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March 7, 2014 - 3:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) held its annual meeting at Genesee Community College to unveil the organization’s 2013 annual report. During the meeting, Genesee Community College (GCC) was honored for its collaboration in the community as it received the Economic Development Partner of the Year Award from the GCEDC.

“Because of the strategic leadership of the public and private sectors in 2013, the economy of Genesee County remains strong and the business climate continues to remain positive,” said Wally Hinchey, chairman, GCEDC. “I am confident that the GCEDC, the County, and our municipal partners will continue to work together to make business attraction and expansion a priority for 2014, and am proud to recognize GCC as the GCEDC partner of the year.”

The college was recognized for its role in executing strong economic development and workforce programs for the region. In collaboration with the GCEDC and the Best Center, it has helped more than 80 students graduate with certificates in advanced manufacturing/nanotechnology and food processing technology. These graduates have found local employment in industries they would not have thought to pursue. GCC will continue partnering with the GCEDC by implementing new degree programs to support numerous businesses, industry training programs and attraction efforts, as well as the START-UP NY program run by the college.

The approximately 300 people in attendance also were provided an update on developments at the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama by Mark Peterson, president and CEO of the Greater Rochester Enterprise and Thomas Kucharski, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise.  Both participated in meetings last month with representatives from the GCEDC and organized labor to advocate on behalf of STAMP with members and staff from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office and members of the New York State Senate and Assembly.

The state has listed the STAMP project as a top economic development priority and has released $5 million in funds to move the project forward, but still $33 million is needed to make the project shovel-ready lite. The project, which has the potential to create thousands of new jobs, has the support of labor unions and the business community from Buffalo and Rochester, along with senators and assembly members in the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions.

“Going into 2014, it is critical that we continue to sustain this year’s great achievements and reach the goals we have set for growth and development in the county,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “We will continue to ramp up our sales and marketing efforts for STAMP to attract large-scale semiconductor and high-tech companies to the site.”

March 6, 2014 - 9:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, STAMP.

There's plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future of the WNY STAMP project in Alabama, Steve Hyde told members of the County Legislature during the Ways and Means Committee meeting Tuesday.

While Genesee County Economic Development Center must still secure a total of $33 million in financing to make the proposed high-tech manufacturing park "shovel-ready lite," there is plenty of buzz about the project among site selectors.

STAMP will be one of only a couple of locations in the nation, if not in the world, that could provide a major manufacturer with both 500 acres of property and up to 500 megawatts of electricity, Hyde said.

One of the nation's leading site selectors was at a conference in Denver recently and told Hyde there may be a very big project in the pipeline and STAMP is in the running.

"He said they have a really monster project developing, that New York will certainly be on the radar, but they said that STAMP is the one site, and maybe the only site in New York, that could probably accomodate it," Hyde said. "We're excited. We hope that comes through, but it's still very, very early at this juncture."

Hyde also said the governor's office is working on landing a project that would be "about the size of Muller" -- the yogurt plant in the Genesee Valley Ag Park -- for STAMP, but that New York is among four states competing for the project.

"It's competitive, but we're in the hunt," Hyde said.

STAMP is Hyde's big dream -- with the potential for hundreds of millions in local investment and 10,000 jobs. He called it "a game changer for our community."

He made his remarks during GCEDC's annual review for the Ways and Means Committee.  GCEDC will hold it's annual meeting at noon Friday at the college.

GCEDC operates on a $1.3 million annual budget, with $597,975 coming from fees paid by businesses that receive GCEDC benefits, $480,000 from the Local Development Corporation (a nonprofit operated by GCEDC that also receives fees for projects) and $215,014 from county taxpayers.

That $215,000 in county funding is perpetually controversial, but Hyde said it's essential to keeping GCEDC operating.

"That county contribution is only about 17 percent of our budget, but it gives about 8.5 professionals work that we hope you think is of value," Hyde said. "It's very important."

In 2013, GCEDC closed 28 projects that resulted in 270 pledged jobs, $29.9 million in capital investments and $1.7 million in grants for business and infrastructure improvements.

The biggest win for GCEDC over the past two years has been the ag park, which has seen the creation of two Greek yogurt plants -- Alpina and Muller.

Alpina pledged 50 new jobs and has already created 47, plus 33 full-time temp jobs that fluctuate based on production needs (and sometimes turn into new full-time, permanent jobs).

PepsiCo. / Muller pledged 186 new jobs in the first three years and 145 have been created so far.

Nearly 50 percent of the new hires at the two plants were Genesee County residents, Hyde said.

March 6, 2014 - 8:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, liberty pumps, bergen, Appletree Acres.

It's going to take a good deal more electricity to power an expanded Liberty Pumps in Bergen and adding more transmission lines to Appletree Acres will cost a bit of money.

To help pay for it, Genesee County Economic Development Center is proposing a financing scheme known as a PIF -- PILOT Increment Financing.

