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December 20, 2012 - 5:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

With zoning changes approved in the Town of Alabama, the Genesee County Economic Development Center will now move forward with real estate purchases in order to create the footprint for the STAMP project.

The board today authorized the agency to move forward with a $2.1 million expenditure to acquire the land necessary for the 1,340-acre technology zone.

GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde said today, after the board's approval of the transactions, that he anticipates bringing in three chip fabrication companies of the size now in Saratoga, which will mean a $15 billion to $25 billion investment by those companies in Genesee County and some 9,000 jobs.

The board authorized a loan from the LDC (a non-profit agency operated by the GCEDC) to GCEDC for $500,000. GCEDC will then receive either a gap loan from a bank to repay the LDC, or pay it off when it receives grant money from the state for the STAMP project.

The project is receiving more than $2 million from Empire State Development.

The first purchases -- many of which have already been negotiated -- could happen in a matter of weeks.

December 20, 2012 - 4:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center Board has approved 2012 incentive bonuses for staff members of $120,000 and given CEO Steve Hyde a raise on his base salary from $160,000 to $195,000.

He'll also receive approximately $10,000 in deferred compensation for 2013, for a total salary of $210,000.

Incoming Board President Charlie Cook said both the bonuses and Hyde's deferred compensation are part of the existing contract.

The board voted on the matters this afternoon and Cook promised a press release later today with more information.

At the board meeting there was no discussion of how the $120,000 in bonus money will be distributed among staff members, but in past years Hyde has received the bulk of bonuses paid. Last year, Hyde received $75,000 of the $120,000 bonus.

The 2012 bonus package is the final year that incentive compensation will be part of the salary structure for GCEDC employees, Cook said.

The board also approved a 2013 salary schedule for Hyde's staff that includes 10 percent in deferred compensation. The salary schedule has not yet been released.

The agency's compensation committee offered two recommendations for the 2012 bonus pool, either $100,000 and $120,000. Today's motion was to approve $120,000 and Mary Ann E. Wiater and John Andrews voted no in the 5-2 vote, preferring the $100,000 recommendation.

UPDATE: Here's the press release:

"After listening to the concerns of the community, including the Genesee County Legislature, the Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center recently voted to move to a salary-only based compensation system, which eliminates the current incentive compensation program. No incentive compensation will be paid in 2013 and going forward.

“In the meantime, the board reviewed individual and organizational performance of the agency staff and approved the final, contractually established and measured, incentive compensation payments for 2012 to the GCEDC staff at our December 20th board meeting.

"In light of our community experiencing the greatest growth in manufacturing in over 50 years including attracting Muller Quaker Dairy and Alpina to our community along with the staff leading the way in securing $224.65M in investments along with pledged job creation of 427 this year – the GCEDC board believes the incentive compensation earned by the staff for 2012 is well deserved based on their excellent performance and in-place employment contract.

“We as a board would prefer to move forward and focus on all of the positive developments that the GCEDC has brought to the area, and because 2012 performance goals were met this year we will follow through with our contractually based incentive compensation plan.

“The bottom line is that the GCEDC staff continues to perform at a very high level and over the last several years has transformed this agency into a regional player successfully developing regional assets, attracting international companies and helping our existing base of business continue their growth that is benefitting our county and region in incredible ways. Their commitment, energy and hard work on behalf of Genesee County and the taxpayers is well documented."

December 19, 2012 - 6:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC.

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer today announced that seven job-creation projects in the 61st Senate District will receive state funding as part of the second round of Regional Economic Development Council awards.

“These strategic projects take advantage of the many valuable resources, skills and talents of our region, in an effort to strengthen our economy and help create and retain jobs in our backyard,” Ranzenhofer said. “As a member of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, I have seen firsthand the hard work and dedication of our community leaders to do what it takes to deliver critical state funding for job-creation projects in Western New York.”

"For the second year in a row, the regional councils have been on the forefront of rebuilding New York State's economy. For too many years, top-down economic development policies have failed communities across the state and not truly invested in the unique resources and strengths of each of New York's regions. Now a new, bottom-up approach is in place that brings local communities together to chart their own economic destiny. The second round of Regional Economic Development Council awards will deliver funding for critical projects and investments in communities across our state, helping put New Yorkers back to work and rebuilding our economy,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

The following job creation projects in the 61st Senate District will receive almost $2.4 million in funding from the second round of the Regional Economic Development Council program:

Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation - STAMP Project - $500,000
Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation will undertake engineering and infrastructure work for a thousand-acre advanced manufacturing campus being developed in Western Genesee County.

Jiffy-Tite Co, Inc. - Facility Expansion and Equipment Purchase - $633,200
Jiffy-Tite will expand its manufacturing facility and purchase new equipment. Jiffy-Tite will invest $12.5 million and create 100 jobs.

CNG One Source of New York, Inc. - Genesee County Expansion Project - $300,000
CNG One Source, a business involved in converting the use of gasoline or diesel as a choice of fuel for vehicles to compressed natural gas, will purchase land and construct new facilities.

Farm Credit East, ACA - Growing the New York Dairy Industry - $500,000
Farm Credit East, ACA will enhance its current ability to address capital needs of dairy farmers who are interested in expansion but face significant financial challenges in doing so. The primary focus will be to provide assistance for new investments to comply with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation or other environmental requirements.

Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. – Lean Manufacturing Training - $26,425
Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. of Williamsville in Erie County will train 30 workers in Windows Server 2008, lean manufacturing, the 5S organization process, Six Sigma White Belt process improvement, leadership, lithography, and lithographic relationships and variables.

Genesee County Industrial Development Agency - New York Craft Malt - $117,330
The Genesee County Economic Development Corporation will assist New York Craft Malt. New York Craft Malt will operate a commercial malting facility that will use locally grown food-grade barley. An existing 2,400-square-foot building will be renovated to serve as the malting facility.

Ceramic Technology Partners - Expand Ceramic Manufacturing Capacity - $300,000
Calix Ceramic Solutions, LLC (Calix), GNP Ceramics, LLC (GNP), and Ceramic Technology Partnership, LLC (CTP) will undertake a joint development project to expand their ceramic manufacturing processes to include the manufacturing and supply of sintered silicon carbide. Ceramic Technology Partners will invest $9.5 million and create 42 new jobs.

