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January 27, 2021 - 12:25pm
posted by Press Release in USDA, covid-19, business, agriculture, Farming, Farm Service Agency.

Due to the national public health emergency caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the temporary suspension of past-due debt collections and foreclosures for distressed borrowers under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

USDA will temporarily suspend non-judicial foreclosures, debt offsets or wage garnishments, and referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice; and USDA will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stop judicial foreclosures and evictions on accounts that were previously referred to the Department of Justice.

Additionally, USDA has extended deadlines for producers to respond to loan servicing actions, including loan deferral consideration for financially distressed and delinquent borrowers. In addition, for the Guaranteed Loan program, flexibilities have been made available to lenders to assist in servicing their customers.

Today’s announcement by USDA expands previous actions undertaken by the Department to lessen financial hardship. According to USDA data, more than 12,000 borrowers—approximately 10 percent of all borrowers—are eligible for the relief announced today. Overall, FSA lends to more than 129,000 farmers, ranchers and producers.

“USDA and the Biden Administration are committed to bringing relief and support to farmers, ranchers and producers of all backgrounds and financial status, including by ensuring producers have access to temporary debt relief,” said Robert Bonnie, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary.

“Not only is USDA suspending the pipeline of adverse actions that can lead to foreclosure and debt collection, we are also working with the Departments of Justice and Treasury to suspend any actions already referred to the applicable Agency. Additionally, we are evaluating ways to improve and address farm related debt with the intent to keep farmers on their farms earning living expenses, providing for emergency needs, and maintaining cash flow.”

The temporary suspension is in place until further notice and is expected to continue while the national COVID-19 disaster declaration is in place.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency provides several different loans for producers, which fall under two main categories:

  • Guaranteed loans are made and serviced by commercial lenders, such as banks, the Farm Credit System, credit unions and other nontraditional lenders. FSA guarantees the lender’s loan against loss, up to 95 percent.
  • Direct loans are made and serviced by FSA using funds from the federal government.
The most common loan types are Farm Ownership, Farm Operating, and Farm Storage Facility Loans, with Microloans for each:
  • Farm Ownership: Helps producers purchase or enlarge a farm or ranch, construct a new or improve an existing farm or ranch building, pay closing costs, and pay for soil and water conservation and protection.
  • Farm Operating: Helps producers purchase livestock and equipment and pay for minor real estate repairs and annual operating expenses.
  • Farm Storage Facility Loans are made directly to producers for the construction of cold or dry storage and includes handling equipment and mobile storage such as refrigerated trucks.
  • Microloans: Direct Farm Ownership, Operating Loans, and Farm Storage Facility Loans have a shortened application process and reduced paperwork designed to meet the needs of smaller, nontraditional, and niche-type operations.

Contact FSA

FSA encourages producers to contact their county office to discuss these programs and temporary changes to farm loan deadlines and the loan servicing options available. For Service Center contact information, visit farmers.gov/coronavirus. For servicing information, access farmers.gov.

January 26, 2021 - 3:16pm

Press release:

In order to earn funds for tuition assistance, St. Paul Lutheran School of Batavia is “hosting” a Carryout for a Cause Fundraiser through the local Applebee’s.

The event will run all day on Wednesday, Jan. 27 (11 a.m. until close at 10 p.m.).

Supporters simply have to order To Go, online via applebees.com or the Applebee’s mobile app and use Promo Code “DOINGOOD” at checkout.

Orders must be placed for pick-up at the restaurant, located at 8322 Lewiston Road, Batavia.

View the menu here.

More information on St. Paul Lutheran School’s fundraiser here.

Carryout for a Cause is a takeout-only fundraiser where supporters order their Applebee’s favorites online at applebees.com or via the mobile app on a designated day. In return for promoting this “event” to their supporters, the nonprofit organization like St. Paul's earns 15 percent of sales, before tax and gratuity

More information on the Carryout for a Cause fundraiser, in addition to all community support programs, can be found at tlcneighborhood.com. To request a “Carryout for a Cause” event, groups can submit here and will receive a response in 2-3 business days.   

T.L. Cannon Companies has a long history of giving back to the communities they serve. The foundation of its business is commitment to the community and making a positive impact on the neighborhoods it serves. In 2019, the organization provided more than $1.6 million in support of local charities and organizations, and more than $26.4 million since 2008.

