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September 21, 2020 - 2:23pm

Press release:

The Chamber’s Annual Awards Committee announces that the 2020 Annual Award Ceremony will be held on Saturday, Feb. 27 at The Quality Inn & Suites, Park Road, Batavia.

This is the County’s premier event that honors businesses and individuals for their achievements in business, community service and volunteerism.      

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; and 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, 8276 Park Road, Batavia and can also be down loaded from the Chamber Website at www.geneseeny.com.  

Nominations MUST BE RECEIVED BY Dec. 30 to be eligible for consideration.

If you would like more information, feel free to call or email Kelly J. Bermingham, director of Member Relations & Special Events at the Chamber office, 343-7440, ext. 1026, [email protected].

September 18, 2020 - 2:39pm

Press release:

Washington, D.C. – President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced up to an additional $14 billion dollars for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19.

Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) will begin Sept. 21st and run through Dec. 11.

“America’s agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump is once again demonstrating his commitment to ensure America’s farmers and ranchers remain in business to produce the food, fuel, and fiber America needs to thrive,” Secretary Perdue said. “We listened to feedback received from farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations about the impact of the pandemic on our nations’ farms and ranches, and we developed a program to better meet the needs of those impacted.”

Background:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will use funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and CARES Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture and many additional commodities. USDA has incorporated improvements in CFAP 2 based from stakeholder engagement and public feedback to better meet the needs of impacted farmers and ranchers. 

Producers can apply for CFAP 2 at USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices. This program provides financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Producers will be compensated for ongoing market disruptions and assisted with the associated marketing costs.

CFAP 2 payments will be made for three categories of commodities – Price Trigger Commodities, Flat-rate Crops and Sales Commodities. 

Price Trigger Commodities

Price trigger commodities are major commodities that meet a minimum 5-percent price decline over a specified period of time. Eligible price trigger crops include barley, corn, sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, upland cotton, and all classes of wheat. Payments will be based on 2020 planted acres of the crop, excluding prevented planting and experimental acres. Payments for price trigger crops will be the greater of: 1) the eligible acres multiplied by a payment rate of $15 per acre; or 2) the eligible acres multiplied by a nationwide crop marketing percentage, multiplied by a crop-specific payment rate, and then by the producer’s weighted 2020 Actual Production History (APH) approved yield. If the APH is not available, 85 percent of the 2019 Agriculture Risk Coverage-County Option (ARC-CO) benchmark yield for that crop will be used.

For broilers and eggs, payments will be based on 75 percent of the producers’ 2019 production.

Dairy (cow’s milk) payments will be based on actual milk production from April 1 to Aug. 31. The milk production for Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 will be estimated by FSA. 

Eligible beef cattle, hogs and pigs, and lambs and sheep payments will be based on the maximum owned inventory of eligible livestock, excluding breeding stock, on a date selected by the producer, between Apr. 16 and Aug. 31.

Flat-rate Crops

Crops that either do not meet the 5-percent price decline trigger or do not have data available to calculate a price change will have payments calculated based on eligible 2020 acres multiplied by $15 per acre. These crops include alfalfa, extra long staple (ELS) cotton, oats, peanuts, rice, hemp, millet, mustard, safflower, sesame, triticale, rapeseed, and several others.

Sales Commodities 

Sales commodities include specialty crops; aquaculture; nursery crops and floriculture; other commodities not included in the price trigger and flat-rate categories, including tobacco; goat milk; mink (including pelts); mohair; wool; and other livestock (excluding breeding stock) not included under the price trigger category that were grown for food, fiber, fur or feathers. Payment calculations will use a sales-based approach, where producers are paid based on five payment gradations associated with their 2019 sales. 

Additional commodities are eligible in CFAP 2 that weren’t eligible in the first iteration of the program. If your agricultural operation has been impacted by the pandemic since April, we encourage you to apply for CFAP 2. A complete list of eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations can be found on farmers.gov/cfap.

Eligibility

There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits when members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation. In addition, this special payment limitation provision has been expanded to include trusts and estates for both CFAP 1 and 2.

Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions.

Applying for Assistance

Producers can apply for assistance beginning Sept. 21. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 11.

Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap. Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from farmers.gov/cfap/apply. For existing FSA customers, including those who participated in CFAP 1, many documents are likely already on file. Producers should check with FSA county office to see if any of the forms need to be updated. 

Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP 2 application process can call (877) 508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages with the team at the FSA county office.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment.

Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Our program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in the office, by phone and using online tools. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.   