“It has been an honor to work together with so many of our community leaders – in business, education, economic development, local governments and others – to develop a list of first-rate initiatives that achieves our objectives of creating jobs and building a strong foundation for future growth. I applaud Governor Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Duffy for their continued leadership and implementation of the Regional Economic Development Councils,” Ranzenhofer said.

Statewide, a total of $738 million was awarded for 725 economic development projects in every region of New York State.

December 11, 2012 - 12:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

Five years of planning, public meetings, studies, environmental reviews and dozens of written reports came down to one vote Monday night in the Town of Alabama, and by unanimous decision, the town's planning board said yes to a proposed industrial technology park.

The 5-0 vote to change the zoning for 1,340 acres within the town's borders clears the way for the Genesee County Economic Development Center to aggressively market the technology zone and begin the process making STAMP the kind of "shovel ready" property that GCEDC officials say is necessary to attract big business.

Before the vote, Mark Masse, VP operations for GCEDC, said it had been hard work to get the development to the point of the pivotal vote, "but now we leave it in your hands."

"The town has been involved from the beginning in hiring consultants and getting a lot of work done looking at the project," Masse said. "We're excited to be at his point."

For the board, the decision came down to three key points: infrastructure for public water, support from the majority of town residents, and jobs.

Trustee Janet Sage noted the expense the towns of Bethany and Batavia are facing to bring public water to their residents, but under the agreement with GCEDC, the infrastructure for water will be created for 70 percent of the town residents at a reduced cost to ratepayers.

The total capital cost of the water project is $5.2 million.

An estimated $1.9 million in grants will reduce the cost of bringing public water to Alabama rate payers from $882 annually to $512 per year.

"We will be saving residents a lot of money over the long run," Sage said. "It would be a long time if ever before Alabama gets water if this doesn't pass."

Sage also noted that in a survey of residents, among those who responded, nearly 70 percent said they supported STAMP.

It was that support for the project that board members should note, said Alabama resident Sam Ferris.

"You should put your personal issues aside and vote the way the town wants," Ferris said. "We voted into into office to vote for our rights.  If you can’t put your own personal thoughts aside, you should reconsider running when it's your turn to run again."

Other speakers echoed Ferris call for a vote in line with the majority support for STAMP, and Donald Sage spoke about how important the jobs are to the future of Alabama.

"I've lived here all my life and I've never been able to make a living here," Sage said. "I worked construction in Rochester to make a living for my family."

GCEDC estimates that at full build-out -- which may take as long as 25 years -- that STAMP could employ 9,300 people.

Sage went on to talk about the importance of family staying together and said he probably won't be around by the time the real benefits STAMP kick in, but his grandchildren will benefit.

"You should not have to worry about going to Dallas, Texas, or Raleigh, North Carolina, to get to spend time with your family," Sage said.

There were no speakers at Monday's meeting who opposed STAMP.

When Supervisor Dan Mangino announced the resolution passed 5-0, most of the 20 residents in attendance applauded.

In related action, the board set a public hearing for Jan. 14 to consider a 12-month moratorium on all commercial construction in the town that is outside of the STAMP district.

The moratorium would give the town time to developed new zoning laws in anticipation of STAMP-related growth, preventing unwanted commercial construction and destruction of farmland.

December 7, 2012 - 10:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, pembroke, bergen.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center Board has approved the following projects:

KNW Manufacturing, 35 Spring St., Bergen. The company is moving its mold injection business from Ogden to a 2,012-square-foot building in Bergen. The building is already under a PILOT tax abatement issued in 2007. GCEDC is re-assigning the PILOT to KNW Manufacturing. The PILOT will expire in 2018 as scheduled. No other tax abatements are offered for this project. The move will create 10 new jobs in Genesee County.

Yancey's Fancy, $150,000 from revolving loan fund. Project is an interim plant expansion and equipment upgrades to support ongoing business and growth during a period that Yancey's Fancy is awaiting sewer construction in Pembroke. A larger project is expected to begin construction in early 2013 and be completed within the following 12 months. There are no tax abatements with the interim project.

Callahan Motion Control, $100,000 from revolving loan fund. CMC is buying the assets of Callahan Weber Hydraulics, an existing sales and service center in Darien. A local bank is financing the majority of the project through a coordinated program with Empire State Development. The program will save the company from 2 to 3 percent in interest over the next four years. GCEDC is providing a gap loan from its revolving loan fund to help finance the $434,000 project. CMC will also receive a mortgage tax exemption of $5,425. The company provides sales, service and repair of hydraulic components and systems for use in industry, agriculture, construction, gas drilling, lumber and mining industries.

December 4, 2012 - 12:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

Press release:

The Town of Alabama today released results of a survey presented to residents of the town to gauge their support for the proposed Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP). It is a 1,200-acre site in the Town of Alabama which is currently under development by the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC).

The survey found that more than two out of every three residents in the Town of Alabama who responded to the survey are in favor of the STAMP project (68 percent), while 62 percent of residents feel that the proposed $10.2 million Incentive Zoning Agreement between the town and the GCEDC is “sufficient” for the STAMP project to continue.

The town negotiated for additional amenities including expanding the new water district to include more households. With this change, 433 households will now receive water through the project. The town also negotiated additional revenue to be used for capital projects in future years.

“Given the size and scope of the STAMP project, feedback from the residents in the Town of Alabama is critically important as the board approaches a decision,” said Alabama Town Supervisor Daniel Mangino.

Both the Genesee County and Town of Alabama planning boards have recommended the rezoning of the site. Final approval of the rezoning rests with the Town of Alabama.

Conducted by Goldhaber Research Associates, LLC (GRA) on behalf of the Town of Alabama, the survey was mailed to 1,500 Town of Alabama residents from Oct. 12-14. A one-page flier with information about STAMP as well as a copy of the Incentive Zoning Agreement were included in the mailing. The survey generated 707 total respondents, including 53 that arrived after the Nov. 2 deadline.

To maintain confidentiality, names of the respondents were not associated with the responses in the data files, and the information about who completed the survey or who responded in a particular way to the survey was not shared.

November 29, 2012 - 9:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

GCEDC released this notice today:

For several months it has been widely reported that a mushroom growing farm, involving a $20 million investment and up 100 new jobs to the region, is being planned in the Batavia Agri-Business Park. As this initial first phase of this project continues to move forward, we are now actively pursuing Phase 2, which seeks to purchase a minimum of 5 acres to 10 acres of vacant land for the development of a composting facility.

