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March 6, 2013 - 6:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, GCEDC.

Press release:

Site Selection Magazine has once again recognized Batavia/Genesee County as one of the top micropolitans in the United States. For the ninth consecutive year, Batavia/Genesee County has made the Site Selection Governor’s Cup rankings for top micropolitans and is now ranked tied for fifth on its national list.

“It is very difficult to jump up so many spots, especially with the intense competition among the top micropolitans throughout the United States,” said Mike Glennon, regional marketing director of Site Selection Magazine. “Congratulations to all in economic development in Genesee County; this is a superb job and a testament of the strength of the business climate and assets Batavia and the region have to offer.”

The ranking of Top Micropolitans is based on cities of 10,000 to 50,000 people which cover at least one county.  There are approximately 576 micropolitans in the United States according to Site Selection Magazine.  Batavia tied Shelby, N.C., for fifth place in the national rankings.

“This is a great recognition in an extremely competitive industry and it once again reinforces that when the public and private sectors work together we can accomplish great things for the region,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Council. “We look forward to continuing the momentum of this collaboration in our economic development efforts for 2013.”

The GCEDC will unveil its 2012 Annual Report highlighting performance results at the organization’s annual meeting on Friday, March 8 at Noon at Genesee Community College.

Among those attending include Congressman Chris Collins, New York State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, New York State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, Genesee County Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock and other local government and business officials.

National Grid will be recognized by the GCEDC as economic development partner of the year. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance by calling the GCEDC at 343-4866.

February 28, 2013 - 2:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC.

Press Release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) announced that applications to its Food Processing Training Program are available beginning March 4th. The deadline for submitting applications is April 15.

Applications will be available at the Genesee County Career Center, located at 587 E. Main St., Suite 100, Eastown Plaza in Batavia. Applicants will need to complete a Customer Registration Form at the Genesee County Career Center as well as submit an up-to-date resume, and, if required, participate in a math/reading test and a follow-up interview.

“This is a very exciting initiative because it is an integral component of our business operations, creating opportunities for employment for our residents,” said GCEDC Chairman Charlie Cook. “The program also continues our commitment of collaboration among various public and private sector partners throughout the community.”

In addition to receiving a non-credit certificate from the Genesee Community College (GCC), participants will have a permanent record and transcript for successful completion of the program. They will also receive certificates in Lean Systems Six Sigma Yellow Belt (Rochester Institute of Technology), Team Building (GCC), Basic Dairy Science & Sanitation Certificate (Cornell University), and an OSHA Certificate for Safety in a Manufacturing Environment (GCC).

The training program, developed by GCEDC, GCC, RIT and Cornell University, will benefit the area’s existing food-processing companies. It will also prepare a workforce for companies in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

The training program is being funded by an Area Development grant obtained by the GCEDC from the National Fuel Gas Corp. with additional financial support from the Finger Lakes Food Cluster Initiative — funded by the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration in the amount of $38,000 or 28 percent of the program. The program is expected to train approximately 120  people while creating a model for future food processing and technology training programs.

“If we are to continue to market and grow the food-processing industry we need skilled and educated workers,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “The investment we make to train and educate our workforce is just as important as the investment we make in bricks, mortar, water, and sewer infrastructure that makes our properties shovel-ready to bring business here.”

February 11, 2013 - 12:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, Darien, darien lake theme park.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center Board of Directors has approved assistance with the following projects:

Darien Lake Theme Park. Darien Lake is planning new cabins and new rides for 2013. The total investment by Darien Lake is $5.2 million and theme park management sought assistance with $1.9 million of the investment. The board approved a PILOT (reduced property tax on the increase in assessed value due to the improvements) worth $147,339 over 10 years. The project will also save $132,000 on sales tax for construction materials. The project is expected to generate six additional full-time equivalent jobs. Darien Lake employees more than 400 FTEs.

Reed Batavia Properties, LLC. Reed is in the process of purchasing the former Batavia City Schools administration building at 39 Washington Ave., Batavia. The company is planning $1.525 million in improvements to the building, converting it to medical offices. The GCEDC board approved a $76,361 PILOT, $52,000 in sales tax exemption, and a $12,500 mortgage tax exemption. The project is expected to generate six new jobs.