About T.L. Cannon Companies

T.L. Cannon Companies is a private owner/operator of 59 Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurants in Upstate New York, Connecticut and Sayre, Pennsylvania. In 2020, the company was recognized within the Applebee’s system for the eighth time as “Applebee’s Neighbor of the Year” for their support and involvement in the neighborhoods they serve. For the past thirteen consecutive years, the company was awarded the New York State Restaurant Association’s “Restaurant Neighbor Award” for their community-based programs. In 2015, T.L. Cannon was recognized at the national level for the industry with the National Restaurant Association’s “Restaurant Neighbor Award” for their support of community.

January 23, 2021 - 10:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in samsung, wny stamp, news, business.

South Korean technology company Samsung is reportedly eyeing WNY STAMP, along with two locations in Texas, for the construction of a $13 billion chip manufacturing plant.

Citing The Wall Street Journal (paywall), The Hill reports, Samsung aims to become the leader in the $400 billion industry and needs a plant in the Uniited States to make that happen.

Sen. Charles Schumer was in Alabama in August to discuss a congressional push to increase semiconductor manufacturing in the United States as a matter of national defense. The National Defense Authorization Act has not yet been funded.

The Hill reports that Samsung is looking to negotiate with federal officials for financial incentives to build the plant in the United States because it would be cheaper to develop its product in other parts of the world. 

Reportedly, Samsung’s goal is to have a chip-making plant operational by October 2022 and to employ 1,900 people.

January 19, 2021 - 11:48am

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 49th Annual Awards Ceremony and the 2020 award recipients. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the celebration will look much different this year.

The event will be a prerecorded virtual event with release date yet to be determined. It is very important to the Chamber to continue to honor businesses and Geneseeans especially during this most trying time.   

We are honored to announce the 2020 award recipients:

This year’s honorees are:

Business of the Year -- Pellegrino Auto Sales       

Agricultural Business of the Year -- L&M Specialty Fabrication LLC   

Special Service Recognition of the Year -- Rochester Regional Health/United Memorial Medical Center                   

Geneseean of the Year -- Tammy Hathaway

January 15, 2021 - 3:08pm

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley announced today with his Assembly Minority colleagues the “Jump-Start New York” plan for economic recovery.

It's a comprehensive package of legislative proposals that would restore the power of the Legislature by reining in Gov. Cuomo’s executive powers and focus New York’s available financial resources toward economic recovery for “nonessential” small businesses that have lost income due to the governor’s pandemic restrictions through direct aid grants. 

“This package of legislation does exactly what we need to be doing right now in our state, getting the Legislature back to work for the communities they represent and helping the small businesses and families within those communities that have suffered for far too long under onerous restrictions imposed by the governor using his expanded powers,” Hawley said. 

The program’s funds would be drawn from unallocated settlement funds and capital programs such as START-UP NY, and additional stimulus would be made available by making small businesses eligible for the Film Tax Credit.

Additionally, these small businesses would be granted a 180-day grace period to remedy regulatory violations without being fined and also be granted an extra 180 days to file their sales taxes. The legislative package would assist “nonessential” businesses located within the governor’s Red and Orange Zones by prompting a reevaluation of the businesses that could open, while maintaining proper social distancing practices.

In addition, Jump-Start New York would give targeted relief to farmers and renters who have had their incomes impacted by Gov. Cuomo’s restrictions during COVID-19. Landlords who have gone without income would receive a tax credit to help offset their losses, while farmers would see regulatory expenses and requirements loosened and eligibility standards for funding broadened.

The package would also assist farmers and rural business owners in general by expanding rural broadband access, which would help them expand their markets among other benefits.

“Focusing available financial resources on our small businesses that have been struggling to remain operational is just common sense, so I’m hopeful we see ‘Jump-Start New York’ get passed for the sake of the small business owners and their employees who have had their lives upended this last year,” Hawley said.

January 15, 2021 - 12:00pm

Press release:

ESL Federal Credit Union today announced it has distributed $15 million to members in an additional Owners’ Dividend payout for 2020. 

Today’s distribution supplements the advance Owners’ Dividend payout of $20 million issued to members in June 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Totaling $35 million for the year, this marks ESL’s largest Owners’ Dividend ever.