September 17, 2020 - 2:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in gced, STAMP, business, notify.
Video Sponsor

The total annual tax revenue from all current Genesee County Economic Development Center-backed projects -- more than 160 since 2006 -- will generate more than $8.4 million in additional property tax revenue for local governments once all the projects have matured out of their PILOT phase.

There are more than 90 projects that received a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) that are now completely on the tax rolls.

A PILOT waives property taxes on the increase in assessed value associated with a building expansion or new construction but requires the property owner to make payments to the local taxing jurisdictions. 

The 71 projects currently with an active PILOT generated $1.5 million in revenue for local governments, such as municipalities, the county, and school districts, in 2019.

The projects with completed PILOTs generated another $3.5 million in revenue for local governments -- revenue that would not have been realized if the property owner had not expanded or started a new project causing an increase in the assessed value of the property.

Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, Jim Krencik, marketing director, and Lezlie Farrell, CFO, shared data on GCEDC's progress during an annual review presentation for the county's Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

Hyde and Mark Masse, vice president of operations, both said Genesee County is well-positioned to take advantage of the new thinking among manufacturers in the post-pandemic world, when many companies realize they need to tighten up their supply chains and "reshore" (bring factories back to the United States) their operations. They're looking for shovel-ready sites, and there is ample such acreage in the GCEDC-created industrial parks around the county.

"Companies are taking a serious, hard look at where there are failings in the current system, from raw materials up through shipping," Masse said.

On a recent statewide conference call with three of the nation's top site selectors, one of them, whom Hyde described as the dean of site selectors, praised Genesee County.

"We've been working on getting on his radar for 10 years," Hyde said. "When you start to get on their radar, you've got a shot."

As for STAMP -- the industrial park in Alabama being marketed to tech manufacturers -- there are five companies currently considering siting a new facility there, including a semiconductor company that Hyde indicated Sen. Charles Schumer helped swing Genesee County's way.

These are long-term projects so Hyde said it will be a while before any of these potential suitors sign a deal.

The biggest obstacle to industrial growth in Genesee County is the lack of quality housing stock. That makes it harder to attract companies who want to ensure employees who move here can find quality housing or it means well-compensated employees move to Rochester or Buffalo.

Hyde noted that the average age of a house in Batavia is 73 years, twice the national average.

September 16, 2020 - 2:37pm

Press release:

Continuing their tireless advocacy for New York’s hard-hit dairy farmers in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to ensure both Canada and Mexico are held accountable to their trade commitments under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which entered into force earlier this year on July 1st.

Specifically, the senators pointed out three harmful dairy trade practices, including Canada’s recent allocation of tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for U.S. exports of several categories of dairy products, Canada’s Class 7 pricing program (Class 6 in Ontario) and lack of transparency in milk-pricing regulations, and the need for Mexico to translate its USMCA commitment of safeguarding more than 30 common cheese names for American products, into regulations.

“New York’s dairy farmers are the lifeblood of the Upstate economy, but unfortunately they have been squeezed by the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis,” Senator Schumer said. “That is why I am calling on Ambassador Lighthizer and Secretary Perdue to do everything in their power to ensure that Canada and Mexico abide by their dairy trade obligations, allowing Upstate New York dairy farmers to freely sell their product – as agreed to in the new trade agreement with both countries, the USMCA.

"The trade deal entered into force two months ago, and there can be no further delays to ensuring our New York dairy farmers can sell their products, unimpeded by unfair trade barriers, into Canada and Mexico and churn up profits that mitigate the huge losses they have suffered this year.”

“Dairy is New York’s primary agricultural product and our rural economies depend on the survival of the industry, but poor implementation of USMCA provisions on dairy will harm our dairy farmers and make it even harder for them to recover from this crisis,” Senator Gillibrand said. "Secretary Perdue and USTR Ambassador Lighthizer must hold our trading partners accountable and ensure equitable trading practices for America’s dairy farmers.”

Schumer and Gillibrand explained that under USMCA, Canada agreed to an expansion of tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for several categories of U.S. dairy products. However, recently, it has come to the senators’ attention that Canada’s recently-released TRQ allocations weaken the intent of the USMCA and will prevent New York dairy farmers from fully benefitting from the agreement’s expanded market access opportunities.

Additionally, the senators said that under the new trade deal, Canada agreed to eliminate Class 6 & 7 pricing within six months. However, as Schumer revealed in June, Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), which represents approximately 4,000 Canadian dairy farmers, requested that Ontario’s tribunal which provides an avenue of appeal on agriculture issues grant restricted access to DFO’s pricing regulations.

The senators argued that with only a few months left until the USMCA six-month deadline to eliminate Class 6 & 7, the lack of transparency and timing of DFO’s request  in combination with the new TRQs, raises questions about whether or not Canada is seeking to circumvent its dairy commitments in USMCA.

