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September 30, 2013 - 3:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business.

Press release:

Batavia Downs announced today that the gaming floor portion of its highly anticipated expansion project will open on Friday, Oct. 4.

"We are very excited to open this first phase of our expansion,” said Michael D. Kane, president and CEO of Batavia Downs. “As a public benefit corporation, the expansion of the gaming floor and the addition of three new restaurants will allow us to generate more revenue for local municipalities.”

As a public benefit corporation, all profits from Western OTB and Batavia Downs Gaming net expenses are contributed back to the 15 counties and two cities of Western New York.

Pictures and videos from the expansion as well as updates can be found on Batavia Downs’ Web site (www.bataviadownsgaming.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/bataviadowns) and on Twitter (www.twitter.com/bataviadowns). A grand opening celebration with a ribbon cutting and other events will occur in a few weeks.

September 27, 2013 - 8:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Present Tense Books.

Present Tense books and gifts, on the corner of Washington and State, Batavia, will be closed as of Nov. 1, owner Erica Caldwell announced today in an e-mail to customers.

The store will start selling items at marked down prices on Oct. 8. Store fixtures will also be fore sale.

Here's a portion of the e-mail:

Present Tense could not have flourished for eight years without the help and support of many people:

  • YOU, our customers. It has been a privilege to provide books for you for these past eight years. We have enjoyed reading, talking, and sharing with you and treasure the many friendships we have made.
  • TERRI MARCHESE and MARCY RUBIN, my dependable, enthusiastic, book-loving sidekicks. Also, thank you to CHASITY MOORE, KELLY DUDLEY, and MARCIA GANN, who were willing to help out when needed.
  • MY FAMILY, especially my parents and sister, who spent quite a lot of time arranging, rearranging, hanging, shelving, fixing, proofreading, baking, and generally improvising to help me create the space and materials I envisioned for Present Tense. Thanks to my father-in-law for his willingness to put on a red suit and white beard every year for our Holiday Open House.
  • DARRICK COLEMAN, my husband, who was not only willing to let me try running an independent bookstore but has also been the one I call for all the worst jobs, like fixing the printers, hanging Christmas lights in high places in the freezing cold, correcting my endless bookkeeping errors, and once even donning the black robe and wig of Severus Snape. Malcolm Gladwell says that creative success is often highly contingent on the efforts of others, and that creative individuals’ stories are invariably love stories. That has certainly been the story of Present Tense.
September 27, 2013 - 7:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy.

It didn't take long for a young entrepreneur to fill the space that had been Casino's for decades.

The venerable Le Roy restaurant closed just months ago and Le Roy-native Sam Hillburger said when the space became available, he thought, "perfect."

He grew up with Casino's and liked the location.

His new eatery, Sammy HIlls, opened a week ago and serves hamburgers, hot dogs and plates.

The location is perfect for his ambitions he said, because he just wants a small restaurant where he puts out good food.

"I'm not in it to be big and expand," Hillburger said. "It's a small kitchen where you can put out some good food and call it a day."

Patties are fresh, hand-pressed every morning and the meat sauce and chicken are fresh dipped every morning.

After graduating from Le Roy High Sschool, Hillburger went to a culinary school in New Hampshire. He worked for three years at Alex's Place and for a time at the Avon Inn. Now he's ready to see what he can do on his own.

"I was ready to work for myself," Hillburger said. "I've always done it somebody else's way and I'm ready to do it the way I want to do it."

September 25, 2013 - 9:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCC.

It is possible, Jerry Greenfield told the assembled audience in GCC's Stuart Steiner Theater this afternoon, to run a business that is both socially conscious and profitable.

Ben & Jerry's did it, and it's a culture that remains in place even 12 years after Greenfield and his partner Ben Cohen sold Ben & Jerry's to Unilever for $326 million.

From early on in the company's history, Greenfield said, he and Cohen shared a vision that the company would buy raw materials locally, invest in the communities where Ben & Jerry's  operated and donate to charitable causes.

