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Steve Hyde

Steve Hyde's retirement plans? Step out of the limelight, help with a new grandchild

By Howard B. Owens
steve hyde
Steve Hyde.
Photo by Steve Ognibene.

At only 61, Steve Hyde isn't planning a second career after his final days with the Genesee County Economic Development Center; he's planning to try out an actual retirement -- for awhile, at least.

"My kind of core values in retirement, I think are, I want to spend more time with my family, do a little traveling," Hyde said in an exclusive interview with The Batavian on Monday. "I'll try to be around to help out, but it's time to step away from the limelight and the leadership role a little bit."

Hyde has led the EDC for 21 years, overseeing the construction of eight shovel-ready industrial parks, including WNY STAMP, the Genesee Valley Agribusiness Park, Apple Tree Acres, Buffalo East Tech Park, and Gateway I & II corporate parks, among them. During that time, GCEDC has assisted with more than 500 projects, from building expansions to whole new factories, worth a combined $2 billion-plus of investments leading to the creation of thousands of new jobs and increased tax revenue for municipalities and school districts.

"I just think it's a good time for me (to retire)," Hyde said. "I mean, I hit critical milestones for our retirement plan. Things are in good shape at EDC. There's lots of progress and more to do. But, you know, my hope was to get things up and running and on plane, and with Edwards breaking ground and the Ag Park almost full, the great work going on with O-AT-KA and Upstate and HP Hood. The other parks are filling up. The next generation is ready to move, and it just seemed like a good time to do it."

Hyde graduated from Batavia High School. He earned a bachelor of science in marketing, finance, and agricultural economics from Cornell University and an MBA in finance in sales and marketing from RIT. 

After earning his MBA, Hyde became manager of strategic finance/mergers and acquisitions for Xerox, followed by taking a shot in the start-up world with a software company before landing a VP of business and technology development at ResMed in Rochester.

Jim Vincent was chairman of the GCEDC board in 2002 when the agency began its search for a new president and CEO. There were several qualified candidates, Vincent said in a recorded message shared at the GCEDC annual meeting on Friday.

"Steve Hyde was our selection," Vincent said. "He is a gifted individual with experience from the big corporate world of Xerox. We were not sure if he was a good fit for a small town and small county economic development. We were won over by his commitment to home and family and his desire to raise his family here in Genesee County."

That was the start of a four-minute video in which community leaders praised Hyde's efforts to help Genesee County improve its business climate.

"There was no project or client that was too big or imposing," said Charlie Cook, chairman of the board for Liberty Pumps in Bergen. "He was determined that Genesee County be recognized statewide, even nationwide, as a great place to locate.

"Steve's approach to economic development was comprehensive and creative," Cook added. "Beyond the projects themselves, he was focused on the supporting peripherals, such as park development, infrastructure, workforce supply, workforce development, and even housing."

Hyde was quick to point out during his interview with The Batavian that "it takes a village" to succeed in economic development and that not only has he been blessed with a great team while leading the industrial development agency, the agency has also had great partners at the state and regional level.

"It wasn't just me," Hyde said. "I was just a part of the partnership that was really focused. I think about the number of organizations that really locked arms together to advance our shovel-ready sites, workforce development, and downtown revitalization strategies. I've been just really pleased to see that."

Hyde believes those efforts have been successful for Genesee County.

"The industrial parks have really helped really bring manufacturing back," Hyde said. "That's really been our focus for the past 20 years. I think we've had some good progress there, and they'll continue growing. I think we're seeing things grow, though not everything's perfect. Our downtown areas are seeing tons of redevelopment, making it a better place to live, work and play, but not everything's perfect in economic development, as you know."

In 2022, the most recent data available, Hyde was paid a salary of $249,752.

While leading the GCEDC, Hyde also served on the board of education for Batavia City Schools from 2007 to 2011. He is a past chairman of the New York State Economic Development Council and a member of the board of directors of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. Those are all voluntary positions. 

Hyde's 21 years at the helm of the agency haven't been without choppy waters and controversy.

In 2011, the agency was criticized for $344,000 in bonuses paid to GCEDC employees from 2005 to 2009. The bonus plan was eventually eliminated. 

In 2013, The Batavian scrutinized tax abatements awarded to COR Development to help the owner of Batavia Towne Center on Veterans Memorial Drive attract Dick's Sporting Goods and Kohl's Department Store to the former Lowe's Home Improvement location, raising the level of corporate competition for local retailers.