The senators also noted that U.S. dairy farmers secured a major victory in the USMCA when Mexico affirmed a list of more than 30 terms for cheese that would remain available as common names for U.S. cheese producers when exporting to Mexico, but with uncertainty remaining over how Mexico will translate its commitment to protect these common cheese names into regulations, U.S. dairy farmers are in danger of losing out on the market share they spent years developing.

September 15, 2020 - 12:43pm
posted by Press Release in L.B. Grand, Le Roy, news, business.

The Farmer Family released the following statement yesterday about their decision to close the L.B. Grand Restaurant in Le Roy.

To our patrons and community members,

After significant and careful consideration, it is with a heavy heart that we share with you we have made the decision to permanently close the L.B. Grand Steak and Spaghetti House restaurant.

This determination was not made lightly, and only after considerable review of all options. Despite our best efforts to succeed, over the past few months it has become increasingly apparent that keeping our doors open is no longer possible.

The factors that led to this decision are primarily a consequence of the pandemic including the resulting required closure and subsequent restrictions on indoor dining. With no available outdoor seating, a current mandated capacity of only 50% indoors, and the rising cost of food due to supply chain interruption, it is not feasible for us to continue operations.

We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to our wonderful staff for their years of service. A special thanks is in order for their truly exceptional resilience and patience over the last few months in handling continually changing regulations and procedures due to the pandemic. We sincerely appreciate their hard work and dedication.

In addition, we would like to thank the Piazza Family for the opportunity to be a part of the L.B. Grand family and to serve our community. We remain fully committed to the town of Le Roy and are proud that we are able to continue to provide service in other capacities.

Sincerely,
The Farmer Family

September 11, 2020 - 12:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, business, batavia, video.
Video Sponsor

The gaming floor at Batavia Downs reopened this week, along with Fortune's and the Backstretch Grill, and the Grandstands will be opening soon, after a six-month closure mandated by the State of New York in the battle against COVID-19.

Race fans, however, are still prohibited at this point from attending live harness racing.

-----------------

Update: Sept. 11, 3 p.m.

Even at a fourth of maximum capacity, Batavia Downs Gaming will be able to keep its employees on the job but, unfortunately, monetary distributions to the municipalities it serves will suffer.

That’s the perspective of Henry Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. that oversee operations at the casino, harness race track and OTB parlors in 15 counties plus the cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

A public benefit corporation, WROTB returns a portion of its profits to counties and the two metropolitan communities.

“You know, we've done the math, we've done some projections, and we certainly can pay our bills probably at 25 percent,” Wojtaszek said on Wednesday, the day the gaming facility was allowed to reopen – but only at a quarter of the maximum occupancy. “If we remain pretty steady, we can pay our bills. We can keep our employment levels pretty close to where we were before.”

Wojtaszek said “difficulty” comes into play when considering profit and return to municipalities – “which is obviously one of the big reasons why we exist.”

“We exist to make sure we create jobs and create an environment for people to have an entertainment venue, but also to return money to the municipality. So that's going to be a little tough. But I think for now, even at 25 percent, we can cover our costs.”

He said the business has to dig itself out of a “deep hole” caused by ongoing utility and building maintenance costs and unemployment insurance and by having to pay employees still on the job.

Despite the setbacks, Wojtaszek said he it is “very rewarding to see people come back so quickly.”

“We were having people call us all the time during the last six months," he said. "They were stopping at the front door. A lot of emails following our Facebook page. So, when we knew we had a pretty good following of people who want to come back here, we'd like to think we do deliver great customer service."

Batavia Downs has had to cancel its summer concert series due to the pandemic, but six of the eight bands have been rescheduled for next year, Wojtaszek said.

“And we’ve added two,” he said. “We have Queensrÿche signed up for sure. And then the eighth band will remain silent until I confirm it. But it's a great band. They'll be probably the best band we've ever had here.”

September 11, 2020 - 10:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Payroll Protection Program, news, business, NY-27, Chris Jacobs.

Statement from Rep. Chris Jacobs:

“The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has preserved roughly 12 million rural jobs during the pandemic and I support the $150,000 threshold for automatic forgiveness of a PPP loan included in the Senate GOP bill considered yesterday. Unfortunately, every Senate Democrat voted against advancing this critical legislation. Small businesses, workers, and families are facing a major uphill battle as we rebuild our economy, and Congress must act to provide critical relief. I urge the Democrats to stop playing games with American’s livelihoods and work with Republicans and the White House to advance something more than a partisan wish list.”