“With this additional $15 million Owners’ Dividend payout to members and the $20 million payout from back in June, the $35 million paid in total to members for 2020 upholds our commitment to sharing our financial success with our members,” said Faheem Masood, president and CEO, ESL Federal Credit Union.

“The trust and loyalty of our members throughout our 100 years of serving Greater Rochester allows us to pay out this additional $15 million and supports our purpose of helping our community thrive and prosper in what has been an unprecedented and uncertain time for our community.”

With this latest distribution, ESL has now shared more than $185 million with its members over the program’s 25-year history.

The individual Owners’ Dividend payout amounts ESL members receive are based on established Owners’ Dividend criteria. For more information about the criteria, please visit www.esl.org/about-us/the-esl-difference/owners-dividend.

Qualification for the Owners’ Dividend is subject to eligibility requirements, and payment of the Owners’ Dividend is not guaranteed.

About ESL Federal Credit Union

With more than 100 years of locally owned history, ESL Federal Credit Union serves as a full-service financial institution to more than 374,000 members and 11,400 businesses. 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 and online banking; and live chat center.

The Rochester-based financial institution employs more than 860 people in the Greater Rochester area and holds more than $8 billion in assets. Since 1996, ESL has paid out 26 consecutive Owners’ Dividends to its members, totaling more than $185 million. The company has appeared on the Great Place to Work® Best Small & Medium Workplaces list for 10 years, since 2010. ESL Federal Credit Union is headquartered at 225 Chestnut Street, in Rochester and can be found online at www.esl.org

January 15, 2021 - 11:36am

Press release:

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued a statement applauding the Department of Labor’s final rule modernizing the H-2A visa program:

“This final rule streamlining and modernizing the H-2A visa process will go a long way in ensuring American farmers have access to a stable and skilled workforce, all while removing unnecessary bureaucratic processes," Secretary Perdue said.

"USDA’s goal is to help farmers navigate the complex H-2A program that is administered by Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department so hiring a farm worker is an easier process. These modernizations make the Federal government more responsive to our customers, ensuring American agriculture continues to lead the world for years to come.”

Background

The final rule will streamline the H-2A application process by mandating electronic filing of job orders and applications. These elements are designed to bring the H-2A application process into the digital era, by harnessing the power of the FLAG electronic filing system to share information with other federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security while also sharing information with the State Workforce systems and domestic farmworkers.

Additionally, the final rule will provide additional flexibilities to cut down on unnecessary burdens on the agricultural employers that use the program. These flexibilities include the ability to stagger the entry of workers into the country over a 120-day period and allowing agricultural employers the flexibility to file a single application for different dates of need instead of multiple applications. 

January 13, 2021 - 4:37pm

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) is announcing a webinar hosted by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to discuss the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.

“I first want to commend the SBA for their tireless work to support our small businesses and our communities," Jacobs said. “One of my top priorities since taking office has been to deliver economic relief to support millions of American small businesses.

"When we passed the most recent COVID-19 aid package, not only did we deliver $284 billion to support the Paycheck Protection Program, but we also enacted additional provisions such as the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act that continue to represent our commitment to a strong American comeback."

This legislation allocated $15 billion to the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, which offers up to $10 million in grant funding to eligible organizations. The webinar will take place on Jan. 14th at 3 p.m. EST, and will cover eligibility, accessibility of grants, and the application process. 

Please be advised this webinar will fill up fast, if additional sessions become available an update will be provided.

To register for the webinar, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/shuttered-venue-operators-grant-webinar-registration-136050549857?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery  

In addition, the Paycheck Protection Program is currently open to both first time recipients and applicants seeking a second draw. The funding is being distributed through Community Financial Institutions.

To be eligible for a second loan, a borrower must meet the following criteria:

1) Received a first-time loan and has or will use the full amount for authorized uses;

2) Has no more than 300 employees, and

3) Can demonstrate at least a 25-percent reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.

For more information on the Paycheck Protection Program, please visit: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program.

January 12, 2021 - 2:50pm
posted by Press Release in Chris Jacobs, Paycheck Protection Program, business.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) is announcing that the Paycheck Protection Program has been reopened for first- and second-time borrowers.

