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October 19, 2017 - 5:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, breast cancer, news, Announcements.

There will be a breast cancer awareness fundraiser from 3 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20 at Le Beau Salon inside the City Centre Mall, 106 Main St., Batavia.

It is being held by salon owner Erika Siverling and her friend Jill Meeder, of Pearl Wellness Center.

Attendees can get their makeup done professionally for a $25 donation. There will be lots of raffle baskets to try for and a 50/50 raffle.

Appetizers, beverages and snacks will be served.

Cost to attend if you choose not to have your makeup done is $10 per person. All proceeds will go to the national nonprofit Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.

The San Fransisco-based organization has teamed up with the makeup company used at Le Beau Salon -- Beauty Counter -- and money from the purchase of those cosmetics used also goes to that nonprofit.

Le Beau's proceeds will be donated in the name of their friend, local breast cancer survivor Stacey Brion Cory.

The salon owner says the community ourpouring of support for the event has been amazing.

"We even had tablecloths and napkins donated by Batavia Restaurant Supply, everyone has just been so supportive, it's been great," Siverling said.

October 19, 2017 - 4:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in jobs, economy, news, business.

Genesee County has lost 100 jobs over the past 12 months, according to data released today by the Department of Labor.

For September 2017, there were 23,600 jobs in the county. The previous September, there were 23,500.

The total number of private sector jobs held steady at 17,800 year-over-year, which is also the same total as September 2015. The lowest number of private sector jobs locally over the past two decades was 16,800 in 2012. There haven't been as many as 18,000 private sector jobs in September since 2004 (18,100).

Labor is reporting 89,100 new jobs in the state since last year, but Western New York's two metropolitan areas reported job losses year-over-year. The Buffalo region has dropped from 564,900 to 561,400 and Rochester has dropped from 532,300 to 529,000.

There are 5,700 government jobs in the county, compared to 5,800 a year ago.

October 19, 2017 - 4:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in city centre, batavia, news, mall merchants association, business.

By this time Tuesday, the year's long dispute between the City of Batavia and the City Centre Mall Association will be resolved, or the two sides will be in an Erie County courtroom.

A bench trial was scheduled to begin tomorrow before Erie County Supreme Court Justice Catherine Panepinto.

That date has since been moved to Monday, the same day the merchants are scheduled to hold another vote on the settlement.

City Manager Jason Molino, speaking on WBTA's Main and Center program this morning, says the merchants have held up the vote that had been scheduled for earlier this month.

“The merchant's legal counsel was the one who recommended the adjournment from October 2nd to the 23rd," Molino said. "They knew well in advance when the trial was, we did not suggest that nor did we agree to that.

"The judge, at this point in time, does not want to postpone because if the settlement agreement does not pass, the trial has to go on.”

The primary issue in the dispute is over who is primarily responsible for ownership and maintenance of the mall concourse.

The proposed settlement places the responsibility squarely in the hands of the city and provides some cash for roof repairs.

The City Council ratified the settlement in February of this year but the mall merchants never voted to approve the settlement.

If the merchants approve the settlement on Monday there will be no need for a trial and it would bring to a close a long-simmering dispute that has hindered any attempt to improve the neglected and crumbling concourse.

“(The settlement) null and voids all the other agreements," Molino said. "The inter-tangled web of it (the old agreements) are gone. That was the first term of the term sheet – all the existing agreements are null and void. All the things that created the mess we are dealing with are gone.

"We have very clear ownership, which is the city, very clear responsibility, which is the city. Very clear as to who is responsible for capital improvements, maintenance, and operations – it is one entity, the city. Right now, it is not one entity and that is part of the problem.”

Story via our news partner, WBTA.

October 18, 2017 - 11:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Cornell Cooperative Extension, agriculture, batavia, business, elba.

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At its annual meeting at Terry Hills yesterday, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County celebrated its 100th anniversary. The board also recognized CCE's staff and volunteers, including Paul Randall, who has been a master gardener for 25 years.

Above, Brandie Waite presents Randall with a pin and certificate. Randall, a resident of Elba, has averaged more than 100 hours of volunteer service for the past 25 years. He has volunteered for diagnostic home visits, judged horticulture entries for the Genesee County Fair, assisted in master gardener training, performed "countless" pH soil tests, assisted with the tree survey at the State School for the Blind, and helped plan and plant the garden at the CCE's building on East Main Street in Batavia.

