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April 29, 2016 - 4:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Vinyl Record Revival, business, batavia, downtown, news.

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The sale of vinyl records has reached its highest level in 28 years and Batavia resident Richard Mistretta is betting that trend continues.

His own research and experience tells him vinyl, once considered a relic of history, has achieved its own kind of staying power.

"Last year, I first had a thought of opening a brick and mortar store," Mistretta said. "I wasn't sure what I'd be selling, but I started selling online and I noticed albums were selling well. I was selling a lot of vinyl, so with my online business, I switched over to exclusively selling vinyl and the sales numbers continued to go up."

Tomorrow he opens Vinyl Record Revival at 220 E. Main St., Batavia.

He's spent the past couple of weeks building bins for records, CDs, reel-to-reel, and he even has a couple of boxes of 8-track tapes, but vinyl is clearly where the action is. It attracts collectors of all ages these days.

"The big age group right now is young people, teenagers are getting into it," Mistretta said. "I've been hearing about it from a lot of people. They find it fascinating. They find it is something interesting to collect, and, also, the sound is different. That's the big thing, but, also, it's tangible. You can hold it, you can look at it, the artwork; it's easy to read. When something is digital, you don't get all that."

Clearly, vinyl records can't beat digital, especially in the age of cloud storage and streaming services, for convenience, but beside of the tactile and aesthetic appeal, most connoisseurs tip in favor of vinyl for the superior audio performance of analog, which doesn't suffer from the loss of dynamic range found in compressed sound files.

It might be surprising, but as Mistretta noted, when teenagers take an interest in The Beatles, they seek out vinyl, some becoming die-hard collectors.

That works out well for Mistretta, who is a lifelong fan of The Beatles and is stocking a full range of Beatles records, books and memorabilia. 

But the Beatles aren't the only hot seller from previous generations. There's also The Who, Queen, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, and, Mistretta noted, even before he died, he couldn't keep Prince in stock. When he put Prince records up for sale online, they would often be gone within hours.

Record stores in WNY are now few and far between, so he's hoping to draw clientele from throughout the GLOW region as well as Rochester and Buffalo. One of his goals is to get to know his customers, know what they're looking for and work with his wholesalers to find it for them.

Mistretta is 60 and recently retired after 20 years at the University of Rochester. He lived in Rochester when he met his wife, Michelle, and fell in love with her and fell in love with her hometown, Batavia. He's lived here for three years.

When he decided vinyl would be the speciality of his retail store, he started buying boxes and boxes of records, including one large collection from a seller in Pennsylvania. He said he's found some real gems among these big collections.

"The poor UPS drivers," he said. "Those poor delivery people probably have sore backs from carrying in boxes."

He's found the type of customers range from young to old, from those looking for just specific artists, to those who buy everything in a genre and those who are more interested in album covers or just exploring.

He has set up several listening stations in the store so customers can sample before they buy.

Right now, the store is strictly used records, tapes and CDs, but with most top current recording artists releasing their albums on vinyl again, he is hoping to find the right distributor so he can carry new inventory as well.

He also sees a need to supply area audiophiles with turntables, receivers and speakers.

"Manufacturers are starting to get back into making a nice receiver, making a nice phonograph and the big speakers, because everything did switch over to something that was more portable," Mistretta said.

Store hours will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. He's not settled yet on what his Saturday hours will be, but he will be closed Sundays and Mondays.

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April 26, 2016 - 5:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Vibrant Batavia, batavia, news, business.

Whether Vibrant Batavia gets funded in 2016-17 depends on how a resolution passed a year ago by the City Council is interpreted by the City Council this year, and that decision will wait for another meeting, this year's City Council decided last night.

A year ago, the council made 2016-17 funding contingent on Vibrant Batavia securing $15,000 from another funding source, but the available language of the resolution seems unclear whether Vibrant Batavia must already have that funding in place or if the group of volunteers must have a plan in place for raising the money before the end of the fiscal year.

City Manager Jason Molino wasn't at the meeting last night and council members would like to hear from him and to review the minutes from a year ago to help with the interpretation of the resolution.

That said, it's a resolution, so it isn't binding. If there are five votes against Vibrant Batavia, the meaning of the resolution could be moot.

When Council President Eugene Jankowski asked council members to vote on a motion to request more information from Molino, four members -- Rosemary Christian, Kathy Briggs, Al McGinnis and Paul Viele -- all voted against even getting more information before making a decision.

Councilman Brooks Hawley was not at Monday's meeting, but it's not clear that other council members would support Vibrant Batavia if came down to a binding vote.

McGinnis likened Vibrant Batavia to socialism. He thinks the government shouldn't take the initiative on what private citizens should do.

Rosemary Christian said she was promised years ago that a spray park would be built on the Southside and she wonders whatever happened to that idea, and there are sidewalks that need repaired and police cameras that should be purchased.

"We need other things more than we need Vibrant Batavia, no ifs, ands and buts about it," she said.

Jankowski said everybody agrees that Vibrant Batavia has done good work over the past three years.

"There's no debate about it," Jankowski said. "The debate is on how to fund it. That's where the split is."

While the motion failed on the 4-4 vote, it really only takes one council member to request an item be placed on a conference agenda (it takes majority approval to place an item on a business agenda), so the council will be able to take up the issue again at the next conference meeting that Molino is able to attend.

April 26, 2016 - 3:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, business, Announcements, drones, The BEST Center, GCC.