Liberty Pumps already has an approved PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) for its expansion, and a PIF reallocates some of their PILOT payments toward infrastructure payments.

In this case, GCEDC is proposing a 50-percent PIF, meaning the taxing jurisdiction will get half of the PILOT payments and half will go toward a fund to pay for the additional power lines and poles.

The cost of the electricity project is estimated at $150,000.

The power expansion will benefit all of Appletree Acres, making it more attractive to potential businesses considering the park and Village of Bergen residents, said Mark Masse, VP of business development for GCEDC.

It will also mean ratepayers in the Village of Bergen -- which has its own power utility -- won't see a rate increase as a result of infrastructure upgrade.

Of the 10-year period of the PILOT/PIF, the county will receive nearly $80,000 in PILOT payments and $80,000 will go to the electricity project. For the county, the gain/loss of $80,000 is not currently either a budgeted expense or budgeted revenue.

For the Village of Bergen the split is $17,600, and for the Byron-Bergen School District, it's $287,850.

All three jurisdictions will need approve the PIF.

Masse will explain the project to the Byron-Bergen School Board tonight.

A PILOT is a mechanism to relieve a new or expanding business of some property tax burden on projects expected to create new jobs. The property is either owned or leased by the nonprofit GCEDC so there are no property taxes owed; the business then makes payments in lieu of those taxes during the PILOT period. The payments increase on a graduated scale over a 10-year period, usually started at 20 percent of the increase in assessed value.

A PIF, then, takes those payments and allocates at least a portion to a specific community project.

The County's Ways and Means Committee learned about the PIF plan for Appletree Acres on Wednesday, but was not yet asked to vote on the project.

Liberty Pumps is planning to add 100,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space.

March 5, 2014 - 9:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Big Pauly's, Yume Sushi.

You could call it a springboard for spring rolls.

Paul Berardini is providing his cousin, Josh Gaylord, kitchen space at Big Pauly's Pizza, to launch his sushi business, Yume Sushi.

Gaylord had tried to secure financing to open a restaurant at the former Delavan's location on Evans Street, but that fell through, so Berardini stepped in to provide a launching pad for the aspiring entrepreneur and sushi chef.

"I can't thank him enough because obviously I tried doing it myself and it wasn't in the books for right now," Gaylord said. "I think starting out small is the best idea."

Space is cramped and the production needs of the pizza and wing cooks in Pauly's sometimes means Gaylord gets shifted from one table to another, but he has a place to start (rent free), his own phone line, a business name and checking account. He's in business.

And it's already quite a business. With more than 500 followers on Facebook, Gaylord is already fielding about as many orders as he can handle by himself.

"It's best to order ahead," Gaylord said.

Gaylord and a buddy started going to sushi restaurants in Buffalo and Rochester about eight years ago and decided they would learn to make sushi themselves with the hope of eventually opening a restaurant in Batavia.

"We just thought Batavia needed something like this," Gaylord said, but admits he wasn't very good at creating sushi dishes at first.

His friend eventually fell away from making sushi and moved to Flordia to escape New York's winters, but Gaylord stayed and kept learning.

He's entirely self-taught, but with recent special dinners at Sweet Ecstasy Bakery and just making sushi for friends in Batavia, he's developed quite a following. He hopes with the help of Pauly he can get his business rolling and eventually secure enough financing to open his own location.

"It's a passion of mine," Gaylord said. "I really like doing it. I like introducing new foods to Batavia. A lot of people think sushi is just raw fish. It's nothing to do with raw fish. Sushi means rice that's been vinegared with some sort of meat. It can be steak or chicken or even a vegetible."

Yume Sushi is open from lunchtime through 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Order ahead by calling (585) 297-9656.

March 3, 2014 - 5:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park.

Press release:

The region’s largest seasonal employer is looking to fill approximately 2,500 open positions across its operations, including the amusement park, water park, lodging, entertainment, food, and retail departments.

More than 50 percent of eligible employees from 2013 plan to return to Darien Lake this season, including local area teachers, seniors, high school and college students. Returning employees, along with new team members, will support weekend and holiday operations starting May 10, with daily park operations beginning June 13. Staffing levels adjust during these time periods and increase once the season is in full swing. 

"There’s something special about working a summer job at Darien Lake,” said Jan Peters, Darien Lake director of human resources. “We’re looking for energetic, friendly applicants of all ages and backgrounds who are interested in learning new skills and helping to create memorable experiences for our guests. It’s hard not to have a fantastic summer when you’re around great people in an environment that’s as fun as Darien Lake.”

Immediate opportunities are available in food services, park services, ride operations, retail, accommodations, campground housekeeping, games, gift shop sales, aquatic operations, skilled trades and park maintenance, entertainment, guest services, safety and security.

Interested applicants can apply online at www.DarienLake.com/jobs or call the Darien Lake Job Line at 585-599-5108.

