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Empire State Development honored as partner of year at GCEDC annual meeting

By Press Release
Empire State Development receiving an award from GCEDC for partner of the year.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Empire State Development receiving an award from GCEDC for partner of the year.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Press release:

At its annual meeting, the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) celebrated another successful year of economic development activity, including 11 projects that will generate up to $700 million in economic impact in Genesee County.

The gathering of over 230 stakeholders and partners was thanked for their role in growing Genesee County’s economy, including Friday’s announcement that Edwards Vacuum has started construction of a $319 million semiconductor dry pump manufacturing campus at the STAMP mega-site. 

The meeting also was a celebration of the service and leadership of Steve Hyde as President and CEO of the GCEDC, who announced Friday that would be retiring in July from the GCEDC after over 21 years as the organization’s professional leader.

“It’s always difficult to put into few words all of Steve’s achievements,” said GCEDC Board Chair Pete Zeliff. “Over 20 years as President and CEO, Steve and Genesee County have accomplished significant economic growth and prosperity of the community with all of these projects, investments and new jobs. It’s appropriate that the announcement of Steve’s retirement comes on top of the start of construction at STAMP of the Edwards Vacuum project as STAMP is the cornerstone of Steve’s vision for Genesee County as an advanced manufacturing hub.”

Following a video featuring well wishes from past board members, community leaders, and economic development partners, Hyde reflected on the support given in pursuing economic growth, led by the Genesee County Legislature, GCEDC board members, municipal and community leaders.

“That has been our ‘True North’ for over 20 years now - to build back manufacturing and create more and better jobs for our residents and children,” Hyde said. “Because of your support, we’ve developed and activated 8 shovel-ready industrial park sites. Existing businesses have expanded, and new businesses have chosen Genesee County. Thousands of youths have been guided through career-focused workforce programs.”

During Hyde’s tenure, the GCEDC has completed over 500 projects generating over $2.5 billion in investment, supporting thousands of careers both created and retained by businesses.

Empire State Development (ESD) was among the partners recognized at the annual meeting. It was named the GCEDC’s Economic Development Partner of Year. ESD Senior Vice President of Strategic Business Development/Global NY Jeff Janiszewski accepted the award and provided the event’s keynote address.

Mark Masse, GCEDC Senior Vice President, led the proceedings with remarks highlighting the successful projects underway in Genesee County. In addition to Edwards Vacuum’s construction, Genesee County in 2023 welcomed the announcement of a $120 million expansion by HP Hood at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, and completion of major distribution, healthcare, manufacturing, and equipment operations.

Masse also noted that National Grid completed a significant milestone to support STAMP’s current and future tenants by completing a powerline re-route that supports the first distribution line from the 600-MW substation being constructed at STAMP.

“It may sound like a broken record, but 2023 was another hugely successful year for our county and 2024 is already off to a strong start,” said Masse.

Hyde said the projects underway after years of development, planning, and implementation reminded him of a sentiment he has shared frequently during his time at the GCEDC, “economic development is a marathon, not a sprint.”

“I can see the finish line for me getting closer, but this is not the end of the race,” Hyde said. “It’s really the beginning. The assets for continued economic growth and success have been built. I hope that in years to come, we can look back at this moment as the humble start of something even greater.”

Peter Zeliff GCEDC board chair.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Peter Zeliff GCEDC board chair.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Steve Hyde recognized for 22 years of service with GCEDC.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Steve Hyde recognized for 21 years of service with GCEDC.  
is Photo by Steve Ognibene
Jeff Janiszewski, Empire State Development receving award.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Jeff Janiszewski, Empire State Development receving award.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Jeff Janiszewski, Keynote address  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Jeff Janiszewski, Keynote address  
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Hochul and Schumer announce the start of construction for Edwards Vacuum supply chain facility

By Press Release

Press Release:

Governor Kathy Hochul and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer today announced the start of construction on the first phase of the $319 million Edwards Vacuum dry pump manufacturing facility, located in the Genesee County town of Alabama. 

The British-based global leader in vacuum and abatement equipment for the semiconductor industry, part of the Atlas Copco Group, chose the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in Genesee County as the location for its new U.S. dry pump manufacturing facility. 

The technology produced at the new facility is a vital component to controlling the highly sensitive environment of semiconductor manufacturing processes. Edwards Vacuum's decision to invest in New York State followed the passage of the federal CHIPS and Science Act, New York’s Green CHIPS legislation, and the domestic semiconductor industry growth the complementary programs have spurred, including Micron's unprecedented $100 billion commitment to Central New York, which is expected to create nearly 50,000 jobs.

“As a Western New York native, I experienced the years of decline from the exodus of manufacturing from Upstate New York,” Governor Hochul said. “Those days are over. The start of construction on the newest Edwards Vacuum facility signals the beginning of a new chapter for both Western New York and the Finger Lakes regions.  Edwards’ choice to build in New York State brings hundreds of good paying jobs and millions of dollars in investment Upstate while helping strengthen our domestic semiconductor supply chain, shorten delivery times for suppliers like Micron, reduce carbon emissions, and bolster national security.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “Today is a great day for the Western New York and Finger Lakes region, with Edwards Vacuum breaking ground on its $300+ million manufacturing plant, which will create an estimated 600 good-paying jobs and boost New York’s already booming semiconductor supply chain. Thanks to my CHIPS & Science Act, which continues to deliver investment after investment for Upstate NY, we are adding another stop to our semiconductor superhighway along the booming I-90 corridor Tech Hub with Edwards Vacuum’s groundbreaking today. I pushed Edwards Vacuum to come to New York because I knew we had the resources, infrastructure, and most importantly, the world-class workforce, to host this major company right here in Genesee County. Edwards is a leading developer of some of the most cutting-edge dry pumps needed to bring the massive cleanrooms of chip manufacturing fabs to life, and with their investment, we are helping bring one of the most critical elements of the semiconductor supply chain to Upstate NY. This is yet another example of my CHIPS & Science Law bringing manufacturing back to America, especially Upstate NY, and is only the beginning of the next chapter in Upstate NY’s manufacturing renaissance.”

Construction on the $127 million first phase of Edwards Vacuum's 240,000 square-foot campus will include manufacturing, warehouse, and administration facilities, with a capacity to produce 10,000 dry pumps per year. The all-electric facility will strive for LEED certification, with a majority of the power generated via hydroelectricity.

Edwards’ commitment to build in the U.S. comes after significant investments by the Biden Administration to increase domestic chip manufacturing, and the passage of the federal CHIPS and Science Act and New York’s Green CHIPS legislation, as well as a growing need to support its customers in North America. Edwards dry pumps are currently manufactured in Asia. By bringing manufacturing to New York, Edwards customers – including Micron and GlobalFoundries in New York, and Intel in Ohio – will experience shorter wait times, improved responsiveness and reduced CO2 emissions from an American-made product. Edwards estimates that when phase one is operational, it will reduce CO2 emissions by 13,000 tons per year.

Empire State Development has awarded Edwards Vacuum up to $21 million through a combination of performance-based Excelsior Jobs Tax Credits and Investment Tax Credits in exchange for 600 jobs, and an additional $1 million to support workforce development efforts and the training of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Additionally, the New York Power Authority is supporting the project though a 4.9-megawatt (MW) low-cost Niagara hydropower allocation and a 2.1 MW of High Load Factor power allocation that NYPA will procure for Edwards on the energy market. Low-cost Niagara hydropower is available for companies within a 30-mile radius of the Power Authority's Niagara Power Project or businesses in Chautauqua County.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The start of construction for Edwards Vacuum’s new facility signals that hundreds of good jobs and millions of dollars in investments are headed to Upstate New York. We are well on our way to becoming a global hub for advanced manufacturing and building a strong semiconductor ecosystem in New York State.”

