BATAVIA – The top Genesee County news story of 2013 was the activity by the county’s industrial development agency, which brought millions of dollars in construction and hundreds of new jobs.
Muller Quaker opened its Greek-style yogurt plant in June, the major tenant in the 200-acre Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park designed for food processing operations. The park was created by the Genesee County Economic Development Center, a former IDA.
The German dairy firm and its PepsiCo partner joined Alpina Foods, a smaller operation that opened in late 2012. The two have been a boon to the dairy farming in Genesee and neighboring counties, and created about 250 jobs.
Alpina, a South American entry in the U.S., is purchasing 10 additional acres for expansion.
The park at the city’s eastern border is now negotiating for a bio-gas operation that would collect the waste from yogurt making and convert it to methane gas to produce low-cost electricity.
A second County Economic Development Center park at Thruway Interchange 48A – west of the city – will welcome its first tenant after negotiations were completed this year with Yancey’s Fancy, a producer and retailer of cheese. The former Kutter enterprise will build a plant in the Buffalo East Technology Park in the Town of Pembroke. The firm plans a $21 million expansion at two locations and to increase its workforce by 50.
The agency also worked with Graham Corp., a Batavia-based maker of heat exchange equipment for the petro-chemical industry. Graham will spend $5.5 million at two locations, creating 30 new jobs.
Meanwhile, city residents were faced with finding a garbage collector, a service that was paid for by the city. That item was dropped in the city’s 2013-14 budget to the consternation of hundreds of residents who crowded City Council chambers in protest. ARC Genesee had the contract for 30 years and employed about 30 disabled workers whose jobs suddenly were in jeopardy.
A compromise was reached with several vendors competing for the trash pickup. ARC would end up with more than half the 5,000 homes and businesses in the city, enough to continue its service.
The new system is apparently working well, although the cut in real estate property taxes for garbage pickup is offset, and in some cases eclipsed, by the homeowner’s fee paid to vendors.
For a city whose population has declined to 15,500 – a 15 percent drop in four decades – construction and new jobs made it a good year.