In 2015, the sudden closure of the Muller Quaker yogurt plant in the Genesee Valley Agribusiness Park looked at first glance like a crushing blow to the cause of economic development. Pepsi Co. and the Muller Group from Germany invested more than $200 million in the plant only to shutter operations less than three years after its opening. The companies had been promised more than $11 million in tax abatements to build the plant, and people who misunderstood how tax abatements work thought the company was walking away with a windfall.  However, both companies lost any pending tax breaks (a big portion of that $11 million), and Pepsi, a publicly traded company, reported a $60 million loss on the project. It's unknown how much Muller lost as a result of the business failure.

In 2015, Dairy Farmers of America acquired the plant for $60 million, and after paying a full-load property tax bill of more than $600,000 in 2016 on the property, sold the plant in 2017 to H.P. Hood for $54,216,000.  Since then, the plant has undergone multiple expansions, employing hundreds of people beyond initial projections and turning it into one of GCEDC's biggest success stories.

Another yogurt plant, built by Alpina in the Ag Park, has undergone a similar transformation, from a failed business venture by the South America-based dairy company to a success for Upstate Niagara.

WNY STAMP has also seen its share of starts and stops.  The most notorious was the highly-touted plans to build innovative solar panels on property in the tech park in the town of Alabama. After 1366, Technologies was unable to secure backing from the Department of Energy (largely, it seems, because then Sen. Chris Collins failed to endorse the project). The company decided to build its plant in Malaysia.  It's unclear if that plant was ever built. It later merged with a solar company and became CubicPV, which, earlier this year, scrapped plans to build a new manufacturing plant in the United States.

No new development plans were announced for STAMP until 2021, when another green energy company, Plug Power, which converts water into hydrogen fuel, announced plans to build a $264 million plant there.  At this point, a good deal of the plant's development has been completed, but the company doesn't expect the plant to start producing fuel until 2025.  Plug Power is itself a controversial company, with the stock currently trading at $2.60. Investors have become increasingly weary of a company that has never made a profit in more than 20 years of its existence. Plug Power is awaiting word on a $1.5 billion low-interest loan from the Department of Energy that will help it complete its hydrogen fuel plants. Once fully operational, those plants are expected to lift company revenue sufficiently to close the profitability gap. Meanwhile, the company is facing a shareholder lawsuit.

WNY STAMP has also faced some opposition from environmental groups, and the Department of Environmental Conservation is being sued by the Tonawanda Senecas over its permitting of aspects of the project.  The GCEDC has already defeated a lawsuit filed by Orleans County, but the DEC did recently require modifications to the sewer pipeline that was going to carry some waste from STAMP, so the agency has reached agreements with the town of Alabama and the town of Oakfield for an alternative sewer line.

Hyde's retirement announcement, however, coincided with good news for the IDA.  Edwards Vacuum, planning a $319 million factory at STAMP, broke ground on Friday.

Hyde always takes all of these ups and downs in stride, saying, as he does often, that "economic development is a marathon, not a sprint."  The business world is full of challenges, and few things go as expected.

When a business deal falls apart, Hyde understands.  Those things are going to happen. 

What has been harder to deal with -- and it's largely a more recent phenomenon -- is the amount of reporting from some media outlets, especially in Buffalo, that either employ reporters who don't understand business and economics, leave out critical information, or get information wrong.

"I think the biggest challenge for the job, especially so in the last few years, is the amount of misinformation that gets out into the public because facts are made up or manipulated rather than properly stated," Hyde said. "You know, I thank you because you've been one of the media outlets that has always worked hard to bring the facts to the table, but other outlets across the region have really created a smokescreen of misinformation. So misinformation, I think, is one of the biggest challenges." 

Some of these outlets' inaccurate reporting has helped fuel social media attacks on Hyde. Asked if this has led him to seek an early exit, he said it hasn't.

"I'm a human being," Hyde said. "I have feelings, just like we all do. I've done nothing while in this role but to try and do everything I can to create more and better jobs for our residents and kids, you know, but being shot at by certain media outlets that don't have the facts portrayed correctly, it certainly is impactful and not helpful. I can't say that that drove me out of the job. No, but it can be heavy at times."

Hyde informed the GCEDC board months ago that he planned to retire in July. A committee has been busy seeking candidates, and Hyde suggested that his replacement could be announced soon.  Hiring his replacement is entirely up to the GCEDC board, though the input of the Genesee County Legislature and Empire State Development is possible.