They also did things like find suppliers such as a bakery in New York that employs disadvantaged workers (the bakery makes brownies for Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream).

"The way we approached it was to think how can we find ways to bring social and environmental concerns right into the day-to-day business activities so it's not central to what we do but just a part of what we do," Greenfield said

Greenfield's appearance was part of Wolcott J. Humphrey III Symposium on Leadership and Community Life.

Several times during his talk, Greenfield referenced "community" --  like where Ben & Jerry's buys product or where Ben & Jerry's donates money or how it supports its employees. He encouraged the audience to support local businesses and businesses that share the customer's values.

"I think everything is essentially local," Greenfield said after his talk. "For Ben & Jerry's, the farmers that we buy milk and cream from are neighbors. We want to support our neighbors."

September 25, 2013 - 11:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, economy, jobs.

For the first time since April 2008, Genesee County's unemployment rate dipped below 6 percent, being recorded at 5.8 percent for August.

That's three-tenths lower than July and a percentage point lower than August 2012.

Wyoming County's unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 percent, Orleans to 8.4 percent and Livingston to 6.7 percent.

In WNY, only Ontario County at 5.7 percent has a lower unemployment rate than Genesee County.

Buffalo's rate is 7.3 and Rochester is 6.9.

The state's rate is 7.5 and the U.S. rate is 7.3.

September 24, 2013 - 3:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Press release:

Work is slated to begin Monday, Sept. 30 to add a center left-turn lane on Route 5 (East Main Street) from the city of Batavia line to Fargo Road in the towns of Batavia and Stafford, Genesee County. Temporary lane closures will be in effect during the daytime hours for approximately one week weather permitting.

The center turn lane will be created by restriping the roadway without widening the pavement. One of the two existing westbound travel lanes will be converted to a center turn lane with associated left-turn lanes striped at the side street intersections. The remaining westbound lane will serve the westbound thru traffic. Both eastbound lanes will remain the same.

The addition of a dedicated left-turn lane will provide a refuge area, reducing the risk of rear-end collisions for stopped or slow-moving vehicles waiting to turn into the Batavia Agri-Park and adjacent side streets. The restriping will also benefit left-turning traffic at other intersections along the corridor, including Fargo Road, Batavia-Stafford Townline Road, Seven Springs Road, Broadlawn Avenue and the numerous residential and commercial driveways. Signs and other lane markings will alert motorists of the change.

This work is being administered by the Town of Batavia with concurrence from the New York State Department of Transportation.

Motorists should drive with caution through the highway work zone and avoid driving distracted or under the influence of drugs and alcohol. For real-time travel information, call 511 or visit www.511NY.org. 511NY is New York State’s official traffic and travel information source.

September 23, 2013 - 1:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Blue Pearl Yoga, art.

Submitted by Patricia Hawley:

A group of local fiber artists have gathered at Blue Pearl Yoga to show their work. “Mandala Quilts” features 10 pieces based on the Mandala -- a spiritual representing the wholeness of the Universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. The show hangs through mid-November.

ArtCGirlz started about eight years ago when members of the Museum Quilt Guild began a niche group concentrating on Art Quilts. While every quilt tells a story, art quilts differ in that “they are meant to hang on a wall as art,” says member Martha Lorshbaugh. Her quilt, “Zendala Mandala,” incorporates intricate stitching using fushia-colored thread. According to organizer Elaine Ross, “Art quilters rarely follow a strict pattern. We love to change things around.” Many of the quilts contain embellishments like beads, sequins, buttons and embroidery.

The 11-member ArtCGirlz’s meet the second Tuesday of each month; the location varies so check out their blog at ArtCGirlz.blogspot.com. To view the show, visit the gallery at Blue Pearl Yoga, 200 E. Main St., third floor, in  Batavia. The gallery is open during class times; call ahead for details or check their Web site at www.bp-yoga.com or find them on Facebook at Blue Pearl Yoga. Admission is free.

