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Video: A conversation with Steve Hyde about economic development in 2020

By Howard B. Owens
Feb 18, 2020, 9:19pm
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Last week, we sat down with Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, and talked about the state of economic development here in 2020.

Here are some key quotes:

On developing Downtown:

One of the keys that we're in today is our industrial development activities are almost outpacing some of our other readiness elements in our community. And I'm talking about placemaking. I'm talking about housing. I'm talking about live, work and play activities in our gut and our population centers and our downtowns. That's part of the reason why we've become very invested in a lot of the downtown revitalization initiative activities and projects. 

On the future of WNY STAMP:

We're really kind of focusing our target marketing on the site between the north campus, which is 850 acres, and the south campus, which is about 400. By the end of this year, the south campus is going to be shovel ready. What that's going to allow us to do is really dial in our marketing. We're going to focus on food and beverage in the southern part of the campus and warehousing and distribution, because the capacities of what's going to be shovel ready as far as water, sewer, electric, meet the needs of those industries. So we're going to really focus on those industries, diversify the focus, still focus on clean tech and tech up in the north campus. 

On the challenges of economic development in New York:

Upstate New York has been in decline for 50 years and many people say it. But that's part of the reason why you have to swing for the fences on big industrial development projects. You know, the only way that you're going to bring yourself out of a situation where you're gonna turn that economy around, you're gonna have a chance to change the trajectory of your economic cycle is by doing things differently, swinging for the fences. And in our case, we have this advantage at the stamp site, and the ag park is kind of proof positive that you can do it at scale. We've had a lot of success at the AG Park, which has proven, I think to a lot of the investors at the state level that STAMP can work.

On Ellicott Station:

We are down to three months away from hearing about Ellicott Station. One of the biggest challenges with Ellicott Station was the time it took to get here where we are today. The problem was, we set ourselves up because that big announcement back in March of 2016 that, you know, Severino Companies was chosen. Yeah, they were chosen. That was exciting. But I think it was we kind of did it to ourselves. We portrayed that as ready to break ground. It wasn't. That was just the developer being selected. There wasn't a dollar aligned with it. That's part of the reason why we've engaged so fully in that project, to do all we can to try to help that project get funded. 

On the importance of the Muckdogs to economic development:

The Muckdogs play right into what I've been almost screaming about, right? It is getting lifestyle energized back in our community. And they offer one of those special attractions for folks of all ages, including the millennials, that we need to come here and work in these growing businesses, to have a lifestyle experience. I mean, what is another example of Americana but sitting out in the summer night and seeing fireworks and having a hot dog and hanging out with a beer or a soda, whatever your preference is, and enjoying a good summer American night with a professional baseball? 

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Nine projects in Genesee County receive $1.4M in economic development grants

By Howard B. Owens
Dec 19, 2019, 4:23pm

Today, the governor's office announced $761 million in economic development grants statewide, including $1.4 million for projects in Genesee County.

The local projects:

City of Batavia Advancing Batavia Opportunities The City of Batavia will advance the redevelopment of City Centre and Harvester Center BOA strategic sites within the Batavia Opportunity Area by undertaking pre-development activities including preliminary engineering and architectural studies, legal services, real estate services, zoning updates, and marketing. $193,500 City of Batavia Revitalize Downtown Batavia The City will assist in the renovation of mixed-use buildings in the City's Business Improvement District. $300,000 Genesee County Genesee County 2040 Strategy Genesee County will prepare an update to its outdated 1997 Comprehensive to provide a new direction for the future of Genesee County with a focus on economic development and community revitalization. The plan will be action-oriented and community-driven with an emphasis on priority county- wide revitalization projects complemented by an implementation strategy and performance measurements. $40,000 Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council Seymour Place The Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council will make needed renovations and upgrades to maintain the fundamental beauty of its historical building while bringing the functionality of the building into the 21st century. $72,500 Town of Byron Town of Byron Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements Study The Town of Byron will complete an engineering report to evaluate disinfection alternatives at its wastewater treatment plant. $30,000 Town of Pavilion Town of Pavilion Wastewater Treatment Plant Disinfection Study The Town of Pavilion will complete an engineering report to evaluate disinfection alternatives at its wastewater treatment plant. $30,000 Village of Corfu Village of Corfu Wastewater Treatment Plant Disinfection The Village of Corfu will install effluent disinfection at the village's wastewater treatment plant. This project will improve water quality by reducing pathogens in the treatment plant's discharge. $620,000 Village of Elba Village of Elba Wastewater Treatment Facility and Collection System Study The Village of Elba will complete an engineering report to evaluate disinfection alternatives at its wastewater treatment facility. The report will also include recommended actions to reduce the inflow and infiltration in the sanitary sewer collection system. $30,000 Village of LeRoy Village of LeRoy Sewer Inflow and Infiltration Study The Village of LeRoy will complete an engineering report that provides a detailed sanitary sewer collection system capital improvement plan based on investigations of inflow and infiltration in the system. $30,000