"It's truly a local decision," Hyde said. "The County Legislature, of course, gets to provide some input, but they don't get deeply involved, either. They've been wonderful that way, great partners, through the years, but they empower the board to let it be a local decision based on the people who know how these agencies are run."

In retirement, he looks forward to relaxing with his wife JoAnn at their home at Conesus Lake, which will become their full-time residence.

Hyde has expertise in negotiating business development deals that might continue to be in demand, and he's also gone down the entrepreneurial start-up route once. Might he be lured back into one of these roles again?  Hyde has no such plans, he said. He said that going the start-up route once was enough, and while he's available to offer advice to his former colleagues, he thinks they're more than capable and will do fine just by keeping on doing what they're doing.

"At this juncture, I'm gonna take some time off and spend it with the family and friends, and probably for several months, if not longer, just to try to, you know, figure out what retirement looks like. Maybe something down the road, but I made a commitment to my wife JoAnn that we would do that. We've got to. We've got a second grandson coming in a couple of weeks, so I want to help out there. It'll be fun."

Remote video URL

Interest high in STAMP, Hyde says, with new project announcement possible this month

By Howard B. Owens

With a bit of luck or an answered prayer, there could be an announcement about a new tenant at STAMP in Alabama within the next 30 days, said Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, in an exclusive interview with The Batavian on Monday.

"You know what, we're praying hard that the next one connects, and we've had some real big strides of late, so I'm hoping there'll be something to talk about inside of 30 days," Hyde said.

The suggestion that a deal with some sort of hi-tech firm to build a plant at the WNY Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park came at the end of an interview where Hyde discussed the interest the park is drawing from semi-conductor companies, the supply chain for those companies, and renewable energy companies.

"Things are moving, the site's market-relevant now," Hyde said. "We're seeing a lot of interest."

The biggest game changer for marketing STAMP, Hyde said, is the CHIPS and Science Act.

The legislation, authored by Sen. Charles Schumer, is intended to increase the production of semiconductors -- computer chips -- in the United States and reduce the reliance in the U.S. on Chinese semiconductors.  It's seen by supporters as a national security issue.

The act provides $52 billion in manufacturing grants and establishes a 25 percent investment tax credit for increasing semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. 

"It is critical, in my view, having lived in this industry for a decade or more, that we really need to do all we can to bring it back," Hyde said. "I applaud Sen. Schumer and a lot of our leaders. That was a bipartisan effort around CHIPS to really make this happen and now we're seeing deals from it."

One of the biggest deals so far, announced last month, is the decision by Micron Technologies to invest $100 billion to build a new plant on 1,300 acres near Syracuse

Far from losing out on that deal, the staff at GCEDC has been busy negotiating with a bevy of companies -- as many as 20 -- about space availability at Genesee County's own 1,200-acre advanced technology campus.  Hyde said there are at least five companies, and perhaps seven, that have at least a 70 percent chance of signing a deal for a facility at STAMP.

"There's a real active sales funnel at STAMP, actually," Hyde said. "It's deeper and wider than I've seen, ever."

Combined, the companies kicking tires represent $40 billion in investments and about 20,000 jobs.

Of course, they won't all fit on the campus, and depending on who eventually signs, we could see anywhere from three to six companies with facilities in the park.

The competitive landscape has shifted since STAMP was first conceived, Hyde said.  He's no longer expecting one major semiconductor company to come in and swoop up all that remains of the STAMP campus.  The project was conceived during a time when semiconductor companies only wanted to locate two or three fabrication operations in a single location, preferring to spread out manufacturing nationally, if not globally.

But as China has grown more competitive, and with the incentives of the CHIPS Act, the major firms are looking for locations that can support six to eight fabrication plants, Hyde said.  STAMP isn't designed to provide the infrastructure necessary to support that size of an operation.

He congratulated the leaders in Onondaga County for being able to put together a plan that will meet Micron's needs.

Ultimately, Micron's presence in Central New York will benefit Genesee County, he said.  It helps create a corridor of semiconductor companies and supply chain companies from Fishkill to Columbus, Ohio, including projects in Utica and Albany, with STAMP just off the I-90 that helps tie it all together.

"Honestly, a lot of these supply chain and semiconductor players like to be nearby for transportation logistics, but they don't necessarily want to be right in the back yard of another firm because of workforce (availability)."

A smaller semiconductor manufacturer might take an interest in STAMP, but Hyde suggested it's more likely that supply chain companies will move in the firms that supply semiconductor manufacturers with their tools and technological support.