March 3, 2014 - 5:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business.

Press release:

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation today reacted to media reports of the Seneca Nation of Indians’ purchase of 32 acres in the Town of Henrietta as a potential site for a gaming casino.

“Today’s announcement by the Seneca Nation of a significant land purchase in Henrietta for a casino gaming facility should not come as a shock to anyone,” said Michael P. Nolan, executive vice president/COO of WROTB. “Despite the fact that the casino compact of 2002 specifically allows them to operate only three casinos in the region, the Senecas never had any intention of abiding by the terms of that agreement. This land purchase only reinforces that point. The compact also provides that they will not use any of the Seneca Settlement Act funds for another casino. The use of these funds for another casino shows another potential breach of the compact by the Senecas.”

In 2002, the Seneca Nation signed a gaming compact with the State of New York, under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which allowed the Seneca Nation to operate three “class III gaming” casino facilities. The Seneca Nation currently operates casinos in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Salamanca. 

With the land purchase by the Seneca Nation, Nolan believes that community opposition will grow exponentially.

“There is already significant opposition to the casino from residents of Henrietta, the business community, church and civic organizations, and a multitude of town boards and county legislative bodies throughout the region,” Nolan said. “Now that the Senecas’ intentions have taken a much more serious turn with the land purchase, I fully expect opposition to grow in terms of both numbers and intensity.”

Nolan vowed to work with local communities and opposition groups to stop casino gaming in Henrietta.

“This region is oversaturated with casino gaming, and another facility will cause irreparable harm to thousands of businesses, families, and municipalities throughout the region,” Nolan said.

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Regional OTB is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 31 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility.

February 28, 2014 - 4:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, downtown, Ken Mistler, Tompkins Insurance.

It seems hard to believe, but Tompkins Insurance has outgrown its space in the Bank of Castile building at 90 Main St., Batavia, according to Executive VP David Boyce.

Boyce confirmed this afternoon that Tompkins is in the process of acquiring the two-story commercial building at the corner of Main and Center streets with the intention of expanding its call center in that location.

"We have had great success in the bank building across the street, but I didn't think we would outgrow it in nine years," Boyce said. "I guess that was a little short-sighted on my part and Jim Fulmer's, but we've had great success hiring great people from the area."

The call center, Boyce said, is a "care center" in Tompkins vernacular. It's where customer service reps field incoming phone calls from the company's 36,000 private insurance clients.

Tompkins is acquiring the building from Ken Mistler, who owns as many as 10 Downtown properties. Its primary tenants are both on the first floor -- WBTA AM-1490 and Optique Optical.

Boyce said he would defer for the time being in sharing the purchase price but said the company will be making a significant investment in renovating the second floor of the structure.

The property at 113 Main St., is assessed at $325,000.

Boyce said the company is likely to apply to Genesee County Economic Development Center for a sales tax exemption on the building renovations and a PILOT on any increase in accessed value.

February 27, 2014 - 1:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, UMMC.

Genesee County's only hospital will become a fully integrated affiliate of Rochester General Hospital, according to an announcement issued today.

RGH said it has reached an agreement to formalize "a comprehensive partnership."

“Even given our sound financial position today, changes in health care will continue to negatively impact independent rural health care providers,” stated Mark Schoell, CEO, United Memorial Medical Center. “The leadership of United Memorial remains committed to providing the best for our patients, and this expanded relationship will strengthen the future of health care in Genesee County.”

Here's the rest of the press release:

The hospital’s affiliation with RGHS will lead to a continued expansion of health care services in Batavia and on-site at United Memorial, and over time will result in fewer Genesee County residents needing to leave their community for vital health care. United Memorial will maintain its name and a local board, and will continue its longstanding tradition of providing a full range of medical and acute care services in Batavia after the affiliation is formalized.

The announcement today mirrors a trend among successful hospitals and health care systems nationwide. Community hospitals continue to be impacted by changes in the business of health care, and few have the size and scale necessary to support wide breadth of specialized services and technology required today. System affiliations address the economic realities that community hospitals face with health care reform, while ensuring patients have immediate and convenient access to a full range of primary and secondary services locally and a gateway to the best clinical care available when more highly specialized care and technology – like cardiac surgery, stroke services, neurosurgery, and other complex services – are required.

“Progressive and forward-thinking rural hospital management teams and boards like United Memorial’s continue to recognize the value in partnering with larger systems, to ensure their patients have access to a full range of highly specialized technology and physician expertise,” said Mark C. Clement, president and CEO of RGHS. “This partnership will enable the residents of Genesee County to continue to have access to and receive world-class care, right at home here at United Memorial.”

The two health care institutions are no strangers to each other, having collaborated in the areas of Cardiology, Pathology, Surgery, Urology and Gastroenterology since 2008, and most recently partnered to open a Cancer & Infusion Center at United Memorial. Rochester General and United Memorial have served residents in their respective communities for more than a century.