New York Power Authority President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, “By leveraging low-cost hydropower, NYPA plays a pivotal role in attracting manufacturers of advanced technologies to New York. Edwards will be a key supply chain partner in New York’s globally recognized semiconductor industry, and the firm’s expansion will stimulate the region’s economy—creating hundreds of jobs and spurring hundreds of millions in capital investments.”

Semiconductors, and their supply chain partners, are vital to the nation's economic strength, serving as the brains of modern electronics, and enabling technologies critical to U.S. economic growth, national security, and global competitiveness. The industry directly employs over 277,000 people in the U.S. and supports more than 1.8 million additional domestic jobs. Semiconductors are a top five U.S. export, and the industry is the number one contributor to labor productivity, supporting improvements to the effectiveness and efficiency of virtually every economic sector — from farming to manufacturing.

Governor Hochul has taken significant action to ensure that New York plays a vital role in the reshoring of the semiconductor industry including New York's nation-leading Green CHIPS program that is attracting top semiconductor manufacturing businesses to the state and securing commitments to good-paying jobs, sustainability, and community benefits. Additionally, Governor Hochul created the $200 FAST NY program in 2022 to support the preparation and development of sites across the state. This program was designed to jumpstart New York's shovel-readiness and increase its attractiveness to large employers, such as semiconductors and clean tech and high-tech manufacturing companies. Since the program’s inception, ESD has awarded $175 million to 20 sites across every upstate region, including the Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP), to develop more than 2,500 acres. Governor Hochul also created the Governor’s Office of Semiconductor Expansion, Management, and Integration (GO-SEMI), which leads statewide efforts to develop the chipmaking sector.

In the FY 2025 Enacted Budget, Governor Hochul doubled down on her commitment to establish New York as a global hub for semiconductor research and manufacturing, including:

$100 million in funding for additional rounds of the FAST NY program.

$500 million for NY CREATES’ Albany Nanotech Complex – with a total State investment of $1 billion – to jumpstart a $10 billion partnership that will bring the future of advanced semiconductor research to New York’s Capital Region by creating the nation’s first and only publicly owned High NA EUV Lithography Center.

$200 million to establish One Network for Regional Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships (ON-RAMP) – a network of four new workforce development centers to prepare New Yorkers for the jobs of the future created by companies like Micron and Edwards Vacuum.

The bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act creates an Investment Tax Credit for semiconductor manufacturing facilities and supply chain partners such as Edwards Vacuum as well as a first-of-its-kind $52 billion in federal incentives, which Edwards is pursuing, to spur American semiconductor research, development, manufacturing, and workforce training to bring good-paying jobs back from overseas, strengthen national security, and reestablish America's technological leadership. The bill requires recipients of these incentives to make significant worker and community investments that support broad-based economic growth.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward

Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive strategy to generate  robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture‎ and food production, and advanced manufacturing. More information is available here.​

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “I am thrilled to see the start of construction on the Edwards Vacuum facility in Genesee County, which will create hundreds of good-paying jobs and grow the economies of both Western New York and the Finger Lakes. The construction of the Edwards Vacuum facility is just the beginning as New York continues to grow as a global leader in semiconductor manufacturing. I’m proud to have fought to pass the CHIPS and Science Act that helped lay the groundwork for companies like Edwards Vacuum to expand in New York, and I look forward to seeing the growth this facility brings to the region for years to come.”

Representative Joe Morelle said, “This exciting announcement is further proof of our region’s leadership in the global semiconductor industry. Not only will construction of Edwards Vacuum strengthen our supply chain and create good-paying job opportunities, it will also grow our economy and enhance our competitiveness on the world stage. I’m proud to have helped facilitate investments like this by passing the CHIPS and Science Act, and I look forward to continuing our work to cement our position as a center of innovation.”

State Senator George M. Borrello said, “This groundbreaking of Edward’s Vacuum and the investment, jobs and economic growth that will follow it will usher in a new chapter for Genesee County and strengthen its growing status as a hub for tech manufacturing. The path to this landmark moment was fueled by a grand vision for the STAMP site and years of planning, funding and hard work. Driving it forward all along was the conviction that this region and its world class workforce had the ingredients for success. The collaboration of dedicated local, state and federal partners brought us to this historic achievement and reflect our shared commitment to upstate’s resurgence. The future is limitless.”

Assemblymember Steven Hawley said, “I’m proud to see the announcement today that Edward’s Vacuum is starting construction at the STAMP mega-site. The 139th Assembly District has always been a hub of innovation and it's only fitting that it will be at the center of New York’s emerging semiconductor industry. This project is another step in the right direction toward growing the local economy, creating good-paying jobs and making New York a leader in this sector.”

Genesee County Legislature Chair Shelley Stein said, “Today’s announcement is reaffirmation of the positive attributes of Genesee County in bringing a company with the stature of Edwards Vacuum to the STAMP mega-site. Our community can be proud to be part of the growing semiconductor industry not only in New York State but across the nation and world. Genesee County’s location, people, and infrastructure make STAMP the ideal place for future industry growth here. We look forward to Edwards Vacuum’s continued success.”

Town of Alabama Supervisor Rob Crossen said, “We congratulate Edwards Vacuum on the start of construction at the STAMP mega-site. This latest milestone in the development of STAMP continues the realization of our shared vision for investments that improve the economy, attract good paying jobs, and enhance our community.”

GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde said, “As we work to grow our economy and deliver family-sustaining careers at the STAMP mega-site, having partners like Edwards Vacuum, Senator Schumer, and Governor Hochul is gratifying. The start of construction for this critical semiconductor industry project demonstrates the impact that STAMP provides in our shared state and federal vision to grow semiconductor and related advanced manufacturing sectors.”

Greater Rochester Enterprise President and CEO Matt Hurlbutt said, “Top-tier talent, world-class R&D resources, access to low-cost hydropower, and the premier infrastructure available at the STAMP mega site are some of the assets that made the Greater Rochester, NY region the right place for Edwards' expansion. We celebrate Edwards' groundbreaking at STAMP and the significant partnership Greater Rochester Enterprise (GRE) has formed with Edwards leaders and our regional economic development partners to reach this milestone in the company's expansion plans. GRE will continue to support Edwards by facilitating connections between the company's leaders and key stakeholders from business, community, and academia. This collaborative effort is aimed at ensuring a successful launch and further enhancing the ties between Edwards, the community, and the region's thriving advanced manufacturing and semiconductor sectors. We look forward to the positive impact this expansion will have on the Greater Rochester, NY region.”

Phase One Renderings Available Here.

GCEDC announces changes to sewer line plans for WNY STAMP

By Press Release

Press release:

“The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) is pleased to announce that we are working closely with the towns of Oakfield and Alabama, along with the village of Oakfield and regulatory agencies, to construct a force main to accommodate the current projects at STAMP and a potential future project.

“This project would result in capital improvements to the Village of Oakfield wastewater treatment plant, including the installation of equipment to reduce the current phosphorus discharge into Oak Orchard Creek.

“As the Oakfield line cannot fully replace the Orleans County line, we will continue to pursue the force main to Oak Orchard Creek in the town of Shelby through a different construction method, and we look forward to working with the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Tonawanda Seneca Nation as this process moves forward. The Oakfield plan alleviates the timing pressures for the build-out of the force main to Oak Orchard Creek.

“As a result of being recently notified by the USFWS that our permit for horizontal directional drilling for the force main to Oak Orchard Creek in the town of Shelby has been terminated, we are in the process of submitting a new permit application to propose an open cut construction method which will avoid the types of incidents that resulted from the former method.

“The determination by USFWS is unrelated to claims made by Orleans County regarding the force main to Oak Orchard Creek.  Those claims brought by Orleans County were recently dismissed by the State Supreme Court following an Article 78 hearing.”

Empire State Development to receive partner of the year award at GCEDC annual meeting

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) has announced that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) will receive its Economic Development Partner of the Year award at the GCEDC’s annual meeting.

