and a 35,000-square-foot equipment room to their existing facility.

The company will also purchase new material handling equipment and repurpose existing equipment. The new space will afford the company more efficiency, provide safety for workers, and allow for cost savings, thereby boosting their competitive edge in the market place.

The growth of on-site warehousing also enables the company to grow its production of shelf-stable, dairy-based beverages. O-AT-KA has a goal of increasing its export business by 10 percent over the next several years, which will result in approximately 25 percent of the total production being exported.

As the No. 1 manufacturing employer in Batavia, O-AT-KA strives to foster productive, long-term relationships with their employees. The cooperative, which produces dry, condensed and evaporated dairy products, was established in 1959 with five employees and has grown to 332.

“Agricultural and food processing has been identified as one of the top Finger Lakes REDC strategies,” said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “The O-AT-KA project aligns with the council’s goal to optimize business retention and expansion, and support the growth of food-processing companies in the region.”

“This commitment by New York State to O-AT-KA demonstrates Governor Cuomo’s support of economic development in Upstate New York and in particular to the agribusiness industry in Genesee County,” said Paul Battaglia, chairman of the Genesee County Economic Development Center. “We look forward to continuing working with New York State on other economic development opportunities."

"O-AT-KA has played a major role in our local economy for decades. Now, expansion plans, along with 24 new jobs, will help to secure the cooperative's presence in Batavia for years to come. I commend O-AT-KA CEO Bill Schreiber for selecting Genesee County to invest and grow," said State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer.

“I am pleased to see the growth and expansion of an important Western New York agricultural staple such as O-AT-KA. As a small business and farm owner for over four decades, I realize the integral part O-AT-KA plays in New York’s dairy industry and Western New York’s economy. Having grown up in Batavia, I have seen the company grow from just a few employees to over 300 people – truly epitomizing the American dream of entrepreneurship. As lawmakers we must continue to protect small businesses such as these and take measures to grow New York’s economy,” said Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

August 20, 2015 - 4:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, food processing, business, batavia, GCEDC.

Press release:

Genesee County has once again been recognized as one of the fastest growing “food processing employment leaders” by "Business Facilities," a national site selection publication.

Business Facilities provides annual rankings of metro and global areas in various categories, including food processing and job growth, among others. Genesee County ranked at number seven in a list of top 10 mid-sized metro areas for food-processing growth, making this year the fifth time in 10 years that Genesee County has earned national ranking in this category.

The agricultural, food and beverage sectors in Genesee County employ approximately 1,500 people. The region’s employment numbers continue to increase as economic development focused on agri-business remains a top priority of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors.

“The growth of the food processing sector in our region reflects the positive economic climate here which has been significantly enhanced through the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, the first agri-business site of its kind in New York State,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “We are very pleased to be once again recognized by 'Business Facilities' as a leader in food processing employment and plan to continue expanding our efforts in this critically important economic sector.” 

The Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park encompasses 211 shovel ready, pre-permitted acres strategically located between Western New York and the Finger Lakes Region in Batavia, NY. 

The site provides access to a short and main line rail access to move products, and large capacity municipal sewer and water. Through the support of National Grid and National Fuel the site has an enhanced utility infrastructure.

Alpina Foods, LLC, a leading dairy producing company in Colombia and South America, opened its first specialty yogurt manufacturing plant at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in 2013. In 2013, PepsiCo, in a joint venture with German dairy company Theo Müller, opened a $206-million yogurt manufacturing facility, Muller Quaker Dairy.

Other key food processing and related companies in Genesee County include O-AT-KA Milk Products and Bonduelle USA, Inc.

For more information about the ranking in Business Facilities, please visit

August 14, 2015 - 10:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in O-AT-KA Milk Products, business, GCEDC, batavia.


With 344 employees, O-AT-KA Milk Products is already Genesee County's largest private employer, and CFO Michael Patterson promised the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board a taxpayer-assisted expansion will result in a workforce expanded by 21 positions.

The expansion, at a cost to O-AT-KA of $20 million, will result in greater efficiency, a product and market expansion and greater employee safety, Patterson said.

"This is a real game changer for O-AT-KA," Patterson said. "It will allow us to grow while we focus on efficiency and employee safety."

Patterson described the region as "heavy with milk," and the expansion will help O-AT-KA improve its capacity to create new products and expand into additional markets.

O-AT-KA is seeking $2.26 million in sales tax and property tax exemptions.

In making a motion to set a public hearing on O-AT-KA's application, Board Member Craig Yunker said, "This is really important to our region and our dairy industry, which is the back bone of our local economy. I don't know of a more important project."

The date of the hearing, which the board approved unanimously, has not yet been determined, but will be within the next two or three weeks so the board can vote on whether to grant the tax exemptions at its next meeting.

“This is a tremendous investment being made by one of the largest private-sector employers in Genesee County,” said GCEDC Board Chairman Paul Battaglia. “It also demonstrates a long-term commitment to our community by the company in building a state-of-the-art facility to enhance its manufacturing operations now and in the future.”