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that more than $761 million in economic and community development funding has been awarded through Round IX of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. Since its inception in 2011, more than $6.9 billion has been awarded to more than 8,300 projects that are projected to create and retain more than 240,000 jobs statewide through the REDC process.

"Throughout the Regional Economic Development Council process over the past nine years, we have seen unprecedented regional investment focusing on a ground-up, strategic model that has spurred tremendous growth in every corner of this great state," Governor Cuomo said. "By bringing together local leaders and stakeholders who are invested in their communities we have replaced the 'one size fits all' approach to economic development with one that is unique to each community, creating opportunities for success all across the Empire State."

"By empowering local officials and stakeholders who know their communities best, we have transformed the state's economic development strategy into one that is not only successful, but is built to last," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, chair of the Regional Economic Development Councils.

"Together, we are revitalizing downtowns, supporting and attracting businesses, and welcoming new residents and visitors. Through the REDCs, we are advancing the strategic economic development strategies of each region and supporting growth as part of the Downtown and Upstate Revitalization Initiatives. With a focus on workforce development and growth of high-tech industries, we are adding new job opportunities and strengthening the economy of New York State."

Today, more than $761 million in economic and community development funding was awarded through Round IX of the REDC initiative:

  • Western New York: Regional Council Awardee | $67.3 million supporting 109 projects
  • Finger Lakes: Regional Council Awardee | $64.4 million supporting 94 projects
  • Southern Tier: Top Performer | $88.9 million supporting 109 projects
  • Central New York: Top Performer | $86.2 million supporting 93 projects
  • Mohawk Valley: Top Performer | $82.7 million supporting 81 projects
  • North Country: Regional Council Awardee | $67.9 million supporting 83 projects
  • Capital Region: Top Performer | $84.1 million supporting 120 projects
  • Mid-Hudson: Regional Council Awardee | $65.8 million supporting 105 projects
  • New York City: Regional Council Awardee | $66.3 million supporting 109 projects
  • Long Island: Top Performer | $87.9 million supporting 94 projects

More information on the 2019 Regional Economic Development Council Awards, including a full list of awardees, is available here.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, "For nearly 10 years, the REDC process has been the driving force behind New York State's economic development decisions, and the model is a proven success. As the process enters the next decade, we are seeing the legacy of past projects being completed and excited about the new economic development opportunities our REDCs continue to identify." 

The REDC process has transformed New York State government's approach to economic development, creating a statewide framework for bottom-up, regional economic growth and streamlining the state funding application process. Established in 2011 as a centerpiece of the governor's strategy to jumpstart the economy and create jobs, the Regional Councils replaced the state's old top-down approach with one that is community-based and performance-driven.

This spring, Governor Cuomo launched Round IX of the REDC initiative and the fourth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. A full list of communities in which $10 million will be invested through the DRI, along with their applications, is available here.

In 2019, all 10 REDCs competed for up to $150 million in capital funds and $75 million in Excelsior Tax Credits for projects identified by the Regional Councils as priorities in their regions. All 10 regions competed for designation as a Top Performer with the five top performing regions being awarded a share of $100 million in ESD capital grants. The remaining five regions were awarded a share of $50 million in ESD capital grants. Each region was also awarded a share of $75 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow business in the region.

