Skip to main content


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.

Hochul announces $56 million funding for STAMP as part of larger business development program

By Press Release

Press release:

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that nearly $90 million has been awarded for six locations under the Focused Attraction of Shovel-Ready Tracts New York grant program. First announced in February 2022, the program is designed to prepare and develop sites across the state to jumpstart New York’s shovel-readiness and increase its attractiveness to large employers and high-tech manufacturing companies. The program, administered by Empire State Development, will help diversify New York State’s economy while propelling new investments for businesses, communities, and job creation.

“Through the FAST NY grant program, New York is continuing its commitment to investing in and expanding economic growth and opportunity across the state,” Governor Hochul said. “This funding will prepare shovel-ready sites that key industries like semiconductors and renewable energy are looking for and will create good jobs and grow local economies for generations to come.”

There are seven projects mentioned in the press release. Here is the section on WNY STAMP:

  • Genesee County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), Genesee County – $56 million: The Western New York Science Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) is a 1250-acre mega site, with access to significant power, water and completed pre-development. STAMP is the largest remaining site in New York State, which has already committed over $50 million to the site and where Plug Power’s green hydrogen project is currently under construction and Edwards Vacuum will be starting construction on their dry pump factory next spring. STAMP is integral to the recent EDA Regional Tech Hub designation for the Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse corridor and the state’s strategic goal of creating a “semiconductor superhighway” across Upstate. This phase of the project focuses on building the remaining infrastructure to support advanced manufacturing projects including a wastewater treatment facility and pump station, force-main components, natural gas transmission main tap and extension within the site, road construction improvements and a water transmission main. Total project cost: $62.37 million

Click here to read the full press release.

UPDATE: Statement from GCEDC:

“The FAST NY award announced by Governor Hochul today demonstrates her steadfast commitment to next-generation site development that will bring emerging business sectors in semiconductor and advanced manufacturing to our region.

“This award creates significant momentum in our efforts to design, engineer, and secure permits for infrastructure at STAMP, including current projects that have been announced to date that are anticipated to generate $1 billion of private sector investment and the creation of over 600 family-sustaining jobs.

“The FAST NY award also follows Senate Majority Leader Schumer’s recent announcement of the Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse regions being designated as a federal Tech Hub, which will only enhance continued interest at STAMP by companies in these business sectors.”


Pembroke's four 24-unit market rate apartment buildings to be considered at GCEDC meeting

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) board of directors will consider a final resolution for Countryside Apartments LLC’s proposed $15 million development of four 24-unit market-rate apartment buildings at its board meeting on Thursday, Oct. 26.

Countryside Apartments LLC is proposing to construct the project in phases at 8900 Alleghany Road in Pembroke. Each building will have eight 1-bedroom and 16 2-bedroom units, totaling 96 market-rate units throughout the complex.

The project aligns with Genesee County’s recognized need for housing availability, and housing growth spurred by $1 billion of investment and over 600 careers announced by projects at the nearby Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park.

The project is requesting assistance from the GCEDC with a sales tax exemption estimated at $739,200, a property tax abatement estimated at $2,020,688 based on the incremental increase in assessed value via a fixed 60% 20-year PILOT (Housing PILOT for 20+ market-rate units), and a mortgage tax exemption estimated at $130,000.

The fiscal impacts on local benefits are estimated at over $10 million. For every $1 of public benefit, the company is investing $5 into the local economy.

A public hearing for the proposed project agreements is scheduled in the town of Pembroke at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at Pembroke Town Hall.

The Oct. 26 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

Coach's Corner: Rest not an option in Workforce Development

By Chris Suozzi
faa 4-h at fair
William Muoio, from Graham Corp., supervises Justin Deleo, a Byron-Bergen student, during the FFA/4-H welding competition at the Genesee County Fair in July 2023. The competition is another aspect of workforce development in Genesee County.
File Photo by Howard Owens
Chris "Coach Swazz" Suozzi

I’ve never been a fan of load management in basketball. I see the value in taking a breather mid-game, but taking yourself out of the competition or a great opportunity never made sense to me.

Challenging yourself in new ways is how you grow as an athlete, as a person, and as a professional. 

Did the 1,100 students who participated in GLOW With Your Hands: Manufacturing need a breather? Absolutely. There was so much for them to learn in one day – about themselves and all the skilled trades, manufacturing, food production, and agricultural careers in their backyard.

But meeting with 65 employers in the GLOW Region and testing out dozens of careers was energizing, not exhausting.

We once again saw how Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming county kids are ready for this unique challenge.

  • They hammered with precision and power at Camp Hard Hat’s nail-driving competition.
  • They jumped into the controls of construction vehicles and welding simulators.
  • They scaled power poles, raced wheelbarrows weighted down by cinder blocks, and grasped the lessons taught through GV BOCES’ mechatronics lab equipment.

Through it all, our GLOW With Your Hands participants showed a passion that we need to continually embrace. That’s a big reason I am excited to have a new placement on the workforce development calendar for our next big event. It keeps the momentum going!

Cornell in High School takes the wide-scale career exposure concept from GLOW With Your Hands and focuses it on a group of career-focused students in the Class of 2024 from Nov. 7 - 9.

Over three days of Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences-led training at SUNY Genesee Community College, students get hands-on experiences in food production, plant safety, and the financial benefits of a career in the food industry.

Employers like Nortera in Oakfield and Bergen, Upstate Niagara Cooperative in Batavia, and Yancey’s Fancy in Pembroke have welcomed this opportunity. Our students are going to connect with them in the classroom and in facility tours.

Participating students will earn a Food Processing certificate from Cornell University’s Department of Food Science, giving them a free head-start for careers that offer great lives with no college debt – and they do this all while they are still in high school!

Know a student who would fit this program? Registration is at and I’m a call (585-409-1301) or an email (csuo[email protected]) away when it comes to connecting kids to careers.

I worked with Cornell to launch this program in 2022 because of the potential it had in Genesee County. Our strong base of food and beverage companies is the largest employer within our region. Continued investment in this industry results in ample and rewarding job opportunities.

There are great futures ahead for our students at Nortera, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Yancey’s Fancy, and across many food and beverage employers in our region.

I’m not taking a game off, or letting an opportunity pass by for our kids to succeed.

Looking ahead, there are matching days for this year’s Youth Apprenticeships in December, a Senior Job Fair, and the Youth Apprenticeship internships and co-ops early in 2024.

Chris "Coach Swazz" Suozzi is VP of Business Development for the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Complaints raised at planning board meeting about STAMP, Edwards Vacuum, addressed by officials

By Howard B. Owens
Kirk Scirto, Akron
Dr. Kirk Scirto, a family physician in Akron, spoke in opposition on Thursday night to plans for Edwards Vacuum and WNY STAMP.
Photo by Howard Owens.

CLARIFICATION: Dr. Kirk Scirto informed us on Oct. 18 that he did not say that he represented the Seneca Nation. 