In making its decision to affiliate with RGHS, the United Memorial board cited the system’s longstanding focus on high-quality patient care and safety, its expertise in clinical integration, its comprehensive medical and surgical specialties that will enhance existing services available in the Batavia community, and its successful track record of collaboration with smaller acute care hospitals and physicians.

“We are creating a health care system that will serve as the future model that helps communities get healthy and stay healthy” Clement said. “We’re creating true alignment of processes and providing full access to life-saving services and exceptional patient care, no matter where you live or through which system-wide door you enter. We are committed to expanding services at United Memorial, which will serve as the western hub for all of Rochester General Health System’s services.”

RGHS operates the Sands-Constellation Heart Institute, recognized as the best in cardiac care in New York for four consecutive years by Delta CareChex quality rating group, and is the only area health system to be nationally rated by SDI – a premier health care analytics firm – as a TOP 100 Integrated Health Network each year since 2007. Integrated care networks are consistently recognized for delivering higher levels of quality, service, patient safety and efficiency. These are important factors, made even more so, as the government and insurers increasingly tie reimbursement to quality, safety, efficiency and the health of a defined patient population.

Leadership teams from both organizations will work closely together to create a formal affiliation and integration plan and to complete the required regulatory approval process, which is expected to take three to six months.

This affiliation with United Memorial aligns with and is complementary to RGHS’ current merger plans with Unity Health System. United Memorial would bring another high-quality, integrated hospital into the planned new system, enabling it to offer convenient access to exceptional, high-value care to more than a million patients throughout Monroe, Genesee, Ontario and Wayne counties.

February 21, 2014 - 4:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business, Chamber Awards, adam miller.

It's easy to spot customers who have never been in Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle. They tend to point at things and ooh and aah -- a lot. That's because the inventory is comprised of an amazing array of classic toys and amusements not usually found in one place, certainly not in Big Box stores.

Spinning tops, a stuffed menagerie that can include bats, otters, zebras, squirrels, not just bears and bunnies, and models, kites, puzzles, bikes, trikes, and metal cars of the future as envisioned in the Atomic Age. Games anyone? Remember Mystery Date? Stratego? Or SNL's beleaguered Mr. Bill? Cap guns, authentic Silly Putty?

But more important than retro toys that don't require batteries or electricity is the sublime customer service and personal attention that is more or less lost in the nexus of retail commerce today.

Reason enough, perhaps, that this 96-year-old institution on Center Street in Downtown Batavia is the 2013 Retail Business of the Year, so designated by members of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

"I think it's cool," said owner John Roche of the unexpected accolade. "I guess being nominated by a friend of ours (attorney Michael Rivers) and getting people to vote for us -- it's a task and can't be the easiest thing to do. But I think it's cool. It's a good thing."

So is the toy biz in general, he says, because "It's not a real job. I guess it's one of those jobs where you go to work and it's not work. You have fun and you never work a day in your life."

He and his wife, Cathy, bought the business in 2002.

The enterprise began as a "wheel goods store" in 1918 owned by Walter J. Davis. The building was constructed at 8 Center St. in 1929. Back then, people went to places for specific services; no one-stop-shops existed. There was, say, the baker, the blacksmith, the dry goods merchant, the green grocer, and a place where items with wheels were purchased and repaired. Davis also sold a few toys and tobacco products. He sharpened ice skates, lawn mower blades, and even strung tennis rackets to keep the business running.

In 1946, Adam F. Miller bought the Davis Wheel Goods store, which became Adam Miller Wheel Goods. In the mid-'50s, he put up the distinctive neon sign hanging out front. The business expanded in the 1960s to include toys and hobbies "for kids of all ages" and a year-round full-service repair shop.

Adam retired in the '70s and handed the business over to his children, Joyce Masse and Gary Miller, who ran it for 25 years during which time it garnered the reputation of being "The Neatest Store in Town."

The neon sign was restored in 1990. Long gone was the antiquated term "Wheel Goods" (although the legal corporate name remains Davis Wheel Goods).

Adam continued to visit regularly to make sure all was running smoothly. He died in 2000 at age 90. Subsequently, his children decided to retire themselves and the business was sold to the Roches, of Corfu. The families had known each other for years and were associates in the bicycle industry.

The tradition of quality customer service continued seamlessly.

Moreover, "You don't have to deal with someone who can't make change if the register goes down."

They gladly do special orders, offer free gift wrapping, free layaway, and help with selecting the right gift or choosing the best bicycle.

"Ninety percent of our customers are loyal, repeat customers. They tell their friends, tell everybody about us. That's who I have to thank are these customers for keeping us around so long."

And he doesn't mean just his customers, but also those who've been patrons for 30 or 40 years.

"They bring their kids and grandkids and show them what a real toy store is."

Being available to chat and help select something special results in practically zero returns. They had two after last Christmas.