“Since I took office this summer, I have made it a top priority to extend the Paycheck Protection Program," Jacobs said. "It has supported 51 million American jobs, with 12 million of those in rural communities and thousands of them right here in Western New York."

“The reopening of this program represents our continued commitment to supporting the hard-working American small business owners and employees who are the backbone of our local communities and economy.”

The Paycheck Protection Program reopens today – Monday, Jan. 11th – for first-time borrowers through community financial institutions. On Wednesday, Jan. 13th, the program will be open to second-time borrowers.

A borrower is eligible for a second draw if they:

1) received a first-time loan and has or will use the full amount for authorized uses;

2) has no more than 300 employees, and

3) can demonstrate at least a 25-percent reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.

In addition, when the most recent COVID-19 package was signed into law, it enacted a provision that ensures expenses paid for with PPP loan funds will be considered tax deductible. This upholds the original intent of the CARES Act.

“I successfully joined my colleagues in strongly advocating the allowance of tax deductibility for loan expenses. Many businesses accepted these loans under the premise they would not be surprised with an additional tax burden this coming year,” Jacobs said. “I’ll keep working to support small businesses, protect and create jobs, and move our Western New York economy forward.

For more information regarding the reopening of the Paycheck Protection Program, please visit here.

January 9, 2021 - 1:49pm

Submitted photo and press release:

Chiropractor Noah Hoy is excited to start working with "Dr. Tom" at Mazurkiewicz Family Chiropractic in Batavia along with Hoy’s Natural Pain Relief company in offering patients the best care possible.

He plans to start accepting patient appointments on Feb. 1st.

Hoy grew up in Batavia, where he started his academic career at Notre Dame High School graduating in 2013 with 28 college credits. He then attended Canisius College of Buffalo, graduating a semester early magna cum laude as a Biology Pre-medicine major.

From there he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Port Orange, Fla.

During his time at Palmer, Hoy was chosen for the “Most Outstanding Future Alumni Award” by his class. He currently specializes in flexion distraction, instrument-assisted soft-tissue mobilization technique, soft-tissue therapy, trigger-point therapy and rehab.

He is working toward completing his postdoctorate in Electrodiagnostic Medicine this year.

Mazurkiewicz Family Chiropractic is located at 184 Washington Ave. Phone is (585) 343-9316.

January 6, 2021 - 12:17pm

Press release:

Out of nearly $20 million ESL Federal Credit Union reinvested in the Greater Rochester community in 2020 through its philanthropic efforts, more than $10 million was dedicated to supporting the pandemic response through grants to nonprofit agencies across the community.

As the pandemic continues into 2021, the full-service financial institution, with a branch in Batavia, is prepared to carry on its commitment to support nonprofit agencies throughout the community and the people these agencies serve.

“Nonprofits have been experiencing critical financial hardships throughout the pandemic and that is expected to continue well into 2021,” said Faheem Masood, president and CEO, ESL Federal Credit Union.

“To support the stability and resiliency of these agencies so they can continue to provide critical services, nonprofit and corporate funders need join together to lift up these organizations for the benefit of the people in the greater community.

"Our purpose at ESL is to help our community thrive and prosper, and thanks to trust and loyalty of our members, we are ready and able to do our part to reinvest in the community as we all work together through this public health crisis.”

Some of the grants ESL provided in 2020 to support the coronavirus pandemic response included:

  • $4 million to 20 nonprofit agencies distributed through United Way of Greater Rochester to ensure funding for these agencies remained whole due to a decrease in workplace campaign donations throughout the year;
  • $2.5 million donated to the Community Crisis Fund organized and managed by United Way of Greater Rochester and Rochester Area Community Foundation;
  • $385,000 through United Way in Livingston, Ontario, Wayne and Genesee counties to housing agencies in these counties for rent relief;
  • $350,000 to Rochester City School District to address the Digital Divide among students and provide WiFi access;
  • $345,000 to Urban League of Rochester for sustaining small businesses and COVID-19 relief;
  • $300,000 to PathStone Enterprise for COVID-19 business recovery, supporting minority-owned small businesses;
  • $250,000 to Child Care Council, which provided $1,000 grants in three counties to child care centers;
  • Approximately $190,000 to Action for a Better Community to address the Digital Divide. This grant matched a federal grant for internet devices and years’ worth of internet connectivity for approximately 150 families;
  • $100,000 to The Children’s Institute to address the Digital Divide for Pre-K students (3-5 year olds).