This information was provided by The BEST Center:

The world of drones is exploding! In partnership with regional experts, an intensive 18-hour course called "Introduction to Drones" (sUAS -- small Unmanned Aerial Systems) will be offered at the Genesee Community College Forum, Batavia Campus, on three consecutive Saturdays -- May 7, 14 and 21.

Cost is $1,499 and includes your own model quad-copter drone with camera, computer flight simulator and workbook. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a one-hour break.

This course is offered in partnership with regional experts and is designed for any industry, business or service that is using or looking to use drones as well as for hobbyists.

If you are interested in emerging careers or are involved in construction, agriculture, real estate, insurance, public safety, EMS, photography, media, marketing, inspection, land surveying, golf courses, amusement parks, etc., or want to start a business, you'll learn how your industry can be transformed in new, cost-effective ways.

For recreational operators, you'll learn exactly what you need to know to be legal to fly efficiently and get the most out of your drone.

A Certificate of Completion will be awarded to participants (not a license).

To register, call 345-6868 or visit   www.bestcenter.org

The course will cover:

  • Indoor hands-on flight practice using a model quad-copter;
  • Computer simulator training;
  • Operations of different tyoes of sUAS, including mot multi-rotor and fixed-wing;
  • Flight systems, inlcuding DJI Phantom, Inspire 1 and 3D Robotics;
  • Flight vehicles, radio controllers, components and characteristics;
  • Autonomous flight
  • Routine maintenance;
  • Uses and Applications: Markets, Photography and Video, Post-processing, Economic Drivers;
  • Safety: Best Practices, Operational Risks, Rules of the Road;
  • Up-to-Date FAA Regulations: Policies, Flying Legally, Liability; Exemptions; Operation and Certification of sUAS;
  • Etiquette and Privacy;
  • Operational Risks and Insurance;
  • Exploring Career Opportunities -- Virtually Unlimited!
April 22, 2016 - 4:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BID, batavia, downtown, business.

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The Business Improvement District held its annual meeting and awards at the City Church's Generation Center on Center Street, Batavia, this afternoon.

Above, Beth Kemp and Brian Kemp, owners of T-Shirts Etc., accept one of the two Business awards handed out.

BID Director Laurie Oltramari borrowed from the movie "Moneyball" to talk about focusing on our strengths as a business community and not trying to compete with the big companies on their terms.

Felipe Oltramari, Genesee County's director of planning, delivered a keynote speech, pointing out the Batavia's highest value properties are all downtown. One mixed-use property Downtown is worth more than Walmart in tax revenue. He recommended finding ways to add density to Downtown.

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Java Farm Supply, represented by John Bookmiller, also won a BID Business Award.

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Kristen Merriam, who works for Charles Men's Shop, was honored as Volunteer of the Year.

April 22, 2016 - 3:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, batavia, news, Tencar, Choice Cap, healthcare.

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Besides a potentially great idea, Georgann Carrubba has one of the key things investors look for in a startup CEO -- passion for an idea that she thinks will make a big change in people's lives.

Though the product she hopes to bring to market is decidedly less sexy than some tech gadget, she thinks her sincerity is what swung a panel of judges in her direction two days ago when they awarded her the $25,000 top prize in the 2016 Rochester Venture Challenge.

The lifelong Batavia resident said she could hardly believe she won, standing on stage in front of 300 people with young men who came to pitch ideas for drones, mobile phones and gaming. 

She had been through this kind of competition before, at Buffalo's 43 North, where tech inventions carried the day.

"I was in complete shock," Carrubba said. "I'm looking at each side of me and it's all technology again. And they're good people and they believe in their products as much as I do, so I was completely caught off my game. When they asked me to speak, I cried. I had to compose myself to say a couple of sentences because I truly did not think we would win. It was a tough competition."

Not only is Carrubba's product less sexy than a tech gadget, it addresses an issue that doesn't even get a lot of attention among the pantheon of people's medical issues that are the subject of telethons, ribbon wearing and 5K races.

We're talking about colostomy and ileostomy patients, people who have bags attached to a hole in their abdomen to collect their bodies' waste.

There are some 800,000 ostomy patients in the United States (perhaps as many as 5 million worldwide), and another 50,000 to 65,000 are given the procedure each year. The surgeries are the results of cancer, disease or accidents and the range of ages includes the very young and the very old.

Up until now, these patients have been saddled with a bulky bag that is prone to leaks and odor and reduced mobility and activity, including sexual activity.

Carrubba became a visiting nurse in 2004 and dealt with many patients who struggled with their ostomy equipment and dealt with the embarrassment of their situation often by avoiding socializing and outside activities. 

She thought in this day and age, why hasn't something better come along?

There had been no significant advance in ostomy care in 60 years.

One evening in 2011, she was sipping coffee at her sister's house and glanced down at a bowl and an idea popped into her head.

"I went home, went to bed, said my prayers and the next day made it in my garage," Carrubba said.

What Carrubba invented -- and secured a patent on -- is a cup-like device that attaches to the diaphragm in the patient's abdominal opening and collects waste. It is secure, airtight and waterproof.

She has a patent pending on a sensor that will be included in the cup so patients will be alerted on an iPhone or iPad when the bag inside the cup needs to be changed.

To go along with the device, called a Choice Cap, patients will be able to purchase biodegradable bags, and perhaps eventually, bags that can be flushed down any toilet, and decorative covers that can match anything from a wedding dress to swimsuit to boxers or a slinky nightgown.