It's unusual for opponents of a development project to speak at Genesee County Planning Board meetings, but two people opposed the proposed Edwards Vaccum plant at WNY STAMP and of the STAMP project itself were at Thursday's meeting.

Both spoke after a representative of Edwards made his presentation to the board and after the board voted to recommend approval of the site plan review and final subdivision.

Both speakers raised a number of environmental concerns, all of which were later refuted in interviews after the meeting by representatives of Edwards and the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Edwards is proposing a manufacturing facility that will be 236,000 square feet and sit on a 50-acre parcel.  The company is a subsidiary of Atlas Copco Group and is planning a $319 plant that will build a semiconductor dry pump, a necessary component in maintaining cleanrooms for companies that make computer chips.

Dr. Kirk Scirto, a family physician in Akron, said he represented the Seneca Nation as well as a coalition of environment groups and as many as 500 residents who oppose both the Edwards Vacuum project as well as STAMP.

"I urge you strongly to recommend disapproval of the Edwards vacuum project," Scirto said. "Know that Tonawanda Seneca Nation lies at the border, immediately at the border of STAMP. They have sued to block its development along with a separate suit to do the same by the Orleans County Legislature. And now the town of Shelby has joined us in the suit. The community impacts of this project in Genesee County are also very troubling, and it's shocking that entities in Genesee County have not yet sued. Although that should change shortly."

The other opposition speaker was Evelyn Wackett, who admitted that she didn't know anything about WNY STAMP, despite heavy coverage of the high-tech industrial park in local and regional news outlets for more than 13 years, until this past Arbor Day. Wackett, a resident of Buffalo, said she is a licensed wildlife rehabbed in Erie County.

"As I looked into it and learned about it, I kind of started getting a little bit upset," Wackett said. "It seems to me a little fishy the way things are going on with this whole project. We come out of the COVID lockdowns, and all of a sudden, Plug Power is there. And now Edwards is coming in."

Vehicle Traffic
Scirto's first objection was to traffic in and out of the Edwards site, both for the additional traffic on local roads and emissions.

"The Edwards Vacuum project would be an immense generation of traffic, according to the February 2023 SEQR that was written by the Genesee EDC," Scirto said. "We've heard some different estimations today, so I'm a bit confused about that. According to GCEDC, vehicles would be expected to enter the leave STAMP every one to two seconds all day every day. This would dramatically slow down local routes, including routes 77 and 63, which may be forced to become 30-mile-per-hour roads."

It's not clear where he got the speed-limit change data.

"Air pollution would be a second major impact, and it will be produced by diesel trucks and other vehicles, and in the chemical emissions of Edwards vacuum itself," Scirto said.

Mark Masse, senior VP for operations for GCEDC, suggested Scirto is misreading the SEQR (an environmental review document) that included the WNY STAMP infrastructure projects and both Edwards Vacuum and a parallel warehousing development that hasn't been discussed much publicly.  In the SEQR report, nearly all of the contemplated traffic, Masse indicated, could be attributed to the warehouse project.

The estimated one or two truck trips per day for STAMP, as discussed by David Ciurzynski, a local consultant representing Edwards Vacuum in the meeting, is accurate, Masse said.

"It (the SEQR) was about a 23-page resolution," Masse said. "I'm sure if somebody was unaware of what they were looking at, it would be easy for them to get confused."

Toxins and Chemicals
"If they're able to dodge the extensive lawsuits already initiated and those which will be coming shortly, then they will be allowed to emit various toxins into the air," Scirto said. "Some of these toxins can cause cancer and irritate the eyes in the respiratory tract of people. This, combined with air pollution, would cause or worsen asthma, allergies, emphysema, respiratory infections, and heart disease, especially for those living closest to the factory and its intense traffic."

He said documents on the company website reveal that Edwards Vacuum uses chemicals and fibers that are dangerous to human health.

Ciurzynski said that Scirto is using outdated documents and documents not relevant to this project to make his claims.  He said Edwards makes a wide range of products that are referenced in publically available documents, but the company is making a very specific pump in the facility. There is no foundry, and nothing dangerous will be emitted from the factory, so much of what Scirto referenced is irrelevant.

"We're not releasing any toxins," Ciurzynski said. "Our process -- we're not releasing anything. Air permits will be issued by the DEC. They're required because every building has exhaust, so we have to get permits from the DEC. They are going to be approved by the DEC to all be basically zero emissions. We're not releasing anything into the sewers other than toilets and sinks and things like that. So it's human waste, you know, from people working in our plant. Our process water, any wastewater that we have (from manufacturing), is getting toted off-site. Everything that we're doing is intentional to minimize the effect on our community and our systems. We're not, we don't want to tax any part of the community. We don't want to tax the community. So that's why we made these extra efforts to make sure that those processes are handled properly."

Fire safety
"The protection of community character would be challenged by the threat of explosions from Edwards vacuum," Scirto said. "According to their safety data sheets, they use dozens of flammable and several explosive chemicals."

Ciurzynski said, "We're building a specific pump here. It's not all of Edwards vacuums products. We don't have chemicals that are spontaneously going to combust. Everything is going on is within the regulations of the EPA and the DEC."

Scirto also claimed that Edwards is planning to build on top of environmentally sensitive wetlands and faulted The Batavian for previously reporting otherwise.

The Batavian's prior story was based on official government reports that could have easily been obtained by Scirto prior to the meeting.  Both representatives of Edward and GCEDC said both the planning document and The Batavian's story were accurate.  There will be no wetlands disturbed by the Edwards facility.

Wackett said, "In the article in The Batavian, I read about the wetlands and not disturbing the wetlands. Well, let me make a comment that we already disturbed the wetlands. How many spills have we had now already trying to construct this sewer pipe? 600 gallons of fracking fluid is now inside the refuge. That endangered bog turtle. That endangered short-eared owls. And all that endangered northern Harrier -- all those species depend on these wetlands. It's a migratory bird route that you guys just decided to, I don't know about you guys (meaning the planning board), but Genesee County Economic Development Center decided to just plop an industrial park right in the middle of the Tonawanda State Wildlife Management Area, the Iroquois National Wildlife Areas, protected area. I don't understand how they can just put a sewer pipeline in the middle of it."

The STAMP project is entirely outside of both protected areas.

Masse said in the hallway as soon as the meeting was over, "To clarify, there are no wetlands being impacted by this project."

Ciurzynski immediately added, "Your story was accurate. Our survey has been registered with the town and this county. To avoid this (wetlands), we didn't buy that land (containing wetlands)."

As for Wackett's claim that GCEDC that "600 gallons of fracking fluid is now inside the refuge," Masse said that statement isn't accurate.

He said 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."

He said the frac-out has been cleaned up, and while still subject to a DEC follow-up inspection, Masse indicated the event posed no threat to wildlife.