The Regional Council priorities this year included working with local businesses and communities to identify childcare needs and develop potential solutions; developing an economic and environmental justice strategy for the region; supporting community investment in place-making and downtown revitalization; and supporting the state's $175 million Workforce Development Initiative. Each council was asked to address these items in ways that complement each regional vision.

During Round IX, the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team (SIAT), comprised of state agency commissioners and members of the New York State Legislature, received presentations on this year's proposals from each of the 10 Regional Councils and assessed the implementation of the regions' strategic plans.

BDC hopes to establish $5 million equity fund based on new Federal tax breaks for investors

By Howard B. Owens
Mar 26, 2019, 11:15am

A change in federal tax law in 2017 could help attract Downstate investors to Upstate communities such as Batavia and the Batavia Development Corporation is planning on pursuing those dollars for economic development in wards three and six.

The new tax law allows investors who have realized profits from prior investments, known as capital gains, to defer and reduce capital gains taxes on those profits if they invest those gains in economically distressed neighborhoods.

Wards three and six -- which contain the City Centre mall and the Harvester Center, among other distressed properties -- were previously designated Opportunity Zones by the City of Batavia and would be eligible to attract investment under the terms of the revised Federal Tax Code.

Rachael Tabelski, BDC director, asked the City Council on Monday night to approve at its next business meeting a resolution that would allow the BDC to invest $20,000 in setting up a Batavia Opportunity Zone investment vehicle.  

"These wards are distressed and would benefit from both large and small investment projects," Tabelski said.

The goal is to attract $5 million in investment funds. Tabelski said there are already potential investors Downstate who have expressed an interest in such investments.

Urban Vantage LLC, a Buffalo-based urban planning firm, would assist, including financially, in setting up the investment package.

The $20,000 would come from BDC's revolving loan fund, which has a current balance of $319,000.

At its next business meeting, the City Council will also be asked to approve a resolution that would allow the revolving loan fund, first established with Federal grants in 1997, to start assisting small businesses in Batavia with cash grants (in addition to continuing revolving grants).

Tabelski told the council that the purpose of the fund is to get money into the hands of local businesses to help spur economic development and the fund isn't accomplishing that goal if the money isn't being put to use.

The $20,000 initial investment would be used for legal preparation of the investment vehicle, listing and marketing the project, along with filing and accounting fees.

"We're setting this up so we are on the map as a proactive community taking advantage of a new federal tax law that is allowing investment into low-income census tracks and to show investors and developers that we're serious about moving our sites forward and creating our own fund as a city," Tabelski said.

There's much about how the new investments will work that hasn't yet been determined by the Treasury Department. The final guidelines should be released in a few weeks.

In general, the idea is if an investor has capital gains, the investor can move those funds to an opportunity zone investment fund and defer any capital gains tax until 2026. After five years, the basis of their taxable gains would be reduced by 10 percent. For example, if an investor had $100,000 in capital gains and invested those gains in an opportunity zone, the investor would owe taxes only $90,000 of those gains. After 10 years, the basis would be reduced another 5 percent.

Also, after 10 years, the investor would not owe any taxes on any additional gains on their opportunity zone investments. In other words, if that investor put $100,000 into an opportunity zone and at the end of 10 years, exited the investment and got back $150,000, there would be no capital gains tax on that additional $50,000 realized from the investment.

"It's really designed to attract investment in projects that have a high likelihood of appreciation," said Richard Rogers, a principal in Urban Vantage.

Tabelski first met Rogers and his partner Travis Gordon during the Downtown Revitalization Initiative process, when they represented Ken Mistler on the Carrs Reborn project. They worked together on developing a plan to create the opportunity zones under the tax code revisions.

Tabelski and Gordon both said Batavia could be attractive to investors not just because of a break on capital gains tax but also because of other credits available, such as historic building tax credits, new market tax credits, and the availability of PILOTs (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) on building improvements.

"This is a marketable location for people from places like Downstate to put the money into to actually get a good return on their investment as well," Gordon said.

The BDC-initiated fund will focus on real estate investment but there's no reason private investors can't establish their own funds to support business startups and expansions. So long as the business is based in designated opportunity zones, investors would be eligible, potentially, for the same tax breaks on capital gains.

There are some guidelines yet to come yet, however, that will either expand or limit those opportunities. For example, initially, the tax code would have required at least 50 percent of a business's revenue to come from within the opportunity zone.