After six design changes in the prototype, Carrubba is ready for the Choice Cap to go through trials with actual patients. Even though the product doesn't require FDA approval, she wants that kind of rigor in the trials so she and her team can collect the feedback and make any design changes  needed before going into production.

She hopes to have the Choice Cap on the market by early 2017.

A journey that began with a spark of inspiration hasn't necessarily been easy or straightforward. Carrubba has never run a business and didn't really know the first thing about starting a business.

She got together with her cousin, Eugene Tenney, an attorney in Buffalo, to help form a company, originally to be called Carten, but it turned out that name wasn't available, so it became Tencar, a company she plans to keep based in Batavia.

She then went to the Innovation Center at the Med-Tech Center, where the Genesee County Economic Development Center staff helped her form an advisory board, provided information and introductions for the startup communities and services in Buffalo and Rochester.

The competitions taught her a lot about the business world, she said, but admits that while she'll remain CEO, she really isn't qualified to be COO or CTO or CFO or any of the other C-suite positions. 

She was particularly grateful to High-Tech Rochester for the training and mentoring program that preceded the competition, and she said the encouragement she received from Theresa Mezzullo and Rami Katz of the investment firm Excell Partners was particularly helpful.

It was Katz who advised Carrubba to just be herself during the pitch, so she showed up in her nurses scrubs and spoke from her heart.

What drivers Carrubba, she said, isn't the allure of entrepreneurial success, or even the potential $2.4 billion domestic market for her product, but the hope of making people's lives better.

"I was never one of those, 'I'm going to invent something and be a millionaire,' " Carrubba said. "No, no, no. I was a nurse. I've always been a nurse. Truth be known, probably a lot of my employers don't like me because I've always been on the side of the patient, whatever is best for the patient. I've always been a patient advocate."

April 21, 2016 - 3:36am
posted by Raymond Coniglio in Le Roy, Rancho Viejo, business, news.

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Rancho Viejo Mexican Restaurant opened Wednesday in the Le Roy Village Plaza on West Main Street. (Photo courtesy of Marysol Leon.)

Le Roy’s newest restaurant has plenty of longtime fans.

Rancho Viejo Mexican Restaurant had a “soft opening” Wednesday in the Le Roy Village Plaza on West Main Street.

The location is one of several owned by Jose and Marysol Leon, including Rancho Viejo in Batavia and a Mexican restaurant in Warsaw.

“We’re happy to be in business,” Jose Leon said. “I invite people to give us a try.”

Many already have.

The Batavia restaurant opened in 2011, inside a former Ponderosa on Ellicott Street. It soon built a loyal customer base — including LeRoyans who lobbied for a restaurant in their hometown.

Jose Leon said he was interested in Le Roy because it did not have a Mexican restaurant. The plaza location was also ideal, offering plenty of space inside, and lots of parking outside.

And its West Main Street address, next door to Le Roy Medical Associates (UR Medicine), guarantees visibility and foot traffic, he said.

Marysol Leon said business was steady on Wednesday, even though the opening wasn’t announced.

“People have been calling to ask, ‘When are you going to open?’” she said.

Le Roy Village Plaza is a former supermarket. The space occupied by Rancho Viejo was formerly a Chinese buffet. It’s been remodeled, brightly painted and decorated.

Jose Leon said food is prepped twice daily, guaranteeing fresh, “home style” cooking. They have applied for a liquor license.

The menu will be familiar to anyone who has been to the Batavia restaurant. 

For first-time diners, Marysol recommended the deep-fried Rancho Viejo Burrito, which is stuffed with ground beef, chicken, rice and beans and topped with nacho cheese and pico de gallo. Rancho Viejo Special Fajitas are served with sliced grilled beef, chicken, pork sausage and shrimp — along with the traditional bell peppers, onions and tomatoes.

Rancho Viejo also offers a children’s menu, vegetarian dishes and “All-American” options that include burgers and a grilled chicken sandwich.

Take-out service is available.

Hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For information call (585) 502-5292.

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(Photo courtesy of Marysol Leon.)

April 20, 2016 - 9:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in unemployment, jobs, business.

The Genesee County unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in March, the lowest rate so far this year and lower than the 6.2 percent of March 2015.

The rate was 5.5 in February and 5.7 in January.

For the entire GLOW region, the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, down from 6.7 percent a year ago.

The state rate is 5.2 percent.

On the jobs side, there were 22,100 non-farm positions reported in Genesee County for March, compared to 22,000 a year ago. 

The state's labor force participation rate, which had been in steep decline starting in 2009 has shown consistent increases over the past three or four months and is now 63 percent. A decade ago, it hovered around 66 percent. 

The labor force participation rate measures all people age 16 and older who either hold jobs or are looking for jobs.

Genesee County's labor force is reported as 29,900. It was 29,500 in March 2015; 32,800 in 2008. The lowest point for March over the past decade was last year.

April 19, 2016 - 6:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, business, news.

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Bob Moore said he feels bittersweet about stepping away from the business he and his wife Noreen opened together 37 years ago, but he couldn't be happier with the new owners.

Tim Adams and Steve Foster become owners tomorrow afternoon of the Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford.

Already business partners with Adams Welding and other business interests, Adams and Foster said not only did the restaurant business interest them, they couldn't stand the idea of an outside buyer taking over a local tradition.

"There's no place like it," said Adams, who was named Geneseean of the Year for 2013. "It would have been a shame to see it shut down or turned into a Chuck E. Cheese. That's what people have been saying, it could have become a Chuck E. Cheese, or somebody could have moved it to another location and we would have had another empty building here. It's a special place so it would have been a shame to have it lost."