Besides the 5-10 acre size, other features that we are seeking are as follows:

  • Zoned for Agriculture -- it may be possible that commercial or industrial zoned land can work as well;
  • Water and electric service to the site;
  • Topography: flat and cleared is ideal but anything reasonably close will be considered;
  • Topsoil -- active farm land with topsoil is "not" required, therefore, if you can use or derive additional value by using/selling this topsoil then please do;
  • Preferred location is on the west side of Batavia in zip codes 14020 / 14036 /14013 / 14005 but areas anywhere within a 5-mile radius around the Agri-Business Park will be considered;
  • Landowners be assured that the buyer is a well-qualified cash purchaser.

Should this opportunity be of interest to you please contact Steve Blake at (716) 362-8707 or e-mail at : [email protected]

November 29, 2012 - 8:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in budget, GCEDC, County.

New version of what was originally posted at 9:45 p.m., Wednesday, to include more information.

On a 6-3 vote Wednesday, the Genesee County Legislature passed a 2013 budget that holds the line on property taxes, raises the pay for management and includes a $213,000 subsidy for GC Economic Development Center.

The three no votes came from legislators Ray Cianfrini, Frank Ferrando and Marianne Clattenburg, who all objected to the subsidy.

It's rare for members of the public to speak at regular meetings of the Genesee County Legislature. In fact, there is never a regular agenda slot for public comment, but last night one resident did show up and was permitted to speak.

Kyle Couchman (photo at right) was at the meeting to suggest the majority of the legislature is out of touch with the wishes of their constituents.

He pointed to a poll that ran on The Batavian that he said indicated 70 percent of county residents oppose continued funding for GCEDC.

"I find it a bit ridiculous that people would glaze it over," Couchman said.

Cianfrini (top photo) said he agreed with Couchman's assessment of voters' wishes.

"The public is overwhelmingly opposed to we as a legislature funding GCEDC while they continue to insist upon paying bonuses to their employees," Cianfrini said. "As a result of last week’s vote, it appears a majority of our legislators are not sensitive to the public’s mood on this matter."

Over the past few years, Cianfrini said, the legislature has made budget cuts that have cost county employees their jobs. Those job losses have meant hardships for individuals and families as former employees struggled to make ends meet, he said.

"Yet we continue to fund the Genesee County Economic Development agency with taxpayer dollars so that a few privileged employees can share in the astronomical bonuses the board of GCEDC continues to award," Cianfrini said.

Incoming GCEDC Board Chairman Charlie Cook has said previously that while employees will be paid bonuses based on 2012 performance measurements, as the board is contractually obligated to do, there will be no performance bonuses for 2013.

Ferrando (bottom inset photo) said the legislature should not give GCEDC a blank check. There should be some method for ensuring the funds from the county are being used appropriately.

"I do my best to listen to the constituents who put me here," Ferrando said. "Everything I hear, they object to funding GCEDC, at least without some strings attached."

For Clattenburg, who also opposes taxpayer money going to bonuses, the big issue is that while GCEDC has done a great job of driving business development in the county, none of GCEDC's efforts seems to be focused on the City of Batavia, which Clattenburg represents (along with Ferrando and Ed DeJaneiro).

"I don't think the focus on the city hasn't gone where it needs to go and that's where my constituents are," Clattenburg said. "I would hope that next year when this comes around I'll be able to support the GCEDC, but I can't do it this year."

None of the other legislators spoke up to defend their votes on the budget, though Esther Leadley did say, for the benefit of the first-year legislators, that if the budget didn't pass, the responsibility would fall to the county's budget officer (County Manager Jay Gsell).

"That means considerably more in terms of tax levy," Leadley said.

For 2013, the county's property tax rate will remain the same at $9.89 per thousand of assessed value.

The $144,980,450 spending plan represents a 2.2-percent increase over 2012, with much of the increase in spending driven by state mandates, especially in pensions and Medicaid.

The tax levy for 2013 will be $26,303,725, an increase of about 2 percent over 2012.

Pay raises for management were approved unanimously in a separate resolution vote.

The following positions will receive a 1.5 percent pay increase:

The following are elected officials and department heads in line for a salary increase of 1.5 percent next year:

  • County Manager Jay Gsell -- $1,551 raise for 2013 salary of $104,935;
  • Sheriff Gary Maha -- $1,374 raise for a salary of $94,957;
  • County Treasurer Scott German -- $1,282 raise for a salary of $87,377;
  • County Clerk Don Read -- $1,207 raise for a salary of $82,702;
  • County Attorney Charles Zambito -- $1,338 for a salary of $91,338.

Listen:

November 28, 2012 - 4:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC.

The Genesee County Legislature meets at 7 tonight and will vote on whether to approve the 2013 budget, which includes funding for GCEDC. Local businessman Vito Gautieri submitted this opinion piece on the matter:

I have seen a lot of comments on the $213,000 given to the GCEDC; some for, some against. The legislators voted, so I guess we have to take that as the pulse of the county? Then why did the 78.55% of taxpayers say no to funding and only 21.45% say yes (Batavian poll of November 21, 2012)?

I will not get into my accusation of the CEO of the GCEDC/GCLDC for his delay in awarding the contract on the Med-Tech project across from the GCC campus. My belief is that at least $50,000 to possibly $500,000 of taxpayers’ money was misspent. I am working on getting the state Attorney General or Comptroller office to look into my allegations. I welcome anyone who will help.

Two of our largest county not-for-profits, Genesee Community College and United Memorial Medical Center, are paying $15 a square foot for space at the Med-Tech Center, and the offices of the GCEDC/GCLDC are only paying about 1/3 of that ($5 +/-) for their space. The agency will not give me a pro-forma on the Med-Tech Center.  They say that is private information and FOIL tells me they should release the info. You know I do not mind paying $0.25 a page as required by FOIL law, but deep down I wish the agency would be more transparent to taxpayers. We can do a lot to make this agency more transparent.

Anyone interested in helping, please e-mail me at [email protected]. We will meet to discuss all this further.

Thank you,
Vito J. Gautieri
Taxpayer

November 21, 2012 - 12:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC.