"It could become a hub for semiconductor players that maybe don't take the whole campus, but fit in nicely, and it almost becomes like a hub for the semiconductor industry," Hyde said. "We've got some real interest in that, in that space right now." 

There remains high interest among green energy companies because of the renewable power source available at STAMP (Niagara Falls). It helps that Plug Power is already building what will be the nation's largest green hydrogen plant, Hyde said.

There's also a developer from Indiana who is interested in acquiring the southern portion of the STAMP site, and that developer would do some advance builds in order to attract prospective clients.

"They've got a marquee list of vendors," Hyde said.

Hyde is never one to give too much away about the deals the team at GCEDC is working on, but he didn't hide his optimism that good things are coming soon for STAMP.

"It's pretty cool that a dozen years ago, when we really kind of defined the hope and strategy and vision for the site, that those sectors that were the focus then are the hot ones now, with federal incentives really helping drive that interest level like never before," Hyde said.

Photo: File photo of Steve Hyde from 2015 by Howard Owens.

Interview with Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC

By Howard B. Owens
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Interview with Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC. We'll talk about the state of economic development in Genesee County, touching on the ag park, Downtown Batavia, and STAMP. We're scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

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

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

Here are some key quotes:

On developing Downtown:

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

On the future of WNY STAMP:

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

On the challenges of economic development in New York:

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

On Ellicott Station:

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

On the importance of the Muckdogs to economic development:

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

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Steve Hyde named chairman of the NYS Economic Development Council

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Steve Hyde, president and CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), has been named chairman of the New York State Economic Development Council (NYSEDC). It is the state's largest economic development organization.

Hyde was elected to a two-year term during NYSEDC’s annual meeting in Cooperstown today (May 25). Hyde and the GCEDC have been members of the NYSEDC since 2004. 

The New York State Economic Development Council (NYSEDC) is the state’s principal organization representing economic development professionals, businesses and colleges and universities for more than 40 years. NYSEDC promotes the economic development of the state and its communities and encourages sound practices in the conduct of local, regional and statewide development programs, as well as develops education programs that enhance the professional development skills of NYSEDC members.

“Steve Hyde has outstanding private and public sector experience and leadership and his record of success in Genesee County will serve NYSEDC well during his term as Chair,” said Brian McMahon, executive director of NYSEDC.      

As president and CEO of GCEDC, Hyde has played a critical role in generating more than $1 billion in new investment in Genesee County through the years, resulting in thousands of new jobs and unprecedented economic development growth.

One of the most notable economic development accomplishments to date is the 1,250-acre Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the town of Alabama, which is expected to generate thousands of jobs in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in October 2015 the first tenant at STAMP – 1366 Technologies, which plans to build a state-of-the art solar wafer manufacturing facility creating approximately 1,000 new jobs over the next few years. 

“I have been very fortunate to work with some great public and private sector organizations in Genesee County which has resulted in me having the opportunity to serve as Chairman of NYSEDC,” Hyde said. “This opportunity will allow me to collaborate closely with various economic development leaders across New York State to create a more favorable climate for business growth and the retention and creation of jobs and private sector investment.”

Hyde holds a B.S. from Cornell University and an M.B.A. in finance, sales and marketing from Rochester Institute of Technology. He resides in the City of Batavia with his wife, Joann.

Bonduelle's success

By Don Lovelace

'A Complete 180': France-based Bonduelle Brings Stable Presence to Genesee County Food Processing -WBTA

"He (Daniel Vielfaure, CEO of Bonduelle Americas) said the company did not seek tax breaks from the county to complete the acquisition because simply, assistance wasn’t needed. They used a “hurry-up offense” – a football analogy Vielfaure used – to get the seeds in the ground by April to start the process as soon as possible and knew this was the best opportunity to jump right in."


But.... Steve Hyde is quoted a couple of times in the article, like he had something to do with this, as well as various government types all jumping in to take credit for some one else's success!

GCEDC CEO out of the spotlight during ceremony for big yogurt plant he helped put on the map

By Howard B. Owens

Throughout the 90-minute opening ceremony for the new Muller Quaker Dairy Plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, Steve Hyde sat in the second row and smiled.

Not one speaker -- and there were five of them -- mentioned Hyde by name. There was no official recognition of his work to bring this day about.

Still, he smiled.

You couldn't help but think of a proud father watching his son or daughter graduate.