Foster started working at the Red Osier 20 years ago, straight out of high school, first as a server and working his way up through the ranks as a bartender and in the kitchen before becoming manager 10 years ago.

"The Red Osier is just a special family," Foster said. "We're all family."

Adams and Foster will retain the restaurant's 70 employees.

Moore said he's not retiring, just stepping aside from owning and running his own restaurant. He will serve as a consultant to Adams and Foster as well as his son, who owns another branch of the Red Osier brand, based in Rochester. 

He's excited to see what Adams and Foster will bring to Red Osier.

"That's what we need, young guys, like we were 37 years ago," Moore said. "They're like my wife and I were, full of piss and vinegar."

There won't be substantial changes, but Foster said there is definitely a magic about the Red Osier to be recaptured and they hope to do that with some decor changes to start -- new uniforms, new white table clothes, a regional wine display, historic pictures of the restaurant are a start.

Moore approves. 

"These guys are full of ideas," Moore said. "I want to help them implement as much as I can. The place looks beautiful. Wow! What a facelift."

There were eight or nine other potential buyers who looked into the restaurant before Adams and Foster approached him, and he immediately thought they would be a perfect fit to take over his business.

Noreen agreed.

"We couldn't have done better," she said.

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Tim Adams ad Steve Foster with Bob and Noreen Moore and a commemorative key Tim and Steve made for them at their metal shop.

April 19, 2016 - 2:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in BID, news, downtown batavia, business.

Press release:

The Batavia Business Improvement District (BID) is proud to highlight its accomplishments for the 2015-2016 fiscal year at its 17th Annual Luncheon & Awards from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22nd at the City Church Generation Center, 15 Center St., Batavia.

Please join us to meet and hear from Laurie Oltramari, the new executive director of the BID, who holds a master's degree in Architecture and Urban Design from the University at Buffalo and previously worked as the BID assistant director for the three years.

In attendance will also be representatives from the offices of Congressman Chris Collins, Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley as well as Genesee County legislators and Batavia City councilpersons. The newly elected board members for 2016-2017 will be announced by Freed Maxick, CPAs. A buffet will be served by Downtown restaurant, T.F. Brown’s.

This year’s guest speaker will be Felipe Oltramari, director of the Genesee County Planning Department, presenting on “The Value of Downtown and Secrets of Urban Design.” Oltramari was the leading voice in introducing Genesee County to the concept of “Beer-Oriented Development (BOD),” which spurred the interest and growth of breweries seeking to come to Downtown. He is also credited with educating municipalities in Genesee County on the idea of form-based codes which is a less restrictive and more intuitive land development regulation that fosters predictable building results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than separation of uses/zoning types) as the organizing principle for the code.

This year’s recipients of the Batavia Business Improvement District awards includes Java Farm Supply, T-Shirts Etc., and Kristen Merriam. 

Java Farm Supply (45 Center St.)  -- Spirit of Downtown Business Award 

Java Farm Supply first opened its doors in 1951 in the basement of a small tire shop. Its founder, William Bookmiller, wanted to offer customized solutions to help local farmers by providing innovative products, many of which were manufactured right here in Batavia.  

Today, Java Farm Supply remains focused on the same purpose and has expanded its scope to include application, dairy, fruit, turf care and row-crop equipment. Its new location in Batavia compliments an expanded product offering and helps its dedicated associates and mobilized fleets deliver these solutions all over Western New York and beyond.  

Java Farm Supply and its associates are proud members of the community, supporting and participating in many local events and organizations. "We are honored to serve the community that has so graciously welcomed us."  

T-Shirts Etc, Inc., (35-37 Center S.) -- Spirit of Downtown Business Award

T-Shirts Etc. is a family owned and operated local screen-printing company that was established in 1997 and began its operation in the Industrial Building on Harvester Avenue, right here in Batavia. After several moves to accommodate the growing industry, T-Shirts Etc. made its way to Downtown Batavia in January of 2012 and became a permanent resident of Downtown after purchasing the building at 35-37 Center St. in 2015.

T-Shirts Etc. provides quality screen printing, embroidery, artwork and logo design, banners, promotional products and decals. They currently serve more than 2,000 customers within the Genesee County area as well as several customers in other counties and out of state. 

As the company hits its 19th year in business, T-Shirts Etc. currently employs five full-time people and is proud to contribute to several local charities and organizations in our community. 

T-Shirts Etc. is a proud member of the Batavia Business Improvement District, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Genesee County Business Education Alliance, and the Advertising Specialty Institute.

Kristen Merriam -- Spirit of Downtown Volunteer Award

Kristen Merriam graduated from Churchville Chili High School in 1999 and then attended Monroe Community College in 2002. She is the proud mother of three children and an avid gardener. Kristen was nominated for the volunteer award because although she does not serve on any committee, she is the first to volunteer to help for any event including promoting events, volunteering at the Batavia Wine Walk, Beertavia, the BID’s Annual Downtown Clean-up, and even staying nearly all day to help with the BID’s largest festival, Summer in the City.

She works at Charles Men’s Shop and although sometimes volunteers only do so in order to promote their business, Kristen works hard and selflessly because she sees the value of helping the community. She has worked behind the scenes for several years. It is likely that board members or committee members do not know the extent of her help. It is with great honor that we bestow the Volunteer Award to Kristen.