The Genesee County Legislature voted 5-3 Tuesday night to continue for another year funding GCEDC to the tune of $213,000.

A motion by Legislator Ray Cinanfrini to cut funding by $100,000 unless the GCEDC board declines to pay out bonuses to employees for 2012 failed with only Frank Ferrando and Marianne Clattenburg supporting the proposal.

The motion came after a 90-minute session that included a presentation by GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde about the work of the industrial development agency, a closed session on pending deals and personnel and, finally, a discussion on Cianfrini's motion.

"They're going to pay incentives," Cianfrini said. "They're going to pay incentives, I'm told, out of money other than what we put in for operating expenses, which tells me, they have the money available to pay those incentives. The question arises -- do you need our taxpayer dollars to fund your operation?"

That was exactly the point Hyde made during his presentation. He said that while profits (flowing through the GCEDC's sister nonprofit corporation, the GCLDC) help fund GCEDC's operations fund, the $213,000 provided by county taxpayers is critically important to the GCEDC balancing its $1.2 million operating budget.

Hyde said the money provided by the county helps pay base salaries and is not used for incentive bonuses. The bonuses are paid entirely, he said, out of revenue generated by GCEDC/GCLDC projects.

In 2012, the agency worked on 33 projects that represent $223 million in investment and the promise of 400 jobs, Hyde said.

Since 2003, GCEDC can tally 335 projects, $820 million invested and 3,500 pledged jobs.

Projects that received waivers on property tax increases since then now account for $3.5 million of property tax revenue in the coffers of various government agencies and in 10 years that total will exceed $6.4 million.

The money from the county, Hyde said, can help "remake our community and region and put money back in people's pockets."

Cianfrini's motion received support from two of the City of Batavia's three representatives.

Ferrando said there is no doubt Hyde and his team have done a great job in bringing business to the county and creating jobs, but the problem with the bonuses, he said, isn't about whether they're deserved, but with the political perception by residents.

"There is no way that I can honestly say that the people I represent can seperate what we give to the GCEDC from the bonuses and from the salaries," Ferrando said. "It just isn't going to happen. I don't think that's fair. I certainly don't think it's fair for Steve because he's sitting hear dealing with an issue he shouldn't have to deal with. But as long as that money is tied that way, I don't think there is a public relations program out there will be able to convince them them differently. "

From Clattenburg's perspective, GCEDC just hasn't done enough to help the City of Batavia. She noted that according to census figures, one-fifth of the city's residents live below the poverty level and she doesn't see Hyde and his team doing enough to generate revenue and jobs in the city.

"My territory is counted in streets, not acres, and I walk those streets and I see what the income level of my neighbors are, what their houses are worth and some areas are poorer than others," Clattenburg said. "A long time back you guys had a strategic vision for this county and it's been fulfilled to its hilt. We see it all around us.

"But somewhere along the line this strategic vision did not include us. We represent 25 percent of this county's population in just five miles, so it would be nice to see the governor here."

Ed Dejaneiro, who also represents the city, said that while he agrees there needs to be a break in the perception that taxpayer money is being used to fund bonuses for GCEDC staff, contractional obligations might prevent the board from paying bonuses for 2012.

"There are a lot of very good arguments that were made with respect to public funds and how those public funds are given and how we're looked upon as contributing to incentive payments instead of the nitty-gritty operational or project monies," Dejaneiro said.

"It's hard for us to justify with the public how this money is being spent, but I think the long and short of it is that we like what they're doing. It's a successful agency and it's one that depended on that $213,000 that we were going to contribute."

Legislator Esther Leadley, Robert Bausch, Shelly Stein and Mary Pat Hancock all spoke against Cianfrini's motion to cut funding.

Leadley said there is a false perception floating about that all of the county residents are opposed to the county giving money to GCEDC and the bonuses paid to Hyde and the rest of the staff.

"There is this implication that all of the legislators have received an enormous amount of push back on GCEDC," Leadley said. "I have not. I have heard from some people, but it has not been an absolute rush to condemn this."

Leadley said that executives from the Quaker-Muller yogurt plant have told her that a key factor in PepsiCo picking Genesee County for their facility was that Genesee County and the legislature had "skin in the game," by making a financial contribution to grow the local business community.

Bausch compared Clattenburg's experience with his own. He said when he walks around his community he passes the buildings of two companies that would not have businesses in Genesee County now if not for GCEDC.

"I've heard from constituents on both sides," Bausch said. "When I hear from the negative side, my answer has always been the same as it is now. I wish the bonuses paid were three times the amount because that would mean we had three times the jobs for our community."

Stein, who is the legislature's representative on the GCEDC board, said that it is the business community that creates the jobs that make it possible for government to function, therefore it is critical for the legislature to support GCEDC.

Hancock made the most impassioned defense of GCEDC.

"The particular investment that we have in this organization, one for 16," Hancock said. "One dollar for 16. Do the math. We need skin the game."

She also defended Hyde from some of the public attacks he has been subjected to over the past few years.

"We're always talking about the people who go away to make money and be successful," Hancock said. "We've got somebody here from our own county, from the Batavia School District, that went away, came back and became a big tiger. He's a big dog in his particular area. Where's the pride? That is super. That is super."

UPDATE: Point of clarification, Legislator Annie Lawrence was unable to attend the meeting.

November 9, 2012 - 4:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) received the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) of the Year award from the Upstate chapter of NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association at the organization’s annual awards dinner on Nov. 8 at the Locust Hill Country Club in Rochester.

“For the second year in a row, NAIOP is pleased to recognize the Genesee County Economic Development Center,” said David Reddinger NAIOP president-elect and Genesee County resident. “As a Genesee County resident I can see firsthand the significant economic development that is occurring in our county and it is largely because of the efforts of the GCEDC.”

The IDA of the Year award was based on the GCEDC’s work in developing the Genesee Valley Agri Business Park in the Town of Batavia. The 2,011-acre site is home to international yogurt manufacturing companies Alpina Foods and Muller Quaker Dairy.

“This award and recognition would not be possible without the collaboration and support of our key partners, including the public sector and entities such as Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and Greater Rochester Enterprise,” said Steven Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC.

“I also want to recognize the leadership of the GCEDC board which had the vision to invest in this site to make it shovel-ready to bring companies like Alpina and Muller Quaker to our region.”

