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July 3, 2013 - 12:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Oakfield, Viking Cives.

Every five years, the Town of Oakfield replaces one of its plow trucks. This year, the town board decided to keep it local and asked Highway Superintendent Alan Dennis to explore the idea of having the new truck built by Viking Cives.

The truck company moved to a location on Judge Road in Oakfield several years ago.

"We thought that was important to support the local economy and business located right here in town," Dennis said.

The $228,000 plow truck replaces a 15-year-old plow and is state-of-the-art, Dennis said. The computer controls are LCD lit and touch control. Using a joy stick, the truck driver can operate all of the truck's functions as a one-man-operation.

Supervisor Mike Cianfrini said with Viking's solid reputation for quality and service, it was really a simple choice to go with the local company.

"From the town perspective we wanted to support a business in our community," Cianfrini said. "They've been a great neighbor, supporting a lot of activities within Oakfield and we thought the least we could do is support them."

The town took delivery of the truck today and plow truck operator Mike Schultz, pictured below, couldn't wait to get in the new machine and drive it off to the town's garage.

July 2, 2013 - 10:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, downtown.

Press release:

Why do you leave Genesee County to eat? That’s exactly what the Restaurant Creativity Advocates want to find out. In response to sales leakage reports provided by W-ZHA and The Community Land Use & Economics Group, a brief survey was developed for area residents to explain their dining and travel habits. The survey is available now through July 12th online at:

The Restaurant Creativity Advocates is a local group formed by representatives of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Genesee Community College’s The BEST Center, Batavia Development Corporation, downtown's Business Improvement District and Senior Corp of Retired Executives. This group voluntarily organized to research and improve the local dining options throughout the county.

“We gathered in response to two recent reports that suggest area residents spend more than $12.4 million annually to eat and drink at restaurants beyond our County borders,” stated Julie Pacatte, Batavia Development Corporation. “We want to understand why people leave the County to dine-out. Ultimately, we want to do what we can to try to ensure more dining dollars stay local.”

The Restaurant Creativity Advocates began discussion early February 2013. Since then, they conducted their own local restaurant assessment facilitated by Lina LaMattina, director of The BEST Center.

“We began by asking team members to finish the open-ended question, wouldn’t it be great if...,” LaMattina said. “Allowing this cross-functional team to begin to consider the possibilities open to the County helped the group to generate some big picture thinking, think creatively, and develop the foundation for some real conversation with stakeholders without giving way to the  traditional stumbling blocks typically encountered when dealing with significant challenges,” LaMattina added.

The group categorized more than 100 committee responses and found that six areas of focus could potentially improve the local restaurant scene. Upon completion of the customer survey, the group will share all results with the local restaurateurs in hopes of devising an action plan to reduce the sales leakage.

The restaurant customer survey is brief, but it does end with the same valuable question “Wouldn’t it be great if…?”

The Chamber of Commerce has mailed a separate restaurant owner survey directly to their listing of 126 existing restaurants in Genesee County. That survey will also be complete at the end of next week.

July 2, 2013 - 10:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, taxes, Genesee County Airport.

The way Bob Miller sees it, before long, if you want to learn to fly, you will need to go to Pennsylvania or Ohio because there will be no flight schools left in New York.

"The state is holding all the cards on this," Miller told members of the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

Within the past year, NYS Taxation and Finance has started auditing the owners of airplanes that are used as rentals for flight school students.

The state is demanding payment, Miller said, of taxes that were once exempt.

According to Miller, he can't legally charge students tax for their flight hours, but when private plane owners rent their planes to flight schools, the state is now demanding the owners pay sales tax on those fees.

As a result private plane owners who have been audited by the state will no longer rent their planes to flight schools.

More than two months ago, plane owners in Lancaster were audited and Miller was forced to close his school there. Now the state has gone after Batavia plane owners and he must shut down his aviation school here.

"It's not a new law," Miller said. "It's a new interpretation. The executive branch is holding all of the private airplane owners hostage to their interpretation of the code."

According to Miller, this hasn't been an issue in New York for 40 years, and certainly not during the 20 years he's been involved in aviation instruction.

"The state is so desperate for sales tax revenue they're going after everything," Miller said.

Currently, according to Miller, investors buy airplanes without sales tax if they are renting the planes to flight schools. If the planes are rented to private pilots who are not students, then the owners must pay sales tax; if the owners take the planes on a flight for their own private use, they must pay a portion of sales tax for the usage, but for 40 years, there's been no sales tax, he said, on student rentals through flight schools.