"I just need to make the comment for the short-eared owl," Wackett said. "From what I understand and what I've read, that the short-eared owl has already declined in numbers since this project has started."

Masse said GCEDC has followed all DEC guidelines and regulations regarding the short-eared owl and north Harrier. 

"Essentially," Masse said, the short-eared owl northern Harrier issue has been resolved as we've received a permit to be able to develop that property. As a part of that, we've created a grassland habitat for those birds as the offset for the impact and taking that property. And that permit was issued, I think, in June or July."

As for Wackett's claim that the owl population has already declined, Masse said there is no evidence of that, and there can't be any definitive evidence because of the migratory habit of the species.

"We've done studies over the years, and those birds are non-geo specific, which means they don't come back to the same location every year," Masse said. "So they could be here one year, they could go somewhere else for six years, they could come back here in year seven. I'm sure statewide studies are being done, but whether those are higher or lower, it's hard to tell."

At the start of his talk, Scirto said the Seneca Nation had sued to stop the STAMP development.  It's unclear if that was a reference to the 2021 lawsuit filed against GCEDC that was later settled or if he believes there is a pending lawsuit. GCEDC officials are unaware of any pending lawsuit filed by the Seneca Nation.

Orleans County has filed a lawsuit in a dispute over the sewer pipeline project that runs north into Orleans County. It's not clear from the language of the suit that the aim is to "stop" STAMP, as Scirto claimed during the meeting.  The Town of Shelby recently voted to join the lawsuit, even though Shelby previously approved the pipeline.

Whatever is going on with the lawsuits, Edwards Vacuum is not concerned, Ciurzynski said.

"It doesn't concern us because we do care about the environment," Ciurzynski said. "We care about the local people, the farmers. Something people need to know is Edwards Vacuum and Atlas Copco are really conscientious and intentional about their science-based initiatives to reduce their global footprint, global carbon footprint."

Returning to the issue of emissions raised by Scirto, Ciurzynski indicated Edwards has a plant in Korea doing what the Alabama plant will do, but it is "landlocked." It can expand. The STAMP site gives Edwards room for growth, but it also means its products will no longer be shipped by air cargo to the U.S., which will cut carbon emissions.

"Unfortunately, in building, you're not gonna make everybody happy," Ciurzynski said. "We can't keep everything pristine and green. We're trying to keep more than 60 percent of the site green. We're trying to make the building as green as possible by going all-electric, not having fossil fuels.

As part of the green effort, the site will have walking paths so people can enjoy the green space.

Masse said GCEDC has been complying with environmental regulations throughout the planning and development process.

"We've been working with the DEC, the Army Corps of Engineers, and our permit through the Wildlife Refuge took five years to obtain. There were two public meetings, and public hearings were held, and with that, there was a NEPA process done. We followed all the appropriate regulatory steps through this process to date. We are as transparent, and I think you would admit that we are as transparent and organization as you're going to find. We've done everything out in the open. We've done everything in the public. We've done every approval we need to do, and we continue to, and I don't think people realize how much the regulatory agencies have oversight over all construction, over all of the development. You talk stormwater management to the DEC. You talk about construction safety to the Town of Alabama. Operational-wise, it's the town of Alabama, it's the DEC. So there are enough regulatory agencies where I don't think a company would be able to do some of the things that had been said here today without being found immediately, without having somebody know what's going on. So I don't know if they just don't understand how development works. But the amount of oversight and regulatory oversight that happens in New York State is a lot."

The Seneca Nation
Both Ciurzynski and Masse said Edwards and STAMP want to be good neighbors to the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

"We do care about Native Americans," Ciurzynski said. "We want them to be part of our facility. We want them to work with us. We want them to work at our facility. We want to provide livelihoods so that they can have generational jobs that they don't have to drive miles to get to. It's right next door. You can have a good job and work with wonderful people in a LEAD-certified building that's as green as possible."

Masse said GCEDC has always been open to working with tribal leaders.

"We've been outreaching with the Nation diligently for at least the last seven years, if not the last 13," Masse said. "They just choose not to participate, which is their right."

Public Awareness
As to the implication raised by Wackett that people have been kept in the dark, Masse noted that GCEDC has hosted a number of well-publicized public meetings and public hearings.  There was ample opportunity 13 years ago to raise the objections being raised now.

"There are 60,000 people in Genesee County, and we had two people show up who opposed this and said they said they had 500," Masse said. "In the grand scheme of things, you know, I understand people want to be heard. But the majority of the people here, like the Town of Alabama, spoke 13 years ago. And quite honestly, the time to express your concerns about the project would have been 13 years ago when we were going through the EIS process. I think we held 25 to 30 public meetings. So you know, that process was a public process. And there are a lot of concerns voiced, but at the end of the day, the community overwhelmingly was in favor of it."

David Ciurzynski
David Ciurzynski, a local consultant representing Edwards Vacuum, during his presentation on Thursday to the Genesee County Planning Board.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Evelyn Wackett
Evelyn Wackett, a wildlife rehabber from Erie County, spoked against STAMP at Thursday's Planning Board meeting.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Shelby seeks to join Orleans lawsuit against STAMP sewer discharge into Oak Orchard

By Tom Rivers
stamp sewer
A sewer main is shown along Route 63 in the Town of Alabama in the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday. The Town of Shelby wants to join an Orleans County lawsuit against the sewer construction in Orleans County and the discharge of treated wastewater into Oak Orchard Creek.  
Photo by Tom Rivers

The Town Board, in a 4-1 vote this evening, decided it wants to join an Orleans County lawsuit that seeks to stop construction of a sewer main along Route 63 from the STAMP manufacturing site in Alabama to the Oak Orchard Creek in Shelby.

Orleans County on Sept. 11, filed suit in State Supreme Court to stop a sewer line from coming into the Town of Shelby and depositing up to 6 million gallons of what Orleans says is “contaminated” water into the Oak Orchard Creek.

The county alleges that the Genesee County Economic Development Center formed a “sham corporation” in STAMP Sewer Works to make the 9.5-mile-long sewer main happen.

Orleans officials worry the sewer discharge could impair the water quality of the creek, cause flooding and hurt economic development opportunities at the Medina Business Park.

Scott Wengewicz, Shelby town supervisor, said he agrees with the concerns voiced by the county in opposing STAMP.

Shelby will spell out its reasons for objecting to the project when it files a notice to intervene with State Supreme Court Justice Sanford Church. The judge has set a court date for Oct. 23 at the County Courthouse in Albion for the initial hearing in the Orleans lawsuit. He also has issued the preliminary injunction to not allow any sewer main construction in Orleans County until the arguments are presented in court.

Kathy Bennett, the Shelby attorney, said the town has “a right to have at seat at the table” in court and any other discussions about the project.

“We are clearly an interested party,” she said after this evening’s Town Board meeting.