Last year the GGLDC was recognized by NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association Upstate New York Chapter for the development of the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate MedTech Centre, located in Batavia, NY. Selected industrial, retail, and residential development projects were judged on their design, functionality, project challenges, aesthetic appeal, sustainability, and economic success.

November 9, 2012 - 8:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, budget, GCEDC.

At a hearing giving the public a chance to weigh in on the proposed 2013 Genesee County budget, five people showed up to speak.

Three of the speakers addressed funding for Genesee County Economic Development Council, one spoke on veterans issues and the fifth told legislators they need to find a way to balance the budget without raising taxes.

Kyle Couchman and John Roach both spoke out against spending more than $200,000 to underwrite the EDC's economic development efforts.

Couchman said he liked the idea of holding the funding in reserve until GCEDC came forward during the year with specific justifications for its expenditure.

"I came here tonight because I wanted to be a voice for the community, for the people who don’t always get to the meetings but have a strong feeling on this issue," Couchman said.

Roach (top photo), who also addressed veterans issues, said there are other things some $200,000 could be spent on, from reducing the county's debt to holding it a reserve fund for a new jail.

GCEDC doesn't need the money, Roach said. The county does.

Charlie Cook, the incoming chairman of the board for GCEDC, spoke up for continued funding from the county.

Cook, who is owner and CEO of Liberty Pumps in Bergen, used his own company as an example of how GCEDC aids business growth.

He said 13 years ago, Liberty Pumps had a 33,000-square-foot building and employed 50 people. Today, after two expansion projects, Liberty Pumps employs 130 people.

"Our people pay taxes and support the local economy," Cook said. "It’s impossible to put a price tag on the impact of growing employment and the ripple effect of those incomes in the community. More employment creates other jobs, enhances the tax base, supports the residential real estate market and retail economy and provides much needed resources to local communities and schools."

The county's support of GCEDC sends an important message about the community being united behind economic growth, Cook said.

"It’s deeply disappointing and discouraging to me as a volunteer that the GCEDC -- an organization whose sole purpose is to benefit the community and its residents -- is threatened with abandonment by that community," Cook said.

More than a dozen veterans showed up to the meeting. There had been concern recently in the veterans community about the Veterans Services office being located inside the Department of Social Services.

County Manager Jay Gsell is now working on a plan to move the office, and make it its own department again, either at the Job Development office on East Main Street or the VA hospital.

Jim Neider, speaking for many of the veterans present, said either proposal helped relieve much of the concern in the veterans community.

Roach said he favored the job development location because of better parking and, he noted, the VA center serves veterans from all over the region. If they see a veterans services office there, they may not realize it's there only to serve Genesee County residents.

Former Legislator John Sackett also spoke. He knocked the legislature for blaming other agencies for mandated spending as an excuse for a tax increase when there are still cuts in the budget that can be made.

He complained that employees and elected officials are not being asked to give back some of their benefits, especially in the area of health care. He questioned any deficit spending on the county nursing home. And he said the county shouldn't be creating two new staff positions.

The meeting opened with remarks by Legislative Chair Mary Pat Hancock followed by a budget overview from Gsell.

The headline out of Gsell's talk was that the county is exploring options for selling or transferring the nursing home to another entity.

The county cannot afford, year after year, Gsell said, ongoing operating losses from the nursing home.

The nursing home will not be closed, he said. It will not be abandoned. Employees won't lose their jobs. Patients will not be put out on the street.

Gsell said state and federal mandates continue to eat up most of the revenue generated for the county from property taxes and the top nine mandates consume 78 percent of the tax levy.

Counties in 48 of the 50 states don't have these mandates, Gsell said.

"Recent comments by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and I quote, 'For many years, they (local governments), just put their hands deeper into the pockets of the taxpayers and the taxpayers have left' would give you the impression that county governments in New York State volunteered to get into the funding of benefits programs such as Medicaid, EI/pre-K services, indigent defense, Safety Net, etc.  Governor -- we did not!

"The state dictated to county governments to pony up and help the state shoulder the burden," Gsell added. "Hence, the New York State imposed property tax."

The county's $145 million spending plan includes a .08 cents per thousand property tax increase, making the rate $9.97 per thousand. The rate increase is four cents below would could be raised under the property tax cap. To help balance the budget, the county will spend $2.5 million from reserves.

The budget is up nearly $4 million over last year. All of the increased spending is driving by mandates expenses, particularly in Medicaid and employee pensions.

The budget is scheduled for adoption Nov. 28.

November 8, 2012 - 5:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, chamber of commerce.

Steve Hyde was the keynote speaker today at the annual meeting of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

Besides getting an update on the chamber's progress over the past year from President Lynn Freeman (bottom photo), and electing new board members, chamber members heard from Hyde about how economic development helps grow local economies.

He used Alpina and Quaker-Muller as an example of how direct jobs, indirect jobs and what he called "induced jobs" spur economic growth.

In phase one, the two yogurt factories are expected to hire 236 people.

The supply chain for the two plants -- packaging, shipping, warehouses, suppliers -- will need to create an estimated 300 jobs.

Combined, direct and indirect jobs will mean mean $13 million in wages and benefits for people working -- and presumably living -- locally.

"So you have this growing regional ecosystem and this growing element of wealth and wages that are spent by the employees and the supply chain employees and the construction workers," Hyde said. "What do they do? They go to restaurants, dry cleaning, retail, the grocery store, fuel -- 174 jobs and another $7 million."

Hyde challenged the local business owners to work with the chamber and other local agencies to prepare for growth, to be in a position to work either directly or indirectly with Alpina and Quaker-Muller, or to meet the needs of the new employees and their families.

"That’s all still to be realized," Hyde said, "but my question to you as small businesses in our community: are you positioned to participate in that? Do you have the resources, the marketing, the position to scale and support growth like this?"

November 7, 2012 - 11:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC.

At one time, it seemed unthinkable that the Genesee County Legislature would cut or eliminate funding for the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

At a budget discussion Wednesday, Legislator Ray Cianfrini raised the topic and found at least some level of support from Frank Ferrando, Marianne Clattenburg and Annie Lawrence.

No action was taken, but the legislators agreed to discuss the topic further.

There is a budget hearing -- where the public will comment, but not legislators -- at 7 p.m., Thursday, at the Senior Center, as the county moves toward wrapping up its 2013 budget process.