The state is requiring plane owners to pay for past unpaid sales taxes going up to five years back.

As a result, Miller said, the plane owners are just ceasing rental services to aviation schools in the state.

Miller has a lease for hangars and office space in the Genesee County Airport through 2015 and he's being asked to be let out of the lease because he's now out of business as a result of the state's actions.

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens recommended the Legislature require Miller to pay rent for 90 days, giving the county time to find a new tenant.

Hens said he isn't worried about filling the hangars -- there's a waiting list for hangar space, but he isn't sure the office space in the terminal will be filled, especially since it will be hard to find another filght school under the current circumstances.

The county will lose about $2,400 a month $2,700 per year in revenue with the flight school closed, due to a decrease in aviation fuel sales.

July 1, 2013 - 2:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, tourism, Darien, darien lake theme park.

Press release:

Darien Lake confirms that its amusement park and water park were closed for approximately two hours today, after the water supply was accidentally cut off.

Monroe County Water Authority had been conducting routine maintenance nearby, which adversely affected the park’s water supply at 11:30 a.m. During the outage, Darien Lake’s bathrooms, food service, and water park were affected.

Darien Lake management closed the park at noon for guest safety. The park’s maintenance crews restored service before 1 p.m., and the park was reopened by 2 p.m.

June 28, 2013 - 5:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, UMMC.

UMMC welcomed a group of new residents to their team today. All six are training as doctors of osteopathic medicine. They are, from left, Tobin Carson, Adia Taylor, Cedric McKinney, Imeh Sampson Jr., J. Francis Asuquo and Mithun Daniel.

June 26, 2013 - 2:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business, Alpina Foods.

Press release:

In direct response to exploding consumer demand for Greek yogurt as well as the company’s continued commitment to expansion in the U.S. market, Alpina Foods is introducing a brand new Greek yogurt, and will be changing the name of its entire portfolio of Greek products to create a more cohesive brand identity.

Alpina Foods’ Alpina Greek, an all-natural, authentically strained Greek yogurt, is made entirely from natural ingredients and uses no artificial thickeners or flavoring. Alpina Greek will be introduced later this month available in six flavors: blueberry, strawberry, vanilla bean, mango, peach, and black cherry.

In addition to introducing its new yogurt, Alpina will rename its Alpina Revive Greek yogurt as Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas which comes packaged with certified gluten-free granola mix-ins that were created by a health and wellness chef and are prepared by Udi’s Gluten Free. 

Both products are created using an authentic straining process, and are the combination of the simplest ingredients: milk, active bacteria cultures, and fruit.

Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas will be available in seven flavors: blueberry with almond berry granola, strawberry with almond berry granola, vanilla bean with chai spices granola, honey with chai spices granola, mango with tropical chia granola, peach with tropical chia granola, and plain with superfoods granola.

“We made the decision to change the brand architecture of Alpina yogurts to increase the presence of our products on store shelves and simplify our portfolio,” said Gustavo Badino, Alpina Foods’ general manager. “We believe this expansion will be received well in the marketplace as consumers are continually searching for unique and exciting Greek yogurt options that are delicious and healthy.”

Alpina brand yogurts are currently available in a wide variety of retailers throughout the U.S., including Wegmans Food Markets; Ahold USA brand stores: Stop & Shop, Giant Landover and Giant Carlisle; Delhaize Group stores Hannaford and Sweetbay; Tops Friendly Markets; Duane Reade; and other national and regional food retailers. For a full list of retailers, visit

Alpina Greek yogurts will be available in late June with Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas following in late July. Retailers interested in carrying Alpina yogurts can contact Alpina Foods at [email protected].

About Alpina Foods

Alpina Foods is the U.S. arm of Alpina, which was established in 1945 by two Swiss entrepreneurs and visionaries who brought their families’ traditions and cultural expertise to South America. The company markets a wide range of artisan dairy products to the American Hispanic market, as well as mainstream brands Alpina Greek and Alpina Greek with Artisan Granola yogurts, Alpina Bon Yurt low-fat yogurt, and Juan Valdez Café Latte.

Alpina is proud to be a consumer-centric and environmentally friendly company that embraces the philosophy of collective prosperity, or encouraging success within the company, in its neighboring communities, and in the world.

June 25, 2013 - 7:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Molasses Hill Bulk Foods.