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County Legislator Mike Davis was the keynote speaker. Davis, who has 72 days left in office, has served as legislative liaison to CCE. Last year, the county reduced funding for CCE along with other outside agencies and Davis said he opposed the cuts and will oppose any further cuts during this year's budget discussions.

"There are great things going on at CCE," Davis said.

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Director Bev Mancuso said when she took the job in 2003, she went out and talked with people in the community about what made the extension valuable and important.

"It was really interesting because, overall, the feedback I got was that our programming was really seen as vital to the fabric of our community and that through our programming we could rebuild the moral fiber of our society," Mancuso said. "Wow. I remember when people said that to me and the thing that struck me was I thought, ‘I want to be able to do that through our programming. I want to to be able to make this place better.' I wanted to do it because I believed our staff could do it. I believed the volunteers and the leaders and program participants could do it. And I believed that this community deserved it."

Besides supporting local agriculture, the extension supports 4-H and Leadership Genesee.

"We have touched a lot of lives in the past 100 years," she said.

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Assemblyman Steve Hawley presented an Assembly proclamation recognizing CCE's 100th anniversary.

October 16, 2017 - 3:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, freshLAB, business, news.

Press release:

It's now LAST CALL for interested restauranteurs to attend the FREE freshLAB BOOT CAMP Program Orientation, which takes place tonight from 6 to 9. Preregistration required by Julie Pacette at the Batavia Development Corp. at 585-345-6380.

The orientation will take place inside City Hall, located at 1 City Centre, in the Community Room.

At the newly coordinated restaurant ownership Boot Camp program orientation, you will learn more about the freshLAB restaurant incubator, network with industry specialists, learn business basics and discuss entrepreneurial traits necessary to be successful.

Attendees may enroll into Boot Camp online before Oct. 20 to attend all follow-up sessions.

freshLAB Boot Camp Objective: Introduce aspiring entrepreneurs to restaurant industry trends, market opportunities, key operating functions and the importance of restaurant management systems.

freshLAB Boot Camp Outcome: Upon successful completion of Boot Camp, two participants will be offered an invitation to open a food service business at freshLAB restaurant incubator on Main Street, Batavia.

Barb Shine, captain of the freshLAB Boot Camp and Batavia Development Corporation volunteer, has put together a dynamic schedule of classes to feature hands-on instruction with Chef Tracy Burgio at the Batavia Career & Technical Education Center and exclusive time onsite at freshLAB before the foodhall opens to the public on Main Street, Batavia.

Instructors from the business community and industry specialists will lead most sessions to include Katie Frillici of JFS/Curtze Food Service and Ken Hudson of Palmer Food Services.

The value of the eight-session Boot Camp, not including tonight's orientation, is valued at more than $1,300 and is being offered for $349.

Tentative Boot Camp schedule:

Oct. 16 -- Program orientation, entrepreneurial traits & business basics featuring guest speakers & networking

Oct. 30 -- Operations, Equipment & Managing the kitchen, food costs, portion control, inventory

Nov. 6 -- Business & Restaurant Marketing with heavy emphasis on concept development

Nov. 20 -- Experiential Learning, professionalism, sanitation, safety in the kitchen
*Signature Dish Evaluation* 

Dec. 4 -- Operating Systems, Accounting & Record Keeping Business Management

Dec. 11 -- Reporting & Risk Management

Jan. 8 -- Business Plan Run-through to reveal class participant restaurant concepts, differentiation and system preparation

Jan. 22 -- Individual pitch to freshLAB Selection Committee, *Final Tasting*

Feb. 2 -- Business Plan Submission Deadline for freshLAB consideration

freshLAB restaurant incubator was conceived to strengthen the local food service industry and capitalize on more than $20,000,000 that is spent outside Genesee County each year when residents eat, drink and are entertained elsewhere. The project is funded, in part, by USDA Rural Development to intentionally link regional agriculture to the menu.

A program coordinated by the Batavia Development Corporation in cooperation with the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Batavia Business Improvement District and Batavia Career & Technical Education Center. https://freshlabbatavia.com/

October 13, 2017 - 5:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Main St. Pizza Company, batavia, business, news.