“In just the last few years, Genesee County has experienced some of the largest economic development projects in our history, including over $1 billion in investment at the Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) by Plug Power and Edwards Vacuum as well as the recent expansion announced by HP Hood in the Genesee Agri-Business Park,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde. 

“This is a long-deserved recognition and one we are proud to make because, with the collaboration and partnership of ESD, these and many other projects have brought great careers and investments to Genesee County.” 

Jeff Janiszewski, ESD Senior Vice President, Strategic Business Development/Global NY, will accept the award as well as provide the keynote address.

“Under the leadership of New York Governor Kathy Hochul and ESD President and CEO Hope Knight we are proud of our work in using our resources to bring private sector investment and jobs to the Rochester and Finger Lakes region, including Genesee County and in particular at STAMP,” said Janiszewski. 

“I look forward to speaking to the attendees at the GCEDC Annual Meeting about our strategic approach not only regarding our investment decisions in Genesee County but in counties, cities, towns, and villages across New York State.”

The annual meeting will be held on Friday, April 26 at Batavia Downs. Approximately 250 business, government, community, and economic development leaders are expected to attend. To register for the GCEDC annual meeting, visit the event’s website or contact the GCEDC at

GCEDC board approves Craft Cannery expansion

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) board of directors approved a final resolution for LNK Holdings Inc./Craft Cannery’s expansion of its contract manufacturing facility in the town of Bergen at its board meeting on Thursday, March 28.

The proposed $1.465 million project enables Craft Cannery to expand operations at Apple Tree Acres by adding 4,000 sq. ft. to its existing 5,000 sq. ft. facility. The USDA-certified contract manufacturer provides dozens of customers with the capacity to ramp production of sauces, dressings, marinades, and other foods, produce small-batch foods, and pilot unique recipes for commercialization.

“The agribusiness industry continues to propel our region’s economy, having a successful and growing food and beverage cluster from Bergen to Pembroke represents the type of investments that have made Genesee County a destination for the private sector,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde.

The expansion will create 4 new full-time jobs and retain 6 full-time positions. Craft Cannery previously won a $500,000 grant at the 2022 Grow-NY Global Food and Agribusiness Competition that supports the expansion.

The company has requested payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), sales, and mortgage tax exemptions valued at $72,496 to support the expansion. The proposed incentives for the additional 4,000 sq. ft. are estimated to return $3.06 million in projected wages and municipal revenues. The project would generate a $62 economic impact for every $1 of requested incentives.

The GCEDC board also approved a final resolution from LeatherLeaf Solar LLC for a 5 MW community solar farm in the town of Byron. The $9 million project is projected to generate $4,000/megawatts (AC) annually + a 2% annual escalator of revenues to Genesee County and Byron-Bergen Central School District, along with a host agreement with the Town of Byron. 

Coach's Column: let’s put the spotlight on women this March

By Chris Suozzi
Submitted photo from Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program.

March Madness brings out the best of college basketball players across the country. The emotions and exuberant atmosphere generated by fans and athletes are unmatched.

From a workforce development perspective, the GLOW region’s version of March Madness offers the same competitive, robust, and exhilarating atmosphere that hundreds of student-athletes will shortly embark upon.

Two themes that intertwine in the realms of workforce development and athletics are the inspirational narratives that haven’t always been given the spotlight. I’m excited that Caitlin Clark’s record-breaking performances at Iowa are getting the attention it deserves - and I’m working to ensure that the young women ready for tech careers get the same attention. 

Like Caitlin, the young leaders stepping up in workforce training and manufacturing are a small portion of the women who can play integral roles. If our region is going to successfully meet the workplace demands of existing and new and emerging companies, then there is going to be a need for a diverse workforce, particularly among women.

Future Genesee County employer and semiconductor manufacturer Edwards has recognized the importance of having a diversified workforce as the industry-leading company has set a goal for 30% of their employees to be female by 2030.

The team overseeing Edwards Genesee, and our existing base of manufacturers, is striving to these goals by promoting positive awareness through our work with schools and colleges, encouraging aspiring female engineers, technicians, managers, and apprentices.

“Our goal is to be as diverse as possible… You want to have that mix of ideas and backgrounds - that’s how you get the best results,” Jeff Mickel, Edwards’ project manager shared recently on a tour of GCC’s training facilities.

Our workforce development blueprint was designed to introduce our students to in-demand, family-sustaining careers, and we look forward to working with our employers in their efforts to recruit individuals from various backgrounds.

We have two great opportunities to do that!

The GLOW region’s March Madness kicks off with STEAM Jam and Tech Wars, where elementary, middle, and high school students showcase their technical skills at Genesee Community College.

At STEAM Jam, over 100 3rd – 5th-grade students will participate in hands-on activities and show them the opportunity to turn these skills into a potential career once they are older and ready to join the workforce.

Later in the day, the 15th annual Tech Wars will take place where GLOW region middle and high school students showcase their technical expertise through innovative technology competitions.

To further educate students in attendance, New York State’s leading mechatronics program housed at the Genesee Valley BOCES will be in attendance to inform students about the career opportunities and training available for careers that use the same skills being utilized at STEAM Jam and Tech Wars.

Stay tuned to find out what schools and individuals will end up in the winner’s circle on Thursday, March 21!

Rounding out our March Madness is the second annual GLOW With Your Hands Healthcare. This is a great program offering hands-on displays and presentations to over 600 students from 28 GLOW region schools.

While this edition of GLOW With Your Hands aims to introduce students to careers in the healthcare sector, I always advise students that these skills can take them to any career. We have one of the most prepared and educated workforces in the country and we can’t close any doors to a career change - after all, a versatile skillset is what set up Cailtin Clark’s scoring record on the court!

Whether you are a student, parent, teacher, or guidance counselor contact me at to learn more about the opportunities available.

Chris Suozzi is the Vice President of Business & Workforce Development and the Co-Founder of GLOW With Your Hands.

Submitted photo from Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Bootcamp.
Submitted photo from GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare.
Submitted photo from GLOW With Your Hands: Manufacturing.

HP Hood $120M expansion moves ahead with the support of GCEDC

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors approved a final resolution for HP Hood’s $120 million proposed expansion project at its meeting on Thursday, March 7.

The 32,500 sq. ft. expansion project pledges to create 48 new jobs while retaining 455 FTEs adding to 1,000+ professionals in the food processing industry and cluster with over 1.2 million sq. ft. of food and beverage facilities at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. 

“The dairy hub of the northeast at the Genesee Valley Agribusiness Park has built itself upon the qualities of our workforce, our dedicated farming families, and our strategic location close to major consumers,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde. 

“The economic infrastructure generated by shovel-ready sites and workforce development programs has set up HP Hood and our robust food and beverage industry for sustained success.”

HP Hood’s expansion accommodates its automatic storage and retrieval system (ASRS) refrigerated warehouse. The project will also include new batching and processing systems and other upgrades which will allow the company to increase capacity and begin a new production line.

“The addition of another generational investment will result in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park delivering more benefits to our community and agricultural sector,” added Hyde. 

Genesee County’s shovel-ready sites have been designed and strategically located at key transportation routes with access to population centers across the Northeast and Midwest and infrastructure corridors, including access to low-cost hydropower.

HP Hood’s investment is projected to result in a local economic impact of $49.87 million in wages and tax revenue. The GCEDC approved sales tax exemptions estimated at $4.52 million, a property tax abatement estimated at $549,705 based on an incremental increase in assessed value, and a mortgage tax exemption estimated at $536,000 bringing the value of the proposed financial agreements to approximately $5.6 million. For every $1 of public benefit, HP Hood is investing $16 into the local economy.