"I want to go on the record that I am opposed to funding GCEDC to the tune of $215,000," Cianfrini said. "It's no secret, and I'm told, that they are planning bonuses again this year, or salary adjustments, or whatever they're going to call them. I'm vehemently opposed to this and I'm not even sure it's legal."

Ferrando said he agrees with Cianfrini's overall position, but wonders if a compromise position can be found.

Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, has said the county share of funding is critical to meeting operational expenses for the industrial development agency.

Mary Pat Hancock expressed concern that a cut in funding might send the wrong message to potential businesses looking to set up shop in Genesee County, that it might signal that Genesee County doesn't want the business.

County Manager Jay Gsell said he knows businesses are sensitive to any perception that the county isn't committed to meeting their needs. He said when Pepsi and Alpina got wind of possible restraints on infrastructure spending, executives from those companies expressed concern.

So Ferrando's idea is that if the funding is truly essential to the GCEDC, set it aside in the budget, but don't give it to the agency until staff members come before the Ways and Means Committee and makes a case for specific expenditures.

Ferrando acknowledges that setting the money aside would mean it gets neither reallocated to other programs nor returned to taxpayers, at least for a year, but at least it mutes the perception that the legislature is funding bonuses for GCEDC executives.

"Right now, they are very successful in many ways," Ferrando said. "I'm very appreciative of what they're doing for our county, but if they don't need the money, we do need it now. That's the only point I'm trying to make. If there is some process where we can determine that they need it, then we give it to them. If they don't need it, we sure as heck do."

Clattenberg leaned more toward just ending the subsidy, Lawrence seemed to lean toward Ferrando's idea of having GCEDC make a case for funding when they need it.

After discussing another matter, the topic came up again and Hancock expressed reservations about cutting funding to the agency.

"Certainly, I see your concern, but to wash it right from under them and say no, I'm not so sure that would be a helpful message (to the business community)," Hancock said.

Legislator Robert Bausch noted that for 30 years the IDA existed and there was no controversy over bonuses to staff. It's only something that has come up in the past few years.

That's because, he said, for 30 years the IDA didn't do anything. Now it does. Now it is making things happen.

"They did nothing and you didn't incentivize them to do anything," Bausch said. "The first issue you have to address is that now they have incentives and they're doing something."

Hancock's advice to legislators when faced with constituents who complain about the bonuses and the county's funding share is to tell them that for every dollar the county puts into GCEDC, $16 is returned.

Lawrence noted that when the legislature met with the GCEDC board over the summer and expressed concern about how staff was compensated, the concerns largely fell of deaf ears.

"Yes, they're doing great things for our county and project a growing work force, but they have to come to a realize that here are the facts," Lawrence said. "It's dollars and taxes."

Legislator Shelly Stein, who now represents the legislature on the GCEDC board, said the county's issue with bonuses and funding hasn't fallen on deaf ears. Employment contracts are being renegotiated and she said she doesn't believe that next year bonuses will be paid. However, any bonuses that might be announced in early 2013 are for 2011 successes.

While Cianfrini said he supports GCEDC, the work they do and believes Hyde and team are doing a great job, he thinks cuts to their funding may need to come sooner rather than later.

"My recommendation is that we reduce their contribution by the amount that they pay out in bonuses or salary adjustments," Cianfrini said. "If they feel the necessity to pay out then they really don't need our money and the money can be allocated to other programs that need funding, or we adjust our tax rate."

October 12, 2012 - 2:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

For Holly Nelson, the proposed 1,200-acre technology business park in the Town of Alabama is both something to dread and something that seems like a good opportunity.

She's not alone in her conflicted feelings. Nearly a dozen people spoke at a public hearing Thursday night in the town's fire hall and expressed both a wish that Alabama remain a small, rural community, and that it embrace jobs and growth.

"I moved back here so I could be in the country," Nelson said during a short statement where she fought back tears. "If we had known what would happen, that this would be proposed, when we started building our home, we never would have built it. My whole family is here and loves Alabama. I don't want to lose that, but I do want my kids to be able to stay here and have a place to work. I'm so torn."

After speaking another minute or so, she said, "I'm scared," and seemingly unable to hold back the tears any longer, she walked away from the mic.

The purpose of Thursday's meeting was to give interested members of the public -- especially Alabama residents -- a chance to raise any issues with a proposed compensation package from the Genesee County Economic Development Center and the necessary changes in zoning for the site.

In all, the total estimated benefit to the town is $8.5 million, including $5.2 million for a new public water system. The town will also receive a commission on the sale of the land in park -- to be known as the Science, Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) -- as manufacturers are signed to build facilities on the property.

The first speaker was an organized labor representative who encouraged Alabama residents to support STAMP because both in the construction and in the new factories, it could bring good-paying jobs to the region.

He was followed by Alabama resident Doug Crosen who encouraged the town board to not be swayed by outside voices.

"There's going to be huge pressure from the outside both for and against it, but the decision better be about our town," Crosen said.

Among Crosen's concerns is whether the money for public water will cover hook-ups for residents, and whether residents will have the option to say on well water.

Anita Goras said she had split feelings about the project.

"This is going to be in my back yard and that's where my cows are right now," Goras said. "I am open. I know I'm not going to live forever and I would like to see my grandchildren be able to come back here and work."

Kevin Sheehan, deputy mayor for Albion, told the board that if Alabama didn't want STAMP, Orleans County will take it. He encouraged the board to approve the project for the sake of all of Western New York.

Bruce Pritchett -- who grew up in Alabama, still lives on Maple Road, and teaches in Albion -- said he understands the desire to keep Alabama a small farming community, but young people, he said, need jobs, they need a reason to say in Genesee County.

"There are not a lot of jobs available," Pritchett said. "We send our jobs overseas. There's nothing here for people. This is a great opportunity. As a community, I hope we take advantage of this opportunity we have and make the best of it."

Tom Walsh, a Corfu resident, said he understands the resistance from some, but encouraged Alabama to move forward with the project.

"I know it scares a lot of people," Walsh said. "If it came to Corfu, I'd probably be a little scared for me at first, but I would know at least there would be some work for people."