NOTE: The vast majority of $659 billion Paycheck Protection Program loans, 85 percent, were for $150,000 or less. These are very small businesses and independent contractors. These loans accounted for only 26 percent of the loans approved by the SBA. About 15 percent of the borrowers received 74 percent of the funds. Currently, these small businesses must complete a loan forgiveness form and provide documentation on how the money was distributed (payroll, rent, and utilities are the primary expenses eligible for forgiveness). With automatic forgiveness, these small businesses would need only submit a signed document stating that the funds were used within the guidelines of the program.

September 10, 2020 - 1:12pm
posted by Press Release in agriculture, business, USDA, Agriculture Innovation Agenda.

Press release:

To further the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) work on the Agriculture Innovation Agenda (AIA), USDA today announced it is seeking public- and private-sector input on the most innovative technologies and practices that can be readily deployed across U.S. agriculture.

USDA is looking for ready-to-go technologies and practices to achieve its goal of increasing agricultural production by 40 percent to meet global population needs in 2050 while cutting U.S. agriculture’s environmental footprint in half.

“Across America, we have seen significant advances in agricultural production efficiency and conservation performance during the past two decades,” said Under Secretary Bill Northey, who leads USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area. “We want to keep the momentum. As part of our Agriculture Innovation Agenda, USDA wants to continue helping farmers access new approaches.”

To help identify and accelerate adoption of ready-to-go innovations, USDA is currently accepting public comments and written stakeholder input through its Request for Information (RFI) through Nov. 9, 2020, which is published on the Federal Register.

Input is welcome from the private sector, not for profits, farmers, forest sector, trade associations, commodity boards and others involved in the supply chain or development of widely applicable practices, management approaches or technologies.

A ready-to-go practice, technology or management approach includes those that are fully developed, have been field tested and have completed independent research trials.

Based on stakeholder input from the RFI, USDA will develop a comprehensive U.S. agriculture innovation technology strategy for our customer-facing programs.

USDA has launched a new AIA website where visitors can access information on the latest research and data, innovative conservation technologies offered via USDA programs, and other conservation resources. Visitors can also stay up to date on USDA’s accountability metrics and learn about the experiences of producers who share similar paths to success.

Background on USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda

The AIA is comprised of four main components. The first component is to develop a U.S. agriculture innovation strategy that aligns and synchronizes public- and private-sector research. The second component is to align the work of our customer-facing agencies and integrate innovative technologies and practices into USDA programs.

The third component is to conduct a review of USDA productivity and conservation data. USDA already closely tracks data on yield, but on the environmental side, there’s some catching up to do. Finally, USDA has set benchmarks to improve accountability. These targets will help measure progress toward meeting future food, fiber, fuel, feed and climate demands.

Some of the benchmarks include:

  • Agricultural Productivity: Increase agricultural production by 40 percent by 2050 to do our part to meet estimated future demand.
  • Forest Management: Build landscape resiliency by investing in active forest management and forest restoration through increased Shared Stewardship Agreements with states.
  • Food loss and waste: Advance our work toward the goal of reducing food loss and waste by 50 percent in the United States by the year 2030.
  • Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas: Enhance carbon sequestration through soil health and forestry, leverage the agricultural sector’s renewable energy benefits for the economy and capitalize on innovative technologies and practices to achieve net reduction of the agricultural sector’s current carbon footprint by 2050 without regulatory overreach.
  • Water Quality: Reduce nutrient loss by 30 percent nationally by 2050.
  • Renewable Energy: Increase the production of renewable energy feedstocks and set a goal to increase biofuel production efficiency and competitiveness to achieve market-driven blend rates of 15% of transportation fuels in 2030 and 30 percent of transportation fuels by 2050.
View the RFI on the Federal Register, or download it here (PDF, 247 KB). For more information about the Agriculture Innovation Agenda, please visit www.usda.gov/aia.
September 9, 2020 - 10:58am
posted by Press Release in batavia, downtown, business, news.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors approved incentives for a building renovation project in the City of Batavia at its Sept. 3 board meeting. 

Neppalli Holdings LLC will invest approximately $1.165 million to renovate a three-story building at 99 Main St. in Downtown Batavia. The renovation and redevelopment of the 7,500-square-foot building, which was built in 1865, includes a new storefront, façade, and reconstruction of the existing three floors.

A dental practice will reside on the first floor with the second floor being developed for commercial office space. The third floor will include two two-bedroom market-rate apartments.

Neppalli Holdings LLC is the latest transformational building renovation project to proceed in Downtown Batavia through Governor Cuomo’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

The project will be receiving sales and mortgage tax benefits totaling $63,500.