Ed Zelazny, a town councilman, cast the lone vote against seeking to join the lawsuit. Zelazny said the Town Board previously voted in support of the STAMP Sewer Works. That was in a 5-0 vote on Oct. 13, 2020, when Shelby provided its consent to the forming of STAMP Sewer Works.

Zelazny said the Town Board should have demanded money to ease town taxes as part of the vote, and the board members then should have stated their concerns about the impact on the Oak Orchard.

Zelazny said he doesn’t want to see the town commit to spending taxpayer dollars on another lawsuit.

Bennett, the town attorney, said the vote from the Town Board about three years ago was only for the formation of STAMP Sewer Works and didn’t give Shelby’s blessing to discharge wastewater from STAMP into the Oak Orchard.

STAMP would send up to 6 million gallons a day at full capacity. The first two tenants at STAMP – Plug Power and Edwards Vacuum – would have a daily discharge of 50,000 gallons of treated wastewater, GCEDC said.

Story courtesy Orleans Hub

Developer explains why he's seeking GCEDC assistance on 96-unit apartment complex in Pembroke

By Howard B. Owens
metzger schmidt pembroke apartments
Engineer Michael Metzger and Developer Michael Schmidt at the Sept. 27  Town of Pembroke Planning Board meeting.
Photo by Howard Owens.

It's more expensive to build an apartment complex in Pembroke than locations to the town's immediate west, according to developer Mike Schmidt, and what he can charge for rent in Pembroke is substantially less than in just about any part of Erie County.

So he wouldn't build in Pembroke if not for the tax abatements he sought and could receive from the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

On Thursday, the GCEDC board of directors voted to move the proposed incentive package for Countryside Apartments LLC to a public hearing at a date and time yet to be scheduled in the Town of Pembroke.

If approved by the board after the hearing, Schmidt, who is planning to invest $15.65 million to build a complex that could eventually contain 96 market-rate apartments -- would receive a sales tax exemption on building materials worth $739,200, a property tax abatement of $2 million, and a mortgage tax abatement of $130,000.  

The location is at 8900 Alleghany Road, Pembroke, which is about halfway between Cohocton Road and Brickhouse Corners.  Immediately to the south of the currently wooded 8.2-acre lot is a farm field and a long-abandoned gas station.  A single-family home is on the land to the north.  The property is zoned limited commercial and agricultural-residential.

The Batavian interviewed Schmidt on Friday because, at a Town of Pembroke Planning Board meeting on Sept 27, it sounded like Schmidt said he was getting no government assistance for the project -- as in, no government subsidies.

At the meeting that night, some residents raised the specter of Ellicott Station and how the project seemed to go from market-rate apartments to low-income housing once state and federal agencies got involved, and Schmidt replied that "They (Savarino Companies) already had all the agencies lined up to work with them. We are here alone. Mike's (Metzger) my engineer. We have no intention of doing that. I can put that into writing. We certainly aren't going to be looking for any state financial aid or any type of anything from the government to help us. (emphasis added)"

Today, Schmidt said he felt bad that maybe he didn't communicate as clearly as he would like. He called himself a straight-shooter and said that he certainly didn't mean to mislead anybody.  In his mind, he was speaking purely in the context of seeing the kind of government assistance that comes from Housing and Urban Development or the state Office of Homes and Community Renewal -- assistance that comes with strings attached on the kind of housing you must develop.

The GCEDC assistance has no such income requirements.  

It perhaps should be noted, too, that GCEDC is not technically a government agency.  It is a public benefit corporation, which places it somewhere between being a government agency -- created through legislation -- and a standard non-profit. However, IDAs, such as GCEDC, are given the authority to grant relief from certain taxes levied by state and local government bodies.

Schmidt said no one with GCEDC or any government agency has approached him about turning his complex into subsidized housing.

"It's not going to happen on this project," he reiterated.

He said that was the only point he was trying to make to the planning board and residents in attendance, and he's sorry if it came across as forgoing all assistance.

"My intention is to do my level best to be as clear as I can with my answers," Schmidt said.

He said he understands that what has happened with Ellicott Station has made people more distrustful of developers. He said he's followed the project closely and that by his count, Savarino Companies has a dozen different government agencies involved in the project.  That isn't the case with his project, he said.

He said he understands that people are concerned about a "bait and switch." 

"That (Ellicott Station) hasn't been real helpful to me," Schmidt said. "The trust level that is normally there between a developer and a town board and a town planning board has kind of been breached."

When asked if his statement that he wasn't seeking assistance might be seen as misleading and leads to further distrust of developers, Schmidt said he disagreed with the idea that he is taking anything from anybody.

He called it a "mischaracterization." 

Nobody is handing him money, he said. He's financing the entire project himself.  However, the tax breaks are the only way to make the project viable because of the disparities in expenses and revenues between Genesee County and Erie County.

"There is no way this project could move forward without the help," Schmidt said. "Without the help, these projects and projects like it won't happen." 

An explanation of the abatements: If nothing is built, there is no sales tax to charge on materials not sold, so the argument from IDA supporters is that it isn't money spent, and the same with the mortgage tax.  On the property tax abatement, in the form of a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes, meaning the developer pays some fees to local jurisdictions), the abatement is only the portion of the tax increase caused by the increase in assessed value that development creates, so if there's no development, there is no increase in assessed value, and no new taxes to forgive, and no increase in tax revenue when the PILOT ends.

Schmidt listed several Erie County communities where he could get $800 a month more in rent for the same apartments he's planning in Pembroke, where he'll charge from $1,400 a month to $1,700 a month.

And because there are fewer qualified contractors who will take on projects in Pembroke, and it costs more to truck some material to Pembroke, his expenses are higher to build in Pembroke than in other communities.

Additionally, the cost of construction in recent years has gone up substantially in the past few years, he said. Not counting site work, it costs $200 a foot to build an apartment complex, he said.

Financial incentives are the only way he can keep rents affordable.

Asked about getting tax breaks not available to existing landlords in the area, he said his costs are substantially higher than any landlord buying existing buildings.

"When you're buying apartments in an area where you're paying a fraction of the amount per unit than it costs to build new, that's a real benefit to that landlord," Schmidt said. "When I build new units at a higher rental price, those landlords are able to raise their rents, and with higher rents can still say, 'look at what a bargain you're getting from me.'"

Genesee County, in general, and Pembroke in particular, needs more housing, Schmidt noted, especially in light of all the new development coming in -- Plug Power and Edwards Vacuum at WNY STAMP, multiple new projects at Exit 48A, and new mixed-use developments at Brickhouse Corners.  

Because of that, Schmidt believes his project will be successful and fill up quickly, though he recognizes there are no guarantees, which is why he's taking a phased approach to building the complex -- four separate buildings of 24 apartment units each. He's not going to build any units beyond the first phase if it turns out there is no demand, or he will wait for the demand to grow, which could take years.

"I don't know how big the demand will be," Schmidt said. "I can't say. I know it's not a field of dreams where I can build 10,000 units, and they will be full. That's not it. But I'm confident this will be a successful project."