*************************

Contact: Laurie Oltramari

E-mail:   [email protected]

Phone:  (585) 344-0900 office                                                                                                                                    

April 13, 2016 - 4:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pollyanna & Dot, The Hidden Door, batavia, business, news, downtown.

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Batavia's newest retail store promises to offer local shoppers unique items for the home, as gifts or perhaps, something special for yourself.

The business, at 202 E. Main St. (Masonic Temple, next to Charles Men's Shop), is really two stores in one and the result of a cooperative agreement between Leanna DiRisio and Ashley Bateman.

The Hidden Door is DiRisio's business and offers rustic, old-timey items that will add tasteful flare to home decor, and Pollyanna & Dot is Bateman's business and offers primarily new dresses in vintage styles.

"We thought this would be a great start for a new business," DiRisio said. "It's kind of like an incubator and if maybe we both grow a little bigger we can go out on our own."

Bateman said Mary Valle (Valle's Jewelry) brought DiRisio and Batemen together and suggested they find a way to partner to pursue their shared dream of owning their own retail shops.

The two aspiring entrepreneurs met, but weren't initially sure it would work out, but as time went on and they thought about it more, the idea started to make more sense.

Both have young children and by working together they can coordinate times to keep the shop open and take care of their kids and other family needs. 

"For me, it's always been something that I've wanted to do and I just figured with the changes going on my life, that if I don't do it now, I would never do it," said DiRisio, who praised a six-week entrepreneur-training program set up by the Batavia Development Corp. at Genesee Community College for giving her the confidence to move forward.

Batemen also thought this was the time to act rather than wait.

"There's a renaissance here that's happening and if we don't do it now, somebody else will, so we wanted to get here first," Bateman said.

The grand opening celebration for Pollyanna & Dot and The Hidden Door is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday.

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April 13, 2016 - 11:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, business, GCEDC, STAMP, news.

Press release:

Hanwha Q CELLS Co., Ltd., (“Hanwha Q CELLS”) (NASDAQ: HQCL) and 1366 Technologies, Inc., (“1366”) today announced that they have entered into a supply agreement in which 1366 will supply up to 700 MW of wafers using 1366’s proprietary Direct Wafer™ technology to Hanwha Q CELLS over a five-year period.

This deal follows a year-long strategic partnership and collaborative R&D efforts to commercialize 1366’s Direct Wafer™ technology with Hanwha Q CELLS’ Q.ANTUM cell technology. 1366 will supply the wafers from its planned U.S. manufacturing facility in New York State, scheduled to be online in 2017.

The agreement ensues months of intense technical collaboration between the two companies during which a series of performance records for the Direct Wafer™ technology were achieved. Hanwha Q CELLS and 1366 jointly reached a maximum efficiency of 19.1% using Direct Wafer™products in Hanwha Q CELLS’ Q.ANTUM cell, as independently verified by the Fraunhofer ISE.

“This agreement with one of the world’s most respected and innovative solar manufacturers is, no doubt, a significant milestone for our business. It further demonstrates the compelling capabilities of the Direct Wafer™ technology and the readiness of this innovation, and establishes its long-term bearing on the industry,” said Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366 Technologies. “We’ve found a strong partner, Hanwha Q CELLS, and we are extremely proud of the work we’ve accomplished together.”

“This agreement aligns with our continuing efforts to bring about world leading technologies that enable solar energy to be more competitive and more affordable,” commented Seong-woo Nam, CEO of Hanwha Q CELLS.  “We are pleased with the progress we have made together during the past year and excited about the potential of 1366’s Direct Wafer™ products with Hanwha’s cell and module technologies to deliver further cost reductions and LCOE competitiveness to standard multi-crystalline wafer-based modules.”

Provided that 1366 meets certain terms and conditions related to its wafer qualification and timing of delivery as agreed by both parties, Hanwha Q CELLS’s commitment to purchase up to 700 MW of wafers over a period of five years will commence.

1366’s Direct Wafer technology is a transformative manufacturing process that offers significant advantages over traditional cast-and-saw wafer production technologies. The process makes wafers in a single step, pulling them directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multi-step, energy- and capital-intensive approach, resulting in significant wafer production cost savings.

Hanwha Q CELLS' Q.ANTUM technology is based on PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) architecture and includes many additional technological features for maximum energy yield under real conditions. Q.ANTUM significantly enhances power output, low-light and temperature-behavior, while at the same time offering all of Hanwha Q CELLS' VDE certified quality standards like Anti-PID protection, Hot-spot protect, and Tra.Q laser marking.

Additional Note: Hanwha was part of a Series C funding round in 2010 that raised $20 million in venture capital to back 1366 Technologies. It was announced at that time that Hanwha planned to become a 1366 customer once production began. The latest available information online indicates that 1366 has raised more than $70 million from private investors.

April 13, 2016 - 11:41am

Press release:

Live Nation is looking to hire a few “rock stars” for this summer’s upcoming concert season at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center. The concert venue is shaping up to have a busy concert schedule with performers like Bad Company & Joe Walsh, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band, and Def Leppard scheduled to perform.

Seasonal job offerings will be available in key areas such as security, cleaning and parking attendants.  The open positions give music lovers seeking part-time work the chance to work in a fast-paced environment and enjoy great live music. 

Live Nation will be hosting four job fair sessions starting this Saturday, April 16th and Sunday, April 17th.  The job fair will be held backstage at Darien Lake in the catering pavilion and sessions will take place from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

For those interested in inquiring more about open seasonal positions, should visit www.livenationentertainment.com/careers/seasonal.