That would seriously limit, as Rogers noted, a new firm's ability to scale, which would make a much less attractive investment for venture capital.

Tabelski said there is already an investment fund established in Buffalo that might be interested in projects in Batavia.

Photo: Rachel Tabelski presenting the project to the City Council on Monday, accompanied by Richard Rogers and Travis Gordon.

Hyde warns proposed prevailing wage bill could kill economic development in Upstate

By Howard B. Owens
Mar 7, 2019, 11:20am

Downstate labor unions are pushing legislation that would require private-sector construction projects that receive even $1 of government assistance to pay "prevailing wage."

If this law goes into effect, it will kill economic development in Upstate, GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde told the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

"This is just over the top," Hyde said. "You can go back in history across the U.S. and see that when government tries to mandate wages and tries to tinker with the mechanisms of free market systems, you get bad results."

Prevailing wage is the amount of compensation, including benefits, the Department of Labor sets for workers employed by companies doing projects for government agencies.

Supporters of the proposed change in the law equate prevailing wage with market-rate wages but that's just factually incorrect, Hyde said. A prevailing wage requirement would drive up the cost of projects backed by an IDA (Industrial Development Agency) by 25 to 30 percent.

That will drive business out of the state, Hyde said.

For small companies looking to expand, it will make projects financially unfeasible and for companies looking to locate new plants to New York, it will make the state even less competitive.

The IDAs in Ulster County and Yonkers have previously tried imposing similar requirements on projects they helped finance and in both cases, the IDAs had to back off the prevailing wage requirement because economic development came to a grinding halt in those jurisdictions.

"This is really a 'turn the lights out' for economic development if this were to happen in New York State," Hyde said.

With less development, Hyde said, there will be fewer jobs and the fallout would hurt huge sectors of New York's economy, from construction to architects and engineers.

While the major push for the bill is coming from Downstate labor unions, Hyde said he hasn't heard what position, if any, labor unions in Western New York are taking. One of the bill's cosponsors is from Rochester, Assemblyman Harry Bronson.

A similar bill has previously passed the State Assembly but died in the then-Republican-controlled State Senate. Now that Democrats control the Senate, the bill's defeat is far less certain.

Hyde asked members of the Legislature to write to state representatives expressing their opposition to the bill in the hope that it could be defeated.

Photo: Jim Krencik, marketing and communications director for GCEDC, and Steve Hyde, CEO.

Hawley, Assembly GOP call for transparency in economic development spending, denounce Cuomo's 'failed policies'

By Billie Owens
Jun 7, 2016, 3:12pm

Submitted photo and press release:

On the heels of a press conference held in Albany Monday by Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua), Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) called for an end to unspecified spending of tax dollars and the autonomous control of taxpayer funds that continue to support botched economic development programs.

New York was once again ranked near dead last in economic outlook this year, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“The main issue with our economic development spending is that it’s riddled with pay-to-play, unilaterally controlled by the governor, and is essentially devoid of transparency in many respects,” Hawley said. “We were promised a job report on START-UP NY on April 1, 2016 and have yet to see one, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars of our citizens’ money on advertising and tax breaks.

"On another note, the longer the Buffalo Billion project goes on, the more problems come to light and the more intricate the web of inefficiency and shady political and businesses deals becomes. Taxpayers deserve to know where their money is going and that’s why this legislation is important.”

Hawley and his colleagues today introduced legislation that would mandate full transparency in spending allocations, penalties for failing to meet reporting deadlines (such as the case with START-Up NY), and auditing of all state economic development programs, among other provisions.

Economic development meeting at City Hall tomorrow open to the public

By Howard B. Owens
Jun 1, 2016, 11:39am

Press release:

Partners of the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity (BP2) Program, including the Batavia Development Corp., Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), Genesee County, City of Batavia and Batavia School District, will host members of the business community for an economic development forum on the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council’s Upstate Revitalization Plan, Finger Lakes Forward.

The forum will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 2, at One City Centre in Batavia (Council Chamber, 2nd floor) and will feature remarks by Vincent Esposito, regional director of Empire State Development’s Finger Lakes regional office.

