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Genesee development center to give farmers a boost

BATAVIA – The Genesee County Economic Development Center is lending a helping hand to local farmers by agreeing to administer a Growing the Agriculture Industry Now! loan fund in conjunction with the Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council.

Agency board members on Thursday voted to coordinate loan fund applications, disburse the loans and oversee farming projects after learning that Genesee County will receive $443,000 in grant funding out of a total of $3 million that the state is providing to Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties.

“In 2014, the planning council approved funding to help agricultural producers – both big and small,” said Stephen G. Hyde, agency president. “The challenges are that some of their assets aren’t valued highly by banks because they are live assets.”

Hyde said Genesee, which has a substantial farming industry, received the second-largest appropriation.

The amount of the loan funds allocated to each county was calculated based on the 2012 Census of Agriculture County On-Farm Income as a percentage of the total for all of the nine counties. 

The board also finalized $189,200 in sales tax exemptions for Darien Lake Theme Park & Resort’s two new attractions this summer – a six-flume water slide and a rollercoaster train.

The new rides are part of Darien Lake’s $2.8 million 2016 Tourism Destination Project.

The board also accepted an application from Mega Properties Inc., a distributor for the Canada-based Koolatron Corp.

Koolatron has operated in Batavia since 1979 and plans to invest $750,000 to add 25,000 square feet to its existing 45,000-square-foot facility. It is requesting $172,000 in sales, mortgage and property tax abatements. A public hearing will be held before a final decision is made.

In other action, the board:

• Approved a $102,550 contract with CC Environment & Planning of Batavia for environmental review and permitting services to prepare the Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park for next year’s arrival of the site’s first tenant – 1366 Technologies, a solar wafer producer based in Bedford, Mass.

The first of three phases of the archeological surveys and site exams will begin next month. The entire project is expected to take about a year to complete.

Hyde said that his staff decided against a bidding process because of time constraints and familiarity with the vendor. Although the contract passed by unanimous vote, Paul J. Battaglia, board chairman, objected due to the dollar amount of the contract.

“Going forward, we should bid this out,” he said.

• Renewed a contract with Park Strategies of Albany – at $4,250 per month for one year – for consulting and lobbying services in front of administrative, legislative and executive branches of the state government, and its political subdivisions.

• Renewed a marketing contract with Buffalo Niagara Enterprise for another year at the current annual fee of $25,000. The firm has been instrumental in attracting new companies to the county, and assists the IDA with online property listing of development sites.