“The critical issues our community faces because of this pandemic and beyond are best addressed when organizations come together and collaborate for the greater good,” said Ajamu Kitwana, vice president/director, Community Impact, ESL Federal Credit Union.

“This level of collaboration will continue to be a necessity in 2021 and ESL is prepared to learn from our work in 2020 and understand where funding needs are greatest as we move forward.”

ESL’s Community Impact team was created in an effort to support the building of a healthy, resilient and equitable Greater Rochester. The Community Impact efforts of ESL focus on expanding individual opportunity, building strong neighborhoods and strengthening organizations and systems.

Over the past three years, ESL’s philanthropic reinvestments in the community have totaled more than $40 million.

January 6, 2021 - 12:07pm

Press release:

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced the more than $3 million “Raising the Bar” Restaurant Recovery Fund to assist restaurants in New York State during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This grant funding has been made possible through financial donations led by Diageo North America and supported by Coastal Pacific Wine & Spirits (a division of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits) and will be implemented by the nonprofit National Development Council (NDC).

The “Raising the Bar Restaurant Recovery Fund” will help eligible restaurants adjust their operations to the impacts of COVID-19 and adherence to New York State’s public health and safety measures during the winter months when outdoor dining is limited.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “The restaurant industry is a critical component of our state's economy -- encompassing hundreds of small businesses who employ thousands of New Yorkers.

"This industry has been among the hardest hit by the devastating effects of COVID-19, working hard to stay open, serve customers and keep employees safe. This fund is designed to help establishments adapt during this unprecedented time with assistance to sustain their businesses during the winter months to come." 

“Raising the Bar” grant funding can be used for COVID-19-related improvements and equipment that will allow the business to: comply with social distancing guidelines; expand take-out/delivery operations; or accommodate outdoor dining such as plexiglass barriers/partitions; signage promoting social distancing and hygiene protocols; heaters, heat lamps, weatherization upgrades and insulated delivery bags; improvements that will allow the business to continue operating through the winter months such as filtration system upgrades and food heaters to maintain temperature for to-go orders; and purchasing PPE and sanitation supplies necessitated by the pandemic; and COVID-19 related business improvements like patio heaters or contactless technology.

Qualifying purchases and expenditures must be from Sept. 1, 2020 onward to be eligible. Initial round of grants are up to $5,000. 

Initial grant funding will be awarded based on the received applications and dispersed independently by NDC, an experienced national economic nonprofit that has been in operation since 1969. 

“Diageo is committed to supporting restaurant owners, particularly those in underrepresented communities, who have been disproportionately harmed by COVID-19,” said Debra Crew, president, Diageo North America.

“We are honored to serve as a founding contributor of the ‘Raising the Bar’ Restaurant Recovery Fund, providing much needed relief to an important industry that serves as a vital part of the economic engine of local communities. We encourage other organizations and businesses that also call New York ‘home’ to join us in this endeavor to make the impact of the program even stronger.”

“The hospitality industry in New York needs help now more than ever and we are here for them like they’ve always been here for us,” commented Wayne E. Chaplin, Chief Executive Officer, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits.

“The Raising the Bar Restaurant Recovery Fund provides an essential lifeline to restaurant owners so they can continue to operate safely, and stay afloat during this critical time. We are proud that our Coastal Pacific Wine & Spirits division is working with the State of New York, our valued supplier, Diageo, and the NDC to provide this much needed and urgent financial support.”

"At NDC, we are eager to get moving on this restaurant grant program," said Dan Marsh, president of National Development Council. "Having worked on numerous loan and grant programs in New York and across the country, what we have seen is that smaller restaurants -- especially minority and woman-owned establishments -- are not getting the help they really need. A tailored grant program specific to this industry is critical."

Eligible businesses consist of New York State restaurants that have no more than $3 million in 2019 revenue and are engaged in providing food services and meals prepared on-premises to patrons who traditionally order and are served while seated, including certain on-premises food and drinking establishments licensed through the State Liquor Authority (SLA) and which need funding to adjust to COVID-related impacts and protocols.

Establishments providing take out or grab and go food services due to COVID-19 restrictions are also eligible to receive the grant from NDC. Additionally, these establishments must have been in operation on or before March 1, 2019 and certify and demonstrate that they have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19.