Orleans County lawsuit aimed at stopping WNY STAMP pipeline dismissed over 8-year delay in objecting

By Tom Rivers
sewer stamp
A sewer line is shown on Aug. 12 on Route 63 in the Town of Alabama. Genesee County Economic Development Center is trying to install the sewer main along 9.5 miles of Route 63 – from the STAMP site to Oak Orchard Creek. Construction was halted before the sewer line made it to Orleans after a lawsuit was filed.
Photo by Tom Rivers.

A State Supreme Court justice on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit and temporary injunction against the construction of a nearly 10-mile-long sewer main from the STAMP manufacturing site in the town of Alabama along Route 63 to Oak Orchard Creek in the town of Shelby.

Judge Frank Caruso ruled in favor of the Genesee County Economic Development Center. GCEDC argued that Orleans County had 23 chances to state its objection to the sewer main since 2016 but waited until construction started to voice its opposition.

Judge Caruso cited the legal argument of “laches,” where there is a lack of diligence in making a legal claim. Attorneys for GCEDC argued in court that waiting until construction commenced on the project should be considered an unreasonable delay.

The judge also ruled in favor of GCEDC due to a statute of limitations. He made his decision from the bench in court today, following about an hour of arguments in the main courtroom of the county courthouse. He will also issue a written decision.

Orleans County officials say the county will appeal the decision and has other court options to try to halt the project.

“The fight here is not over,” said Alex Eaton, an attorney for the Orleans County Legislature. “We have several more paths to prevent Orleans County from becoming a dumping ground for STAMP sewer discharges.”

The county also has a lawsuit to be heard in April about GCEDC using eminent domain to take easements in Orleans County. The attorneys for Orleans said another county’s IDA can’t do eminent domain in another county.

Orleans also supports the Tonawanda Seneca Nation in its litigation against several federal entities regarding the permitting of the sewer pipeline.

“Orleans County leadership remains steadfast in our opposition to anything that puts Oak Orchard Creek in jeopardy,” Eaton, an attorney with Lippes Mathias, said in a statement released from the County Legislature. “The county and its residents rely on the creek for water, recreation and tourism, and that is why we will continue to protect the interests of our community.   Again, while we are disappointed in today’s result, there is a long way to go before this issue is settled.”

Orleans County filed its lawsuit on Sept. 11, naming GCEDC, G. DeVincentis & Son Construction Co., Inc., Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation, and STAMP Sewer Works, Inc.

Matthew J. Fitzgerald and James O’Connor of Phillips Lytle LLP appeared in court today on behalf of GCEDC. They contended that the sewer main underwent a rigorous environmental review of 9,200-plus pages and was ultimately approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The attorneys said those agencies found no evidence of harm to Oak Orchard Creek or the community.

The sewer main would allow businesses at the 1,250-acre STAMP to discharge treated sewer water into the Oak Orchard. At STAMP’s peak, the sewer main could discharge up to 6 million gallons daily in the Oak Orchard. The sewer main is imperative for economic development at the site.

“STAMP does not survive without somewhere to discharge the treated sanitary water,” Fitzgerald said in court today.

Fitzgerald said the four-month statute of limitations passed after Orleans filed the Article 78 proceeding on Sept. 11, and the county failed to notify other parties that would be hurt if the lawsuit successfully halted the sewer main.

He said property owners who paid for easements for the temporary construction could lose out on payments. The Town of Alabama would miss out on 100,000 gallons of sewer capacity, and Niagara County Water District would miss out on selling water to the STAMP site. Orleans didn’t factor in those impacts in the lawsuit, Fitzgerald said.

The crux of the case, he said, was the contention that Orleans never gave its support for economic development from another county. But he said Orleans officials were notified in 2016, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 to voice any concerns over STAMP, and GCEDC served as the lead agency.

“The response was silence,” Fitzgerald said. “They slept on their rights for approximately eight years. They could have objected.”

He said STAMP has about $100 million in public funds committed to developing the site so far, and about $1 billion has already been spent or committed in private investment.

Orleans' attorneys contend that Genesee County used its money through its industrial development agency to fund the sewer main and pursue eminent domain in another county, powers that an IDA does not have.

Jennifer Persico, an attorney with Lippes Mathias representing Orleans, said the STAMP sewer project clearly used Genesee County funds to move the project into Orleans County.

The GCEDC attorneys said the project was funded through state grants and wasn’t actually GCEDC money.

The town of Shelby also joined Orleans in the lawsuit. The Shelby attorney, Jeffrey Allen, said Shelby supports the efforts of Orleans County to halt the pipeline before it gets into Orleans. He said there are many violations of general municipal law related to the project.

Shelby previously supported the project, but he said that was a statement considering its environmental impacts.

“The consent was not that they could run roughshod over the autonomy of Orleans County,” Allen said in court.

Eaton, an attorney for Orleans County, said the case could be a landmark for the state. He said the courts should protect smaller neighboring counties from being forced to take on negative impacts from another county’s economic development efforts.

“This would be one of the biggest expansions of IDA power in New York State,” Eaton said.

Tom Rivers is editor

GCEDC board to consider assistance for HP Hood 32,500 square foot expansion

By Press Release
hp hood
H.P. Hood plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, Batavia.
FIle photo by Howard Owens.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider a final resolution for HP Hood’s $120 million proposed expansion project at its meeting on Thursday, March 7.

Announced by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul last fall, HP Hood plans to expand its footprint at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. The project includes the construction of a 32,500 square foot expansion to accommodate its automatic storage and retrieval system (ASRS) refrigerated warehouse.  The project will also include new batching and processing systems and other upgrades, allowing the company to increase capacity and begin a new production line. 

“The agricultural sector is a backbone of our regional and state economy, as evidenced by the significant investment and jobs provided by companies such as HP Hood, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, and O-AT-KA Milk Products, among many others,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde. The sector's growth here is the result of the Genesee Agri-Business Park, which was constructed in 2011 and is now almost at full build-out.”

The expansion would create 48 new jobs while retaining 455 full-time positions as part of the company’s 1,200 employees throughout New York State. Investments at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park have resulted in a cluster with over 1.2 million sq. ft. of food and beverage facilities employing over 1,000 professionals in the food processing industry, the leading employment sector in Genesee County and GLOW region.

Site Selection Magazine again recognizes Genesee County for economic growth

By Press Release

Press Release:

Continuing two decades as a top micropolitan area for business success, Genesee County was recognized today by Site Selection Magazine for being in the top one percent of peer communities for attracting corporate investments over the past 20 years.

In 2023, projects placed the Batavia-Genesee County Micropolitan Area as 16th in the nation among micropolitan communities of 10,000 to 50,000 residents in the Site Selection’s Conway Projects Database.

Site Selection’s Annual Governor’s Cup rankings focus on new corporate facility projects resulting in significant economic impact, including headquarters, manufacturing plants, R&D operations, and logistics sites. Qualifying projects must either have a capital investment of over $1 million, create 20 or more new jobs, or add at least 20,000 square feet of new floor area.

“Site Selection’s annual rankings have shown the success of Genesee County’s development strategy and our focus on delivering industry-ready workforce, infrastructure, and sites,” said Steve Hyde, President and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center. “As we pursue a season of implementation to support business growth, this year’s honor highlights the unique benefits that micropolitan communities generate for economic development projects.”

The Batavia-Genesee County Micropolitan Area has been ranked as a Top 20 Micropolitan Area for 20 consecutive years, including 11 years with a top-five ranking. Genesee County has welcomed over $2 billion of committed investment over this period.

Genesee County Legislature Chair Shelley Stein cited the development of the STAMP Mega-Site, Genesee Valley Agribusiness Park, and robust business attraction expansions in the advanced manufacturing, food and beverage manufacturing, and semiconductor industries as major achievements of the past 20 years.

“With long-term GCEDC investments, focused on high-quality careers for our residents and families, Genesee County’s strategy is a winning formula, as proven by our consistent national rankings,” Stein said.

Coach's Corner: STEM after school programs blossom in 3D

By Chris Suozzi
chris suozzi coaches corner

Changes in technology, from AI to computer-driven manufacturing, are at the forefront of all aspects of our everyday lives.