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Customers who order a large pizza during the month of October will have it delivered in a pink pizza box and a portion of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to Genesee Cancer Assistance.

Pictured are Main St. employees Brandi Heidenreich and Canssa Visalli.

October 13, 2017 - 12:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ken's Charcoal Pits, batavia, downtown, business, news.

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There's brick-oven pizza in Batavia now, handmade by Ken Mistler.

You might know Mistler's restaurant as City Slickers but that's changed, too. The entire restaurant, not just the front, fast-food counter, is now Ken's Charcoal Pits (new signs have been ordered for the building, but haven't yet been installed).

Mistler added the brick oven to the enclosed (during winter) patio on the west side of the restaurant and started serving pizza two weeks ago.

He makes it himself. He described the pizza as artisanal, Neapolitan-style and wood-fired. The oven cooks the pizza at 750 to 800 degrees, so each pizza cooks in about 90 seconds. It comes out hot, with a crisp crust and a bit of that wood-fired flavor.

There are seven pizza options on the menu and he also offers a vegetarian pizza and all pizzas can be made with gluten-free dough.

The pizza oven is fired up from 5 p.m. 'til closing time on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Ken's Charcoal Pits is located at 59 W. Main St., Batavia.

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October 12, 2017 - 4:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, business, Alabama, STAMP.

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced, after his push, that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved the Empire Pipeline Inc.’s revised and extended PILOT agreement with Genesee County in order to keep an important water infrastructure project on track.

Schumer said that with the agreement now approved and renewed, funds can be cleared for new water infrastructure at Genesee County’s Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP), bringing good-paying jobs to the Western New York region and investing in New York State’s critical infrastructure.

“This is great news for Genesee County, with the PILOT agreement renewed and approved upgrades to water infrastructure at STAMP can begin and stay on schedule and put new jobs in the pipeline,” Senator Schumer said.

I am pleased FERC heeded my calls to act quickly and approve this petition to ensure that the timely construction of new water infrastructure is not held up by bureaucratic red-tape.This newly approved agreement is a win-win for job creation and the hard-working people of Genesee County, allowing the Genesee County Economic Development Center to proceed with vital upgrades to the STAMP business park.”

Schumer explained that the original PILOT agreement between Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) and Empire Pipeline was approved by FERC and implemented in 2007 as part of Empire Pipeline’s investment to construct a new gas compression station in the Town of Oakfield in Genesee County. The agreement was up for renewal and Schumer called for FERC to review and approve the application, the agreement will hold through 2032.

This request does not include any new construction, but is solely an amendment and extension of the original PILOT agreement. Funding provided to Genesee County by Empire Pipeline under this PILOT agreement is required by Genesee County Economic Development Corporation (GCEDC) to finance Phase 2 construction of new water lines to serve STAMP and with FERCs final sign off construction will no longer be delayed.

October 12, 2017 - 9:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Foodie Challenge, freshLAB, batavia, business, BOCES.

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Press release:

Officials from the Batavia Development Corporation, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and the Batavia Business Improvement District, collaborators on the Foodie Challenge, recently presented the proceeds from the People’s Choice Tasting Event to Chef Burgio and Culinary Arts students. Chef Tracy Burgio noted how this $750 donation would support student activities.

“This contribution to the Culinary Arts Club will help to enrich our students’ culinary education by helping to fund field trips, projects and student competitions,” Chef Burgio said.

“We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the Batavia Development Corporation and the freshLAB project. It is our hope that this partnership sparks more involvement with our community partners,” said Jon Sanfratello, executive principal of the Batavia CTE Center and Campus.

Photo: Barb Shine, front, left, and Pierluigi Cipollone from the Batavia Development Corporation; Mary Vandenbosch, student; Steve Pies, Batavia Development Corporation; Chef Tracy Burgio, Culinary Arts instructor, Batavia CTE Center; Danny Pernesky, Debra Moore, students. Back left: Austin Deck, student; Jon Sanfratello, executive principal, GVEP Batavia Campus; Julie Pacatte, Batavia Development Corporation; Tom Turnbull, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

More after the jump:

 

October 11, 2017 - 4:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, news, Announcements, agriculture, tourism, agritourism.