Top photo: Mary Ellen Casey.

September 20, 2013 - 5:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

There's heavy equipment moving a lot of earth around just west of the Partridge Farm on Ellicott Street Road, Town of Batavia.

Crews are building a new roadway, which will provide secondary access to the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. The secondary road is needed to accommodate anticipated growth and expansion of the park.

September 20, 2013 - 11:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Ellicott Street, Casa Del Taco.

It looks like Batavia is going to get a taco stand on Ellicott Street across from the Pok-A-Dot near Liberty Street. This sign appeared in the window recently. The new owners were not around when I stopped by this morning.

UPDATE: One of the new owners is Derek Geib, co-owner of Bourbon & Burger Co.. Mike Hyland, a partner at B&B, is also partner with Casa Del Taco, along with Dick Long. They're shooting for an Oct. 1 opening.

September 20, 2013 - 9:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, economy, jobs.

Genesee County added 200 jobs in August, according to a jobs report released yesterday in which the NYS Department of Labor touted a record number of jobs in the state.

According to the report, there are now 7.6 million jobs in New York, up 22,700 from July to August.

At the same time, the number of employment-eligible workers grew by 24,000, increasing the state's unemployment rate from 7.5 to 7.6 percent.

The number of jobs in Genesee County went up to 23,600, which is 200 over the July figure and the August 2013 number.

The County's unemployment rate has not yet been released.

September 19, 2013 - 3:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, elba, Torrey Farms.

Torrey Farms is being honored Oct. 1 with the 2013 Grower Achievement Award by United Fresh, a growers' association.

One of county's largest farms, the Torreys are being recognized for grower operations that strive to grow and market high-quality produce while contributing to the good of the industry.

Maureen Torrey has become a strong advocate in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere for public policies that protect farmers and promote agriculture.

She has testified before the House Committee on Agriculture regarding the farm bill and immigration policy.

Last year, for example, Torrey Farms lost 92 of 100 employees working in the packing shed following an I-9 audit. 

"The employees we lost averaged about 18 years of experience," Torrey told United Fresh. "Now we have to build it up from scratch."

The award will be given at the United Fresh annual Washington Public Policy Conference.

At the conference, produce industry leaders from across the supply chain meet with congressional lawmakers and their staff, as well as officials from the Food and Drug Administration to discuss policy issues that affect the agriculture industry.

(via OrleansHub)

September 18, 2013 - 1:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Tim Horton's.

It looks like a go for a new Tim Horton's on the west side of Batavia. The Town Planning Board was given a chance to see the final plans for the coffee shop and adjacent retail building last night and it doesn't appear there will be any opposition.

The final site plan is expected to be approved at the board's next meeting Oct. 1.

The location is between West Main Street Road and Lewiston Road behind Rite Aid. There will be driveways on Lewiston Road and Colonial Boulevard.

One Colonial Boulevard resident was at Tuesday's meeting, Amy DiSalvo. Tim Horton's architect Matt Oats showed how the plans included a privacy fence along DiSalvo's property and she said she was satisfied with the plan.

The Tim Horton's will seat 48 people, including 16 in an outdoors patio area. it will also have a drive-thru.

On the West Main Street side of the road will be a retail building that can accommodate from one to three tenants. There are no signed leases yet for the space. 

The entire parcel with both buildings erected will have 45 parking spaces.

Construction on the retail building can begin as soon as the site plan is removed. 

Workers can't build the Tim Horton's building until the current brick building on Lewiston is removed, with demolition requiring environmental approvals.

Bob Bender, project manager for Benderson Development, said he hopes construction can begin in November and weather permitting, construction will take 90 days.

The franchise owner for the location has not yet been announced.

September 16, 2013 - 3:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, chamber of commerce.