As we learn more about these tools, we must use them to our advantage and adapt. That’s what all great coaches, teachers, and learners do.

You wouldn’t catch me dead rooting for Bill Belichick, but now that he’s gone from the AFC East, I’m okay saying that he showed us how to do it right.

As coaches and parents, we have to adapt our strategy in our “off-seasons,” no matter how successful we were the previous year. Bring in new concepts, lift up new talents, and find every advantage we can.

And for parents with students in the third grade and higher, there is an advantage your kids can access right now!

Did you know kids are already learning Industry 4.0 concepts, troubleshooting, operational efficiency and creative thinking through 3-D printing - and doing it at Robert Morris?

The Batavia Tech Club offers short-session programs with instruction and application through hands-on interactions with emerging technologies.

I’ve seen Jim Dillon grow this idea, constantly making adjustments to equip more students with the skills that will make them the best learners and future leaders.

Jim leads classes in 3D printing, 3D design, micro-controller coding, cloud-based collaboration, CNC laser cutting, and other cutting-edge technology-related skills that are essential to today’s workplace.

His focus is on age-appropriate learning. This week’s programs were for 3rd through 8th graders, and next week’s are for 3rd through 5th graders.

On Tuesday, I joined Jim and his students as they toured a classroom filled with 3-D printers and Arduino controls. It buzzed with activity. To see the instant gratification of making something was great, but seeing students gain an understanding of how equipment works was even better.

Putting these types of technologies in their hands pushes young learners outside of their comfort zones.

This is how you grow and develop interests you may have never been aware of.

In workforce development, we make improvements every year. We tailor our programs to the economic demands and interests expressed by workforce candidates.  That’s how to do it right.

The good news is that our kids have already taken those steps. Even if they don’t realize it, each new challenge they take on gives them more flexibility in the future.

We have to show them the way and highlight what’s available. While our big events like GLOW With Your Hands are popular, a lot is happening just out of sight.

The Batavia Tech Club is a great example.

We need to continue to equip the next generation of skilled workers with youth workforce programs that are building the pipeline for the growing private sector across our region. Why not expand their minds with the latest technologies being taught by the Batavia Tech Club?

If you’re interested in getting involved with the Batavia Tech Club, please contact Jim Dillon at or (585) 297-7779.

Chris Suozzi is the Vice President of Business &Workforce Development at the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

'First-round draft picks' celebrated on signing day for apprenticeships at local companies

By Steve Ognibene
Students from all over the Genesee Region in attendance of signing day.  Photo by Steve Ognibene.
Students from all over the Genesee Region in attendance of signing day Tuesday.
Photo by Steve Ognibene

The students matched with apprenticeship programs from local companies are all "first-round draft picks," said Chris Souzzi, VP of business and workforce development for the Genesee County Economic Development Center, on Tuesday at a signing celebration.

The event was held at the Best Center on the campus of Genesee Community College to celebrate high school juniors and seniors participating in the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeships Program.

The participants are first-round picks, Souzzi said, "because they really are great prospects for our future."

Juniors in the program engage in job shadows, and seniors are eligible for paid co-op apprenticeships with participating companies.

Matches were announced Tuesday for more than 30 students and 10 companies from the region.

“The Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program is proud to connect students from the Batavia BOCES’ electro-mechanical and metal trades programs to advanced manufacturing companies for paid co-ops and job shadows,” said Rich Turner, RTMA Director of Workforce Development. “Through FLYAP, high school juniors and seniors are receiving real on-the-job experience paired with state-of-the-art classroom training which prepares them for in-demand careers in advanced manufacturing.”

The Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program was created in 2018 by the Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association (RTMA) in partnership with Monroe Community College (MCC). The program is the first of its kind in New York State and is supported by the RTMA, MCC, RG&E Foundation and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. The Genesee County Economic Development Center is also a FLYAP Gold Sponsor and assists the program with business recruitment.

In its fifth school year, FLYAP has connected more than 650 students to nearly 150 businesses throughout the greater Rochester and Finger Lakes region.  FLYAP students have also received credit for more than 500 college classes at no cost to them, their schools or their families.

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

Emma Spink of Attica  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Emma Spink of Attica.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Easton Willis of Oakfield Alabama with Oxbo representative.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Notre Dame
Brody Warner of Notre-Dame Batavia with representative Gorbel.   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Brody Warner of Notre Dame Batavia with Gorbel representative.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Jaxson Delpriore of LeRoy with McCabe Electric representative   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Jaxson Delpriore of LeRoy with McCabe Electric representative.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Hayman Hendrik to be signed for Protech   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Hayman Hendrik to be signed for Protech. 
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Representatives from various job placement sites in Genesee County   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Representatives from various job placement sites in Genesee County.   
Photo by Steve Ognibene

GCEDC consultant mapping out career paths with local businesses for area students

By Howard B. Owens
Shelia Eigenbrod gcedc
Shelia Eigenbrod, education consultant for GCEDC, making a presentation to the GCEDC board of directors on Thursday.
Photo by Howard Owens.

When you're charting a new path, you need a roadmap, and Shelia Eigenbrod, a year into her new job with the Genesee County Economic Development Center, has exactly that in mind.

The map would help inform high school students about career opportunities in Genesee County and what it might take to land the jobs that will put them on a path to a good salary with no college debt.

Eigenbrod, a retired Pavilion Middle School principal, is GCEDC's education consultant.

She told The Batavian after a GCEDC board of directors meeting on Thursday that her roadmap project is "very exciting."

"It's like a typical old-school map," Eigenbrod said. "It unfolds. It will contain all of the industries in Genesee County, especially those focused on advanced manufacturing. It'll designate the types of hires, whether it's engineers, skilled trades, technicians, or apprenticeship programs, and will have a lot of descriptions so that students and school counselors understand what mechatronics is, what CNC is, what advanced manufacturing is, and will also connect to workforce development."

The roadmap was the focus of her presentation on Thursday to the GCEDC board.

"This is something that is meant to be attractive to and understandable for all the guidance counselors and school officials," Eigenbrod said. "It's also something easier to hand out to students. I know we're going to compete with a lot of college materials, the mountain of stuff every graduating senior gets, but really, the message here is all the great careers we have in our community that are, no doubt, we have training programs already set up in our BOCES (and at Genesee Community College)."

She expects the map to be a nice handout at school open houses, parent meetings, and career fairs.

"We've identified a lot of the companies in Genesee County," Eigenbrod said. "We're going to have descriptors of what the company produces, their type of workforce, number of people if they're intending to hire, and if they are looking for apprenticeships, skilled trades, engineers, and technicians."

In response to board questions, she said she also expects to include information on local businesses in need of back-office help, such as accountants and other financial workers.

The map will point students to resources for training for the type of jobs available.

"I really want educators to understand what is going on, and these career pathways," she said.

Job fair focused on trades give seniors a chance to talk with employers, learn more about careers

By Howard B. Owens
boces job fair

Getting time to meet and talk with the people who hire workers at local companies is a valuable experience for soon-to-graduate seniors, said Chris Suozzi, VP of business development at the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Suozzi and Karyn Winters, director of the Genesee County Business/Education Alliance, put together a job fair for graduating seniors from the region and local businesses at BOCES on Friday.

 The job fair was open to both BOCES seniors and non-BOCES students.

"We're excited that the companies are here, meeting, and trying to recruit the seniors who are going to be graduating here shortly," Suozzi said. "As we all know, everybody needs workforce."

The event is a chance for high school students to practice interview skills as well as learn about employment opportunities in Genesee County.

"A lot of them, as you know, may not have a job yet," Suozzi said. "They don't even have a part-time job. So they use so soft skills today, where their eye to eye with a company."