He also thinks he will fill the units with tenants that current Pembroke residents will appreciate as neighbors. And that his tenants will be the kind people who not only make a positive contribution to the community but they will also contribute economically, which benefits all business and property owners

"As I said at the meeting, having more people who are qualified, hardworking people with good jobs drives the value up of every property," Schmidt said. "Undoubtedly." 

Who rents apartments? Schmidt said it's people who don't want the responsibility of owning a home.

"A house is permanent," Schmidt said. "It means you think you're going to stay in the area. You know you have a secure job. You want to be certain that you want to stay in a community. You like the schools. An apartment is a stepping stone into that area."

An apartment dweller doesn't have to worry about putting on a new $18,000 roof, or fixing the dishwasher when it's broken, or plowing the snow, or tree removal after a storm, or spending $300 plus labor on a new sump pump.

"Apartment living is very simple living," Schmidt said. "When you pay rent, you have an all-in number. For $400 a week, you know every expense is covered. People like that.”

He then explained, "I know a guy who sold a $500,000 house and is moving into an apartment -- not senior housing but into a $2,300-a-month apartment. You might say he's insane, but he doesn't want to do snow removal. He doesn't want to mow a lawn any more. He wants to be able to go and come as he pleases."

Schmidt admitted, "Hey, I'm a landlord," so of course, he's bullish on apartments, but he sees the demand. A fellow landlord in Erie County rents his units for $2,600 a month.

"You might think, 'Who the heck is going to pay that,'" Schmidt said. "He has a waiting list."

He added, "New people are coming. They just will be. I don't know how many jobs they're projecting over the next 10 years, but if the projections are just half right, there will be a lot of need for housing." 

But meeting the growing local need for more roofs to put over the heads of more people is only possible, he said, through the financial assistance of an agency like GCEDC.

"Housing is needed in the area, so how are you going to get it, to get investments from people like me, who would normally invest in other parts of the WNY region, more toward Buffalo, if you're not going to work with them and help them, without some sort of financial incentive," Schmidt said.

pembroke apartment rendering
Rendering of a 24-unit apartment building proposed for Route 77 in Pembroke, courtesy of Developer Mike Schmidt.

GCEDC board to consider $15 million apartment complex in Pembroke

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) board of directors will consider an initial resolution for Country Side Apartments LLC’s proposed four 24-unit market rate apartment buildings at its board meeting on Thursday, October 5. The project’s capital investment is estimated at $15 million and would be located in the town of Pembroke.

The project is requesting assistance from the GCEDC with a sales tax exemption estimated at $739,200, a property tax abatement estimated at $2,020,688 based on the incremental increase in assessed value via a fixed 60% 20-year PILOT (Housing PILOT for 20+ market-rate units), and a mortgage tax exemption estimated at $130,000.

Each building will have eight 1-bedroom and 16 2-bedroom units, totaling 96 units throughout the complex. The project aligns with the Genesee County Economic Development Center's recognized need for housing availability.

The fiscal impacts on local benefits total $10,032,176 ($8,705,683 in temporary and ongoing payroll and $1,326,493 to the public in tax revenues). For every $1 of public benefit, the company is investing $5 into the local economy.

If the project application is accepted, a public hearing will be scheduled on the proposed project agreement in the town of Pembroke.

The October 5, 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 is available at

Previously: Shadow of Ellicott Station throws shade on apartment plan for Pembroke, developer promises no low-income housing

Orleans County accuses Genesee County of not cooperating on STAMP wastewater plans

By Press Release

Press release:

Last night, the Orleans County Legislature voted unanimously for a resolution to preserve the Oak Orchard River and local tributaries in Orleans County.  The Legislature continues to push back against Genesee County’s Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park’s (STAMP) plan to discharge to six million gallons of wastewater a day from STAMP into Oak Orchard River by way of the Town of Shelby.  

“Tonight’s resolution and the lawsuit we filed last week to prevent this wastewater discharge are not actions we take lightly, as we have a long record of partnering with our friends in Genesee County,” said Lynne Johnson, Chairman of the Orleans County Legislature.  “But partnerships are built upon being able to have conversations on difficult topics like wastewater and then cooperating on a solution that works for everyone.   

“Yet, throughout this process, Genesee County and their economic development agency have not engaged with Orleans County leadership, developed a plan in the backroom to dump wastewater in Orleans County without our input and then, when questioned, just decided to attempt to steamroll us, rather than work together.  I cannot express enough the level of disappointment we feel in their actions.”  

Johnson said the resolution clearly states the concerns Orleans County has regarding the wastewater discharge, including impacts on tourism, sport fishing, flooding, property damage, declining real estate values and more.  Johnson believes there are other avenues Genesee should be exploring for managing wastewater.  

“I have said all along and want to repeat it again, that our legislators are in support of STAMP and the economic development projects that will lead to investment and jobs for our entire region,” said Johnson.  “But that economic growth cannot come at the expense of Orleans County’s natural resources.   

Johnson also acknowledged the efforts of New York State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, who represents both counties in the State Legislature and has been attempting to mediate a solution.  

“We appreciate that Assemblyman Hawley is taking an active role in bringing all parties together,” said Johnson.  “We must work together on an alternative.” 

More than 1,000 students attend GLOW With Your Hands at fairgrounds

By Press Release
GLOW with your Hands 2023

Press release:

GLOW With Your Hands: Manufacturing hosted its largest turnout of students and vendors for the annual career exploration event. Over 1,100 students from 30 school districts across the GLOW region arrived at the Genesee County Fairgrounds to attend the day-long, hands-on program, including over 65 organizations from the advanced manufacturing, agriculture, food production, and skilled trades sectors. 

GLOW With Your Hands introduces students from school districts in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties to employers across the region who are ready to engage with the new generation of talented workers and leaders.

For Jack Frazier from Warsaw High School, these introductions included welding, electric linework, and operating a crane. 

“It is really cool that all of these businesses come out and interact with us for the whole day. We get to see equipment that is used day-to-day, I learned about so many careers and skills that I was not aware of before today,” Jack added. 

Exhibitors from advanced manufacturing, agriculture, food production, skilled trades, and education/training sectors attended the event to showcase accurate representations of their day-to-day duties performed within their specific industry and company. The event welcomes students preparing to enter the workforce after this school year and those who will be considering career paths in high school over the next five years. 

“As a result of the hard work and planning of local workforce advocates, event exhibitors and volunteers, and our sponsoring partners, students across the region are learning more about the good-paying and debt-free careers available to them immediately upon graduating from high school,” said GLOW With Your Hands Co-Founders Chris Suozzi and Jay Lazarony. “This gives them the awareness of what skills are needed and the ability they have to succeed across many industries.”