The state's red "SEIZED" signs are out of the windows at Molasses Hill Bulk Foods on Ellicott Street in Batavia and a new sign is taped to the front door: "Closed til 9:00 AM Wed 6/26."

Previously: Molasses Hill closed, seized by state

June 25, 2013 - 5:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, economy, jobs.

Genesee County's unemployment rate for May 2013 is the lowest it's been in 57 months, according to data released today by the NYS Department of Labor.

At 6.2 percent, it hasn't been lower since Dec. 2008, when the rate was 5.6 percent.

The previous month, April, Genesee County's rate was reported at 7.1 and a year ago May it was reported at 7.4 percent.

In the prior 18 months, the county's unemployment rate dipped below 7 percent only once.

The lowest rate for the county since the turn of the century was 3.2 percent in October 2000.

The state's unemployment rate is said to be 7.4 percent, down from a year ago but up 1/10th of a percent since April 2013.

The nation's rate is 7.3 percent.

Orleans County is 8.4 percent, Wyoming 7.1 and Livingston 7.1.

The Rochester area's rate is reported at 7.0 and Buffalo at 7.3.

June 25, 2013 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Molasses Hill Bulk Foods.

Molasses Hill Bulk Foods on Ellicott Street, Batavia, is closed after the store was seized by an agent of NYS Taxation and Finance this morning.

Neal Harder, husband of owner Shannon Harder, said he and his wife are trying to negotiate with Taxation and Finance to be able to reopen today with an agreement to pay taxes owed by July 15.

He said he felt the sudden closure was the result of a disagreement between his wife and the agent.

June 25, 2013 - 9:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, steve hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) recently lamented the loss of 174 jobs through the announced closure of the Bernz-O-Matic manufacturing plant in Medina. Worthington Industries, owners of Bernz-O-Matic, indicated that local employees would have the opportunity to transfer to the company’s plant in Wisconsin, which served as little consolation for proud local residents, Hawley noted. The assemblyman has reached out to Worthington Industries Chairman and CEO John McConnell to discuss the best ways to mitigate the economic damage in Medina.

“The news of Bernz-O-Matic’s closure is heartbreaking for the people employed at the plant, their families and all of us across Orleans County,” Hawley said. “Our immediate priority must be to help those affected find new work here in our community as quickly as humanly possible. I offer my deepest regrets to all of Bernz-O-Matic’s employees and pledge my full support in working through this difficult time.”

Coming on the heels of Chase Bank’s call center closure, Hawley lamented the job-killing policies forced on Western New York by out-of-touch lawmakers at the Capitol.

“How many more local jobs must be lost; how many more local families have to suffer before the Capitol lawmakers see the destruction that New York’s anti-business climate causes?” Hawley asked. “Runaway taxes, overregulation and regressive policies have run countless job creators out of our community, yet legislative leaders continue to repeat the mistakes of old that have left our hardworking families out in the cold. It’s time to open our eyes and change our courses before Western New York’s families are forced to watch another company take their jobs across state lines.”

June 24, 2013 - 5:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Carr's.

Steve Carr, a popular local businessman who managed the C.L. Carr store in its final years, passed away Friday after suffering a heart attack while swimming at Stafford Country Club.

Carr was 66.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but will be handled by H.E. Turner.

His death comes as a shock to many people who remember him as a warm and fun person.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian remembers that Carr helped her get reestablished in Batavia after she returned to her native city 40 years ago.

"He was a generous person," Christian said.

Peter Mumford, Carr's cousin, said they were both born in 1947 and grew up together and remained close.

"He was always trying to help people out," Mumford said. "I always considered him a bon vivant. He liked to travel. He liked people a lot. He liked music, especially blues."

Carr was the grandson of C.L. Carr who opened a retail store in Batavia in 1917. That store would become one of the mainstays in the city until about 2001, but changes in the local market made it difficult for the family to keep the large department store open.

Carr was the majority shareholder, but members of the Carr, Minor and Mumford families also held shares, Mumford said.

A member of Rotary, Carr remained active in the community after the store closed.

June 24, 2013 - 2:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Sponsored Post, advertisement.

The winner of our recently completed Facebook Like contest sponsored by Council Opticians of Batavia is Cara Grosshans.

Cara wins a Coach handbag.

If you would like to get more fans for your business page on Facebook, contact Lisa Ace at (585) 250-4118 to find out more.

June 22, 2013 - 11:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pok-A-Dot.

Batavia's legendary landmark diner the Pok-A-Dot turned 60 today with a few hundred people turning out for the celebration.