Press release:

The Chamber’s Annual Awards Committee has announced the 2013 Annual Award Ceremony will be held on Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Clarion Hotel, Park Road, Batavia. This is the County’s premier event that honors businesses and individuals for their achievements in business, community service and volunteerism.

The Chamber has committed to running a new special event, The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Annual Home Show (March 28, 29, 30). With the addition of this event, the Awards Ceremony will now be taking place two months earlier than previous years. For this reason, nominations MUST BE RECEIVED BY Nov. 1 to be eligible for consideration.

Please note that a brief write-up will qualify your nominee for consideration. Nominations are now being accepted for Business of the Year, Entrepreneurial Business of the Year, Agricultural Business of the Year, Innovative Enterprise of the Year, Special Service Recognition & Geneseeans of the Year. Business nominees must be a Chamber Member (If unsure of your nominee, call the Chamber to verify).  

Nomination forms are available at the Chamber of Commerce office, 210 E. Main St., Batavia and can also be down loaded from the Chamber Website at www.geneseeny.com.

If you would like more information, feel free to call Kelly J. Bermingham, director of Membership & Special Events at the Chamber office, 343-7440, ext. 26.

September 15, 2013 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Kreative Design Kitchen and Bath.

There are few easy decisions when it comes to getting a new kitchen for your home and Mike Adams said understanding how taxing the process can be is why Kreative Design Kitchen & Bath is now its its 20th year of business.

"I think there are several reasons we've made it 20 years," Adams said. "First we are very patient. Kitchen planning takes time and you have to allow your customers to make decisions at their pace. Second, we have great employees that treat our business as their own. Third, we have very good product lines which we have been working with for almost the entire 20 years."

Mike and Debbie Adams opened Kreative Design in Batavia in 1993 and have been running the business together every day since.

It's a rewarding line of work, Mike Adams said. A new kitchen is a big decision for a customer, but it's also often a dream come true.

"I really think seeing customers 100-percent satisfied is very rewarding," Adams said. "A kitchen remodel is quite involved and can be very stressful on the customer, so seeing that satisfaction at the completion is very rewarding."

Last year, Mike and Debbie moved their business to a larger location in a building they now own at 5582 E. Main Road, Batavia. The larger showroom allows them to better display their products from Omega and Diamond.

The move has worked out very well for Kreative Design, Adams said.

September 14, 2013 - 7:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Yuengs and Wings.

In these parts it doesn't get much better than beer and wings, which makes T.F. Brown's right now the place to be.

T.F. Brown's, Main St. Pizza Company, Big Pauly's and Batavia's Original have teamed up to create the first ever Yuengs and Wings fest to raise money for Genesee Cancer Assistance.

The event goes until 8 p.m.

Pictured are Brenda Marchese, Rick Mancuso, Kathy Ferrare, Vic Marchese, Tom Scott, Paul Bernardini, Jamie Ingersol, Mike Bernardini and Racheal Cook.

September 14, 2013 - 11:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Dellapenna Building.

Press release:

The City of Batavia released a request for redevelopment proposals to reinvest at one of the City’s strategic Batavia Opportunity Area (BOA) sites. The one-acre parcel is located in the heart of downtown. Market research reports a demand for new office space and downtown market-rate residential.

The RFP deadline has been extended to Wednesday, Sept. 25.

Please review the attached proposal or visit the Web site for more details. Questions? You may contact our office or the City Manager’s office at 585-345-6330.

http://www.batavianewyork.com/

PDF Files:

September 13, 2013 - 5:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, GCEDC, Bonduelle, food processing.

If you're a vegetable processing company, "growth" better be your favorite word.

It's a word tossed around dozens of times today during an open house for local officials and regional media at Bonduelle's facility in Bergen.

The family-run, France-based firm purchased the plant, along with plants in Oakfield and Brockport, from Allen Foods in March 2012.

It was a strategic purchase. Bonduelle, which specializes in packaging frozen vegetables under the labels of retailers, sees the United States as a place to grow and the Northeast as suitable target market.