Batavia Hospitality, Inc. (Days Inn / Super 8). The company is planning on investing $530,000 in building improvements, including a new pitched roof, exterior facelift and interior upgrades. GCEDC's board approved a PILOT worth $54,198 over 10 years and sales tax exemption of $28,000. The project is expected to create five new jobs and help retain 16 jobs.

February 4, 2013 - 11:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, taxes, GCEDC.

A proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to curtail sales tax exemptions on new development and redevelopment projects could hurt such projects locally, according to City Manager Jason Molino and Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

"Losing the ability to offer state portion of sales tax exemptions dilutes our financial assistance offerings at the local level," Hyde said. "That hurts since we remain the 49th most expensive state to do business in."

Nearly all projects that come to the Industrial Development Agency for assistance and the promise of job growth receive a sales tax exemption on building materials, plant expansion and/or new equipment.

The City of Batavia has been aggressively pursuing projects that redevelop commercial parts of the city -- called "brownfield redevelopment" -- and the loss of the sales tax exemption could be a setback for those plans.

While Molino is reserved in his judgement since the governor's budget is still in the early proposal phase, he said if the elimination of sales tax exemptions goes through, it won't be good for Batavia.

"I think it has the potential to negatively affect any economic development effort that would use sales tax exemptions as part of its model for development," Molino said.

Hyde said much of the redevelopment necessary in the city won't qualify for the state's "excelsior program," which provides tax credits for strategically targeted industries, so maintaining the sales tax exemption is critical.

"We can support some really exciting things developing in the city to the fullest extent possible," Hyde said.

The Buffalo News carried a story this morning about how the budget proposal will be a setback for redevelopment in Buffalo.

Hyde encouraged constituents to reach out to the governor's office and express concern about the proposal.

"This topic is important as community development projects will be negatively impacted considerably and those are the lifestyle projects important to our  residents," Hyde said.

February 1, 2013 - 3:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, liberty pumps, bergen.

If Charlie Cook can do one thing as chairman of the board of the Genesee County Economic Development Center it is improve the public perception of the agency.

GCEDC claims 3,581 jobs creation commitments since 2003 spread over 349 economic development projects with a total capital investment of $835. In 2012, GCEDC was able to announce at least 300 new jobs at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park and WNY STAMP’s regulatory approval promises thousands of more new jobs in the coming years, according to the agency.

Local residents should take pride in hosting an such aggressive, forward-thinking, job-creating industrial development agency, Cook believes.

Turning public opinion from one of skepticism over employee compensation into one of appreciation for its accomplishments won't be a quick or easy process, Cook said.

"Nobody questions the accomplishments of the EDC and how successful we've been over the past 10 years," Cook said. "It's just been huge, but it can be a short-lived success when you shoot yourself in the foot. Certainly this incentive compensation thing was a bad decision and that's been taken away, and that's good.

"I'm determined," he added, "to turn public perception into pride for what this agency does."

Like most entrepreneurs, Cook is an optimist. He's an engineer, so he is hardwired to solve problems. He's also one of Genesee County's most successful business leaders, so he knows what success looks like.

As a Genesee County native, born and raised in Bergen, Cook is a cheerleader for our region and its prosperity.

"The ultimate goal is to keep more of our graduates, our kids, in the area."

But it's not just job creation that motivates Cook to serve as a volunteer on the GCEDC board, it's about boosting the standard of living for us all.

"It's about the well being of our entire area, whether it's job creation or just an improved quality life, that's the real reason I'm on the board. Job creation is just one of the things that leads to that."

Cook has some experience in job growth.

Liberty Pumps was founded in 1965 by his uncle, Fred Cook. Charlie Cook took charge of the company in 1975 when it had only about a dozen employees. Today, Liberty Pumps employs 135 people in its 124,000-square-foot facility in Apple Tree Acres.

Gross annual revenue for Liberty Pumps is about $55 million.

Cook is proud that his company is one where people generally enjoy their work and share in the profits, when there are profits to share.

"We have a hard time here tolerating negative attitudes or an attitude that doesn’t lend itself to performance. It’s not so much me or the managers looking for it. It’s more the peers.

"If there’s somebody who is just not with the program, it’s best for us, obviously, but it’s also best for the employee to move on and go do something else. Fortunately, doesn’t happen too often, but when it does everybody ends up better for it. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a job you really don't like."