Applicants will need to bring either a driver’s license and Social Security card or a valid U.S. Passport to complete the application.

All applicants are subject to background checks.

April 12, 2016 - 5:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy, news, Boonle.

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A Le Roy resident has a fledgling tech startup he thinks has a chance to get big.

Billion dollar big,* he doesn't know, but he sees an opportunity and he's going for it. (*In the venture-capital investing world. a "unicorn" is a company with a billion-dollar valuation, and a "rocket ship" is a company that is growing fast.)

A couple of months ago, after much planning Antonio Calabrese launched Boonle, a site where aspiring graphic artists and other creative types can find entry-level projects and start building a resume. 

The concept is aimed at college students and new graduates, but anybody entering the workforce as a freelancer might find the site helpful, Calabrese said.

Small businesses without Madison-Avenue-type promotional budgets, as well as other startups, might also gravitate to the site for the chance to tap into some talent at little or no cost.

According to his research, the freelance market, also called the "gig economy" in today's digital parlance, is expected to become 40 percent of the nation's workforce in coming years. 

That's just a huge opportunity for a business like Boonle.

"I think we can harness a lot of that market because that's the newbie market, when things are starting out, and we plan on being that first stepping-stone for those entering the freelance market," Calabrese said. "I think we can own a big chunk of that."

So far, Calabrese, the company's sole owner and founder, has raised $100,000 in seed funding and is starting the search for another round of early-stage investors with a goal of raising from $500,000 to $1.5 million.

There's a lot of marketing needed to help get the word out about Boonle, especially on college campuses. He's hoping to complete a partnership deal soon with RIT, where he graduated from, and other colleges. He recently received applications from 25 students at universities around the nation willing to sign on as brand ambassadors to help sign up would-be freelancers. 

Calabrese came up with the idea for the business when he realized how hard it is for graduates who have yet to establish a professional portfolio to find work, and that there are a lot of smaller businesses that can't afford the rates experienced freelancers and agencies charge.

He acknowledges he's gotten a little criticism from those who think a site like Boonle lowers the fees digital designers and developers can charge, but he counters that the businesses that would pay more, and the designers who would charge more, aren't part of Boonle's target market.

"There is plenty of work to be done on projects that pay more," Calabrese said. "Those are the jobs that are still going to go to those with the skills to get higher-paying jobs."

Creative categories on the site range from logos and brochures to writing and photography and even music production. Basically, if you're a creator, you should be able to find a market for your work on Boonle.

"We're a platform to help people build a platform so they can eventually launch a career," Calabrese said.

Those looking for work set the price for the job, from free to something a bit more pricey, and then freelancers look at the job, decide if it's within their skill level, if the price is right for them at that stage, and then accept the assignment.

The potential employer has the option to reject the freelancer and the job goes back into the marketplace.

"The business can set the job for free if they don't have the budget for it, but the chances of it getting worked on go down if you set it for free," Calabrese said. 

If a business hires a particular freelancer, or several of them, they can present future projects to their pool of trusted freelancers, but the job goes out to the whole site if it isn't picked up within 48 hours.

On jobs that are paid, Boonle handles the transactions through PayPal, taking about a 30-percent cut, with a third of that covering PayPal's transaction fees.

In a future update, freelancers will be able to upgrade their accounts, once they've proven themselves, and get exclusive access to higher-paying jobs and avoid the fee being taken out for a small monthly subscription.

It's Calabrese's intention to keep his business based in Western New York. He's from Rochester with a lot of strong ties there, including ties to the tech-startup investing community, but he thinks as the business grows, wherever it's based in WNY, he won't have a hard time recruiting employees.

He said that while he was at RIT, a lot of students expressed an interest in staying in the area, even those not from here originally, but the kind of jobs they've been trained for are just in short supply in the area.

"When you're getting job offers from Google, Apple, LinkedIn and Facebook, who wants to stay in Rochester then?" he said. "But if there's a cool company here, and the cost of living is a lot less and we can still pay them somewhat competitive rates, then I think they would stay here."

April 8, 2016 - 2:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, batavia ophthalmology.

Press release:

HEALTHeLINK today announced Batavia Ophthalmology, PLLC, is the newest participant in Western New York’s clinical information exchange. 

Currently more than 4,000 physicians, all of the area hospitals and many independent laboratory and radiology practices are connected to HEALTHeLINK with a goal of improving the quality of care, enhancing patient safety and reducing health care costs.

With patient consent, participating physicians can securely and electronically access clinical information on the patients they are treating at the point of care. Approximately 810,000 Western New Yorkers have signed a consent form to provide treating medical professionals with this access through HEALTHeLINK. Ask your physician for a copy or download one at HEALTHeLINK’s Web site

About HEALTHeLINK:  HEALTHeLINK, the Western New York Clinical Information Exchange, is a collaboration among the region’s hospitals, physicians, health plans and other health care providers to serve the eight counties of western New York State. HEALTHeLINK was created to enable the exchange of clinical information in secure and meaningful ways to improve both efficiency and quality, while also helping to control health care costs. Patients who provide consent allow physicians and providers directly involved in their treatment to securely access relevant medical information via HEALTHeLINK, resulting in more timely and effective treatment at the point of care. 

HEALTHeLINK is part of the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY), a technology framework spanning the entire state that allows health care providers efficient access to their patients’ data. HEALTHeLINK has been recognized for its work in building a regional health information technology infrastructure and for testing innovative approaches by both state and federal agencies, including being named a Beacon Community, an effort funded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. For more information about HEALTHeLINK, please visit wnyhealthelink.com.