The event will discuss new initiatives specific to the Finger Lakes region, one of three regions awarded $500 million by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative — a competition designed to help transform local economies by providing $500 million over the next five years to support projects and strategies that create jobs, strengthen and diversify economies, and generate economic opportunity within the region — in 2015.

Attendees will hear about Finger Lakes Forward, a long-term strategic plan which will seek to address workforce development and poverty reduction; entrepreneurship and development; and higher education and research. Information about the NYS Consolidated Funding Application process will also be provided.

“It is important that we continue to educate and keep the business community apprised about the unique collaboration taking place among private and public sector stakeholders to stimulate new growth and development opportunities in our regional economy,” said Steve Hyde, GCEDC president and CEO.

The event is free and open to the public. A lunch sponsored by Clark Patterson Lee and Harris Beach, LLP, will be provided. For more information and to register, please contact Rachael Tabelski, director of Marketing & Communications at GCEDC, at 585-343-4866 or [email protected].

BDC's annual meeting focuses on positioning Batavia to serve aging Boomers and the rising tide of Millennials

By Howard B. Owens
Jan 27, 2016, 6:48pm

Both Julie Pacatte, economic development director the Batavia Development Corp., and City Manager Jason Molino see a very bright horizon for the City of Batavia when they look five years down the road.

A lot of groundwork has been laid over the past couple of years to help transform Batavia's economy and make it a place where both Baby Boomers and Millennials will want to live, work and play.

"Five years from now we'll see a dramatic difference in the city of Batavia," Pacatte said. "I think we will be a community of choice for the Millennial Generation. We are a more diverse community. There will be confidence in investing in the city whether in your home, your own home improvements, or if it's investing in a property Downtown to attract business. I think there will be a dramatic transformation of the landscape."

The optimistic tone was struck during BDC's annual meeting, which was held in council members in City Hall.

And optimism is one of the key drivers of change and growth, Pacatte said during her presentation.

Molino shares the vision.

In fact, he predicts by the Summer of 2017, Downtown Batavia's skyline will be peppered with construction cranes.

"I think we're at the beginning of a renaissance for Batavia," Molino said. "I say that with one caveat, and that is we need to continue with the forward effort we've put forward in the past few years."

That includes improvements to infrastructure, such as sewers and sidewalks, reworking the zoning code through the general plan update process, supporting the BDC and focusing on brownfield redevelopment.

The city and BDC are feeling pretty good this week about a big step forward on one of its biggest projects, transforming the Santy Tire and Dellapenna properties from blighted eyesores into commercial redevelopment.

The BDC is taking over ownership of the property, a first step toward selling the parcels to private developers.

Pacatte said we should expect an announcement on what's coming within the next 30 to 60 days.

Molino is also proud of the City's Pathway to Prosperity Plan, the first of the kind in the state, uniting the city, the county, the school district, the BDC and GCEDC in an arrangement to use funds generated by PILOT payments to help offset the cost of brownfield redevelopment.

The city has designated 366 acres in the primary corridor as the Batavia Opportunity Area (or Brownfield Opportunity Area), with the ability to offer special incentives to developers willing to turn blighted properties into economically viable properties.

The BDC is the lead agency in that effort.

Besides the tone of optimism during Wednesday's meeting, the overriding theme was, ready or not, the Millennials are taking over.  

In the United States, there are now more Millennials than Baby Boomers and by 2020, Millennials will make up nearly half of the nation's workforce.

And it turns out, Millennials and Baby Boomers aren't all that far apart in their wants and aspirations, putting Batavia in a prime position to serve both.

Both cohorts want livable communities, ones that are affordable, accessible and walkable. While boomers are downsizing, Millennials are conscious of their impact on the planet; boomers seek affordable services, Millennials watch their spending because of college debt loads; Boomers have accumulated the wealth to enjoy community living, Millennials are urban-minded.

Some 64 percent of Millennials want to start their own businesses, Boomers have the experience to be mentors and the means to be buyers and investors.  Boomers are team players, Millennials are collaborative. 

Both are interested in building communities that are engaging and filled with entertainment opportunities. They are interested in communities that offer a sense of place.