All businesses must continue to comply with the New York Forward reopening guidance and Cluster Action Initiative guidance, as applicable. Restaurants can apply to the “Raising the Bar Restaurant Recovery Fund” starting Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. For more information visit the ESD website.

January 5, 2021 - 12:49pm

Press release:

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will purchase an additional $1.5 billion worth of food for nationwide distribution through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.

In total, USDA has distributed more than !32 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This new round of Farmers to Families Food Boxes will go a long way in helping American families access nutritious and healthy meals as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic," Perdue said.

January 5, 2021 - 12:44pm

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley is praising the recent decision made by the Department of Labor’s Farm Laborer Wage Board to maintain the 60-hour overtime threshold until at least next November.

Hawley had been advocating in recent months to maintain this overtime threshold in light of a proposal to lower it. Hawley feared it would make operating an agribusiness even more difficult during what has been a hard year for the agricultural sector due to the negative impact COVID-19 has had on the industry. 

“This announcement is a big relief for farmers and agri-business entrepreneurs throughout the state, and I’m glad there’s one less thing to worry about in what’s already been an incredibly challenging year for agriculture,” Hawley said.

“While there is still work to be done helping our farmers through the COVID-19 pandemic, I am glad we avoided what would have certainly been a catastrophic mistake for our farmers and agricultural workers and entrepreneurs.”

December 24, 2020 - 12:37pm

Press release:

ALBANY -- Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that protects the interests of New York’s small businesses who are taking out loans to survive the coronavirus pandemic and other emergencies.

The New York State Small Business Truth in Lending Act, Chapter 369 of the Laws of 2020, helps borrowers by requiring clear and comprehensive disclosures from all lenders.

The NYS Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Coalition has been working with members across the state to build support for this common sense measure since it passed the Assembly and Senate in July.

“As we wait for the coronavirus vaccine to roll out, New York’s small businesses are struggling to hang on,” said Linda MacFarlane, chair of the NYS CDFI Coalition and executive director of Community Loan Fund of Capital Region.

“Unfortunately, some lenders have made it hard for small businesses to compare the true cost of their offers. CDFI Coalition members around the state are pleased to see that this measure will require lenders to disclose annual percentage rate (APR) and repayment terms.”

“CDFIs know too well how harmful predatory lending can be for small businesses, particularly during a crisis,” said Hubert VanTol, president of PathStone Enterprise Center in Rochester and vice chair of the NYS CDFI Coalition.

“That’s why we’re so pleased that Governor Cuomo signed the signed the NYS Small Business Truth in Lending Act. Now more than ever, New York businesses should be able to trust all lenders to clearly disclose their terms, so borrowers can compare loans on an ‘apples-to-apples’ basis.”

“Small businesses account for the vast majority of New York’s businesses and employ over half of the state’s workforce, but they are closing in record numbers due to COVID shutdowns,” said Kimberlie Jacobs, president/CEOCommunity Capital New York in Westchester County and CDFI Coalition board member.

“The provisions in this new law will deliver significant savings for small business borrowers. The Responsible Business Lending Coalition estimates that the NYS Small Business Truth in Lending Act will save New York’s small businesses more than $369 million annually in unnecessary finance charges. Minority-owned small businesses alone could save as much as $130 million a year.”

According to Carolynn Welch, executive director of the Westminster Economic Development Initiative in Buffalo and member of the Coalition, “CDFIs often help businesses get out from under crushing debt -- but sometimes, the damage has been done. Small businesses deserve straightforward disclosures from all financing providers so that they can make informed decisions and avoid debt traps.”

“The NYS Small Business Truth in Lending Act was endorsed by a wide range of lenders and small business advocates,” said Eric S. Levine, Esq., CEO of Alternatives Federal Credit Unionof in Ithaca and a member of the Coalition. “Fair and honest lenders have nothing to fear regarding transparency and the adoption of standard terms to describe the cost of loans.”   

“The provisions of the New York State Small Business Truth in Lending Act (A.10118 / S.5470b) will help small business owners who are trying to recover from all of the setbacks of 2020,” Coalition Chair MacFarlane said.