Photos by Howard Owens.

boces job fair
boces job fair
boces job fair
boces job fair
boces job fair

Coach's Corner: with workforce programs, you control your destiny

By Chris Suozzi
Photo of "Mechatronics Lab" courtesy of GCEDC. It shows a student in the 2023 Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Bootcamp using the mechatronics equipment that youth apprentices train with at the Batavia Career & Technical Education Center.

The end of the NFL regular season brings words that I like to put into practice as an economic and workforce professional. None is better than the cliché than a team is “controlling its own destiny.” 

It’s a reward and a challenge.

You’ve earned that control by outperforming your peers. You need to keep winning, and the next step of your journey is assured.

That’s also what makes this part of our workforce development calendar so energizing. Youth apprenticeships reward our most engaged students by giving them their pick of career opportunities.

Just ask Bailey Burdett, a current HP Hood technician and former Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program electro-mechanical technician graduate who has earned significant hours of related training and instruction that is applied to his apprenticeship coursework.

And although he needs to complete four years of on-the-job experience, he only needs to take four more classes during his apprenticeship to become a Journey Worker electro-mechanical technician.

Similar to players emerging as key playoff contributors, Bailey is getting his reps in as he grows, and the best part is that like NFL practice squad players, he and others in apprenticeship programs still get paid on the way to the big time.

Students can join the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program during their junior year of high school where they will job shadow at various employers throughout the region including Tambe Electric, Oxbo, Nortera and others.

This is where students observe the type of work that is performed daily, taking in the bustling and robust atmosphere of the advanced manufacturing industry. 

It’s like you’re the rookie who was just drafted and are trying to find your way in the professional world. You get to take in practice and have an older veteran take you under their wing. This process is all about asking questions and figuring out where you fit in. Taking this portion of the job seriously is essential if you want to succeed in this evolving industry.

The real fun begins after your job shadow.

In your senior year, after you receive in-class instruction using state-of-the-art mechatronics equipment at Genesee Valley BOCES in the morning, you will go to your designated employer to receive paid on-the-job training.

This is your time to shine! You get to showcase everything you learned the past year and prove to your peers and teammates why you belong in your industry.

After the youth apprenticeship program, you will have received up to 288 hours of training, equivalent to two years of apprenticeship-related training and instruction.

You’ll be well on your way to completing your apprenticeship hours required to work as a technician, and getting a head start against the competition.

Be like Bailey and the dozens of graduates that have completed these programs. Take your career into your own hands!

Coach SwazZ is ready to help, to answer your questions, and to make a connection for you. Contact me at 585-343-4866 or

GCEDC board to consider assistance for $15 million apartment complex at Medtech

By Howard B. Owens
Countryside Apartments MedTech GCC
File photo by Howard Owens.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) board of directors will consider an initial resolution for a proposed market-rate housing development on MedTech Drive in the town of Batavia at its board meeting on Thursday, Jan. 11.

MedTech Landing LLC plans to invest $15 million to construct 100,000 sq. ft. of apartment buildings totaling 80 units. The project is comprised of five buildings with a dozen one-, two-, and three-bedroom units and one 8-unit building, along with 6 six-car garages. 

The project aligns with the GCEDC’s Housing Policy #1 and a recognized need for housing availability. The Genesee County Housing Needs Assessment identified in 2018 that 4,800 units were needed in the next 20 years across single-family homes and rental units.

MedTech Landing LLC is seeking a sales tax exemption estimated at $720,000, a property tax abatement of approximately $3,031,048, and a mortgage tax exemption of $120,000.  It is estimated that $12 of economic impact will be generated for every one dollar of public sector investment.

The project would also generate up to one million dollars over 20 years that will be dedicated towards the Batavia Home Fund (BHF) which was created to address shared housing goals and establish methods to fund beneficial activities to enhance the area’s housing stock.  The BHF is a collaboration between the Town and City of Batavia and the GCEDC.  

“As we all know, there is a housing crisis across New York State, and resolving it requires innovation and collaboration, and BHF is a unique way for our community to address our housing needs,” said Batavia City Manager Rachael Tabelski. “As we continue to revitalize our downtown core and infill areas adjacent to the town of Batavia, we are confident that the BHF will encourage developers and homebuilders across the region to invest here.”The Batavia Home Fund is being supported by host benefit agreements with developers and homebuilders for future multi-family housing projects in the City and Town. Projects will be considered by a committee of City, Town and GCEDC officials to determine how funds raised will be utilized.

“As the agricultural, commercial, and industrial sectors continue to grow in the Town and surrounding communities, it’s important that the workforce needed to fill these jobs have good housing options like the ones that MedTech Landing will provide,” said Town of Batavia Supervisor Greg Post. “An important component of this effort is refurbishing and rehabilitating existing housing structures, and this development will contribute to that effort through the BHF.” 

If MedTech Landing LLC’s application is accepted, a public hearing will be scheduled on the proposed agreement in the town of Batavia.

The Jan. 11 GCEDC board meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at the MedTech Center’s Innovation Zone, 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia. Meeting materials and links to a live stream/on-demand recording of the meeting are available at

Previously: Apartment complex with 80 units proposed across the road from GCC

Graham Corporation $13.9M expansion advanced by GCEDC board

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) board of directors advanced an initial resolution for Graham Corporation’s proposed new commercial production facility at the agency’s board meeting on Thursday, December 7th, 2023.

Graham Corporation is a global leader in the design and manufacture of mission critical fluid, power, heat transfer, and vacuum technologies for the defense, space, energy, and process industries. The project will add to the company’s existing location in the city of Batavia where it has been headquartered since 1942.

The $13.9 million proposed investment includes the construction of an 18,900 sq. ft. expansion intended to reduce design and manufacturing costs and improve shipping capabilities for the organization’s US defense sector. The project will create 24 new full-time equivalent (FTE) positions while retaining 340 FTEs.

Graham Corporation is seeking sales tax exemptions estimated at $206,400 and a property tax abatement estimated at $197,826 based on an incremental increase in assessed value totaling the proposed financial agreements to approximately $404,226. For every $1 of public benefit, Graham is investing $68 into the local economy resulting in a local economic impact of $19.44 million in future wages and tax revenue.

A public hearing for the proposed project agreements will be scheduled in the city of Batavia.

Seneca Nation sues Wildlife Service over approval of STAMP pipeline

By Howard B. Owens

Asserting rights over the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, the Tonawanda Seneca Nation has filed a lawsuit against the federal government in U.S. District Court over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s approval of a right of way for an industrial wastewater pipeline through the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

The lawsuit asserts that the Nation has standing to sue because the refuge is historically and culturally interrelated with the Nation's ancestral territory, even though it is outside the boundaries of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation. 

The pipeline, which received approval from both the Fish and Wildlife Service and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, is intended to move wastewater from WNY STAMP in the Town of Alabama to the north. 

Orleans County, despite previous approvals within its jurisdiction, has also sued to stop the pipeline.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center, developers of STAMP, are not named in the Nation's lawsuit.

An official with GCEDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Nation is claiming that the pipeline approval violates the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.

The pipeline is not compatible, under terms of the law, with the purpose of the refuge, the suit claims.

The suit asserts that the Wildlife Service violated these laws granting approval for construction of the pipeline and seeks injunctive relief, which would mean stopping further construction of the forced main.

"Consultation with an Indian Nation must occur regarding sites with 'religious and cultural significance' that are off tribal lands, and federal regulations instruct agencies to consider that historic properties of religious and cultural significance are often located on ancestral or ceded lands," the suit claims.

NOTE: The lawsuit is 82 pages long. This story is a summary of key points of the suit. To read the full document, click here (pdf)

The Nation claims that a 19,000-acre area that includes the Refuge, the Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area, the John White Wildlife Management Area and the Tonawanda Seneca Nation Reservation Territory from the Tonawanda Iroquois Oak Orchard Wetlands Complex, an area the nation is claiming is important to the Senecas for cultural and historic purposes.