After high school, Cook moved to Missouri to study at Parks College of Aeronautical Technology of St. Louis University.

He went to work for McDonald Douglas at night.

"I had no money and I didn't want to take out a loan," he said.

After graduation, Cook moved to a day shift at McDonald Douglas, but was drafted into the Army a few months later.

He was trained as a radio teletype operator and of the 96 people in his school, 93 were sent to Vietnam. Cook was transferred to South Korea.

Cook served his 21 months and then returned to McDonald Douglas, but soon realized he preferred the lifestyle of rural Western New York, wanted to be near his family and didn't fit in with the corporate culture of a large company.

His uncle hired him as an engineer.

"The reality was, we only had seven employees in the company," Cook said. "We did everything. We would build pumps in the morning, in the afternoon, if I had a chance, I would do some design work or I'd go out on the road selling. We did whatever it took to get the job done."

New employees are much more specialized and it's easy to get pigeon-holed into a particular job, but it's still part of the company's culture to expose every employee to as many aspects of the business as possible.

It's also part of its culture to communicate what's going on with the company. The most important communication just might be about profits.

Cook has taken only one business course in his life, at Genesee Community College, and one of the memorable lessons the instructor tried to impart to the class was that a business owner takes all the risks, so the owner should reap all the rewards.

It's a philosophy he has never agreed with.

"I feel like the rewards should be shared with the people who got you there. Ever since the beginning, we've had a pretty aggressive and generous bonus program, profit sharing."

Innovation is also important to Liberty's success.

The sales and marketing departments are really good, he said, at listening to customers and coming up with new ideas, but Cook also subscribes to the notion -- shared by great entrepreneurs from Henry Ford through Steve Jobs -- that often customers doesn't know what they want until you show it to them.

"That's one of the secrets of our success -- coming up with products they just can't get from our competitors."

That's why Fred Cook's business caught on from the beginning.

Liberty was originally a spin-off of a Buffalo-based pump company and made only sump pumps.

But sales of sump pumps are vulnerable to weather conditions, so Fred needed to come up with a line of pumps that could be sold any time of year.

He designed a pump that was pre-installed in a basin and contractors liked it because it was easy to install.

Since then, Liberty Pumps has continued to refine products and expand its line of pumps -- sold to distributors who sell them to contractors.

As we toured the Liberty Pumps facility earlier this week, Charlie asked me not to take a picture of a pump casing because it hasn't been released on the market yet. He doesn't want to give competitors a sneak peek.

"Our competitors have always copied us and now it happens more frequently. Our challenge is to have the next generation already under way before that happens."

That innovative spirit is what makes Liberty Pumps a fun place to work, Cook said.

"It’s really dynamic and exciting. For a boring product like a pump, it’s amazing how interesting it can get if you really focus on innovation and things that aren’t out there currently."

In recent years, the growth of Liberty Pumps has been helped by the agency Cook now helps oversee -- GCEDC.

In 2000, the company moved from a 28,000-square-foot facility on Route 19 to a brand new building in a "shovel ready" business park built in Bergen by GCEDC.  Liberty received tax abatements to help with the move.

In 2008, the company expanded its Apple Tree Acres facility to its present 124,000-square-foot building, again receiving assistance from GCEDC.

In a comment on The Batavian last week, a reader questioned Cook's position as chairman of the board and a beneficiary of GCEDC benefits.

"I would like to invite him out here and show him how that money was invested," Cook said. "Is it sort of corporate welfare? It all depends on how a company uses that benefit. We reinvested that money. Would we have had the two build-outs without the investment, sure, but the fact is, we wouldn't have had the funding to put into product development to fill things up and do another one another eight years later."

Cook's term on the board ends in 2016, but before then, he anticipates more expansion for Liberty Pumps, and in that time he expects his company will again seek assistance from GCEDC.

By law, Cook will be unable to participate in any discussion, and he certainly won't be able to vote, on any proposal for GCEDC to help Liberty Pumps.

The same assistance Liberty Pumbs has received, Cook said, has helped dozens of other businesses in Genesee County.

The assistance helps level the playing field for company's like Liberty Pumps that are based in high-tax New York and must compete against companies based overseas or in lower-tax states.