Led by Platinum Sponsors LandPro Equipment and National Grid, many businesses have participated in every GLOW With Your Hands since 2019, including manufacturers like Advanced Rubber Products and Liberty Pumps, food producers like Barilla and O-AT-KA Milk Products, construction businesses like LG Evans and Genesee Construction, and skilled trades organizations like Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local 3 and North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.

Plastic card manufacturer Bristol ID Technologies of Lima attended the event for the first time. Their exhibit created personalized ID cards for participants throughout the day-long event while educating them on processes and opportunities available at their Livingston County location. 

“It’s incumbent that businesses go out and share what they need and what they can offer to the next generation of their workforce,” said Edward Schroeder, Bristol ID Technologies Operations Director. “GLOW With Your Hands allows us to demonstrate to students what a career at our company looks and feels like. It’s a great way to introduce our company to potential workers.”

After launching in 2019 with 800 students, GLOW With Your Hands has grown into the premier workforce development program in the region. Including GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare, a hands-on medical careers program held annually in March, more than 1,600 students participated in the 2022-23 school year.

“Our annually increasing participation at GLOW With Your Hands is a credit to the full engagement of our schools and the students excited to gain a hands-on view of career opportunities that they may have never contemplated,” said GLOW With Your Hands Co-Chair Angela Grouse. “Many of these careers can be successfully launched with our region’s robust training programs and deliver family-sustaining wages and benefits along with rewarding lifestyles.”

For Haley from Pavilion High School, GLOW With Your Hands was an opportunity to embrace hands-on careers available in the community. 

“It is awesome to step out of our comfort zones, experience new careers, and embrace active, hands-on skills that are used outside of a desk job. It is a great way to discover jobs that are offered here in our community,” added Haley. 

For more information about GLOW With Your Hands and careers in the GLOW Region, please visit

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

GLOW with your Hands 2023
GLOW with your Hands 2023
GLOW with your Hands 2023
GLOW with your Hands 2023
GLOW with your Hands 2023
GLOW with your Hands 2023
GLOW with your Hands 2023

Facility intended to help convert school bus fleets into all-electric by 2035

By Press Release

Press Release:

New York Bus Sales welcomed over 150 people to officially open its doors on a newly constructed $6 million mixed-use 20,000 sq. ft. facility in the town of Batavia. The facility is intended to support school districts and bus operators across Genesee County and the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions to convert their fleets from diesel fuel to all-electric as required by legislation in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) by 2035.

Based in Chittenango, New York Bus Sales is the largest Blue Bird school bus dealer in the state. The Batavia facility will service customers, including school districts to help transition their bus fleets from diesel fuel engines to all-electric bus fleets. New York Bus Sales has full-service maintenance facilities in Syracuse and Albany.

“Our new location in Genesee County allows us to serve the Western New York and Finger Lakes school districts as we work together with New York State to deliver clean energy solutions to local students and families,” said John Johnston, Operations Manager of New York Bus Sales.

New York Bus Sales worked with the Genesee County Economic Development Center to find a strategic location that fit their facility requirements on Saile Drive in Batavia and approved financial assistance at a Board of Directors meeting in December 2021.

“This project builds on the green business economy being built at STAMP, the Pembroke Industrial Corridor, the many community solar projects across the county, and other renewable and clean energy projects in the economic development pipeline,” said Steve Hyde, President and CEO of the GCEDC.

National Grid assisted in the installation of charging stations and technology as part of the company’s Electric Vehicle (EV) Make-Ready Program. This program provides funding for up to 100% of the electric infrastructure costs for approved projects.

“Our Make-Ready Program provides a range of technical assistance and funding for electric vehicle charging projects across our upstate New York service territory,” said National Grid Regional Director Ken Kujawa. “Working with New York Bus Sales is a great example of a company making a commitment toward innovation and sustainability while reducing greenhouse gas emissions while supporting New York State’s climate emission mandates.”

The new facility will create 24 new jobs in Genesee County. New York Bus Sales are seeking candidates for service and automotive tech roles and will have the opportunity to hire from the skilled and educated workforce pool from Genesee County and surrounding regions, including students participating in the Genesee Valley BOCES Deisel Tech Cohort program.

“Whether you are a recent Diesel Tech BOCES graduate or an experienced technician from another industry, we have good-paying positions available and can provide career pathways through certification programs and other training,” Johnson added.  “We look forward to working with employment and workforce training organizations across the region to fill these career-sustaining jobs.”

5th annual GLOW with your hands expecting largest turnout to date

By Press Release
Photo of a group of students from 2021 GLOW with your hands by Steve Ognibene.

Press Release:

GLOW With Your Hands – Manufacturing is coming back to the Genesee County Fairgrounds on Tuesday, September 26, and is anticipating its largest turnout of students and vendors since its inception in 2019. Over 1,000 students from 29 school districts across the GLOW region will be arriving at the fairgrounds for the day-long career exploration event. 

Approximately 65 businesses will provide hands-on activities and simulations in the advanced manufacturing, agriculture, food production, and skilled trades sectors as well as the various branches of the military. Students will have the opportunity to learn about career opportunities in their own backyard that offer good-paying opportunities immediately after high school graduation.

“In 2022, approximately 3,000 students participated in workforce development events and programs, and we are on pace to host another 1,000 students at our event next week,” said Chris Suozzi, GLOW With Your Hands Co-Founder. “Thanks to the dedication of committee members, school engagement representatives, vendors, and other local workforce experts, we are building a workforce blueprint that regions across the state and country are modeling.”

LandPro Equipment and National Grid both return as the event’s Platinum sponsor bringing two popular vendor stations that students look forward to experiencing. National Grid will have its team members on site to simulate linework and LandPro will have members from its team operating various John Deere equipment. There also will be multiple trade and contractor organizations putting on displays of bricklaying, electrician work, pipe installation, and more. 

 “GLOW With Your Hands: Manufacturing allows the next generation of workforce candidates to interact with representatives from our local industry to experience the type of employment available right here in their own backyards where students can experience real-life examples of the type of work that could be available to them after high school graduation,” said Jay Lazarony, GLOW With Your Hands Co-Founder. “Since 2019 we have seen a 40% increase in participation at GLOW With Your Hands, and that is due to not only our community partners but companies investing in the GLOW region where our talented and educated workforce are prepared to meet the workplace demands of area employers.”

GLOW With Your Hands still has room for vendors, sponsors, and volunteers.  For more information please, visit to sign up!

Judge issues preliminary injunction, halting STAMP sewer line in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers
sewer pipeline stamp
Traffic was limited to one-way on Route 63 on Aug. 30 while contractors installed a new sewer pipe in the Town of Alabama.
Photo by Tom Rivers.

A State Supreme Court has issued a preliminary injunction and temporarily won’t be allowing a sewer line to be constructed in Orleans County, running from the STAMP manufacturing site about 10 miles north to Oak Orchard Creek.

Contractors started installing the 20-inch sewer main last month and are headed north along 63. They haven’t reached Orleans County yet.