September 9, 2020 - 10:56am
posted by Press Release in GCEDC, business.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) adopted their 2021 budget at the board’s Sept. 4 meeting with projected expenditures of approximately $23.3 million.

The budget includes $21.1 million in grants for the continued development of infrastructure at the Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (WNY STAMP), of which $19.5 million is earmarked for the advancement of Phase I infrastructure at the campus (remaining funds from the original $33 million state allocation); and, $1.6 million dedicated to the advancement of Phase II infrastructure (initial funds from the $8 million Empire State Development grant).

The 1,250-acre WNY STAMP campus in the Town of Alabama is the largest high-tech greenfield site in New York with a capacity of low-cost hydropower for energy-intensive industries and a labor shed of approximately two million workers from the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions.

“The GCEDC is building WNY STAMP and STAMP’s North Campus and South Campus as a catalyst for the success of the people of Genesee County and companies that will create a stronger future in our region,” said Peter Zeliff, chairman of the GCEDC.

As a public benefit corporation, the GCEDC generates fees from economic development projects and other sources to run the agency’s operations, programs, and services.

The GCEDC anticipates $375,000 in revenues from project origination fees and $3,300 in revenues from revolving loan fund interest and $280,000 in project revenues recognized in previous years. Revenues also include a $300,000 grant that will be allocated by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC) to support the agency’s overall Economic Development Program.

“There is a large body of work that occurs at this agency each year, and I am pleased that we continue to find resourceful ways to serve the businesses and citizens of Genesee County,” said Lezlie Farrell, CFO of the GCEDC. “Operating expenditures have been controlled and reduced wherever possible.”

The GCEDC budget anticipates a $233,000 allocation by Genesee County to support economic development that results in a growing return on investments to the county. In 2019, the last full year of data available, GCEDC projects (current and expired) produced over $5.03 million in combined PILOT payments and property taxes to local taxing jurisdictions.

“Genesee County is a vital partner in our efforts to bring new business and growth to our region. We rely on the Genesee County Legislature to support our budget and operations so we can continue to enable business and community success,” Zeliff said. “In 2019, Genesee County and local taxing jurisdictions benefited from 21.5 dollars returned on every dollar allocated to GCEDC operations.”

September 2, 2020 - 6:07pm

The passing of a resolution authorizing the Town of Batavia to apply for a $750,000 New York State grant is welcome news to officials of Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., the dairy farmer-owned conglomerate that purchased the former Alpina Foods plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road.

“We’re targeting on opening as soon as reasonably possible pending the OCR (Office of Community Renewal Community Development Block Grant) approval and equipment ordering, as we need additional equipment for the facility,” said Mike Patterson, chief financial officer for the company – formed in 2006 as a result of a merger between Upstate Farms Cooperative and Niagara Milk Cooperative.

The Batavia Town Board this afternoon passed the measure, along with another OCR grant application for the same amount for a $21.6 million project at HP Hood LLC, in the Agri-Business Park to install a new filler line. The HP Hood plan would created about 56 new jobs, including positions that would provide entry-level employee training.

The Alpina plant has been vacant for the last 18 months following Upstate’s $22.5 million purchase of what was a $60 million investment by Alpina, a Colombia-based company that attempted to break into the U.S. Greek yogurt market more than six years ago.

Patterson said company leaders have been “trying to figure out the best use for the plant,” adding that they spent another $1 million since the acquisition and are investing an additional $4,040,000 to get the processing plant up and running.

Currently, Upstate has employees working at its membership office in the R.E. Chapin building and at the O-At-Ka Milk Products facility, both on Ellicott Street Road.

All told, the cooperative employs 1,800 people in New York, Patterson said, with the opening of the Batavia plant expected to create 50 more jobs.

Patterson said the OCR grant will support the purchase of necessary equipment and the training of new employees.

“One of the toughest issues we face in this area is finding qualified help, so we’re trying to get employees that are ready to be trained, and they will be brought into our manufacturing sites – not only for us but for Hood and O-At-Ka and other places,” he said. “It was all part of this project.”

The Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation, an arm of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, is acting as a pass-through for the grant/loan to reach Upstate.

“We get involved with the Office of Community Renewal and have done a bunch of these projects throughout time when we get great companies investing in Genesee County,” said Chris Suozzi, GCEDC vice president of Business Development. “We want to be able to help them out.”

He said the OCR program has been “our friend” and is confident that Upstate will receive the grant.

“It’s one of the great grant or low-interest loan programs,” he said. “The grant program is kind of how we’ve devised it with the companies, and it helps them continue to grow.”