Company executives made four trips to Allen's facilities and decided the plants were under-utilized but were in great locations with great employees, said Daniel Viefaure, CEO of Bonduelle Americas.

"When we visited the plants, what we saw were people eager for improvement," Viefaure said. "They were working under a company that was not as eager for growth as we were and the employees realized that. When they saw we were visiting, they were really interested and I got the feeling that they were the right people to do what we really wanted to do."

To date, Bonduelle has invested for $5.5 million in the four former Allen plants (there's also one in Wisconsin), including $3.5 million in the Bergen facility.

Bonduelle was so eager to grow in its first year that it applied for -- but didn't use because the timing wasn't right -- a $250,000 state grant through the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

While Allen was reportedly losing money on the facilities it sold to Bonduelle, Viefaure said his company was profitable its first year of operations.

The company plans to continue growing its WNY operations and Vielfaure said Bonduelle will likely seek out future assistance from GCEDC to assist with that growth.

Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, said Bonduelle is a great success story for Genesee County, helping to shore up the vegetable end of the county's food processing industry.

“This is a game changer,” Hyde said. “The companies that owned this plant previously were really allowing it to decline and they weren’t investing and they weren’t growing, and now what you see is a 180 (degree change).”

The move into WNY by Bonduelle has certainly had a big impact on its employees in Bergen and Oakfield, who were on the cusp of unemployment under Allen. Bonduelle made a point of retaining the 69 year-around employees at the two plants.

The facilities also employ 188 seasonal workers.

Currently, the Bergen facility processes 107 million pounds of corn, carrots, beans and peas, said James Newcomb, facilities manager for Bonduelle.

Newcomb has 42 years experience working for the companies that roll up into the history of the Bonduelle plants.

On one of the tours today, Newcomb repeatedly emphasized the great care for quality Bonduelle has instilled in the plants, making equipment upgrades, improving training and ensuring only the best produce is purchased from family farms within 75 miles of the plants.

"Our customers were asking for more product, but we didn't have the capacity," Viefaure said. "Our customers are very happy to buy more product from us. They are experiencing growth and they needed more vegetables."

Among Bonduelle's clients is Wegmans, which Viefaure said is a great customer for Bonduelle because of Wegmans insistence on quality vegetables for its brand-name frozen foods.

"Wegmans is a state-of-the-art company," Viefaure said.

While Viefaure did not discuss today the specific expansion plans for his company, he did make clear the company is looking to grow its market share in the Northeast and that will mean expansion in Bergen and Oakfield.

James Newcomb demonstrating how corn kernals are stripped from the cob.

A worker sorting through kernals of cut corn, picking out imperfections. Newcomb said this was his first job in the industry and said it's one of the hardest jobs in the plant.

September 11, 2013 - 10:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, elba, mucklands, onions.

There are some years that are better than others for onion growers.

This year is one of the others.

Paul Mortellaro, co-owner of G Mortellaro And Sons in Elba, said this year's harvest will be about 60 to 75 percent of an average year and about 50 percent of a good year.

That sounds about right, said John Torrey, of Big-O Farms, Elba.

Wind, cold and rain either blew away or drowned a good portion of the onion crop this summer.

"The onions were thinned so much by the wind that you're not seeing a lot of small bulbs, but you're not seeing a lot of tonnage because there's not a high enough plant population," Mortellaro said.

Big-O runs a huge onion operation and Torrey agreed that wind and water were a problem this year.

"We've had our challenges during the growing season," Torrey said. "While we're in the midst of a full harvest, we're probably going to have a little below average yield."

The price for onions right now -- a market largely determined by Western growers -- is from $9 to $11 per 50-pound bag, Mortellero said. That's decent, but of course local onion growers would like to see it go higher.

Onions are a slow crop to bring to maturity and harvesting them is a slow process, too. The harvest started in July and will continue through October.