Vance Wyder Jr., said he's a 40-year-old disabled military veteran who really only knows farming. He isn't sure he and other farming community members can really be trained for the kind of jobs STAMP will bring. He's worried about losing farming jobs, which are harder and harder to come by in Alabama, and then the new jobs not being filled by local residents. He said nobody has really assured him that local residents can and will be trained for the jobs.

"My message to the board is be cautious, be wary, make sure you are doing the right thing for our town and not for the almighty dollar, because in the end, the almighty dollar might kick us in the ass," he said.

Another speaker, a gentleman who has worked in IT for 20 years and is a resident of Alabama, said the board should be mindful of the potential for spinoff businesses from high-tech manufacturers.

He encouraged the board to ensure any businesses coming in reinvest in the local business community, such as by creating an incubator for start-up tech firms.

"We don't need some monolithic company with 1,800 jobs that never talks to the town after it's in place," he said.

Max Merten seemed the most strongly opposed to STAMP. He said he moved to Alabama 20 years ago to live in a rural community and he doesn't want it to change. He said he raised his kids to work, not push paper.

He's worried, he said, that the project is being pushed through the process too quickly.

"We don't need more jobs in a cornfield," Merten said.

Angela Kost concluded the round of speakers with the same ambiguity that set the tone for the meeting.

"I don't want to see it in my back yard, obviously," Kost said. "I don't think anybody in Alabama wants that, but it is a good opportunity."

The town board will meet within two weeks to take formal action on the proposals.

August 16, 2012 - 1:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Darien, darien lake theme park.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center is helping the owners of Darien Lake Theme Park refinance $57.5 million in loans by authorizing a mortgage tax exemption of $719,062.

According to a GCEDC release, the bank refinancing the loans is -- for an unexplained reason -- requiring a new mortgage on the property, which is triggering a mortgage tax.

The theme park is owned by Georgia-based Herschend Family Entertainment, which has invested approximately $15 million in upgrades to the facility.

There are 400 full-time equivalent jobs at Darien Lake with an annual payroll of $11 million and the park generates $2.5 million in revenue for local governments and school districts through property and sales taxes.

August 7, 2012 - 10:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, Gensee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Press release:

For the third year in a row Genesee County has been recognized in the top five of the rankings in the Metro Food Processing Industry Growth category by "Business Facilities" a national site selection publication.

The agriculture industry in Genesee County employs more than 1,500 workers, a number that will dramatically increase with the opening of Alpina Foods, LLC, and PepsiCo/Muller yogurt manufacturing facilities.

“The construction of two major new food processing facilities by Alpina and the joint venture between PepsiCo and Theo Müller demonstrates a significant return on our investment in our Agri-Business Park which we believe is driving our high national ranking,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC). “We are honored to be once again recognized by 'Business Facilities' as it keeps us on the radar screen for site selectors throughout the United States and the world.”

The Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park encompasses 202 shovel-ready, pre-permitted acres strategically located between Western New York and the Finger Lakes Region. On site there is access to low-cost process water via a local aquifer that produces more than six million gallons per day and a pretreatment facility as well as rail access.

Through the support of National Grid and National Fuel, the site has an enhanced utility infrastructure. The agri-park was originally a public-private partnership between GCEDC and Farm Credit East.

“The Agri-Business Park in Genesee County is perfectly tailored to fill a niche in our region created by our productive agricultural sector,” said Mary Pat Hancock, chair, Genesee County Legislature. “It makes perfect sense to have those who process food to have their facilities as near as possible to where the food is produced.

"It makes for a better, safer, and tastier product and is also more efficient.  Our resources lend themselves to food processing and our location is ideal for quick market access. We look forward to continued success and expansion.”

Alpina Foods LLC, one of the most recognized dairy companies in the world and a leading dairy producing company in Colombia and South America, has decided to open its first specialty yogurt manufacturing plant in the United States at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

PepsiCo, in a joint venture with German dairy company Theo Müller, also broke ground earlier this year on a $206 million yogurt manufacturing facility at the park. Other food processing facilities in Genesee County include O-AT-KA Milk, Yancey’s Fancy and Allan’s Canning. 

“The significant dairy supply, abundance of fresh water, and talented workforce are just some of the assets that attract food manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Theo Müller and Alpina foods to Western New York,” said Mark S. Peterson, president and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise. “It’s no wonder that more than 100 food manufacturers have operations here.”

“Genesee County’s strategic location and agricultural assets make it a prime location destination for the food processing industry,” said Thomas A. Kucharski, president and CEO of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise.

“The vision Genesee County officials have shown in developing shovel-ready sites like the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park has distinguished them among peer communities and allowed us to succeed in attracting global investment and job creation like Alpina, Mueller and more."

August 2, 2012 - 7:00pm

PepsiCo and Theo Muller officials along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the efforts of local leaders to convince the two international companies to locate their new yogurt plant in Batavia.

The executives, elected officials along with a host of local dignitaries gathered at the new Muller Quaker Dairy plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park today for a dedication ceremony for the new plant.

Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi, said once it was time to make a decision about the location for the plant, Batavia was an easy choice.

"I must say the Genesee County people and the governor’s office were just amazing in the way they worked with us," Nooyi said. "There was no competition. We love being here. The Genesee County people have to be given a lot of credit, the way they brought the forces of the county together to get everything expedited in such a short time. I think it is a real textbook example of how to attract investment into any community."

Stefan Muller, the CEO of the newly formed Muller Quaker Dairy company, said the day that executives traveled to the Genesee Agri-Business Park, the amount of support Genesee County lined up for the visit was impressive. There were representatives from local government and utility companies making promises on delivery of what Pepsi and Muller would need to build the project.

"I have seen 60 sites that were just locations on a map and I have seen six sites personally, but what we saw here was just outstanding," Muller said. "We were promised to get all of the permissions within weeks and we couldn’t believe it."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also praised Genesee County officials and said the effort to bring the Muller Quaker plant to Batavia is an example of how New York is open for business.

“We want business in New York," Cuomo said. "Business is the engine that drives the train, providing the jobs, providing the opportunity, providing the career ladder, providing the revenues to local governments. It’s all about making the private sector run and making the private sector run well and government partnering with that private sector. “

Yogurt, Cuomo said, is quickly becoming a big part of New York's economy -- production is up 60 percent in the past few years and there are now 49 yogurt plants in the state. He said the state is committed to ensuring the yogurt industry succeeds.