Patterson said the current project does not include any tax incentives from the GCEDC.

“The original IDA (Industrial Development Agency) tax abatements were given to Alpina when they built the facility. There is no new additional IDA money that way for that (but) there would be on any future expansion.”

September 1, 2020 - 4:58pm
posted by Press Release in business, covid-19, PPE, New York State Insurance Fund.

Press release:

New York State’s largest workers’ compensation carrier – the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) – introduced a new COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Premium Credit Program that will make it more affordable for its policyholders to get back to business.

Under the new initiative, current workers’ comp policyholders can earn a 5-percent credit of their annual premium on the purchase of PPE, with a maximum reimbursement of $500. 

The program is designed to help offset the cost of vital PPE and safety-related items needed to help protect workers from the COVID-19 virus. Eligible equipment includes masks, goggles, gloves, gowns, hand sanitizer and other COVID-19 safety related items. 

“With the PPE Premium Credit Program, we aim to assist companies around the state make the transition back to work in a safe and affordable way,” said Eric Madoff, executive director and CEO of NYSIF. “As a partner in safety, we are here to help our policyholders keep themselves, their employees and their businesses protected.”

NYSIF is among the top 10 largest workers’ compensation carriers in the nation, insuring approximately 150,000 policyholders in New York State.

For more details on NYSIF’s COVID-19 PPE Premium Credit Program, as well as training materials on how businesses can protect their workers, please visit www.nysif.com/PPEinfo

About the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF)

The New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) was established in 1914 as part of the original enactment of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law. NYSIF's mission is to guarantee the availability of workers’ compensation insurance at the lowest possible cost to New York employers and to provide timely, appropriate indemnity and medical payments to injured workers, while maintaining a solvent fund. Since inception, NYSIF has fulfilled the dual roles for which it was created: to compete with other carriers to ensure a fair marketplace and to be a guaranteed source of coverage for employers who cannot secure coverage elsewhere.

NYSIF is the largest workers’ compensation carrier in New York State and among the top 10 largest workers’ compensation carriers in the nation, insuring approximately 150,000 policyholders, with more than $2 billion in annual premium and $18 billion in assets. A self-supporting insurance carrier, NYSIF operates without taxpayer funding. 

In addition to workers’ compensation insurance, NYSIF provides disability benefits coverage for off-the-job injuries to more than 61,000 New York employers. In 2018, NYSIF added paid family leave as a component of its disability benefits product, providing New Yorkers with job-protected, paid time away from work to care for their families. 

For more information, visit www.nysif.com.

September 1, 2020 - 4:17pm

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley recently testified in a virtual Zoom New York State Department of Labor public hearing regarding an upcoming decision on resetting the overtime threshold for farm laborers.

Concerned with the rashness of the actions attempted to be taken on this issue, during a pandemic, Hawley suggested that a delay in the decision-making would be most advantageous for farmers and their farms, and that the state should be doing as little as possible to interfere with their already modest margins.

“As someone with farming experience myself, I can tell you that however well-intentioned the lowering of the overtime threshold is for the farm workers, the actual farm employers themselves won’t be able to sustain these changes; certainly not in the economic world we’re living in right now,” Hawley said. “The last thing New York needs to be looking to do is strangle our farms and our farmers into submission.”

Hawley said during his testimony on Monday, “Why would we want to increase costs for our agricultural producers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic economic calamity? Workers are considered family; average wages are $13 an hour. In many cases, housing and food are provided.

"Even during good economic times, implementing mandatory increased labor costs for agriculture is a bad idea. Farmers have little to no control over prices they receive for their product, and with variations in factors like weather, long hours are necessary.”

In a closing note, Hawley said, “We need to protect New York state’s number one industry: Agriculture. [We should] delay the implementation of lowering the overtime threshold.”

September 1, 2020 - 12:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in ESL Federal Credit Union, Banking, batavia, business.

Press release:

Today, Sept. 1, Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) announced the winners of its Home Possible RISE AwardsSM. The annual program, RISE (Recognizing Individuals for Sustained Excellence), salutes Freddie Mac’s top clients across multiple categories for excellence with Home Possible® mortgages – Freddie Mac’s affordable lending solution for low- to-moderate-income home buyers.

ESL Federal Credit Union, which has a branch in Batavia, earned the following Home Possible RISE Awards:

  • Home Possible RISE Award for Greatest Volume in a specific community;
  • Home Possible RISE Award for Education to customers.

In 2019, ESL Federal Credit Union made homeownership possible for low and moderate income households by providing more than 200 Home Possible mortgage loans totaling approximately $24 million.