A symposium on agritourism will be held at Genesee Community College on Thursday, Oct. 26.

It will take place inside Stuart Steiner Theatre and is free and open to all. It is hosted by GCC's Tourism & Hospitality Management Program.

Meet the entrepreneurial agritourism leaders in Genesee County. There will be vendor booths and samples.

Here's the day's schedule:

  • 11 a.m. to noon -- Student Session with Sophie Winter, Ph.D.
  • 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. -- Keynote Speaker: Sophie Winter, Ph.D.
  • 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. -- Panel Discussion and Question-and-Answer Session
  • 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. -- Meet, Greet & Eat Reception

The college is located at One College Road in the Town of Batavia.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Amy Slusser, professor, Tourism & Hospitality Management, at 343-0055, ext. 6332, or email   [email protected]

The symposium is sponsored in part by Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement.

October 10, 2017 - 6:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agribusiness, news, Announcements.
Information from a press release:
 
Are you curious about large-scale industrial solar electric plants on farmland? A trainer for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will be speaking in Stafford on Thursday, Oct. 12. 
 
The Stafford Solar Education Committee invites all citizens and lawmakers to attend the meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at St. Paul's Episcopal Church Hall, located at the southeast corner of routes 5 and 237.
 
Speaking will be Derek Meister, of The Meister Consultant's Group Inc., an international sustainability consulting firm. He is a trainer for NYSERDA and the state's suggested Unified Solar Law.
 
He will explain the template state law, intended to streamline local implementation of large-scale industrial solar electric plants on farmland.
 
Please bring your neighbors, your comments and your questions.
October 10, 2017 - 4:25pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, business, batavia.

After issuing a press release yesterday, WXXI changed the air dates today. See changes below.

Oliver's Candies and P.W. Minor will be featured in upcoming segments on "Homework Hotline," WXXI’s live statewide educational television program.

It provides students in grades four through 12 with the tools needed to succeed in school and will look at four Western New York businesses, two in Genesee County. They are part of a series of video segments that show how everyday items are made.

The features will air as part of "Homework Hotline" at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Oct. 18 25 through Nov. 9 15 on WXXI-TV and online at homeworkhotline.org

On Oct. 25 (NOT the 18th) Oliver’s Candies will be featured. The segment shares how the Batavia candy company got started and how they are still making the same candy that was made in 1932. And, viewers will get a closer look to see how peanut brittle is made.

On Nov. 1 (NOT Oct. 25) P.W. Minor will be featured, offering viewers a firsthand look at how this 150-year old Batavia shoe company’s hands-on process hasn’t changed much since they first began.

These segments will be available online at homeworkhotline.org once they have aired.

Produced by WXXI in partnership with Rochester Teachers Association (RTA), "Homework Hotline" supports academic achievement across a variety of New York State Learning Standards. Teachers from the Rochester City School District host the show – teaching mini lessons in various curriculum topics to give more depth to problem solving and complex content. To learn more about "Homework Hotline," visit: homeworkhotline.org.

"Homework Hotline" is made possible with state funding provided by the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and local support from Rochester Teachers Association.

October 10, 2017 - 3:55pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in Affordable Floor Covering, batavia, news, business.

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Affordable Floorcovering, in Batavia, is turning 20 this year, giving customers deals to celebrate the anniversary.

Jeffery Ackerman started the family-run business in 1997, with the mission of providing good, quality floor coverings, with a huge cost savings.

Affordable Floorcovering is currently owned by Bruce Robertson and Dave Kaczmarak, both residents of Warsaw.

Robertson and Kaczmarak have known each other for more than 14 years. They met when their daughters were in third grade.  

They bought the store from Ackerman in 2015, located at 4152 W. Main Street Road in Batavia.

“The opportunity came up where we could go into business together,” Robertson said.

Kaczmarak has been installing for Affordable Floorcovering for more than 23 years. He had been a previous store owner, and wanted to get back into owning one. Robertson said he always wanted to own a business.

“[The opportunity] came up and we both just wanted to take advantage of it,” Robertson said.