Out on the muck today, I met Elizabeth Buck and Courtney Hill, researchers from Cornell. They are assisting in a project to test four different kinds of possible treatments to combat rhizoctonia. Rhizoctonia is a fungus that goes after the roots of onions. (Pictured above, Hill; Buck is pictured in the slide show below).

September 10, 2013 - 4:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Bonduelle.

Press release:

The frozen food industry in Upstate New York got a boost recently with global giant Bonduelle’s entry into the American market. Bonduelle, the French-based company that is a worldwide market leader in frozen, canned, and ready-to-use vegetables, made a recent acquisition of two frozen food processing plants and one packaging plant in Upstate New York, as well as a processing plant in Fairwater, Wis., that launches the company’s presence in the United States.

“Upstate New York was a natural selection for entry into the U.S. market because of the presence of a strong agricultural community that produces vegetables up to Bonduelle’s strict quality standards,” said Daniel Vielfaure, CEO of Bonduelle Americas. “We are very pleased with the way the acquisition has gone and are thrilled to be able to contribute to local economic development.”

The Upstate New York plants, which are located in Oakfield, Bergen and Brockport, were previously owned by Allens. Bonduelle acquired the properties in 2012 and retained all of the existing full-time staff. Bonduelle employs nearly 800 people in the U.S., 400 of which are full-time workers.

Bonduelle plans to process 257 million pounds of frozen vegetables in the United States in 2014; 40 percent will be processed in Bergen and 17 percent in Oakfield. The Brockport packaging facility will pack 130 million pounds of processed vegetables.

Jim Newcomb, facilities manager at the Bergen plant, has been pleased with the acquisition and the new ownership.
 
“They’ve been a great company to work for,” Newcomb said. “Bonduelle has exchanged innovative ideas with us and implemented some of our best practices in their existing operations. It really feels like a partnership.”
 
Bonduelle purchases produce — including sweet corn, peas, carrots, beans, and spinach — from local growers and rents space from local cold storage facilities, further infusing dollars into the area’s economy.

Although a well-known brand name in Europe, Canada, and South America, Bonduelle currently provides vegetables only for private label brands in America. Wegmans store brand frozen vegetables are a notable example of Bonduelle crops produced and distributed under private label.

September 9, 2013 - 10:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) passed a budget for Fiscal Year 2014 at its board meeting today, adopting a balanced budget that totals $1.2 million.

Approximately $1.041 million in revenues will be realized through grant revenue, sale and lease back fees, interest income, and county funding. Another $175,000 in cash payments will be collected through project participation fee annuity streams. Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) interest will generate approximately $22,000 in revenue through 13 active loans in RLF 1 and five active loans in RLF 2. Meanwhile, workforce development activities continue to be self-sustaining due to grant funding. 

“The GCEDC was created to retain and create jobs and generate new revenues for local government by increasing the property tax base,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “For every dollar of public money that supports the GCEDC, there is an $18 return on investment to the community as a result of various economic development projects supported by our agency.”

As a public benefit organization, the GCEDC generates fee revenues from economic development projects. The GCEDC also projects continued funding from Genesee County as well as other sources to run its operations, programs and services. The funding provided by Genesee County helps the GCEDC with core base-level operational funding while the remaining project revenue is raised through the ongoing work of the GCEDC.

“Genesee County is a vital partner in our efforts to bring new business and growth to our region,” Hyde continued. “We are extremely grateful to the members of the Genesee County Legislature who support the GCEDC’s ongoing growth strategy.”

Expenditures have been controlled and reduced wherever possible, however compliance with New York State mandates continues to cause significant cost increases for the operating budget. For example, a 13-percent increase in health insurance premiums is anticipated based on current estimates from health insurance brokers.

“The GCEDC’s budget assumptions are conservative due to uncertainties related to future project activity levels, but we anticipate that 2014 will be another great year,” said Lezlie Farrell, CFO of the GCEDC.

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