"I like to tell people, if you buy something and they don't like it -- keep it for yourself, and they often do."

The challenge in bringing in new customers is overcoming the assumption by some that because Adam Miller is a small, family-owned business it's therefore pricey.

"Once they come in here they get it. They can see that's not the case. It's just getting them in the door. We don't have a million dollar advertising budget, so for us, it's definitely by word of mouth that you get people in."

And when they walk through the door, the fun begins.

"You see the smiles on their faces, or the memories that come back to them that make them smile and have good thoughts."

\

February 20, 2014 - 2:30pm

Its expertise in agri-business, along with its high quality standards, has made the the family-run company, Bonduelle, a household name in Europe for canned, frozen and fresh vegetables. It has 47 plants around the world and sells in 100 countries.

Headquartered in France, Bonduelle is a worldwide market leader in prepared vegetables. The recent addition to Western New York has been named the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Business of the Year.

“We are proud to be recognized by the community,” Byron Facility Manager Jim Newcomb said. “Our company is pleased with the local grower base, the skill of the employees and the opportunity to market in the U.S.”

Bonduelle purchased two Genesee County plants in 2012 from the former Allen food processing facilities in Bergen and Oakfield, along with a plant in Brockport. They retained all of the existing full-time staff and employ nearly 800 people in the United States, 400 of whom are full-time workers.

The Bergen plant deals with peas, green beans, sweet corn and carrots, while Oakfield processes green, lima and wax beans, along with butternut squash.

Both locations will produce more than half of the 257 million pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat, vegetables that Bonduelle’s American operations are projected to sell in 2014. The Brockport packaging facility will handle 130 million pounds of processed vegetables.

Bonduelle posts more than $2.5 billion in annual revenues and has invested $1.7 million into the three New York facilities in its first year, upgrading equipment, improving training, as well as ensuring that only the best produce is purchased from family farms within the area.

They work with a network of local growers and the Bergen and Oakfield plants harvest most of their vegetables from within a 30-mile zone. Growing crops in close proximity to freezing facilities allows them to preserve maximum freshness. Since vegetables only travel a short distance from field to plant, they’re frozen just a few hours after harvest, capturing freshness at their peak of maturity.

Bonduelle’s operations are supplied by local growers who are part of more than 130,000 acres contracted by the company, and its team of experts ensure thorough control over every step in the food processing chain, from seeding to packaging.

People are the driving force of Bonduelle. Therefore, it's important to provide them with opportunities to upgrade and hone their skills. Whether it's in farming, production, quality assurance, sales or another sector, the company credits its team members as the company's driving force.

They include longtime Bergen facility employee Newcomb, who started there in 1971 when it was CB Foods, pushing pea carts, and who has worked his way up as the company has changed hands several times. As previously noted, he's now a Bonduelle facility manager.

“I’m excited to be working here, which is hard to believe since I’ve been here since 1971. Bonduelle has invested capital dollars into the facility, bringing money into the community and we are definitely on an upswing,” Newcomb said.

The company has been in the frozen, ready-to-eat vegetables business since 1970. Products are marketed under private-brand labels for U.S. food distributors and supermarket chains, such as Wegmans store-brand frozen vegetables. Its sales team operates on the major retail trade and food services networks.

Bonduelle’s plants, equipped with modern technology, enable flexibility and greater production capacity. The company is poised to grow and increase volume. Their Northeast operations are a prime focus and that means expansion for Genesee County plants.

“We are currently at about 80-percent capacity, which is up from the 65- to 70-percent the plant ran in the past, but we plan to increase capacity even more, as well as introduce new crops,” Newcomb said.

File Photos. Photos by Howard Owens.

February 19, 2014 - 8:00am

Alex's Place has been serving mouth-watering ribs, succulent prime rib, perfectly grilled steaks and fresh seafood, along with a blend of American steakhouse specialties and Italian classics to satisfied guests for 25 years.

The winner of the the NY Award at the Taste of Buffalo, the Democrat & Chronicle's Best of Rochester Award, Best Ribs at the Art of Ribs in Lewiston and the Best Ribs at the Roc City Ribfest for the last four years running, Alex's Place is the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce 2013 Service Business of the Year.

Owner Matthew Gray is humbled by the recognition and credits his employees with the success of the restaurant.

“My staff of 50, including an executive chef, eight cooks, four managers and a multitude of servers, bussers and hostesses are the ones who make the restaurant successful every single day,” Gray said. “When I took over the restaurant in 2007, it was an easy transition for me because it was already run so well by the staff.”

Alex's Place has built a loyal following by serving delicious food and providing excellent service. That winning recipe is key to their strategy for growth as they build upon the restaurant's reputation and recruit new customers in Buffalo, Rochester and beyond.