Affordable Floorcovering is a discount-warehouse-style flooring store, specializing in low-cost alternatives to regular retail stores. They sell, carpet, tile, wood and laminate flooring. They deal directly with the major manufacturers’ outlet departments, bringing customers savings.

It's also a green company, committed to preserving the environment.

Robertson said they have been busy running the store, so they haven’t made plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary. Instead, they have planned to promote the anniversary and are running deals and specials throughout the rest of the year.

“We wanted to pass it onto the customers, instead of celebrating it ourselves,” Robertson said.

Affordable Floorcovering is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. The website is located here

When they took over the store in 2015, Robertson said they added a computer, which was something that Ackerman did not put in at the time.  

“Other than that, I wouldn’t say there are a lot of differences,” Robertson said.

Robertson said the way they go about business, trying to bring in more business, is different.

“We’re just trying to bring in new business, keep stuff new and fresh as much as we can,” Robertson said. “We try to keep the prices the same as before, always affordable.

October 6, 2017 - 10:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, business, news.

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Batavia didn't win the steak knives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The recognition is great for Batavia, Pacatte said.

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

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Empire State Development Director​ Howard Zemsky

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

October 6, 2017 - 10:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, business.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved incentives for Triple O Mechanical in the Town of Bergen and 212 West Main Street Inc. in the City of Batavia at its Oct. 5 board meeting. The agency also accepted applications from Darien Lake and O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative.

Triple O will invest $400,000 to expand its existing facility from 6,960 square feet to 14,614 square feet, which will create one new job and retain 19 jobs. The company will receive sales and property tax exemptions totaling approximately $75,000. Triple O provides heating, air conditioning, refrigeration and electrical services for residential and commercial customers.

212 West Main Street Inc. is investing $895,000 for a new Arby’s Restaurant, which will include renovations of the interior and exterior of the existing building as well as the purchase of equipment. While a retail project, the 212 West Main Street project qualifies for incentives since it is located adjacent to a highly distressed area of the city. 212 West Main Street Inc. will receive sales, mortgage and property tax exemptions totaling approximately $66,500.  The new restaurant will create five new jobs.

An application for assistance was accepted by the GCEDC on behalf of Darien Lake Theme Park Resort for a new ride set to open in 2018. Darien Lake is seeking $360,000 in sales tax exemptions as part of a capital investment of $4.5 million. The project will help retain 398 jobs at one of the Buffalo Niagara and Finger Lakes regions most popular resorts.​

The GCEDC board also accepted an application from O-AT-KA for a $4.3 million capital investment for an approximate 20,000-square-foot expansion of the company’s plant on Ellicott Street. The company is requesting approximately $370,000 for sales tax and property tax exemptions.  The project will help retain 308 jobs in the Town and City of Batavia.

Since both O-AT-KA and Darien Lake are requesting incentives of more than $100,000, public hearings for both projects will be scheduled.

“Genesee County continues to see major business growth and investment in our existing companies,” said GCEDC Board Chair Paul Battaglia. “All of these projects send a positive message that Genesee County is open for business and a great place to grow.”

October 5, 2017 - 8:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city centre, batavia, news, business, mall merchants association.

Via our news partner, WBTA:

A trial date has been set in Erie County Supreme Court that would settle the dispute between Batavia City Hall and the City Centre Merchants Association.

WBTA has confirmed the two sides are scheduled for a bench trial on Oct. 20th before Erie County Supreme Court Justice Catherine Panepinto.

The basic dispute centers on responsibility for the mall’s continually leaking roof.

Last March the City Council approved an offer to the merchants that would have provided $650,000 dollars to repair the roof, silos and skylights over the concourse in return for the merchants dropping their lawsuit.

The merchants have never ratified the deal.

A member of the merchants association – who wished to remain anonymous – said the city has met all of the merchants’ requests but the association’s lawyers have advised against accepting the deal.

City Manager Jason Molino said the merchants are refusing to vote on the settlement terms that were negotiated last December. 

It is still possible the two sides could come to an out-of-court settlement by the Oct. 20 trial date.

October 4, 2017 - 3:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, news, notify.

If the current administration in the White House was successful in closing the southern border and deporting all migrant farm workers, it would be devastating to Upstate's economy according to a report prepared earlier this year by Farm Credit East.