April 6, 2016 - 11:34am
posted by Billie Owens in news, business, batavia, Batavia High School.

Press release:

Anita Strollo, the coordinator for Batavia High School’s College and Career Center, is “casting a wide net” to find more local businesses that may be interested in being part of the school’s first Hiring Fair on Thursday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at BHS, 260 State St.

“We have about a dozen so far and we’re thrilled with those businesses, but of course we’d like more,” says Strollo.

She anticipates at least 100 students will take advantage of the opportunity to meet with potential employers, providing those business representatives with the chance to meet face-to-face with a large pool of possible employees under one roof. To facilitate the process, there will be computers/laptops and Wi-Fi access for online applications, as well as quiet zones for on-the-spot interviews.

For more information, contact Anita Strollo at [email protected], or 343-2480, ext. 2012.

April 5, 2016 - 6:10pm

The Genesee County Business/Education Alliance continues to grow and gain momentum.

In an agency review before the Human Service Committee on Monday, BEA Coordinator and local businesswoman Beth Kemp highlighted the many avenues the partnership uses to prepare students for the world of work.

It was a dizzying gamut of outreach -- from the popular Summer Career Exploration Camps and a hiring event next week at Batavia High School for 10th- through 12th-graders, to school presentations at Le Roy and Byron-Bergen high schools and a bus tour Oct. 7 of local manufacturers, with more in the works.
 
Upcoming at the YWCA will be the free "Tech Girls" program to enhance critical thinking skills and hands-on learning for at-risk girls ages 9 to 15 with limited access to technology.
 
"It's important that businesses see the value, too, in helping students achieve success," Kemp said.
 
The "education of educators on local business opportunities" is one of the area's that the BEA is focusing on, Kemp said, helping them help students hone a career path.
 
For the next academic year, they will be working with the Genesee County Economic Development Center on piloting a course in Oakfield-Alabama schools about choosing a career. It will include information about the skill sets that will be needed to succeed in jobs at the Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) planned in Alabama.
 
She cited the WNY Tech Academy in Bergen as having STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) focused education for high-skill, financially stable careers in growth industries.
 
For the career camps, the alliance is seeking sponsorships to cover the costs for deserving students. Most camps cost $95 and include a week of instruction, a T-shirt, lunches and snacks. A total of 230 sixth- through 11th-graders will take part in camps this summer. (Camp enrollment maximums vary.)
 
The camps include:
  • MST -- Math, Science and Technology
  • All About Dogs
  • Culinary I
  • Culinary II
  • Animal Science/Vet 
  • Medical ($75)
  • Hard Hat
  • WNY Aviation Adventure (This camp costs more. It's $350 and includes week-long room and board.)
"I think it's amazing what this group can accomplish (for the money)," said Committee Member Andrew Young about the BEA.
 
Following Kemp's overview, the Committee was asked to recommend approval of a resolution for $3,452 in funding for the BEA through a contract for 2016 between the county and the Chamber of Commerce. The members did so unanimously.
 
The BEA operates out of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce office on Main Street and is supported by schools, businesses and county government. It is part of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership.
April 4, 2016 - 12:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, business, Announcements, elderwood health plan.

Press release:

Elderwood Health Plan, a locally based managed long-term care (MLTC) plan, was granted approval by the New York State Department of Health to begin enrolling members April 1.

Elderwood Health Plan provides services to people 21 years and older who are Medicaid-eligible, chronically ill or have disabilities and have been assessed as needing community based long-term care services for more than 120 days. Services are provided in Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming and Monroe counties. Dr. Anthony Billitier is the medical director for the program.

Elderwood Health Plan coordinates primary, specialty and community-based services for its members, and is the payor for a wide range of services, such as long-term home health care, dental, vision, transportation and audiology. Members continue to use their own primary care and specialty physicians through their Medicaid, with the advantage of having an Elderwood Health Plan care manager help coordinate their community based and home care services.

“Our goal at Elderwood Health Plan is to provide the care and access to services necessary for individuals to remain independent and in the community,” said Alicia Kenyon, director of business development. “Our care managers provide support to both members and their families to help coordinate services such as podiatry, physical therapy, in-home care, durable medical equipment, and transportation to medical appointments and day centers.

“We will also help families with the paperwork required to apply for Medicaid.”

 Elderwood Health Plan is backed by the experience of Elderwood, a respected area health care provider for more than 30 years, and by parent company Post Acute Partners, operating more than 20 health care communities in New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

For more information, call Elderwood Health Plan toll-free at 1-866-843-7526 or visit the Web site at www.elderwoodhealthplan.com.

April 2, 2016 - 5:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chamber of commerce, batavia, business, Home Show, news.

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Exhibitors said there was a steady stream of people coming through the Chamber of Commerce's Home Show today at Falleti Ice Arena in Batavia, and that had them in pretty good spirits.

Here's a quick photo tour of some of the activity today.

Doors are open tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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More pictures after the jump:

April 1, 2016 - 4:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Home Show, chamber of commerce, business, batavia, news.

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Late this afternoon, vendors were busy putting together the final touches on their booths for the annual home show at Falleti Ice Arena.

The home show, brought to you by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, opens at 5 p.m. today and continues tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday.

There are about 70 exhibitors with goods and services designed to help you make home life better, beautiful or more efficient. For more information, visit the Chamber's Web site.