Since Gray, along with his business partner Matthew Boyd, purchased the restaurant, there has been major growth in all areas of the business, including sales. Gray, who handles the marketing, has aggressively marketed and advertised the business by participating in events like the Taste of Buffalo and Roc City Rib Fest. Billboard advertisements along the Thruway have brought customers into the community from all over Western New York.

His joint venture with more than 80 grocery stores throughout the region to sell Alex's Heat-N-Eat Take Home Ribs has been a huge success and has brought more customers into the restaurant and into the community. Their ribs are now available nationwide through their Web site at http://alexsribs.com as well.

The Curbside To Go service that began in 2009 has brought in customers who don't want the traditional sit-down restaurant experience.

Located at 8322 Park Road in the Town of Batavia, the small building started out as a “track” stop for Batavia Downs racers and players in 1988 as a one-room eatery offering classic comfort food. As it grew in popularity, the building became a 100-seat restaurant with an open-kitchen design, yet it has retained the comfortable and cozy atmosphere that diners have come to love.

There are 50 full and part-time staff who serve between 2,500-3,000 guests each week. Some of them have been there since Alex's Place started.

"I have a handful of staff that have been here for 20 years or more," Gray said. "One of my servers, Kelly McDonald, has been here for 26 years. That says something about the business, it's like family here."

Alex's Place is also dedicated to being a good neighbor and actively supporting the community. Last year they held fundraisers for a number of charities, including Hospice and the Russell Bugbee Memorial Culinary Scholarship.

Last April the staff had a fundraiser in which all the servers donated half of their tips from a busy Saturday night to the Justice for Children Advocacy Center, raising more than $2,500.

They support several nonprofit groups, including the WNY Aviation Camp, St. Joseph's School, the City of Batavia Community Garden and the Business Education Alliance. Alex's Place was awarded the 2013 Business Partner of the Year by the BEA. Managers are active members of Leadership Genesee and participate in the United Way Day of Caring as well.

“We are committed to getting the word out that Batavia is a destination for food and entertainment that is worth driving to,” Gray said.

By using a combination of radio, TV, newspaper, billboard and online advertising, as well as working with festivals in Buffalo and Rochester, 60 percent of Alex's guests are now from outside of Genesee County.

Photos by Howard Owens

February 15, 2014 - 8:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

The way Jeff McIntire and Matt Smith see it, Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave their business idea a nice boost when he pushed through the SAFE Act.

Cuomo, with the stroke of a pen, created more reasons for people interested in self defense to buy guns.

And many of those people have never been properly trained on how to handle a weapon, how their particular weapon works and exactly what to do if confronted with a dangerous situation.

"The SAFT Act put a rush on gun stores," McIntire said. "A lot of people go to buy a weapon and you're in the store and you hear them say, 'I want to buy a shotgun.' 'Well, you ask, why do you want to buy a shotgun?' 'I don't know. I just want to buy a shot gun.' They ask all sorts of questions. That SAFE Act completely allowed us a reason to be in business because people need to know this."

McIntire, Smith and Dave Eick are combat veterans and experienced Marine Corps instructors. Together, they've opened MandS Tactical Solutions with an office in the Harvester Center.

They teach a variety subjects around personal protection and civilian weapons use, shotgun personal defense, home defense, pistol defense, rape prevention and improvised weapons defense.

Opening a civilian defense course business just seemed like a logical step for the former Marines, McIntire said.

"You sit back and think, what am I going to do with an infantry background in the civilian world? What am I going to do? Why wouldn't we do this? We get to go to the range every day and do something we love. We know this more intimately than anything else."

McIntire and Smith met their first year in the Marines and served much of their career together. They were both wounded by an IED in Iraq in 2007 and both received Purple Hearts.

They've also trained other Marines in combat techniques.

McIntire grew up in Batavia, as did Eick. Smith is from St. Louis.

What they teach civilians consists of proper weapon handling, safety and care, but they also teach combat mindset.

If you're going to own a gun for self-defense, you better be prepared to use it. Just holding it in the hopes an intruder might retreat could be more dangerous than not having a gun at all.

"If I can show it to a person who is breaking in, maybe I can show it to them and maybe they'll run away," said McIntire taking on the role of a new, first-time gun owner. "Well, what happens if they don't? 'Well, I don't know what to do.' That's where we come in."

The combat mindset is necessarily about how to pull the trigger. It's also about not pulling the trigger.

"If we teach you everything we need to teach you, you won't ever need to pull the trigger because hopefully you will deter the intruder," Smith said. "The intruder will be like 'maybe I need to leave. This person is serious.' "

If you don't learn that mindset and you do need to pull the trigger and you freeze up, Smith said, "you might not be around much longer."

"We train people so that hopefully they never have to pull trigger," Smith added. "With the training, if comes down to that, they will know exactly what to do."

The training, in fact, may help a person later with the law. Your best defense if you shot a person who is a threat to you is if you can explain what you did, how you did it, why you did it and your confidence that you had no other option.