Asked how he felt afterward, Hyde, as he usually does when posed such questions, demurred and praised others.

"It’s a great day for everybody in the community," Hyde said. "This was a dream of mine and a lot of other partners. It’s 10 years in the making and this is just phase one."

Hyde has his critics. Genesee County Economic Development Center, the organization he runs, has its skeptics. But the Muller Quaker plant is a big deal, especially for a county of only 57,000 people that hasn't had a big factory opening in more than five decades.

PepsiCo and Theo Muller Group invested $200 million in the facility and that dollar figure doesn't count product development, designs for new trade-secret machinery to create the Greek-style yogurt, new software to run the plant and the planning that goes into bringing a new product to market.

Ken Adams, president of Empire State Development, indicated he was a little bit awed by the idea of a global powerhouse like Pepsi and a German-based company like Theo Muller coming to Upstate New York.

"Having PepsiCo here, having Muller here, is like a global seal of approval for this park and its infrastructure," Adams said.

And he gives a lot of the credit for making it happen to Hyde.

"Steve Hyde as far as I’m concerned, he really put the agri-business park, this particular location, on the map at a statewide level," Adams said. "Steve is always in Albany working very closely with the legislators from the area, senate and assembly, working very close with the governor’s office.

"I’ve told this to him, so I'll say it to you," Adams added, "Steve Hyde is a forceful, well respected advocate for investment and economic development here in Batavia. He really put the site on the map and then he also pulls everybody together at the local and state level to make sure a project like this actually goes smoothly. That’s important for the company, for the investors, that there are no hiccups along the way."

A critical factor with Muller Quaker -- called Project Wave during the planning process -- was the speed at which all of the necessary permits could be secured. A lot of credit goes to Town of Batavia and Genesee County officials, but the GCEDC staff laid the ground work to have a shovel-ready site and push the paperwork through the process.

In his speech today, Theo Muller praised the local authorities who got approval for the plant so quickly.

"It would be unimaginable in Germany," he said with a wink. "In Germany that would have taken at the very least three years. You have to send a whole case of yogurt to them over there to get anything done."

Sen. Charles Schummer called the ag park a great idea of local leaders and said when GCEDC came to him for help, he was happy to jump in and secure federal grants for infrastructure.

"There is no better way to strengthen our dairy industry and create jobs than to build a park like this, which has helped attract this great company," Schumer said.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley, who helped with the state legislative process on the project, noted that in any big project like this, stretching, as it does, across the boundaries of local, state and federal responsibilities, there are a lot of people who deserve credit for bringing it together, but Hyde certainly provided critical leadership.

"This is a big deal," Hawley said. "It's one of the largest plants in the country. We need jobs. I hear about it every day from constituents."

It takes a lot of work, Hawley said, to untangle the regulations that can hold up a business and a lot of people had a hand in bringing it together.

"A lot of the credit goes to Steve, but it's a team effort," Hawley said.

Danny Wegman, CEO of Wegmans and president of the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council, is also a Steve Hyde fan. He believes Hyde will pull off the gargantuan task of developing WNY STAMP, the proposed 1,200-acre, high-tech manufacturing park in Alabama that could employ 9,300 people some day.

It's an audacious project, but Wegman said when there are people passionate about projects, they can make things happen.

"Steve is very excited about this," Wegman said last week during the governor's visit to Genesee Community College. "There are a lot of confidential things that can't be shared, but I feel confident that if somebody I believe in is excited about it, the chances of it happening are pretty good."

The success of the ag park only enhances the chance's of success with STAMP, Adams said.

"We’re very hopeful," Adams said. "It’s a globally competitive industry. The opportunity is at STAMP. It’s a great site. It’s much bigger than this site, the agri-business park, but Steve has done a good job at lining up all of the vital ingredients for that site -- power, water, obviously the land, permitting, all the things you need to really be shovel-ready when the right business comes along. He’s the chief marketer. He’s going to Albany tomorrow. He’s on it and he works very closely my colleagues at ESD on marketing STAMP, so we have our fingers crossed."

Hyde said it's all about building on the natural assets of Batavia and Genesee County and showing that can be done with the ag park will translate into confidence for other projects, such as STAMP.

"It helps build credibility in the eyes of some of the folks in the leadership roles in the state that we know how to do this here at the local level," Hyde said. "This (agriculture) is an industry where the regional assets were in great demand and we could make an impact, and when you look at the regional assets in the nano stuff in our region we’ve got the same situation developing."

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