"This relatively undeveloped corridor protects the culturally significant plants, animals, land, and water resources that are essential to Tonawanda Seneca traditional cultural practices and beliefs," the suit states.

The suit asserts the Nation wasn't afforded its right, under Federal law, to participate in the pipeline approval process.

"The Nation retains the right to practice its culture, religion and traditional lifeways within its ancestral Territory, both inside and outside its Reservation boundaries," the suit states, adding, "Cultural resources and historic properties of importance to the Nation are located on the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, based on traditional cultural knowledge of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation and as confirmed by the Fish & Wildlife Service’s 1992 survey of the entire Refuge."

The Nation will be harmed if construction of the pipeline is allowed to continue, according to the suit.

"Construction and operation of the industrial wastewater and treated sewage pipeline through the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge will harm Nation citizens and their enjoyment of the Refuge, as well as the Nation’s cultural resources, which include both historical and archaeological resources and wildlife, plant, and water resources in their ancestral territory in Western New York."

The suit claims the wastewater treatment facility that will be connected to the pipeline will lead to noise, traffic, odors, vibrations, light, air, and water pollution, and that it will "negatively affect the Nation’s lands, waters, environment, cultural resources, and places of religious and cultural significance."

The suit claims that the Nation previously communicated its rights under the law to GCEDC in a letter in 2016:

The Nation’s sovereign right to its territory, including the natural resources of the territory, is protected by federal treaty. The Nation has federal reserved water rights attached to our territory and the STAMP project lies entirely in Seneca aboriginal land. Waters, including streams and wetlands, span the boundary between the STAMP site and the Nation. From time immemorial, our people have used and occupied the forests, streams and wetlands of the Nation’s territory, including those directly adjacent to the STAMP site. Fish, birds, deer and other wildlife pass freely through this area and many trees and plants, including medicinal plants, grow there. All of these are an integral part of the natural world that we give thanks and acknowledge every day as Haudenosaunee with the words given to us by the Peacemaker.

Previously, and primarily in response to the Orleans County lawsuit, GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde said he is not concerned about the legal challenges facing STAMP.

From The Batavian's prior coverage:

The northern route for the sewer line, he said, is the most environmentally sound option, which is why the route was recommended by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

"If you look at the reality of what we're dealing with, in that case, that particular situation, it is DEC permitted," Hyde said. "They spent three years reviewing the plans. The DEC directed us to put the flow there because it was the best place for the care of that water body versus where we were looking as an option in Genesee County. It would have been more environmentally challenging than to do it in Genesee, and that was the reason they selected that area. There was careful study by the authority that has the responsibility for maintaining and protecting our environment. And they issued the permit. And that permit is far more stringent than what the Medina Wastewater Treatment Plant is currently operating under because they're grandfathered. 

"So when I look at the challenges that are before us and presented, it's procedural things, and with procedural things, there are always ways to find solutions. So I am not at all concerned about proceeding, because it's a long pathway to do all this stuff anyway. And at the end of it, by proceeding, we're going to enjoy greater economic vibrancy here in this region."


Plug Power's financial filing raises concerns about stability of company

By Howard B. Owens
Photo via Genesee County Economic Development Center.
Photo via Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Uncertain about its ability to raise more investment capital, Plug Power, currently building a hydrogen fuel cell plant in WNY STAMP informed the Security and Exchange Commission in a filing on Friday that it may not have the ability to remain a "going concern" over the next 12 months.

The Latham-based company started selling public stock in 1999 and has never reported a profit, which is not unusual for early-stage start-ups. 

The company is working on several options to raise more capital, such as "various financing solutions from third parties with a particular focus on corporate level debt solutions, investment tax credit related project financings and loan guarantee programs, and/or large scale hydrogen generation infrastructure project financing."

The net losses for Plug Power in the third quarter were $0.47 per share for the third quarter, steeper than the $0.30-per-share loss expected by analysts. 

In the filing, the company emphasizes the uncertainty of the effort. 

"Those plans are not final and are subject to market and other conditions not within the Company’s control," the company stated in the filing. "As such, there can be no assurance that the Company will be successful in obtaining sufficient funding. Accordingly, management has concluded under the accounting standards that these plans do not alleviate substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.

News of the weaker-than-expected earnings report and the liquity problems drove Plug Power's stock price down from $5.93 per share to $3.53 per share.

Plug Power's chief financial officer, Paul Middleton, according to Yahoo Finance, characterized the wording of SEC filing as language required by standard accounting principles but the company remains confident about its future.

"It's a lot more conservative obviously than what we feel like," Middleton added. "But I have a $5 billion balance sheet that's unlevered. I mean, I really don't have any debt. So, we still are extremely confident about the range of parties and solutions that we're working with."

The company reported $5.4 billion in assets, including $110 million in cash with an operating loss in the third quarter of $273.9 million.

The Company’s working capital was $1.3 billion as of Sept. 30, In addition, the company has available-for-sale securities and equity securities of $388.8 million and $67.8 million, respectively.

The company stated that it "expects to generate operating losses for the foreseeable future as it continues to devote significant resources to expand its current production and manufacturing capacity, construct hydrogen plants, and fund the acquisition of additional inventory to deliver our end-products and related services."

CEO said in an earnings call that the third quarter was difficult.

"Over the past several months, there have been enormous challenges associated with the availability of hydrogen, primarily due to downed plants, including our Tennessee facility, and temporary plant outages across the entire hydrogen network," he said.

According to reports in early October, Plug Power is considered a strong contender for a portion of $7 billion in federal grants for alternative energy projects. In 2019, the federal government committed $4 million to the company.

Plug Power is building a $290 million fuel cell plant at STAMP in the Town of Alabama. The company is being (most of the funding is contingent on completion of the project) financially backed by the Genesee County Economic Development Center and New York State.

A GCEDC official did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the SEC filing.

Here is the full paragraph of a key statement in the filing:

These conditions and events raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern. In accordance with Accounting Standards Update ("ASU") No. 2014-15, “Disclosure of Uncertainties about an Entity’s Ability to Continue as a Going Concern (Subtopic 205-40),” management has evaluated whether there are conditions and events, considered in the aggregate, that raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern within one year after the date of the condensed consolidated financial statements are issued and has determined that the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern is dependent on its ability to raise additional capital. To alleviate the conditions and events that raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern, management is currently evaluating several different options to enhance the Company’s liquidity position, including the sale of securities, the incurrence of debt, or other financing alternatives. The Company’s plan includes various financing solutions from third parties with a particular focus on corporate-level debt solutions, investment tax credit-related project financings and loan guarantee programs, and/or large-scale hydrogen generation infrastructure project financing. Those plans are not final and are subject to market and other conditions not within the Company’s control. As such, there can be no assurance that the Company will be successful in obtaining sufficient funding. Accordingly, management has concluded under the accounting.


Undeterred by legal challenges, Hyde bullish on STAMP's future

By Howard B. Owens

It's been 15 years since Steve Hyde first conceived of a massive, high-tech industrial park in Genesee County, and in 2023 Hyde is still focused on turning WNY STAMP into a fully realized mega site in the Town of Alabama even as the project faces its biggest legal challenges yet.

Hyde, the CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, and Jim Krencik, the agency's marketing director, spoke with The Batavian on Friday primarily to discuss a new $56 million round of funding from New York State.

The infusion of cash, Hyde shared in his unbowed enthusiasm for all things STAMP, will help take STAMP -- with two projects already being developed -- to the next level, making it more attractive to a new wave of site selectors.

"It helps get Edwards what they need to get up and running and hiring their first 300 or so employees and building their first quarter million square foot factory," Hyde said. "The future is really that 310-acre campus (see map above) that's pretty much the largest available parcel in the state, and (the funding) fully makes it plug-and-play ready. That's really where I think the benefit is. That's where the interest is. 