"We believe in the yogurt story and we’ve invested in the yogurt story," Cuomo said. "It is a big, big business in the State of New York."

He announced an Aug. 15 summit of leaders in the yogurt industry and dairy leaders to help facilitate, he said, the two groups working together to grow the yogurt industry.

"We want this business to do well," Cuomo said. "We want this business to thrive and we want this business to thrive in the State of New York."

Pepsi is committed to growing in the nutritional food categories, and dairy in particular, Nooyi said.

"Dairy products are a $500 billion industry that is expected to grow rapidly in the high single digits," Nooyi said. "We believe that here in the United States the growth potential for dairy is virtually unlimited."

The yogurt market, she said, is "largely untapped." The per-capita consumption of yogurt in the U.S. is half what it is in many other countries."

Muller said the new product is sweeter than what Theo Muller makes in Germany to meet U.S. consumer expectations and Nooyi praised the new yogurt.

"The Muller Quaker Dairy line is going to bring a whole new taste experience to America that’s not like anything that’s available in the country today," Nooyi said. "Try it and you’ll see that it’s more rich than any other yogurt you've tasted.

"It’s creamier. It’s more delicious. It doesn’t have any chalky aftertaste. It's really something you’ll enjoy eating day in and day out, maybe even three or four times a day."

Muller said the online feedback on the new product has been fun to read.

"I read on the Internet, on a blog, one consumer was writing, she tried the product two weeks ago and she is writing it is insanely delicious," Muller said. "This was really, I think, the right comment."

Both chief executives praised their new business partner as the perfect fit for how each company would like to grow.

"I have to say it was good and smart that we took the time because we found the right partner with PepsiCo and the yogurt market is booming," Muller said. "It’s still a very small market compared to other countries and we have products which are very unique and are really outstanding for the American market."

Nooyi said Pepsi has the distribution system to get the new product onto store shelves throughout the United States.

She also said the two companies share a core value in being committed to their local communities.

"One of the reasons this is a great partnership is both companies are committed to growing our businesses and both are committed to growing our local communities," Nooyi said. "When this plant is complete next year, it will be one of the largest yogurt plants in the United States. It’s going to source largely from New York State dairy farmers and other quality suppliers around this great region. The best part is it will create 186 local jobs next year."

July 24, 2012 - 11:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Press release:

Today, Senator Charles E. Schumer announced a critical funding commitment for the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC) through the Economic Development Administration (EDA), to complete essential infrastructure improvements at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park (GVAB) in Batavia.

In March of 2012, Schumer urged the EDA to support the ag park’s water system after the GGLDC applied for a $1 million investment from the EDA Public Works Program, which will go toward infrastructure improvements needed to support Muller-Quaker partners' -- Theo Muller Group and PepsiCo -- new $206 million yogurt manufacturing facility in the ag park.

Today, the EDA notified the GGLDC that the agency was granting it a $1 million preliminary award pending receipt of final supporting documents.

“This federal investment will mean more jobs and economic activity in Upstate New York, and more demand for our dairy farmers’ product. It is great news for the Genesee County’s Agri-Business Park that further solidifies Upstate New York’s place at the top of the rapidly expanding Greek yogurt production industry,” Schumer said.

“I urged the Economic Development Administration to support this project so that Genesee can pave the way for a major new water system at the Agri-Business Park in Batavia, helping to sprout hundreds of new jobs and Pepsi’s new Greek yogurt plant.

"The Agri-Business Park is going to be a huge driver of jobs and economic growth, and it’s clear that EDA agrees we need to make this investment to create jobs and new markets for our farms and dairies. The EDA made a smart choice and will get real bang for their buck with this investment.”

In March of 2012, Schumer wrote and personally called EDA Acting Assistant Secretary Matthew Erskine to issue his support and noted that this investment would allow the ag park to construct an aquifer-direct water system, which is required for food processing and yogurt-product manufacturing.

The federal award will also help the project leverage millions in private-sector investments and will create approximately 186 jobs at the plant, all while providing a critical boost as Genesee County and Upstate New York work to keep pace with the lucrative and fast-growing yogurt production industry.

The GGLDC will use the $1 million, plus a local match, to construct an aquifer-direct water system required by food processors as municipal water is not optimal for the manufacturing process of yogurt products.

In addition to PepsiCo’s Muller-Quaker plant, the aquifer system will be utilized by other tenants at the park, such as yogurt product producer Alpina Foods. Alpina is in the process of constructing a 40,000-square-foot yogurt processing facility in the ag park and anticipates beginning production late this summer with the hiring of 50 new employees.

Schumer highlighted the fact that multiple economic development projects would be set to utilize this aquifer system once constructed, and noted that the project fits squarely in line with the administration’s focus on developing regional clusters of growth in specialized high-tech manufacturing.

This funding will help Genesee County close an over $1 million funding gap needed to upgrade the park’s road and sewer infrastructure to accommodate forthcoming new tenants like Muller-Quaker, Alpina, and Genesee Valley Mushroom.

In May, Schumer led the effort to secure $105,000 from the USDA to upgrade an essential pump station necessary to increase the park’s wastewater system’s capacity to support the park’s new tenants. To overcome the last of this funding gap, Schumer is also spearheading an effort to secure a $200,000 grant from USDA to construct the required secondary access road into the park. The USDA expects to announce winners of that grant within the next few weeks.

Earlier this year, Schumer urged Muller-Quaker partner PepsiCo, to source as much of the milk for their product as they can from New York’s dairy farmers. The new plant, to be built in Batavia, will create 186 jobs primarily around the manufacturing of various Greek yogurt products. Schumer noted that the plant will be the largest manufacturing operation to locate in Genesee County in the past 50 years.

Dairy processing has significantly increased, thanks to the opening of several new yogurt plants in the state, and the new Muller-Quaker plant represents the latest opportunity to increase demand for New York dairy products, a welcome boost for New York’s long-suffering dairy farmers.

The EDA Public Works Program provides funding for distressed communities to revitalize and upgrade physical infrastructure to attract new industry, encourage business expansion, and diversify local economies.

The Economic Adjustment Assistance Program helps address the needs of communities experiencing adverse economic changes that may occur suddenly or over time caused by international trade, long-term economic deterioration, loss of major community employer, or loss of manufacturing jobs. Funding can be used for infrastructure improvements like sewers.

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