“ESL is honored to be recognized by Freddie Mac as a top performer for our efforts supporting homeownership for low- and moderate-income members, first-time homebuyers and underserved communities,” said Tony Holmes, vice president/director, mortgage lending, ESL Federal Credit Union.

“The Home Possible mortgage program is a perfect match for our efforts to improve access to homeownership throughout Greater Rochester. I commend our outstanding team for their work to guide our members through the process to help them achieve their dreams of homeownership.”

The Home Possible RISE Awards combined volume from national Home Possible and Home Possible Advantage mortgage options. Lenders must be active Freddie Mac Seller/Servicers, and correspondent lenders and brokers must originate through those Seller/Servicers. Freddie Mac reviewed 2019 data and awarded the top organizations among several categories.

The complete list of the award winners is available at FreddieMac.com/HomePossible/RISE.

About ESL Federal Credit Union

With 100 years of locally owned history, ESL Federal Credit Union serves as a full-service financial institution to more than 374,000 members. Founded in 1920, the company provides personal banking, business banking, mortgage services and wealth management services through its locally-based 22 branch network, telephone, mobile, online and live chat center.

The Rochester-based financial institution employs approximately 850 people in the Greater Rochester area and holds more than $7.3 billion in assets. Since 1996, ESL has paid out 25 consecutive Owners’ Dividends to its members totaling more than $170 million. The company has appeared on the Great Place to Work® Best Small & Medium Workplaces list for nine years since 2010.

ESL Federal Credit Union is headquartered at 225 Chestnut St., in Rochester, and can be found online at www.esl.org

About Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Since our creation by Congress in 1970, we’ve made housing more accessible and affordable for homebuyers and renters in communities nationwide. We are building a better housing finance system for homebuyers, renters, lenders, investors, and taxpayers. Learn more at FreddieMac.com, Twitter @FreddieMac, and Freddie Mac’s blog FreddieMac.com/blog.

September 1, 2020 - 9:42am

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Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider final approval for a building renovation project in the City of Batavia at its Sept. 3 board meeting. 

Neppalli Holdings LLC is proposing to invest approximately $1.165 million to renovate a three-story building at 99 Main St. in Downtown Batavia. The renovation and redevelopment of the 7,500-square-foot building, which was built in 1865, would include a new storefront, façade and reconstruction of the existing three floors.

A dental practice will occupy the first floor with the second floor being developed for commercial office space. The third floor will include a pair of two-bedroom market-rate apartments.

Neppalli Holdings LLC is the latest transformational building renovation project to proceed in Downtown Batavia through Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

The project is requesting sales and mortgage tax benefits totaling $63,500.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. this Thursday. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the meeting will be conducted via conference and online at www.gcedc.com.

August 31, 2020 - 11:15am

Press release:

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand today announced that USDA is implementing the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative, releasing new information on rates and terms that will help lenders apply for loan guarantees to support rural businesses, infrastructure and community facilities and increase private investments in rural America.

Ahead of Fiscal Year 2021, USDA is providing guarantee percentages, annual fees, periodic retention fees, and optional construction fees to help lenders apply for the Agency’s four flagship loan guarantee programs. These programs are:

The fees in this notice are effective Oct. 1. Additional information is available in the Aug. 3 Federal Register (PDF, 203 KB).

Background:

Today’s announcement comes as part of the Administration’s commitment to cut red tape and streamline regulations to increase private investment under the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative.

On July 13, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that USDA is taking steps to increase private investment in rural communities across the country by making it easier for lenders to access four flagship loan guarantee programs.

Through a series of regulatory reforms, USDA is eliminating duplicative processes and launching a single platform for the Agency’s four key loan guarantee programs.

USDA is also standardizing requirements for credit reviews, loan processing, loan servicing and loss claims. These measures will make the application process simpler and faster for lenders.

The regulatory changes will take effect on Oct. 1. Additional information is available on page 42494 of the July 14 Federal Register (PDF, 889 KB).

Interested parties may join the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative subscription list to receive updates from USDA on this initiative.

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, interested parties should contact their USDA Rural Development state office.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

August 27, 2020 - 12:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in unemployment, jobs, news, notify, business.

Genesee County's unemployment rate is back over 10 percent for July after a small dip to 9.5 percent in June.

The 2020 rate of 10.6 percent is 7 percentage points higher than it was a year ago.

Genesee County's unemployment rate had mostly stay between 6 percent and 3 percent, depending on the time of year, going back to 2015, and then the global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic hit and many people started to shelter in place at the same time the government severely restricted business activity.  

In March, the month the first lockdown orders were issued, the county's unemployment rate was 4.9 percent. In April, it jumped to 14.4 percent, then fell to 10.1 percent in May.