“You know, I couldn't have envisioned 15 years ago when this was a twinkle in my eye, and the board was helping me shape the thoughts and the strategy around it -- I just couldn't have imagined that 15 years later, we've got big sites like these out there. (We've got them) because of the chip sector, because of the Federal IRA (Inflation Reduction Act), because of the big focus right now -- all these big electric vehicle plants, battery plants, chip fabs, supply chain support for the chip fabs, solar projects,” he said. “There are less than two dozen mega sites at the same level of development as STAMP in the entire country. We're seeing deal flow right now like never before. And the more you can build the capacity, the infrastructure and really have it ready to support a company's timeline, it makes us far more competitive."

As part of STAMP's infrastructure, plans have been in place for years to build a sewer line that would run into Orleans County. After the sewer line was already approved and under construction, the Orleans County Legislature voted to file a lawsuit to halt the project, and an Orleans County judge issued a preliminary injunction to construction across the county line.

At the same time, GCEDC received notice from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to temporarily halt the construction of a sewer line through the Iroquois Wildlife Preserve.  

Hyde believes GCEDC will get past these challenges and be able to carry on with the agency's original plans, but if not, plans are being developed for alternative solutions, he said.

As for the lawsuit, Hyde said, "I'm really confident in the strength of our arguments."

The northern route for the sewer line, he said, is the most environmentally sound option, which is why the route was recommended by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

"If you look at the reality of what we're dealing with, in that case, that particular situation, it is DEC permitted," Hyde said. "They spent three years reviewing the plans. The DEC directed us to put the flow there because it was the best place for the care of that water body versus where we were looking as an option in Genesee County. It would have been more environmentally challenging than to do it in Genesee, and that was the reason they selected that area. There was careful study by the authority that has the responsibility for maintaining and protecting our environment. And they issued the permit. And that permit is far more stringent than what the Medina Wastewater Treatment Plant is currently operating under because they're grandfathered. 

"So when I look at the challenges that are before us and presented, it's procedural things, and with procedural things, there are always ways to find solutions. So I am not at all concerned about proceeding, because it's a long pathway to do all this stuff anyway. And at the end of it, by proceeding, we're going to enjoy greater economic vibrancy here in this region."

Fish and Wildlife has not completely killed off the sewer line project with its stop-work order.  GCEDC must come up with a plan to better contain and remediate potential environmental hazards during construction following two leaks in late summer and early fall of material used to help create boreholes for the pipeline.

In a previous interview with The Batavian, Mark Masse, VP of operations for GCECD, characterized the leak component as "mud." 

He (Masse) said that during the construction of the wastewater pipeline, a channel is drilled through the subsurface and then filled with what is essentially mud to hold the line's shape while the pipe is slid into place. 

"It's basically water and clay," Masse said. "The soil is so soft that it actually ended up going out through the soil. We've done the appropriate cleanups, we had an approved frac-out plan with the DEC ahead of time as part of our permitting. We are making improvements to it, and all of that cleanup and review is subject to the DEC review."

Asked to clarify what happened, Masse said, "In some cases in the refuge, the ground is so porous that when they put the mud in, it leaks out through the sides. It came up to the surface. And that's what they call a frac-out. But it is nothing more than mud. So we had vac trucks on site and cleaned it up. We have subject to DEC inspection on that and in accordance with our frac-out plan."

Calling the substance "mud" is technically accurate, but it is also an incomplete explanation. 

There was a small spill in August, followed by a 100-gallon spill on Sept. 7.

Both spills contained "Wyoming sodium bentonite clay slurry," according to Fish and Wildlife.

Sodium bentonite is a naturally occurring substance, but it isn't naturally occurring in the water of a wetland.

It is a water-absorbent mineral clay. You might find it in your kitty's cat sand. It is also used as a cleansing agent in wastewater treatment, a clumping agent in metal casting, a sealant in water ponds, and, yes, as a mud additive (generally considered environmentally friendly in such uses) in drilling.

The biggest concern of Fish and Wildlife was apparently the lack of a swift response to contain and clean up the second spill and the lack of proper notification to regulators on the day of the spill.

Fish and Wildlife stated in its notice letter, "This discharge was not contained on the project site and ultimately spread over an area of approximately 200 feet by 120 feet."

It states that appropriate measures were not taken to implement, install and maintain measures necessary to prevent discharge of pollutants from the site.

"When department staff were at the site on Sept. 8, despite that the frac-out had occurred over 24 hours earlier, the fracking muds and fluids had not been removed from the impacted freshwater wetland and adjacent area, and no representatives of the permittee were present," states the notice.

Fish and Wildlife takes the spill and the response seriously enough that it notes GCEDC faces potential fines pending further investigation.

Before pipeline construction can resume, GCEDC must develop a plan to reduce the chances of future spills and for a better remediation effort if there is an accident.

About a week ago, in an email interview with Krencik, he stated:

Drilling for the force main installation has been halted for the construction season to avoid any conflict with snow removal services.  In addition, at the request of regulatory agencies, additional geotechnical investigations have been performed to further define the soil conditions to assist our construction teams. GCEDC and the STAMP Sewer Works Corporation (SSWC) are working closely with NYSDEC and other regulatory authorities to resolve any concerns and ensure cleanup of the release of any drilling fluids from these two frac out events before resuming construction of the force main installation during permitted construction windows next season.

The $56 million awarded to STAMP by Gov. Kathy Hochul's office is the second considerable investment in STAMP by the state. In 2014, STAMP received $33 million for infrastructure and to jump-start project development.

"It's all about capacity," Hyde said. "That $33 million, especially in this era of inflation, got used for a lot of things. That money was used to build the initial infrastructure, but it was also invested in finishing up the design and permitting of the site, which of course, takes time and money. It built the baseline roadways, built some stormwater ponds, got us going on the force main ... it was really a lot of the engineering, design, the planning and permitting, baseline infrastructure. This (the new award) expands those capacities and adds some critical pieces."

Krencik added, "We've always been trying to stay ahead of where the market is. That (the $33 million) really got our foot in the door and enabled the first projects that you're looking at being implemented as phase one projects."

There is a 310-acre plot in STAMP that Hyde said is the largest such parcel available in the state, and the new round of funding will help make it more interesting to site selectors.

There is demand for the sites still available in STAMP, Krencik said.

"When you look across our sales funnel, that's what we're seeing," Krencik said. "The demand is roughly fitting in with us, and infrastructure, it takes time. That's why you do all the due diligence, all the permitting, getting all the permits for the DEC, the town of Shelby, all these pieces getting it done. It really gets ahead of these things. And with the substation being built, a lot of this stuff is being built. The state support is a pretty clear signal of what they're feeling."

The electrical substation, both Krencik and Hyde said, is a critical component of making STAMP more attractive to site selectors and more competitive with other industrial parks.

"Electrical infrastructure, that has been one of the longest lead time items we've faced, and it is coming in right now," Krencik said. "That's one of the biggest things giving companies confidence (in STAMP)."

Hyde said the substation will provide 600 megawatts of power, which is enough to power 600,000 homes and to energize high-tech companies at the scale they need.

And all of these numbers add up to more numbers, numbers in the form of good-paying jobs that won't require college degrees, Hyde noted.

"The beauty is, these jobs are kind of that next-level jobs for the community,' Hyde said. "I mean, our average income in our manufacturing jobs is in the low 60s right now, which is really good. It's good earnings for families, especially if you put a couple of those together, right? You have a good family-sustaining income. These jobs (at Plug Power and Edwards) are around 30 percent higher than that, so we're north of $80,000 on average between all the jobs being planned. That's kind of the goal, right? STAMP is about trying to elevate our economic vibrancy for our residents and our kids. The gratifying thing is that with the first two companies that have committed here, we're already seeing what the earnings and the wealth generation will be for our community."

aerial plug power wny stamp gcedc
Plug Power, one of the two new developments in STAMP, under construction.
Photo via Genesee County Economic Development Center.

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