“We applaud Governor Cuomo, Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski and Senator Kevin Thomas for their leadership, the NYS Department of Financial Services, the Responsible Business Lending Coalition, and CDFIs around the state who worked to give our small businesses the tools they need to keep their businesses going, support their employees and serve the needs of their communities.”

The New York State CDFI Coalition represents the institutions that make innovative financing possible, foster financially vibrant and healthy communities, and strengthen all regions of New York State.

December 23, 2020 - 2:05pm

Photos and information from Ben Dennis, director of Services, GC Department of Social Services:

There's an amazing generosity in the people and businesses that exist in this community. Each year, I am contacted by local businesses who want to be able to help their fellow citizens by sponsoring a family for the Holidays.

These businesses are really amazing -- how they come through with gifts for the kids and the parents who ordinarily could not afford to have a nice Christmas.

This year, the employees at O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative, Inc., and Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU) and Tompkins Bank of Castile (408 E. Main St.), each separately reached out to me and sponsored a separate family.

The employees themselves did all the shopping and wrapping of the gifts for each member of the family they sponsored.

Last week, the DSS caseworkers delivered the gifts to the families and they are overjoyed and incredibly grateful for the donations.

Times are very difficult right now for many families trying to make ends meet.

We have hard-working people that have had to quit their job in order to stay home and help their children with their remote school work, or we had folks who were laid off due to business closures or downsizing.

"I have to say that the way that this community comes together in a time of need is really heartwarming to me personally," Dennis said. "This community is really amazing."

December 19, 2020 - 1:35pm
posted by Press Release in business, Empire Access, PC Mag Best Gaming ISPs 2021.

Press release:

Empire Access has been named Best Gaming Internet Service Provider in the Northeast region of the United States for 2021 by PC Mag.

The PC Mag Best Gaming ISPs 2021 award is presented to Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) in the United States that offer the best online gaming experience to their customers. To compare ISP’s, PC Mag uses a Gaming Quality Index score to measure speed, latency (delay), and jitter (consistency) of an Internet connection. Lower Gaming Quality Index scores represent higher quality Internet. In the Northeast region, Empire Access led all ISP’s with a score of 9.2, while its closest competition scored 19.7.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized as an industry leader at a national level.,” said Jim Baase, COO of Empire Access. “As a family owned and operated company, we remain focused on providing our customers with high quality, smoking-fast fiber optic Internet.”

In addition to gaming, a low index score is important to ensure reliable real-time communications for video conferencing, live streaming, education, web meetings, and VOIP telephone services.

The complete PC Mag article can be found here

Empire Access is a fast-growing fiber optic telecommunications service provider, offering high-speed Internet, digital television, phone and security services to homes and businesses – all enabled by Fiber Optic technology – to more than 25 communities in Upstate New York and Northern Pennsylvania. Fiber Optic service is far more reliable and not prone to slow downs plagued by cable. Each customer has their own dedicated, non-blocking connection and is not affected by congestion and weather.

Empire Access features very affordable plans priced below competitors’ offerings for 100 Mbps (Megabits per second) downloads/20 Mbps uploads. Empire offers Internet download speeds up to 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second) for highly demanding needs. Gigabit Internet is perfect for video streaming, gaming, and downloading large files.

Along with Fiber Optic-based Internet service, Empire also offers a complete array of communications and security services:

  • Home and business phone service – including various plans with business options including toll-free numbers, phone systems, voice mail and more;
  • TV Service – delivering 100-percent digital picture quality, crystal clear HD channels, Restart TV, Whole Home DVR capabilities and additional features;
  • Security and home automation – such as 24/7 video monitoring and in-home or business-based automation, the ability to remotely manage security, lock and unlock doors, control appliances, adjust heating/cooling and more from a smartphone, tablet, or computer;
  • Advanced business services – enterprise Wi-Fi, business email, audio and video conferencing, dark fiber and metro Ethernet.

To see if Empire Access Fiber Optic service is available in your neighborhood, please call 800-338-3300 or visit www.empireaccess.com.

December 18, 2020 - 3:27pm

Submitted photo and press release:

When Lindsay Juliano from the American Dairy Association North East contacted Jim Tyx, Food Service director for Pembroke schools, he was surprised and thrilled to hear the news that she had to share.