Pacatte ended her presentation with three questions for audience members to ponder:

  • Are we investing in place?
  • Do you see value in building a community?
  • How optimistic are you?

Naysayers aside, BDC gave city a return on its investment in 2014, coordinator tells council

By Howard B. Owens
Jan 27, 2015, 7:19pm

The City of Batavia has realized a 500-percent return on its $360,000 investment in community development, Julie Pacatte, economic development coordinator, told the City Council on Monday night.

The Council has authorized $90,000 a year over four years to the Batavia Development Corporation- that's $360,000. In return, the BDC has generated more than $2.1 million in public-private investment in Downtown.

Several of the projects managed by BDC were building owners constructing renovated apartments, all of which rented immediately.

But perhaps the biggest win is the renovation of the old Carr's Warehouse in Jackson Square.

The property sat vacant and deteriorating for three years. The city marketed the building as a revitalization project and eventually found a developer.

With the help of a $115,000 state grant, Paul Thompson and his partners invested more than $500,000 in constructing four apartments and a first-floor office area.

The vacancies were filled as soon as construction was completed.

The property was assessed at $30,000, but since it was a city-foreclosed property, it was generating zero tax revenue. Now it's assessed at more than $200,000 and on the tax roles. (The developer has the option to apply for a tax abatement by March under a municipal program that works like a PILOT, offering tax relief on the increase in assessed value).

The nine new residential units, using current economic models, are worth about $5,000 each in extra consumer buying power Downtown, Pacatte said.

Pacatte's job has been funded in the past through the use of revenue generated by Batavia Downs and transferred by the state to the city on an annual basis.

Since this is not general fund revenue, it doesn't have any impact on local property taxes. Even so, there is some question as to whether the current council is willing to once again use city money to fund the development coordinator's position.

Pacatte's Monday presentation could be seen as a pitch to save her job, but that didn't stop her from getting a little feisty. She was full of energy during her presentation, and when she spoke about negative attitudes, Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian challenged the remark and Pacatte shot right back with her own view.

The topic of the exchange was the mall, which Pacatte had already called a travesty and an embarrassment and one of the factors weighing down economic development in the city.

"I think maybe people have a negative attitude because they have heard the same old thing year after year," Christian said. "How many years have we heard we're going to do something with the mall. I've sat on this board for 24 years and I've heard year after year we're going to do something with the mall."

Pacatte responded that she didn't say the BDC was going to do something with the mall, just that the issue needed to be resolved.

The negative attitude discussion harkens back to a consultant report from three years ago, which Pacatte referenced, that said one of the things hurting Batavia is a persistent, nagging culture of antagonism to new proposals.

From the report (pdf; page 29):

... many residents and business leaders alike are quick to say what is right about the place, but only after they or others have said how it is not the community it used to be. This habit goes to the core of the challenge for Batavia. Regardless of how effective the city government is, or how successful the schools are, or how homeowners keep up beautiful homes, there is always the perception that things used to be better. This sets up an impossible goal: Batavia needs to be as good as its finest past features, but without any of its previous problems, and certainly without any of yesterday’s resources. It allows critics to say, “see, I told you so.” It lives on phrases like “that can’t be done,” and “we tried that,” and “here’s why that won’t work.” Until the community addresses this problem, Batavia won’t achieve its full and substantial potential.

Pacatte has succeeded in helping to bring new development to Downtown Batavia despite the naysayers. Each new apartment development was met by a wave of criticism and endless predictions that nobody would rent such high-priced units.

Yet, there are no vacancies. Landlords rent the apartments as quickly as they become available.

The Carr's project was roundly criticized, yet it's successful.

The negative attitudes are just something to try and work though as a professional, Pacatte said after the meeting.

"I think it's important to listen to what the community is saying, but we also have access and in our profession we understand that these projects do happen and happen a lot in other communities and there's no reason it shouldn't happen in Batavia," Pacatte said. "We bring the folks to the table who can make it happen.

"It's important to hear some of the negativity at the time to maybe rethink how we approach a project," Pacatte added, "but it's important to be a professional and understand that it is possible and persevere to that end. I was hired to impact the economic community in Batavia and I believe that's what I'm doing when I push those projects forward."