Libby Eiholzer, a bilingual dairy specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension, shared the finding of the report during a presentation Tuesday to the County Legislature's Human Services Committee.

"What they found was there are at least a thousand farmers in the state that are at a higher risk, that they are highly dependent on immigrant labor," Eiholzer said. "If they lost their employees they could potentially go out of business. It would reduce the ag production by over $1 billion. There would be 900,000 fewer acres in production. On-farm jobs would be reduced by 20,000 and then there would be another 23,000 fewer off-jobs in the industry. The total economic impact would be $7.2 billion."

Farmers are so dependent on immigrant labor that they feel caught between INS enforcement and farm labor advocacy groups, Eiholzer said. Both the agency and the labor groups, farmers fear, are a threat to their ability to stay in business. That makes them hesitant to raise their concerns publicly about immigrant labor or work with the advocacy groups to ensure farm workers receive adequate care and protection.

What Eiholzer and a colleague did earlier this year was convene a focus group of dairy farmers from Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties in Batavia, which allowed farmers to speak out anonymously so Cornell could complete a study on the status of immigrant labor.

"This was the largest number of farms that we surveyed," Eilholzer said. "We also talked to 200 workers on those farms. What we found is that these farms, that are really representatives of other farms of similar size in the state, are very reliant on a Hispanic workforce. Seventy percent of the farms that we surveyed had at least half, if not all, of their workforce comprised of Hispanic individuals, and another quarter had a portion of their employees comprised of Hispanic individuals."

The farmers do all they can to ensure their workers have the proper documentation to allow them to work in this country, but they don't have the resources or the authority to dig too deeply. If they ask for paperwork beyond what they would as an Anglo worker, they risk accusations of discrimination.

"The only way to know the I-9 forms are not accurate is if the INS comes to your farm and does an I-9 audit and they tell you somebody is not allowed to work here," Eiholzer said. "Farmers do their due diligence to make sure people are eligible to work here but at the same time, you know that at least half of the immigrant farm workers here in the country (are undocumented)."

The full report (pdf) outlines what Eiholzer and researcher Thomas R. Maloney found.

Among the findings, it's very hard to find native-born New Yorkers to take manual labor farm jobs.

The managers also looked locally to recruit American workers through local high schools or BOCES programs, but with very little success. American workers often require a lot of social services support, which adds additional time and burden on the employer through additional paperwork requirements imposed by the social services programs and often resulting in a failed employment scenario.

Advocacy groups are pushing for higher wages, overtime pay, better housing conditions, and the right of workers to form labor unions. While farmers acknowledge there are things that could be done to make life better for workers, they don't feel the advocacy groups understand the farm business and are really out to destroy them. That distrust prevents them from bringing leaders from these groups to the farms to work with them on improving conditions.

From the report:

Their concern stems from their belief that these groups have an agenda to ultimately harm their farms, rather than actually to help farm workers. ... The advocacy groups have referred to farm employment practices as a form of “modern-day slavery,” which underscores the tone of animosity that these groups have toward the employers. 

Starting hourly pay for milkers is $9.34, with the highest rate going to $11.05. The highest rate for any Hispanic worker on average is $12.94. Farmers acknowledge, as a matter of being competitive for workers, the starting rate was low. Since the report was issued, the minimum wage rose to $9.70 and it will go over $10 an hour after the first of the year. Farmers have adjusted wages for all workers accordingly.

The farmers often provide free housing. They said the housing, especially group housing, is difficult and expensive to maintain, and this is an area where advocacy groups could actually help if they could be trusted to come onto dairy farms and not disrupt operations.

At the same time, if the state keeps increasing the minimum wage, and farmers are forced to pay overtime, and workers are allowed to form unions, housing is one area farmers could be forced to cut expenses, even charging rent to workers to offset higher labor costs.

Eighty percent of Hispanic dairy farm workers in the state receive free housing from their employers.

As financial pressures build on the farms, the result is to push some of the costs down to the employees. This phenomenon is commonly seen in other industry sectors when costs increase for the employer. This presents serious complications, as the Department of Labor has stringent compliance regulations regarding on-site housing for employees. There is a concern that employers may take advantage of their employees when there is a landlord/tenant relationship as part of employment. Focus group participants would prefer not to be in the landlord business. 