"The law may say you're justified, but you might not want to take that shot," McIntire said. "We're not teaching anybody to shoot anybody. We're teaching you to be prepared. We're teaching you how to go through the steps until you reach the point where you feel your life is in danger. Hopefully it helps a person, if they ever get in that situation, where they can intelligently say, 'I pulled the trigger. I shot him because I had no other choice.' "

McIntire and Smith are not offering, per se, a set course list. They have a list of topics they cover, subjects they can teach, but they like to meet individually with their clients and make sure they understand their needs.

Instruction can be in a group environment or one-on-one, especially if a client needs or desires privacy.

"We ask, you want to do this? OK, what do you want to do with it?" Smith said. "They might want to take something out. They might want to put something in. We try to customize it rather than just what an overall person might want.

"We pride ourselves the fact that we're not a cookie-cutter organization," he added.

For more information, visit the MandS Tactical Web site.

February 13, 2014 - 9:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, Bethany, Baskin Livestock.

Press release:

The Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors has announced the selection of Baskin Livestock as the 2013 Genesee County Conservation Farm of the Year. Baskin Livestock will be the honored guests of the District at the Celebrate Agriculture Dinner on March  22th at the Alexander Firemen’s Recreation Hall.  They will be formally presented with their award at that time.

Baskin Livestock is owned and operated by Bill Baskin and Susan Blackburn. Bill purchased the former James Hume Jr. Dairy Farm from Chester Ptak in 1992. Since that time, Bill and Susan have acquired several neighboring farms (John Gardner, 1996; James Hume – remainder, 2001; Kruszelnicki, 2001; Don Norton, 2005; Woodhouse, 2007; Ethel Cook, 2009) and now own a total of 1,748.66 acres in the towns of Alexander, Bethany and Batavia. Of that total 1,157 acres is cropland. Most of the cropland acreage is fenced for pasture. Little Tonawanda Creek runs through the farm. With only a few exceptions, livestock is fenced out of the stream channels. Baskin Livestock became a District Cooperator in January of 1993. They started working on a plan for grazing in 1995. A grazing plan was written by Art Hanson of Western New York Crop Management (WNYCMA) in April 2001. Baskin Livestock is a medium Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) and has a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) completed by WNYCMA in July of 2002. Baskin Livestock is active in the Agricultural Environmental Management Program (AEM) .

They raise dairy replacement heifers, beef, and quarter horses. Recent conservation practices installed with district assistance include heavy use area protection (bedded pack), waste transfer system, roof runoff structure, compost facility, and waste storage facilities.  Baskin Livestock has one of the most extensive grazing (pasture) systems in the County.

February 13, 2014 - 8:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Insource Urgent Care.

Press release:

Insource Urgent Care Center of Batavia Receives Certified Urgent Care Designation from the Urgent Care Association of America

Insource Urgent care Center of Batavia, located in the Batavia City Centre, has received the Certified Urgent Care designation which distinguishes it as a true urgent care center.  The clinic provides patients with walk-in, extended-hour medical attention with licensed providers for a large scope of medical conditions and has met all of the Urgent Care Association of America’s established criteria.

The health care environment is changing and it is becoming more and more important for patients to understand their treatment options.

Urgent care is a convenient and viable option for medical conditions that cannot wait for a scheduled appointment with a primary care physician.  Insource Urgent Care accepts unscheduled, walk-in patients during all hours of operation.

When a medical condition cannot be handled by a patient’s regular doctor – such as unexpected cuts, burns, sprains or fractures that do not require a visit to the emergency department, Insource Urgent Care is equipped with x-ray, laboratory services and a licensed provider is always available to perform minor procedures like casting and suturing.

Urgent care fills the gap between primary care and hospital emergency rooms, offering increased convenience and cost savings. 

With its certification, Insource Urgent Care and the Urgent Care Association of America demonstrate their commitment toward providing patients with access to appropriate levels of care.

February 12, 2014 - 12:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park, nik wallenda.

Press release:

With decades of experience captivating audiences around the world, aerialist and high-wire artist Nik Wallenda will spend the Summer of 2014 high above Darien Lake. Heralded around the world as “King of the High Wire,” Nik’s high-flying stunts have landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records eight times and his 2012 walk across Niagara Falls made him a household name across the globe.

Darien Lake and presenting sponsor Tim Horton’s Café and Bake Shop announced today that the internationally renowned daredevil will star in “Nik Wallenda: Beyond the Falls,” featuring the Wallenda Family. The 60-minute thrill spectacular will be produced by Nik himself, exclusively for Darien Lake.

Showing twice daily in the 1,800-seat Galaxy Theatre from June 23 through Sept. 1st (dark Mondays), the show will mesmerize audiences with performances from the world's best aerialists and stunt performers and climax with the breathtaking Wallenda Family Pyramid finale. The amazing stunt features Nik, his wife Erendira, and other members of the Wallenda family walking untethered, high above the stage.