Reyncrest Dairy Farm in Corfu was selected as a 2020 Dairying for Tomorrow Award Winner. This award recognizes dairy farm families who display a passion for dairying and uses practices that help lead their farm and the industry into the future. 

As part of their recognition as an award recipient, the Reyncrest Dairy Farm chose Pembroke Central School to receive a donation of one milk barrel and two insulated bags, a $500 value. 

“We are honored that the farm chose our local school to receive this gift,” said Jim Tyx, Food Service director for Pembroke and Alexander central schools.  

Kelly Reynolds, of Reyncrest Farms, noted, “We are so excited that the students at Pembroke Schools have more access to milk and dairy products and are able to enjoy a cold serving of dairy thanks to American Dairy Association Northeast and the Dairying for Tomorrow awards!

"Our family works hard to provide the best care possible for our cows so that our community can enjoy these products.”

According to the American Dairy Association of the Northeast’s website, the Dairying for Tomorrow Awards, sponsored by American Dairy Association North East, are designed to recognize local dairy farmers and showcase the unique actions they take, on and off the farm, to help sustain and improve the dairy industry.

Genesee Valley BOCES operates a Regional Food Service, a program that 21 area school districts subscribe to. Pembroke Central School District is one of them.

Photo: Green shirt on left, Julie Phelps; pink shirt, Lynn Dilimone; gray shirt cutting the ribbon, Heather Starzynski; gray shirt holding check, Brittany Schafer; pink shirt on the right, Sara langewicz.

December 16, 2020 - 12:05pm

Press release:

ESL Federal Credit Union, which has a branch in Batavia, is pleased to be recognized for taking significant steps to build a culture of health in the workplace. ESL recently received Gold recognition – the highest possible rating – for the second consecutive year by the American Heart Association 2020 Workplace Health Achievement Index.

The American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Achievement Index measures the extent to which the company has implemented workplace health best practices.

ESL offers a comprehensive program that addresses all facets of wellness through its [email protected] Employee Wellness Program. The company provides its employees with the tools they need to stay healthy and well.

Some recent examples of programs offered include: a series of Wellness Webinars for employees; an on-site library with books focused on nutrition, fitness, financial wellbeing, mindfulness, and general health topics; financial incentives for healthy activities; as well as discounted medical premiums with annual health screenings.

“We are honored to receive Gold recognition for the second year in a row by the American Heart Association for our investment into our employee wellness programs,” said Maureen Wolfe, ESL senior vice president/director of human resources and community impact.

“The challenges workplaces face amid the COVID-19 pandemic reaffirms the importance and our commitment to ensuring employees have accessible tools and resources to make healthy choices and lead healthy lives.”

The American Heart Association created the Index with its CEO Roundtable, a leadership collaborative of more than 40 CEOs from some of America’s largest companies who are committed to applying evidence-based approaches to improve their employees’ overall health. 

The American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Solutions offers a suite of evidence-based tools to help optimize current employee health programs. These tools leverage the science behind the Index while improving consumer engagement and promoting healthier behaviors. For more information, visit www.heart.org/workplacehealth.

December 11, 2020 - 12:04pm

Press release:

After first raising concerns about Canada’s allocation of tariff-rate quotas for U.S. exports of dairy products in June and again in September, U.S. senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand applauded the U.S. Trade Representative’s decision to file a United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement enforcement action against Canada to protect New York’s dairy farmers and ensure fairer market access.

In a statement issued today (Dec. 11) Schumer and Gillibrand said, “Dairy is New York’s primary agricultural product and our dairy farmers are the lifeblood of the Upstate economy. They have been hit especially hard and squeezed by the economic effects of the pandemic, and poor implementation of USMCA provisions by Canada over the past five months will only further hinder their ability to recover from this crisis.

"Yesterday’s filing of the first-ever USMCA enforcement action by the United States to protect New York’s dairy farmers from Canada’s unfair allocation of tariff-rate quotas is a necessary step to ensuring that the Upstate New York dairy industry fully benefits from the agreement’s expanded market access opportunities, unimpeded by unreasonable trade barriers.

"New York’s dairy industry must have Canada fully abide by its USMCA dairy pricing and export policy commitments. We must continue to hold Canada and our other trading partners accountable and ensure equitable trading practices to help New York’s dairy farmers churn up profits that mitigate the huge losses they have suffered this year.”

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