If all GCEDC did was hand out tax breaks to businesses that promise jobs to the count, it might be controversial enough, but in January 2001, the Authorities Budget Office released a scathing report on bonuses paid to GCEDC employees, especially CEO Steve Hyde.

The public outcry has been at a near consistent high pitch since then and late last year, at the same time Cook was announced as the incoming chairman, the agency said the bonus program would be discontinued starting with the 2013 performance year.

Bonuses were still paid for 2012 because, Cook said at the time, the agency was contractually obligated to pay out bonuses earned by employees based on their performance during the year.

In all, for 2012, employees received $120,000 in bonuses.

In December, the board also announced a raise for Hyde from an annual $160,000 to $195,000. Hyde won't earn a bonus in 2012, but he will receive $10,000 in deferred compensation.

The other staff members, the board announced in December, would also receive raises. Those raises range from 8 to 12 percent.

Local residents continue to take issue with the compensation of employees because they question the announced job creation numbers of the EDC, but many people also object to the annual county government share paid to the agency each year.

For 2013, taxpayers will kick in $213,000 to help fund the agency's operations.

While Cook acknowledges the bonuses paid out previously were a mistake, he said the county's should continue partial funding for GCEDC.

"Looking at this last year, sure the EDC did extremely well and they did earn some money, but our commitments for reinvestment far exceed (that revenue)," Cook said. "I think it's appropriate that the county invest incrementally. There are going to be years where we don't have that kind of success and yet you want to maintain the caliber of staff that we have. I think there would be a danger, and it would be unfortunate, if we ask for substantially less from the county."

Cook acknowledged that all of the negative attention Steve Hyde seems to get over his compensation is a concern.  It's not come to the point yet, Cook said, that he feels the need to sit down and talk about it, but he understands that anybody can find their job less enjoyable if they face constant criticism from the public.

"How long can you really enjoy your occupation with the negative scrutiny? Certainly, scrutiny is not inappropriate for what he does. That's to be expected.  We're uncomfortable for the potential that he is uncomfortable to the point of being discouraged enough to the point of leaving."

Cook considers Hyde a bit of a superstar at what he does and wants to see him stick around.

"Without actually seeing all he does and knowing about his capabilities, it's difficult for people to understand that he would be hard to replace. It's not impossible. Anybody is replaceable, but even if you did, you would have to pay at least as much as what we're paying him to get that kind of talent. It's just a fact."

Over the next year or two, Cook hopes he can help refocus the public's attention on the agency's success and have people come to understand that Hyde and the rest of the staff are paid well because they do a really good job at creating employment and improving the quality of life in Genesee County.

"Any agency that can do what his agency has done and generate this many jobs in a rural county, especially in New York State, is pretty amazing," Cook said.

January 28, 2013 - 1:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, liberty pumps.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) announced today that Charlie Cook has been appointed GCEDC’s chairman of the board, while Thomas H. Felton has been appointed chairman of the board of the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC). Cook has served as president and CEO of Bergen-based Liberty Pumps since 1975, while Felton currently serves as a commercial lender for the Bank of Castile located in Batavia.

“I am honored and excited to assume the chairmanship of the GCEDC,” Cook said. “Hopefully my years of experience running and growing a business in Genesee County will help me in working with our very capable and diverse board to understand and provide what business leaders and entrepreneurs throughout the region need to be successful.

"The GCEDC will continue to foster increased economic activity through growth, expansion and retention of our existing business base, while also attracting new business development to help build a sustainable long-term economy.”

Under Cook’s leadership, Liberty Pumps has grown to become a leading domestic manufacturer of sump and wastewater pumps and systems for the professional plumbing trade in North America. Cook earned his bachelor's degree in Aeronautics from Parks College of Aeronautical Technology of St. Louis University and served in the Army.

Cook has also served in numerous community roles, including: chairman of the Genesee County Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee (2002-2006); Genesee Community College Foundation Board; vice chairman of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Board; and vice chair of the Gillam Grant Community Center Board of Directors.

He is a member of the Leadership Genesee Class of 2003, a past member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Small Business Advisory Committee, and currently serves on: the board of directors of the Genesee Patrons Cooperative Insurance Company; the Sump and Sewage Pump Manufacturers Association; and the Bergen Business and Civic Association. He was recently appointed by Governor Cuomo to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.