August 11, 2015 - 1:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, business, batavia, O-AT-KA Milk Products.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider a project from O-AT-KA Milk Products at its Aug. 13 board meeting. 

O-AT-KA Milk Products plans to add 205,000 square feet of warehousing space to its manufacturing facility on the corner of Ellicott Street and Cedar Street in Batavia. The project is expected to create 21 new jobs and the capital investment is approximately $20.9 million.  

The GCEDC Board meeting is public and will take place at 1 p.m. on Thursday at the Innovation Zone Conference Room at MedTech Centre -- 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, on the first floor, across from Genesee Community College.

July 7, 2015 - 3:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, GGLDC, business, GCC.

Press release:

The ECMC Foundation provided grants totaling $219,424 to area organizations that help advance the quality of workforce and educational programs and services in Genesee County and the GLOW region (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties). ECMC Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles with a mission to provide investments aimed at facilitating improvements that affect educational outcomes, especially among underserved populations.

The recipients include Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, Western New York Tech Academy, Genesee Community College (GCC) and the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC). The Foundation pledged dollars to assist these organizations to help underprivileged residents in the GLOW region in obtaining better access to workforce development training and college programming.

“These grants will not only improve the quality of our region’s many educational programs and services, but also provide both high school students and adults with the critical tools and training they need to be successful in the workforce,” said  Tom Felton, president and chairman of the GGLDC. “We look forward to working with the ECMC Foundation in disbursing the funding to these very worthy organizations.”

The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, which received $100,000 of the grant, will use the funds to improve training programs for high school and adult students pursuing careers in-demand manufacturing fields, as well as purchase new machinery for its training facilities. The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership is one of 38 cooperative school districts in New York State that provides shared educational programs and services to its component school districts, including the Batavia City School District.

“The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership is honored to be included as a recipient of the ECMC Foundation grant,” said Kevin MacDonald, district superintendent of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. “This grant aims to provide adult and high school students with new opportunities to gain employable skills.

"The scope of this grant is vast. This program will be open to high school students who attend any of the 22 component school districts served by the Partnership, as well as any student enrolled in the Partnership Adult Education Program. Our goal is to help highly skilled workers meet the emerging needs of industry within our region.”

Chuck DiPasquale, director of Programs, Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, said: “This grant will be utilized to make improvements to the machining and welding programs at both Genesee Valley Educational Partnership’s career and technical education centers. High school and adult students will have the opportunity to be trained on the latest and most up-to-date equipment and technology. Upon completion of the program, students will be highly qualified and ready to meet industry standards.

Western New York Tech Academy, an early college high school supporting grades 9-14, was awarded $61,710. The Academy will use the funds to enhance training programs for its at-risk students through the purchase of new workplace equipment and furniture for its classrooms.

“It’s our mission to create learning environments that support a cultural shift away from the traditional classroom and toward today’s workplace,” said Tom Schulte, principal, Western New York Tech Academy. “This can only happen if the physical space supports it, and it’s through the generosity of the ECMC Foundation that will allow us make this shift a reality.”

Genesee Community College (GCC), the recipient of a $44,390 grant, will purchase new equipment to support lab and "hands-on" learning activities in its food-processing educational programs.

"GCC's newest degree, Food Processing Technology AAS, gives residents in our rural community an opportunity to secure well-paying jobs -- such as production and quality control supervisors and safety and storage technicians," said Rafael Alicea-Maldonado, Ph.D., GCC's dean of Math, Science and Career Education.

"These are excellent careers in the burgeoning food-tech industry which are also 100-percent made in America. Funds from the ECMC Foundation will help us purchase the state-of-the-art equipment necessary for this new program including refractometers, salt, moisture and lacticheck analyzers and ebulliometers."

Lastly, the GGLDC will receive $13,324 to facilitate the coordination of the various activities of the grant recipients, including overseeing reporting requirements as stipulated in the agreement with the ECMC Foundation to monitor and track progress of each initiative.

June 26, 2015 - 5:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Batavia Downs, business, batavia.

Dealing just with hard numbers -- setting aside speculation on hoped-for new revenue and "the multiplier effect" of jobs created -- the tax abatement plan approved Thursday by the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board for a new hotel at Batavia Downs should be profitable for taxpayers, according to data obtained by The Batavian from a GCEDC staffer.

The abatements will save developers about 11.5 percent on their $5.49 million investment, and the new taxes the project generates will be about a 100-percent return to taxpayers, if you accept the notion that the project doesn't get built at all without the tax incentives. If not, it's at least 42-percent return.

By law, the developer must certify that the project requires a tax break to be feasible, according to Rachael J. Tabelski, marketing and communications director. That is a requirement for all projects considered by the GCEDC.

"We have to trust the applicant that when they say this project won't be a viable project without the tax incentives," Tabelski said.