In 2015, the BDC will look to advance the Batavia Opportunity Areas, such as the Della Penna property on Ellicott Street, and right next to it, the Santy Tires property.

The mall fits in there somewhere, as well, though that is a much stickier problem with all of the competing interests and ancient animosities. Pacatte believes there might be an opportunity to apply for funding in 2015 through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council to pursue some sort of long-term solution.

She also sees as her job in 2015 an effort to foster a greater entrepreneurial spirit in Batavia, to coordinate and implement a new micro-enterprise grant program, and support an industry-specific incubator.

The BDC will also apply for more redevelopment grant money from the state.

Council gets progress report on business development efforts in Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
Jan 29, 2013, 4:34pm

The Batavia Development Corp. helped create 12 new full-time jobs in Batavia in 2012, according to a report given to the city council by Economic Development Coordinator Julie Pacatte.

The BDC invested $146,555 in local businesses to leverage another $131,787 in private investment, for a total investment in business growth of $278,342.

The effort helped fill about 20,000 square feet of retail and office space downtown.

The agency also administered the city's building improvement program, based on a state grant.

The $460,000 grant program is being combined with a projected $1.4 million in investment by property owners. So far, four of six projects have been completed, including brick work on the Masonic Temple and a new facade on the PennySaver building at the corner of Liberty and East Main streets.

Among the priorities for the BDC in 2013:

  • Carr's warehouse redevelopment
  • Advance the Batavia Opportunity Area
  • Co-host creative thinking and entreprenuerial workshops
  • Recapitalize loan funds
  • Help businesses navigate planning and zoning
  • Advance the "Vibrant Batavia" efforts

Among the specific items discussed is an effort to use the Harvester Center to incubate food-processing businesses that might some day move up to the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park or provide support for businesses in the park.

New economic development coordinator sees a bright future for Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
Aug 19, 2011, 7:12pm

Batavia has a new cheerleader. Her name is Julie Pacatte and she believes Batavia has a bright future and she's ready to help.

"We have to believe in ourselves," Pacatte said. "Statistics show Batavia is not a bedroom community. It's not dependent on Buffalo or Rochester. It has an opportunity to be self sufficient and take care of its own."

Pacatte has eight years experience working in community development in Upstate New York and understands the cynicism of many who think Western New York, if not the entire northeast, is doomed.

Pacatte, who started her new job Thursday as economic development coordinator for Batavia Development Corporation, believes Batavia has a lot going for it. It's centrally located, is supported by a strong agricultural sector, has a vibrant local business community and is a beautiful place to live and work.

Part of her job, she said, will be to help local business owners, if they need it, become re-energized about growing their businesses.

"There is hope for the future," Pacatte said. "There are resources available. There are resources for people to be creative in this city, to work hard and try new things. There's support for that in this city and that's what I would define as the small business owner."

The new position is funded through a partnership between the BDC and the City of Batavia. The $90,000 annual budget for the position -- Pacatte's salary is $60,000 a year -- is being funded through a fund withdrawal from the BDC's revolving loan program and a $10,000 contribution from the city. 

Part of Pacatte's job is to make the position self-sustaining within two years by bringing in grants and aid for development projects in the city.

It's not a task that Pacatte finds particularly daunting.

"I'm all for a challenge," she said.

While Pacatte and her husband have made a commitment to stay in Clarence while their daughter, just entering ninth grade, finishes high school, Pacatte said she's fully committed to helping Batavia grow.

"Batavia is at the crossroads of Western New York," Pacatte added. "I really, really believe there is an opportunity here, and there is an opportunity to inspire the independent thinkers, those who want to see progress."

Local Cornellians host Dean Kathryn Boor, from Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

By Sarah Noble Moag
Mar 10, 2011, 2:51pm

The Genesee-Orleans Cornell Club is pleased to announce a luncheon Thursday, April 7, 2011  with Dean Kathryn Boor'80 from Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Ms. Boor was named the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences  last July. 

Event Date and Time

New MedTech Centre opens with fanfare

By WBTA News
Aug 21, 2010, 11:24am

(by WBTA News Intern Ashley Chiocco)

The Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate MedTech Centre has opened.

The ceremonial ribbon cutting took place yesterday (Friday) afternoon during the building’s grand-opening celebration on Assemblyman Stephen Hawley Drive.