Above, owners Joe Marone and Phil Pastore are congratulated by one of the regular customers, James Pero, on the anniversary.

June 21, 2013 - 9:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCC, GCEDC.

Press release:

Through financial support provided by National Fuel and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), the first class of 25 graduates received certificates as part of a workforce development program targeting the food processing industry.

Certificates were awarded to the graduates in Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt through RIT, basic dairy science and sanitation through Cornell University, as well as team building and OSHA training in a manufacturing environment through The BEST Center at Genesee Community College.

“This program is just another example of the high level of collaboration in our region between the public and private sectors and in this instance, our centers of higher education and food processing companies,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center. “If we are going to create a world-class industry cluster in the food processing industry, then we need to make sure our workforce is highly trained and educated.”

Cornell University’s Department of Food Science and Cornell Cooperative Extension has been a long-term resource to the food growing and dairy processing industry in Western NY.

“Workforce development is now a key to the growing industry and we are continuously developing and improving our training programs and accessibility to meet industry needs and to support economic development," said Tristan Zuber, Dairy Foods Processing Extension associate with Cornell University.

The first graduating class of 25 individuals was from a pool of 78 applications. Sixteen graduates were from Genesee County; three from Livingston County; two from Orleans and Monroe counties; and, one from Wyoming and Cattaraugus counties.

One graduate has been hired while 18 graduates will visit and tour Yancey’s Fancy, an artisan cheese maker in Corfu, as part of a job application project at the company. Alpina and Muller Quaker Dairy are also interviewing and considering the graduates at their yogurt manufacturing facility in the Genesee Agri-Business Park.

“This is just the first step in a process to ensure that as the food processing industry grows there is an ample supply of labor to fill jobs,” said John Jakubowski a workforce consultant hired by GCEDC. “The certificate program provides a short-term solution to fill a gap, but we need to continue working on a longer term plan so that people who want a career in food processing have the skills and training to be successful.”

As part of this process, Genesee Community College has asked the New York State Education Department to approve a two year Food Processing Technology associates degree. The program has already been approved by the GCC Board of Trustees and is now under review by the State University of New York as well as SED.

“While anticipating the implementation of GCC’s full credit Food Processing Technology program, The BEST Center will be offering three more sessions of the two-week, intensive certificate program,” said Lina LaMattina, director of Business Skills Training at The BEST Center. “We are also reaching out to numerous companies within all segments of the food industry to expand employment opportunities for the program participants. After a very successful first class, we are looking forward to the next session which starts September 23, 2013.”

Those interested in applying to be part of next training cohort should contact the Genesee County Career Center (One Stop) in the Eastown Plaza, 587 E. Main St., Suite 100, Batavia, (585) 344-2042. Applicants take ability tests in math and reading. If needed, assistance with these skills is available.

May 2013 GCEDC Food Processing Training Program Graduates (all of New York):

Craig Barnes – Le Roy
Dawn Czaja – Oakfield
Victor DiGregorio – Byron
Mark Ebersole – Mt. Morris
Mary Fulkerson – Rochester  
Jeffery German – Batavia
Laurie Gerstenslager – Delevan
Donna Heininger – Batavia  
Elizabeth Horner – Darien Center
Jeanne Jansch – Dansville
Kevin Jones – Batavia  
Sharon Joyce – Batavia 
Jake Kent III – Henrietta
Steven Lindsley – Warsaw
Donald Lowe – Batavia  
Catherine MacConnell – Bergen   
Jacob MacConnell – Bergen
David Minervino – Medina
Thomas Misisco – Pavilion  
John Mosher – Bergen
Rachel Neilans – Alexander
Elise Prevost – Leicester
Daniel Sobczak – Batavia
Paul Stack – Elba
Jamie Unger – Kent

June 21, 2013 - 9:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business, Western Regional OTB.

Press release:

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation (WROTBC), owner/operator of Batavia Downs has pledged its support of the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act and the referendum that will be put to the citizens of New York State in November.

“This legislation keeps Batavia Downs Gaming as a vital partner to state and local governments,” said Michael Kane, president and CEO of WROTBC and Batavia Downs Gaming. “This act will allow us to continue providing good paying jobs and generating significant funding for schools and our municipalities. Governor Cuomo and the legislature recognize the significant contributions made by racetrack casinos in Western New York to state education funding and job creation.”

June 20, 2013 - 2:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release:

“Today’s unfortunate defeat of the House Farm Bill speaks to the dysfunction in Washington that continues to stand in the way of solving real problems for real Americans.