Cook will take over for John “Jack” F. Andrews, who was chairman of the GCEDC since 1991.

Thomas Felton currently serves as a commercial lender for the Bank of Castile. He is responsible for servicing agricultural and commercial loans in a multi-county area. Prior to his employment at the Bank of Castile, Felton was an agricultural lender at Pavilion State Bank and the district manager of Monroe Tractor. Felton graduated from Cornell University School of Agriculture and Life Sciences with his bachelor's degree concentrating in Business Management and Marketing.

Felton has served his community in a number of different roles, including president and VP of Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension, serving as supervisor of the Town of Byron as well as councilman and planning board member. He was the treasurer of the Byron-Bergen Education Foundation, an elder with the North Bergen Presbyterian Church, and a member of the Byron Kiwanis Club, and past board member with the Gillam Grant Community Center.

Currently, Felton is a board member with UMMC Foundation, Genesee Valley Rural Preservation Council, and the Cornell Dairy Farm Business Summary. He serves as the president of the Northeast Agriculture Bankers Association Rural Affairs Committee and treasurer of the North Byron Cemetery Association.

January 25, 2013 - 4:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, business, GCEDC, solar energy.

Arista Power and the Genesee County Economic Development Center will be having FREE educational workshops on solar energy and how the Solarize Genesee program works.

Solar energy, the installation process, financing, and a variety of other topics regarding solar energy will be covered.

The workshops are open to all of the community. Solarize Genesee is a new community solar program that is offering solar buyers a discount by bulk purchasing as a community. The more solar systems that are purchased, the more the cost will go down for everyone!

The education workshop schedule follows:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 5, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at GCEDC, Room 214
  • Thursday, Feb. 7, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at GCEDC, Room 214
  • Monday, Feb. 11, from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. at Batavia Town Hall
  • Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at GCEDC, Room 214
January 21, 2013 - 6:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, bergen.

Press Release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) announced today that it will deliver a presentation at the Town of Bergen’s Public Meeting on January 22 to raise awareness about the organization’s activities and continue an ongoing dialogue with residents.

Mark Masse, GCEDC’s senior vice president of operations, and Rachael Tabelski, marketing and communications manager, will be discussing the role and purpose of GCEDC, the ways in which it assists companies and fosters business development in the region, and the recent projects in which GCEDC has participated – both in Bergen and throughout the county. GCEDC will also be taking questions from those in attendance.

The meeting will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 22 at the Bergen Town Hall, located at 10 Hunter Street in the Town of Bergen. All residents are encouraged to attend.

January 8, 2013 - 11:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) announced today that Genesee County has been approved as a Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ), the first FTZ in the Finger Lakes Region since a similar zone was created in Monroe County in 1987. An FTZ is a site within the United States designated by the U.S. Department of Commerce where foreign and domestic merchandise is considered to be in international commerce.

“This is a historic day for economic development in Genesee County and a critical component of our broader efforts to sustain job creation and investment in our region,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of GCEDC. “The approval of this application for FTZ status will help spur economic growth and foreign investment by incentivizing businesses with customs duty savings and other tax advantages, as well as increased flexibility in the handling of domestic and imported merchandise.”

The application designates two Genesee County industrial parks – Apple Tree Acres and the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park – as magnet sites, which allows businesses looking to develop at these sites a fast-tracked application process. Other magnet sites can be added later.

Because an FTZ is considered to be “outside” the customs territory of the United States, foreign or domestic merchandise may enter without a formal customs entry, or the payment of customs duties or government excise taxes. When a final product is exported from an FTZ, no U.S. Customs duty or excise tax is levied. If the final product is imported from the FTZ into the United States, customs duty and excise taxes are due only at the time of formal entry into the United States. The duty paid is the lower of that applicable to the product itself or its component parts.

Genesee County’s application, submitted by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC), establishes an FTZ under the program’s Alternative Site Framework (ASF). This framework provides Genesee County’s FTZ greater flexibility as a broad geographic area, as opposed to traditional FTZs, which were building/site-specific.

There are a total of only 14 FTZs currently approved in New York State, four of which are located in or near New York City.

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.

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