Judge Sanford Church on Monday issued the preliminary injunction and set a court date for Oct. 23 at the County Courthouse in Albion.

Orleans County has filed a lawsuit against Genesee County Industrial Development Agency of Batavia, Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation of Batavia, Stamp Sewer Works, Inc. of Batavia, G. Devincentis & Son Construction Co., Inc. of Binghamton, Clark Patterson Lee of Rochester, and Highlander Construction of Memphis, NY.

Orleans contends the GCEDC didn’t properly form STAMP Sewer Works for the project and doesn’t have a right to seek construction easements in Orleans, which is outside Genesee County. Genesee never asked for Orleans permission to undertake the project, Orleans says in the suit.

Orleans economic development officials are also concerned the discharge of treated water from STAMP, at up to 6 million gallons a day at full capacity, could limit economic development efforts in Medina by overtaxing the creek.

GCEDC notes engineering reports say there would be another 10 million gallons of daily capacity for the creek from the Medina sewer plant if STAMP were at full capacity. The first two tenants at STAMP, Plug Power and Edwards Vacuum, would have a daily discharge of 50,000 gallons of treated wastewater GCEDC said.

GCEDC says it secured all required permits and approvals for construction and use of the force main for the sewer, including a right-of-way permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to cross the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and a discharge permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge has temporarily paused drilling as part of the construction after sinkholes were observed in the right of way of the refuge.

There also are fluids associated with subsurface drilling that appeared on the refuge surface outside the perimeter of the right of way, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement on Tuesday.

Craig Leslie, GCEDC attorney, said in a Sept. 11 court filing, asked the judge not to approve a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order.

“Orleans County’s allegations are wholly inconsistent with the facts and the law and smack of a frivolous and politicized attack on the STAMP project,” wrote Leslie, an attorney with Phillips Lytle LLP.

Orleans County, represented by attorney Jennifer Persico of Lippes Mathias LLP, contends the Genesee agencies and others named and in the lawsuit “have been engaged in a conspiracy not only to violate General Municipal and Transportation Corporations Law but also to defraud the residents of Orleans County and citizens of New York State in general by misusing millions of taxpayer dollars to fund an unauthorized project all while acting outside of their respective authority,” according to the Orleans court filing on Sept. 11, seeking the preliminary injunction.

Photo and story courtesy OrleansHub. Tom Rivers is editor of OrleansHub.

Boxcar derbies match speed of workforce development, coach says

By Press Release
Photo from 2023 Inaugural Oakfield Labor Daze Box Car Derby by Howard Owens.

By Chris Suozzi

Accelerating as they hit the final stretch to cross the finish line, pairs of boxcar derby racers dipped their heads. It was one of many lessons I was pleased to share with youth aged 7 -13 gained through a Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation-sponsored program.

70 racers and their families took up the challenge of building, designing, and perfecting their cars for a pair of fast-paced events – the August 26 BID Boxcar Derby in Batavia and the September 2 Labor Daze Boxcar Derby in Oakfield.

These events, and partners like the Batavia Business Improvement District and Oakfield Betterment Committee, create lifelong memories and demonstrate that through innovative workforce development programs, youth in Genesee County and surrounding communities develop through skill-building activities, career engagement, and training.

From Boxcar to Bootcamp

The pace of a boxcar derby matches the speed of our workforce development. We offer diverse tracks for our students, advancing them from pee-wee to pro levels, just like team sports. See below how our racers can progress with programs reaching every age and multiple ability levels.

  • Ages 7 to 13 – Boxcar Derby
  • Ages 8 to 11 – STEAM Jam, a GCC Tech Wars program for 3 rd to 5 th grade students
  • Ages 12 to 15 – Camp Hard Hat, a weeklong building construction trades program.
  • Ages 13 to 18 – GLOW With Your Hands: Manufacturing and GLOW With Your Hands : Healthcare, mass career exploration festivals with hands-on demonstrations; GCC Tech Wars, an extended STEM challenge program
  • Ages 17 to 18 – Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeships, employer-matched job shadowing and co-ops; GV BOCES training in mechatronics, welding, precision machining, and building trades; Cornell in High School food processing training program, a three-day accelerated food & beverage training program
  • Ages 18 to 24 – Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Program, a six-week accelerated mechatronics training program

Committed to Workforce Solutions

As I recently told the Buffalo News, my sense of urgency is like no other. That’s why we’ve been in overdrive to solve the workforce demands of the future ahead of time.

The GCEDC works with our training providers, school engagement organizations, and educators to expand the capacity of training programs. We’ve seen real results – there’s been a 30% increase in BOCES training participation since 2019, events and programs in our community had over 3,000 participants last year, and we're on pace to welcome 1,000 students to GLOW With Your Hands: Manufacturing later this month. 

We need to continue to overcome national challenges that start at home and school. It is crucial to empower parents, older siblings, friends and teachers to encourage pathways with no college debt. The outcomes for our recent pre-apprenticeship graduates, with immediate careers paying over $27/hour highlight the importance of these opportunities.

It’s a challenge that renews every school year. With over 700 high-quality careers coming with Plug Power and Edwards semiconductor at STAMP, and over 1,000 more at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, the capacity for great local jobs is being met. 

These are careers within reach.

Let’s all think and act like our boxcar racers. 

We just have to stretch, to pull together, and I know we’ll win.

Coach Swazz

GCEDC board chair releases open letter to community in response to Orleans County lawsuit

By Howard B. Owens

See also: Orleans County files suit over WNY STAMP sewer line

Press release:

A number of concerns have been raised about the impacts of the construction of an underground pipeline that would discharge treated water from businesses at STAMP into Oak Orchard Creek.

These are concerns that we have taken very seriously and addressed.  Multiple engineering studies and peer engineering and environmental regulatory reviews have been conducted to assess potential impacts of discharging this treated water into the Creek.  This process is similar to how municipalities treat water before it is discharged into local waterways.

While existing businesses at STAMP, including Plug Power and Edwards, would discharge approximately 50,000 gallons per day of treated water into Oak Orchard Creek, the studies and peer reviews assessed the impacts of the potential for a maximum of 6 million gallons per day as if STAMP was at full build-out.

The various studies and peer reviews conducted by engineering professionals took that maximum level into account and determined that the increased flow from the STAMP discharge will not have a noticeable impact on the 100-year flood elevations downstream, nor will it impact stream velocity, water levels, water quality impairments and/or area-wide erosion.

Concerns also have been raised about potentially impacting the capacity at water treatment facilities in neighboring communities, which could negatively impact bringing new businesses and/or assist business expansion because of a lack of capacity.