ADK Hospitality, the hotel's developer, will save $638,000 in taxes over the next 10 years, but it won't be getting off totally free. The hotel's owners, over the next 10 years, will pay $1.1 million in various taxes.

Tabelski was quick to point out that the $638,000 in tax breaks is not money taken from taxpayers. It's just money that isn't paid to the government; money that doesn't exist if the project isn't built. Thus, the $1.1 million in taxes ADK will pay over the next decade is all new revenue for schools, the county and the state (but not the Town of Batavia, which doesn't have its own tax on property).

That figure doesn't include sales tax generated by the hotel, or any anticipated increase in sales tax generated by the hoped-for increase in business at Batavia Downs. It also doesn't include employment taxes generated by the anticipated $600,000 in payroll for 25 full-time equivalent new hires at the hotel. 

The developers told the GCEDC Board that the project would generate a total of $2.8 million in tax revenue between now and 2025, but there isn't a breakdown available on what categories of taxes comprise that total. It likely covers fire district, property, bed tax, sales tax and payroll tax.

The $1.1 million in hard numbers we have includes:

  • $56,000 paid to the Town of Batavia Fire District;
  • $550,000 paid in county bed taxes;
  • $500,000 paid in property taxes over the life of the PILOT.

A PILOT is a tax break given to developers of projects that industrial development agencies, such as GCEDC, believe will create or retain jobs. It is a reduction in taxes on the increase in assessed value of a property.

Let's say a property is valued at $100,000. A business ads a new wing to its building and increases the assessed value to $150,000. The business continues to pay all property taxes on the initial $100,000 in assessed value, but gets a reduction in taxes on that additional $50,000. PILOT agreements vary, but typically, there would be no taxes due the first two years of the increase, and then taxes would be incrementally increased every two years until the 10th year, when the property owner is paying the full tax bill on the increase in assessed value.

In the case of the hotel property, the developers are buying land from Western OTB, which is currently tax-exempt and has no assessed value. It will be assessed next year, and its assessed value will go from zero to whatever that assessed value is, and the PILOT will be calculated based on that increase, unless the project is not yet completed, in which case there will be only a partial assessment with a full assessment to come during the next annual assessment period after the project's completion.

The PILOT on this project is worth $300,000. The remaining abatements are for the mortgage tax on the purchase and on the sales taxes due on material purchased during construction.

As for the multiplier effect, that's a controversial notion to some, but the idea is that if you create a new job and pay that person money, they will spend some amount of that money locally, and the churn of that money will help pay other people's wages, lifting everyone's boats. That $600,000 in new payroll could be worth millions in economic growth locally.

These figures also don't include wages paid to construction workers and purchases made from local vendors -- if any -- during construction.

June 25, 2015 - 5:38pm
posted by Traci Turner in GCEDC, Batavia Downs.

The Genesee Economic Development Center Board voted unanimously to approve ADK Hospitality’s application for approximately $638,000 in tax exemptions during a special meeting this afternoon.

ADK is planning to build an 84-room hotel connected to the Batavia Downs gaming facility. The investment is estimated at $5.49 million.

The board agreed with ADK Hospitality that the project falls under the tourism destination requirement with the general municipal law, which states the destination must bring in outside traffic.

In response to the Clarion Hotel’s opposition to the project, Steven Hyde, GCEDC president and CEO, stated that ADK’s project application was different from the Clarion’s project application submitted in 2012.

According to GCEDC records, the Clarion Hotel submitted an incentive application for window and stucco upgrades to their facility as well as debt refinance. Staff responded to the application and said the project may not meet law requirements to enhance the destination and attract more visitors. The Clarion Hotel then removed its application.

For ADK's project, Hyde stated many full-fledged casinos offer lodging and the hotel is a good opportunity to increase traffic at Batavia Downs.

“Today we’re looking at brand-new construction, a new feature integrated to the destination and a market study that confirms the projections will meet law requirements,” Hyde said.

Wolcott Hinchey, chairman, thinks the hotel will significantly contribute to continued growth and economic development in Genesee County.

“One of the things that I liked about this project is that we’re taking a tax-exempt property and selling it to a private developer and putting a property in the Town of Batavia back on the tax rolls,” Hinchey said. “I think the benefits of the project to the community outweigh the negatives.”

Michael Nolan, vice president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting, is looking forward to starting hotel construction.

“The staff here has been wonderful with looking at every detail of the project and what it will mean to the community,” Nolan said. "We can’t thank them enough for all the professionalism that they displayed throughout the whole process. As soon as the legal work dealing with the closing of the property is complete, we will start construction at the Downs.”

In addition to ADK's project, the GCEDC approved an application submitted by Manning Squires Henning Co. for approximately $170,000 in tax exemptions to expand its facilities. The company plans to add 5,000 square feet and renovate its existing shop and office space. The project’s investment is approximately $1.3 million.




Copyright © 2008-2014 The Batavian. Some Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.
Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

blue button