A change in overtime rules would also have a trickle-down effect that would hurt workers, the report found.

Their Hispanic workers who ask to work 60-70 hours per week and would seek other employment that would meet their income expectations. Those who do not leave likely will be upset, as their hours and overall pay will be cut drastically. These are the workers who most want to maximize their earnings but would end up earning less. Employers acknowledge that this move will force them to hire more people to work fewer hours or start to think about switching to robotic milking systems. 

The unpredictability of the Trump Administration on immigration and reports of greater enforcement and how these political factors have changed the perception of Hispanic workers in the communities where they live have caused fear and anxiety for farmers and workers.

This level of unpredictability is causing a sense of fear and nervousness for farm employers, workers, and the community at large. Interestingly, it was stated that the workers are not worried about crossing the border, but they are very concerned about being deported from Western New York. The most damaging and immediate impact of the recent Executive Order has been to instill a sense of fear in the community regarding these employees. Some Hispanic employees have stopped leaving the farm altogether since the order was announced. They will pay others to purchase their groceries for them, as they are afraid to be seen out in public. Farm employers are very concerned about the impact that this type of self-imposed isolation will have on their employees.

There is a perception among focus group participants that the Trump Administration is focused on jobs for Americans and does not comprehend the impact agriculture has on the U.S. economy. Agriculture is a $30 billion industry.

October 3, 2017 - 9:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, chamber of commerce.

Press release:

“Managing Four Generations in the Workplace” will be the subject of a small business workshop to be hosted the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 11.

This is the one of a series of business workshops held in conjunction with the United States Small Business Administration and the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. The workshops are open to all Chamber and non-Chamber businesses and their employees and will offer expert advice from experienced business professionals designed to help small businesses succeed and grow.

“This workshop will help attendees learn how to understand and appreciate the differences in the generations from Boomers to Millennials,” said Tom Turnbull, Chamber president. “Understanding these differences will help you better manage employees and create a more productive working environment.”

The workshops are held at the Chamber of Commerce office, 8276 Park Road, Batavia. The sessions will run from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and include a question-and-answer period. Businesses may attend any one or all of the workshops. Cost for non-Chamber members is $10 for each attendee. Chamber members may attend all sessions free of charge but must make reservations to ensure space for their employees.

To reserve a seat in any workshop or for more information, contact Kelly Bermingham at 585-343-7440 or by email at [email protected]

October 2, 2017 - 6:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in YMCA, glow cup, batavia, business.

glowcupcheck2017.png

Press release:

The fifth annual GLOW Corporate Cup was a great success again this year as close to 900 runners and walkers participated in this 5K event. The goal of this event was for local businesses to form racing teams, compete in a fun atmosphere, and crown a winner of the Corporate Cup.

The race brought in more than $22,000 in support of the GLOW YMCA. This event would not be possible without the support of the premiere sponsor, Merrill Lynch. The money provides support to the YMCA’s scholarship program. At the Y, no one is turned away due to the inability to pay. Last year the Y provided more than $200,000 in scholarships to youth, families, and seniors in need of support to better benefit their lifestyles through health and wellness.

Part of the GLOW Corporate Cup race is for local businesses to design T-shirts to show their creativity. The first place T-shirt winner receives a $500 donation to the charity of their choice. Sharpe Training LLC won the T-shirt contest and owner Holly Sharpe graciously donated the $500 back to the YMCA.

The YMCA would like to extend its deepest gratitude to both Merrill Lynch and Holly Sharpe for their donations and dedication to the Y scholarship program.

Pictured above are Chris White, Holly Sharpe, Rob Walker and Olivia Rogers.

October 2, 2017 - 9:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mercy Flight, Mercy EMS, batavia, business, news.

dsc_0466mercyground.jpg

Mercy Flight/EMS broke ground Friday on its new 11,500-square-foot facility off Route 98, just north of the Thruway, in the Town of Batavia.

The facility will become the new staging area headquarters in Genesee County for the ambulance service.

It's a $2 million investment by Mercy Flight and is located on 2.2 acres in the Gateway II project on Call Parkway.

Photo submitted by Mercy Flight.

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