Wallenda’s involvement won’t stop at the Galaxy Theater. Nik Wallenda Productions, Inc., will be crafting additional entertainment for Darien Lake, including a short film chronicling the history of the Wallendas, an interactive tight-rope training academy with hands-on instruction for park guests, and “pop up” performances throughout the park from the cast and crew.

All performances will be free with park admission and for Darien Lake Vacations guests, with preferred seating and VIP packages sold on a limited basis. 2014 season-pass holders will receive exclusive show offers and event invites throughout the show's run. Discounted early-bird season passes are available at Tops Friendly Markets and online at www.darienlake.com.

“The level of entertainment Nik will bring to our guests this season is unprecedented,” said Vince Nicoletti, director of Marketing at Darien Lake. “This truly will be an incomparable entertainment experience.”

“My family and I are thrilled to be back in the area and spending our summer at Darien Lake,” said Nik Wallenda. “With more than a million people coming to the park every season, it’s the perfect location for our act and we can’t wait to get started.”

February 11, 2014 - 1:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in business.

Press release:

The Bonadio Group is pleased to welcome the following new employees:

Alysse Johnson, MBA, has been hired as an Intern for the tax team. Johnson received dual degrees: a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Canisius College, and a master of Business Administration degree, with a concentration in Accounting from Rochester Institute of Technology.  She resides in Le Roy.

Rachael Klein has been hired as a seasonal tax processor for the Small Business Administration team. Klein received a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the SUNY at Brockport. She resides in Batavia.

About The Bonadio Group

Founded in 1978, The Bonadio Group offers accounting, business advisory, and personal financial services, and is ranked number 54 on the Accounting Today 2013 list of the top 100 CPA firms nationally. With offices in Albany, Batavia, Buffalo, East Aurora, Geneva, New York City, Perry, Rochester, Rutland, Vt., Syracuse, and Utica, Bonadio offers a wide variety of services to meet the needs of commercial, small business, public, tax-exempt, and individual clients. For more information, visit www.bonadio.com.

 

February 10, 2014 - 2:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Muller Quaker Dairy.

An executive of Batavia-based Muller Quaker Dairy tells an food industry news Web site that the yogurt maker is on pace to reach $100 million in annual sales in the U.S.

"Promotions are playing a role," Barb Yehling, chief marketing officer at Muller Quaker Dairy, told Foodnavigator-USA.com. "However, at the end of the day it’s product quality and taste that matter to consumers. Again, this is where Müller yogurt excels."

Yehling said the company is focused on innovation and meeting unmet needs to bring to the American public a Greek-style yogurt that is fun and flavorful.

February 6, 2014 - 1:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will hold its annual meeting on Friday, March 7, at Genesee Community College to unveil the organization’s 2013 annual report to the community.

The attendees at the annual meeting will include Congressman Chris Collins, Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and Genesee County Legislature Chairman Raymond Cianfrini.  

“Because of the strategic leadership of the public and private sectors in 2013, the economy of Genesee County remains strong and the business climate continues to remain positive,” said Charlie Cook, GCEDC chairman. “We will discuss at this meeting our plans to continue making business attraction and expansion a priority for 2014.”

Among the economic development highlights for the region as outlined in the 2013 annual report include:

** Recognition of Genesee County as one of the to five fastest-growing food processing regions in the country by Business Facilities magazine;

** Recognition of Genesee County by Site Selection magazine as one of the top fastest-growing micropolitans in the United States due to continued growth and business attraction;

** Economic growth as a result of projects like Muller Quaker Dairy LLC, a yogurt manufacturing facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business (GVAB) Park located on Route 5 in Batavia; and

** An unemployment rate of 5.8 percent during the summer of 2013 according to the New York State Department of Labor, one of the lowest unemployment rates of the 62 counties in the state.

In addition to the GCEDC’s annual report highlights, the recipient of this year’s Economic Development Partner of the Year Award will be unveiled.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the annual meeting, please visit www.gcedc.com. Tickets for the event cannot be purchased at the door and seating is limited.

February 6, 2014 - 1:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

We received this statement today from Jessica Joyce, a spokeswoman for Bed, Bath & Beyond:

We are working with the landlord and insurance professionals to reopen as soon as possible. Yes, we did offer reassignments to all of our associates.

The store was closed following a fire in the bedding department Jan. 27 and all of the merchandise, shelving and fixtures have been removed from the store.

February 4, 2014 - 6:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Batavia Towne Center.

Batavia's Bed, Bath & Beyond, damaged by fire Jan. 27, has been cleared of all its stock and today work crews were pulling from the store every last bit of fixture, shelving and even wall.

Smoke odor still permeated the entry way.

A manager said she doesn't know when the store will reopen. She said she didn't know when new stock would arrive. Asked if employees had been offered jobs at other locations, she said we would have to call the corporate office.

We called the corporate office this afternoon and have not yet gotten a response.

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