The $7.2-million building will be home to GCC’s state-of-the-art nursing facilities, UMMC’s therapy programs, and provide space for emerging biotech companies.

GCC’s Nursing Program Director Kathy Polumbo tells how the new facilities will enhance the students’ learning experiences.

"We have all the latest technology in our classrooms," says Palumbo. "And I think the labs are the real 'piece de resistance.' We have a very realistic environment with our simulators.

"So what we're hoping is: We will make the sutdents better prepared for when they actually get their first job and they come into the real world."

The MedTech Centre is just the first building to be completed in GCEDC’s Upstate MedTech Park.

PHOTO: Area representatives, EDC officials and members of GCC pose at yesterday's ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Yahoo! favors Lockport over Genesee County for new facility

By Howard B. Owens
Jun 11, 2009, 8:55pm

Purple will not become the official Genesee County color any time soon. Yahoo! has taken a pass on our fine county and instead chosen Lockport as the location of its planned WNY data center, reports the Buffalo News.

Town officials announced this afternoon that Yahoo! will present a site plan to the Town Planning Board at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. A public hearing will be held June 30.

Yahoo! also has applied for a property tax break from the town Industrial Development Agency, Town Attorney Daniel E. Seaman said.

Supervisor Marc R. Smith said the 190,000-square-foot computer center will take about 13 months to build, and Yahoo! would like to break ground in August.

Batavia has significant assets to spur an economic renaissance

By Howard B. Owens
Jan 18, 2009, 10:36am

Is Batavia well positioned for an economic renaissance? Reading a post on the rural-themed blog the Daily Yonder this morning, I'm thinking the question might very well be yes.

Big rural towns may have even better luck than large cities when it comes to attracting and keeping manufacturing jobs. (It seems the formula for success includes being a home to higher education situated at the crossroads of major highways.) Big towns usually boast health care facilities located inside the city limits, or at least nearby. Having an industrial park within an economic enterprise zone doesn’t hurt either.

Here's are what I see of Batavia's assets:

  • The Harvester/Masse complex, which is ripe for redevelopment.
  • Proximity to key transportation routes, though the Thruway's never ending cycle of toll increases is a problem
  • Train routes already in place
  • The city is well positioned in relation to major water ways, access to the East Coast and the northern Mid-West.
  • Plenty of water.
  • Plenty of electricity, and the ability to generate more
  • Good health care facilities in place
  • Good schools (though no major university)
  • Good, stable workforce
  • Plenty of recreational opportunities for families; interesting, historic locale with easy access to vacation and entertainment spots

The article goes on:

Where big towns fall short is population; they need to draw labor from rather broad areas of the surrounding countryside, perhaps as many as four or five counties large.

Batavia is certainly surrounded by rural counties with additional workers, but the close proximity of Buffalo and Rochester may also be an asset.  The idea of people commuting from those cities to work in Batavia might drive up transportation costs, but Batavia is close enough that it might not be a stretch to imagine people relocating to Genesee County. They would still be close to their friends and families in Rochester or Buffalo, but living in a great community. 

On the other hand, I imagine many people now living in Genesee County and commuting now to Rochester and Buffalo might welcome new job opportunities right in the middle of Batavia.

The biggest negatives facing Batavia, however, remain high taxes and a state government overzealous about regulation and red tape.

Still, with the proper planning and the right effort correctly applied, there's no reason that Batavia can't realize some significant economic growth over the next 10 years.

GCEDC informs council on planned ag park

By Howard B. Owens
May 27, 2008, 7:56pm

Steve Hyde  of Genesee County Economic Development Center presented an update on Agri Park development and tonight's council conference meeting.

The proposed ag park could be worth $1.4 billion to the local economy and create 1,100 jobs.

It will cover 200 to 300 acres near Oatka Milk in the Town of Batavia.

It will be the only ag industry focused part in the Northeast.

A Canadian company seems ready and serious to be the first tenant of the park, bringing 100 jobs and taking advantage of current monetary exchange rates.

"We’re not coming here today to ask for help, but to look for a partnership that says this benefits the people in the community," Hyde said.

Grants of $6 million are currently available to fund Phase I.


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