Is Batavia well positioned for an economic renaissance? Reading a post on the rural-themed blog the Daily Yonder this morning, I'm thinking the question might very well be yes.
Big rural towns may have even better luck than large cities when it comes to attracting and keeping manufacturing jobs. (It seems the formula for success includes being a home to higher education situated at the crossroads of major highways.) Big towns usually boast health care facilities located inside the city limits, or at least nearby. Having an industrial park within an economic enterprise zone doesn’t hurt either.
Here's are what I see of Batavia's assets:
- The Harvester/Masse complex, which is ripe for redevelopment.
- Proximity to key transportation routes, though the Thruway's never ending cycle of toll increases is a problem
- Train routes already in place
- The city is well positioned in relation to major water ways, access to the East Coast and the northern Mid-West.
- Plenty of water.
- Plenty of electricity, and the ability to generate more
- Good health care facilities in place
- Good schools (though no major university)
- Good, stable workforce
- Plenty of recreational opportunities for families; interesting, historic locale with easy access to vacation and entertainment spots
The article goes on:
Where big towns fall short is population; they need to draw labor from rather broad areas of the surrounding countryside, perhaps as many as four or five counties large.
Batavia is certainly surrounded by rural counties with additional workers, but the close proximity of Buffalo and Rochester may also be an asset. The idea of people commuting from those cities to work in Batavia might drive up transportation costs, but Batavia is close enough that it might not be a stretch to imagine people relocating to Genesee County. They would still be close to their friends and families in Rochester or Buffalo, but living in a great community.
On the other hand, I imagine many people now living in Genesee County and commuting now to Rochester and Buffalo might welcome new job opportunities right in the middle of Batavia.
The biggest negatives facing Batavia, however, remain high taxes and a state government overzealous about regulation and red tape.
Still, with the proper planning and the right effort correctly applied, there's no reason that Batavia can't realize some significant economic growth over the next 10 years.