Again, citing these same studies and peer reviews for the potential for a maximum of 6 million gallons per day if STAMP was at full build-out, it was determined that:

  • The increase in surface water elevations in Oak Orchard Creek during a 10-year storm event would be approximately 1/8” to 1/4”, with STAMP discharging at the maximum expected level of 6 MGD. 
  • Given the above, the Medina water treatment plant, which currently operates with a maximum permitted level of treating 4.5 MGD, could expand by another 10 MGD in order to accommodate new capacity for business growth and/or expansion without impact from STAMP’s maximum expected 6 MGD discharge.  
  • An adjoining dam to Oak Orchard Creek could absorb the 6 MGD into its storage capacity without modification to the dam’s operations.  

We want to support our partners in economic development to assist any we can to enhance investment in the GLOW region.  We would not advocate for something that would be detrimental to our partners, as we all are working collaboratively to bring prosperity to our region.

Finally, we want to thank the approximately 38 landowners who agreed to temporary and permanent easements on their properties to allow the underground pipeline to be constructed.  We appreciate their understanding of the temporary and permanent need to use their properties for this critically important regional economic development initiative.

Please visit to review the various engineering studies and peer-reviewed documents related to this project.


Peter Zeliff
Genesee County Economic Development Center

Orleans County files suit over WNY STAMP sewer line

By Tom Rivers
stamp sewer line
The new sewer line is shown on Aug. 12 on Route 63 in the Town of Alabama, Genesee County. Orleans County officials are seeking to stop the construction from going to the STAMP site about 10 miles north to the Oak Orchard Creek.
Photo by Tom Rivers/OrleansHub

Story courtesy

Orleans County is suing its neighbor to try to stop a sewer line from coming into the Town of Shelby and depositing up to 6 million gallons of what Orleans says is “contaminated” water into the Oak Orchard Creek.

The county on Monday filed an Article 78 complaint in State Supreme Court, seeking to halt placement of a sewer line from the STAMP site to the Oak Orchard Creek, a 9.5-mile long pipe along Route 63 that has been under construction since Aug. 3.

Orleans is asking for a temporary restraining order to stop construction so the arguments can be heard in court without the pipeline getting built in Orleans County.

See also: GCEDC board chair releases open letter to community in response to Orleans County lawsuit

The court action from Orleans County is called a “frivolous and politicized attack” in a court response from Craig A. Leslie, attorney for GCEDC and others named in the suit.

Orleans County officials contend the county never gave its permission for the project, and the Genesee County Economic Development Center formed a “sham corporation” – STAMP Sewer Works – to make the project happen.

The STAMP site is 1,250 acres and is considered a top priority for economic development officials in the region. It is targeted for advanced manufacturing – semiconductors and renewables manufacturing.

Plug Power is currently building a $290 million facility at STAMP for a green hydrogen production facility that includes an electric substation. The new facility will produce 45 metric tons of green liquid hydrogen daily when fully operational, making it the largest green hydrogen production facility in North America. Plug will employ 60 people.

Another company, Edwards Vacuum, announced last November it would build a $319 million “factory of the future” at STAMP in a project serving the semiconductor industry. Edwards plans to employ 600 high-skill professionals at the semiconductor dry pump manufacturing facility.

The commitments from the two companies follow a 20-year effort to develop STAMP in a rural area of Genesee County, only a few miles south of the Orleans County border. STAMP has been pushed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Gov. Kathy Hochul and her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo.

But Orleans County officials say the Genesee County Economic Development Center has been driving the contracts for the project, including engineering and construction – and that is illegal because an economic development agency can’t fund and push projects outside its own county unless it has permission from the other municipalities, Jennifer Persico, an attorney representing Orleans County, wrote in the complaint filed in State Supreme Court in Orleans County.

orleans attorney
Jennifer Persico, an attorney with Lippes Mathias LLP, speaks during an eminent domain public hearing on July 27. She said at the hearing that the Genesee County Economic Development Center illegally created STAMP Sewer Works as “a sham corporation” to do the eminent domain proceedings against two Orleans County property owners.
Photo by Tom Rivers/OreleansHub

In the court filing, she said Orleans “strenuously objects” to the sewer project.

Genesee County EDC is illegally funding a project outside its jurisdiction, Orleans contends in its complaint. The EDC paid for easements to allow for temporary construction, including all but two in Shelby. Orleans County secured two easements in Shelby with the stipulation no sewer line can be constructed.

Orleans officials contend the sewer discharge could limit the county’s efforts to develop its own business park in Medina, and the water may cause flooding and hurt the county’s $30 million annual fishing industry at the Oak Orchard, which is world renowned for salmon and trout fishing.

GCEDC, on March 25, 2021, awarded a $9,777,000 contract to G. DeVincentis & Son Construction Company for the 20-inch sewer main, which goes from the northern refuge boundary to the north of Shelby Center. GCEDC accepted a low bid from Highlander for construction at $5,193,445 and approved a $900,000 contract and a $560,000 contract to Clark Patterson Lee for engineering services for the sewer project. GCEDC approved the bids without the consent of Orleans County.

The request for bids shows GCEDC contemplated construction in Orleans County without the consent of Orleans, Persico said.

GCEDC also has purchased 18 temporary easements in Orleans County to allow for construction of the sewer line, without consent of Orleans, a violation of general municipal law, according to the complaint.

Orleans, in the complaint, also faults Genesee County EDC for improperly forming STAMP Sewer Works, for illegally funding and noticing the eminent domain hearing at the Alabama fire hall on July 27.

Orleans seeks to have the Supreme Court annul the easements. The county also seeks to stop the GCEDC-backed project in Orleans without the county support. That includes efforts from the GCEDC-affiliated Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation and STAMP Sewer Works.

Leslie, attorney for GCEDC, asked the judge, Frank Caruso, not to approve a temporary restraining order on the project. Leslie said the sewer line construction has received all of the needed environmental and right-of-way permits from the state Department of Transportation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to cross the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

Leslie said Orleans County shouldn’t be granted a temporary restraining order because the project is still weeks and even months from getting into Orleans. Persico wrote in her court filing the project was likely a matter of hours or days until it started in Orleans. The contractor is currently installing the sewer line in the refuge in Genesee County, Leslie wrote.

Orleans is beyond its authority and is seeking to stop all sewer line construction when the project is currently solely in Genesee County.

Leslie, the GCEDC attorney, said the claim that GCEDC is using its own money is false because the funding is part of $33 million awarded for STAMP development by Empire State Development, a state entity “which fully supports the STAMP project,” Leslie wrote.

He responded that the Town of Shelby gave its consent to the sewer line project, and so did the Orleans County Department of Health.

He asked the judge to deny the Orleans request for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order.

“Orleans County will sustain no injury by the continued construction of the Force Main, particularly in Genesee County, while this matter is appropriately determined by this Court,” Leslie wrote to Judge Caruso. “Meanwhile, STAMP Sewer will be irreparably harmed if the overbroad and unreasonable order requested by Orleans County is granted.”

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Batavian sought additional comment from GCEDC, and a spokesman referred us to a website that has been set up to address the issues raised by the lawsuit

Authentically Local