Agriculture is a critical industry in New York’s 27th Congressional District, impacting our local residents far beyond those directly doing the hard work of farming. Our farmers and growers deserve a Congress that can come together and pass a long-term Farm Bill. It is essential to help our agricultural industry plan and prepare.

As  a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I remain committed to the work ahead to see a Farm Bill become law.” 

June 20, 2013 - 2:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, public market.

The Downtown Public Market opened today at the corner of Center and Ellicott.

Above, Eliza Schwab of Schwab Farms, Gasport.

Tiffany Ivison, Usborne Books.

Salters Alston, Alston's BBQ sauce. (Stop by for some pulled pork!)

June 20, 2013 - 11:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, chamber of commerce.

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce has reviewed Governor Cuomo's economic agenda for "Tax-Free Communities" in and around specified college and university campuses. The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce welcomes any environment that will facilitate the establishment of new long-term businesses and create more jobs while ensuring that existing businesses and jobs are likewise encouraged to thrive. This legislation has the potential to bring in businesses that otherwise might not have recognized all that Genesee County has to offer.

This endorsement is based solely on the above understanding of the legislation's purpose. Care must be taken that its actual implementation does not involve provisions, policies, or procedures that are counter to the spirit of the Bill. Not only must New York State taxpayers not be adversely affected by such legislation, but red tape, forced spending, and bureaucratic decisions would force extra costs onto the new businesses and cause them to lose the benefits that they supposedly received. Given that the Bill is designed to help startup companies begin their ventures, it is imperative that future tax savings not be offset by startup costs that would be much greater than those the company would incur in the private sector. We look forward to the time when companies can see that all of New York is open for business.


June 18, 2013 - 12:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, BID, farmers market.

Press release:

BRING YOUR FEET DOWNTOWN AND MAKE HEALTHY CHOICES! The Batavia Business Improvement District announces the opening of the Downtown Batavia Public Market on Thursday, June 20 and runs through Sept. 26. The market is open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., every Thursday and is located at the corner of Center & Ellicott (Rte 63) streets in Downtown Batavia.

Conveniently located in the center of our city, visit our market before you do your regular shopping to be sure your food is the freshest and that your dollars remain local. Now entering its eighth year, the public market has grown and changed to become a staple of the Downtown.

The market this season will have the following vendors providing fresh baked goods, a wide variety of produce and fruits herbs, flowers, maple syrup, dip mixes, dog treats, BBQ sauce, handmade quilts and other items. Plus, pulled pork sandwiches, Italian sausage, hot dogs and hamburgers for lunchtime at the market. Look for the colorful umbrellas.

Vendors include: Alston’s BBQ Sauce; Athena’s Bakery & Dog Treats; Crazy Quilts; Irene’s Variety; Karen’s Yarn Paper & Scissors; Nice Farms; Stymus Farms; and Schwab Farms.

If you would like to know more about how to participate in the Downtown Public Market, please contact Don Burkel at the BID at 585-344-0900 or email [email protected] for local food, fun, and familiar faces!

June 17, 2013 - 4:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release:

To mark National Small Business Week, Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) is asking small business owners in his district to complete an online survey about the economy and other issues impacting the small business sector. Starting today, Collins will be e-mailing the survey to small business owners across the eight counties of New York’s 27th Congressional District. Small business owners not a part of the Congressman’s e-mail list are encouraged to complete the survey on the Congressman’s Web site.

The survey asks local small business owners to weigh in on such topics as federal regulations, taxes, and the new employer mandate which is part of the President’s healthcare law. Collins is also asking small business owners to report on recent hiring activity, reasons why owners are or are not hiring, and what programs they would like to see the federal government pursue to spur small business growth and development.

“As a small business owner myself, I understand firsthand the challenges and hurdles business owners face on a day-to-day basis,” Collins said. “As a member of Congress, one of my top goals is to continue to push hard for common-sense polices that create the right kind of economic environment for small business entrepreneurs to expand their company or start a new business, and hire more people. While I will continue to visit directly with small business owners all across NY-27, this survey is a great opportunity to hear from a wide array of small business owners so I can best represent their interests in Washington.”

Collins is a member of the House Small Business Committee and chairman of its Subcommittee on Health and Technology. National Small Business Week runs from June 17 through June 21. On June 21, Collins will host a roundtable meeting, talking with small business owners directly about the issues addressed in the survey.

The survey can be found online at




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