A year ago in July, it was 3.5 percent.

One big factor in the local unemployment numbers is the county's largest seasonal employer, Darien Lake Theme Park, has not been allowed to reopen. The park employs more than 1,000 people every summer.

Another significant local employer that remains closed is Batavia Downs, which this time of year would have at least 450 people on the workforce.

There are currently 3,200 work-eligible people living in Genesee County who do not have jobs. A year ago, there were 1,100 people looking for work who reported they couldn't find a job that suited their qualifications.

At the hight of the previous recession. the high July number for unemployed people was 2,400.

August 26, 2020 - 5:19pm

Press release:

As part of the 2019 Farm Labor Bill, the Commissioner of Labor is required to convene a wage board to hold hearings to solicit input on the impact of the new law and make recommendations for overtime work.

Under the 2019 Farm Labor Bill, farm workers became eligible for overtime compensation starting in 2020, for any work over 60 hours per week.

Senator Ranzenhofer has issued the following statement:

“I would encourage all farmers and farmworkers to submit their testimony to the Board. It is so important that our Upstate farmers be heard and respected. Last year, when I hosted a farm roundtable, tour and community meeting with the bill’s sponsor, Senator Ramos, we heard many concerns from both farmworkers and farm owners.

“I know this bill was detrimental to our local farms and Upstate economy and I fervently hope that our farmers and farmworkers take the time to express their concerns with the wage board. Agriculture is a huge part of the economy of New York State and Upstate. These concerns need to be heard.”

To submit your testimonial, email [email protected]. You can also find the links to Zoom virtual meetings of the hearings on the State Labor website here.

August 25, 2020 - 3:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Unitech Applications, Toronto Blue Jays, news, business, Le Roy, notify.

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When it came time for the Toronto Blue Jays to build a new nest for the 2020 season, a local company was called on to make Sahlen Field in Buffalo look like home.

Unitech Applications opened in Le Roy in 1989 and owner Guy Laesser focused on the bigging on landing big-business clients. The company specializing in large-scale vinyl design applications, like car wraps but on large vehicles -- trucks, buses -- and buildings.

The effort paid off in a big way in 1996 when he was hired to wrap all buses for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Since then, Unitech has been Laesser's full-time occupation.

He calls himself a perfectionist and that has helped the company grow. Other clients include the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign, Dick's Sporting Goods, Old Navy, Ice Road Truckers, the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, and Scooby-Doo's "The Mystery Machine" movie tour.

It's no wonder, then, when the Blue Jays called 3M looking for a company to work within the Buffalo region to get Sahlen MLB-ready, 3M recommended Unitech.

"Our job is to provide whatever the client needs," Laesser said.

When the Blue Jays wanted a wrap on the scoreboard, Laesser, who doesn't like getting up higher than 12 feet himself, had a friend who did just that kind of work, so he called him to complete that part of the project all in the name of taking care of the client.

For the Blue Jays, Unitech provided signage and wraps for the concourse, the dugouts, the stands, and the outfield walls. The company even used vinyl to tint the windows on the tents being used as the visiting team's locker room.

That wasn't as big of a frosted vinyl project as Unitech did for a company in NYC, which involved wrapping a 40,000-square-foot building.

Not every project Laesser and his lone full-time employee Fred Crimes take on is all that big. The company also wraps the covers of medical equipment used to treat children going through cancer treatment.

Unitech also supports the charity Special Spaces, which provides unique and specially designed bedrooms for children going through cancer treatment.

"That (the vinyl wall covering) was the biggest bill they had, it cost the most, so when we got involved, we volunteered all of the time and material so it didn't cost them anything and they could put their money elsewhere," Laesser said.

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August 14, 2020 - 4:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business, graham corporation.

Graham Corporation (NYSE: GHM), a Batavia-based global business that designs, manufactures and sells critical equipment for the oil refining, petrochemical and defense industries, on Thursday announced that it secured $11 million in orders for three oil-refining projects in Asia.

Two projects are in Southeast Asia while the largest project is the first large order received in India by the Company and is with a new customer.

James R. Lines, Graham’s president and chief executive officer, said, “We believe our effective execution on strategy and our consultative selling platform enabled us to capture these awards during a period of intense competition and focus on price.

"We believe that our decision to localize in India provided us the opportunity to successfully compete on that project and is also keeping the bid pipeline in that country quite active. We continued to leverage our global fabrication supply chain where appropriate in order to compete effectively, and we stayed engaged throughout the nearly two year pipeline cycle with both buyers and end users to ensure we addressed their requirements.”

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