March 25, 2016 - 3:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, dairy, business, O-AT-KA, news.

(Photos by Jim Burns.)

A Canadian proposal to reduce the amount of milk products imported from the United States, and to impose a tariff, could have perilous financial consequences for Western New York dairy farmers and cooperatives such as O-AT-KA in Batavia, which exports 20 percent of its goods to Canada annually.

At a press conference this morning in the plant's cafeteria off Cedar Street, Sen. Charles Schumer vowed to bring all his clout -- built over 18 years in the Senate -- to bear to stop the limitations being put forth by the nation's trade ministry in conjuction with its agriculture department under new government leadership.

Last year, U.S. dairies produced 200 billion pounds of milk; 85 percent of that was consumed by Americans and 15 percent was exported, said O-AT-KA CEO Bill Schreiber.

"Canada's trying to put in a new rule that would be devastating to O-AT-KA and Western New York," Schumer told the media, union employees, dairy farmers and local officials in attendance. "That ultra-filtered milk came in duty-free. Now they're trying to change that. ...  and the Province of Ontario wants to keep out (U.S.) dairy sales."

For O-AT-KA, the restrictions would amount to a loss of 180 million pounds of annual milk production -- which is 20 percent of $95 million in yearly sales, or $19 million, according to Schreiber. 

WIth more than 350 employees, the facility is one of the largest employers in the Genesee County. Upstate Niagara Cooperative, made up of nearly 400 dairies, is the majority owner of O-AT-KA.

WNY dairies are poised for growth, despite recent declines in milk pricing -- from $25 per hundredweight (the name of the commodity pricing unit) to $15 currently.

In 2012, O-AT-KA invested $16 million to build a new two-story addition to allow "ultra-filtration" capabilities in order to expand its product line and boost sales to other producers in the United States and abroad, especially Canada. Products include non-fat dry milk powder, buttermilk powder, whey powder, canned evaporated milk, butter, fluid condensed milk, iced coffee, nutritional beverages and other drinks. Ultra-filtered milk is used in cheese making.

Schumer said the recently proposed Canadian trade barriers could hinder plans for growth.

"We have good neighbors in Canada, but every so often something happens," the senator said. "This proposal would bring our mutual agreement to a screeching halt. It would put O-AT-KA and New York's dairy farmers in grave jeopardy. It would imperil the whole Upstate economy."

When asked "Is there really anything you can do?" if another nation, like Canada, implements a trade rule you don't like, Schumer replied: "Yes, a big leverage is tariffs. It's not a one-way street. It's not just exporting to Canada; we import from Canada, too."

It boils down to the fact that "we just have a stronger dairy industry and they're trying to build their's."

The rules, if implemented, would take effect in about six months.

"I'm here to go to bat for you," Schumer said. "I'm going to send a shot across the bough."

Schumer is calling on the U.S. Trade Representives and the USDA to work to protect U.S. dairy exports by ensuring that Canada doesn’t impose restrictive trade rules and honors its commitment to open borders to Upstate New York farmers.

The proposal to limit U.S. dairy imports comes on the heels of the "Trans-Pacific Partnership," referred to commonly as TPP, being signed in New Zealand last month after seven years of negotiations. Besides New Zealand, it is made up of Canada and 10 other Pacific Rim countries, including the United States, Australia, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Chile, Mexico and Peru. Ratification is anticipated over the next two years.

According to the Toronto Sun (Feb. 4. 2016), the pact could impact many industries in Canada, including agriculture, and some opponents fear it could hurt the economy and result in layoffs in some sectors. As part of the deal, Canadian dairy farms are slated to get $4.3 billion in subsidies from their government over a span of 15 years to offset losses from an increase in dairy imports from TPP trading partners.

Schumer made it clear that he opposes big trade agreements like TPP, just as he opposed and voted against NAFTA during the Clinton Administration.

Here's a copy of Schumer’s letter to both the USTR and USDA:

Dear Ambassador Froman and Secretary Vilsack:

I write to you with strong concerns about reports that Canada is weighing policy and regulatory shifts that would undermine one of New York’s most important export markets. Just a few years ago, two dairy companies made investments worth tens of millions of dollars in Upstate New York to produce ultra-filtered milk specifically for export to the Canadian cheese market. These sales are possible as a result of the duty-free access for this specific product that Canada agreed to under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Recent reports indicate that Canada is considering administrative actions to limit Canadian companies’ capacity to use this product in further processing and that Ontario is advancing a new, targeted pricing policy designed to crowd out New York’s dairy sales. Further restraints on dairy trade are unacceptable, particularly coming on the heels of Canada’s recent pledge to expand access to its tightly restricted dairy market under TPP. 

New York has made sizable investments in exporting into Canada under specific rules laid out by the Canadian government. Those sales now help support dairy farmers and rural communities across the state. New Canadian barriers to market access would have an outsized impact on New York’s dairy sector. As the country’s third largest milk producing state, a significant impact on New York’s ability to tap into key foreign markets also will impact farmers in surrounding states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. Moreover, this latest example of dairy market-access restrictions appears to represent a continuation of persistent Canadian regulatory and policy shifts aimed directly at impeding dairy trade. 

We must hold Canada to its commitments and ensure that our exporters do not encounter barriers to the products they are already shipping to Canada. I urge you to strongly reject this and similar efforts to impair the value of concessions the U.S. previously secured under NAFTA. Thank you for your attention to this important priority with one of this country’s largest trading partners.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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