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Genesee Economic Development Center OKs $2.2 million incentives for O-AT-KA

BATAVIA – Genesee County Economic Development Center directors on Thursday approved a financial assistance package of more than $2.2 million for a major expansion project at O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative.

Agency directors unanimously approved tax incentives for O-AT-KA, manufacturer of dairy- and coffee-based beverages located at Ellicott and Cedar streets in both the City and Town of Batavia.

The $21 million plant expansion, which could begin this month, includes the construction of a large warehouse and equipment handling room, and the purchase of new equipment.

The project is expected to create 21 new jobs over a three-year period. Currently, the company has 334 employees.

O-AT-KA will receive $718,561 in sales tax breaks and $1,548,050 in property tax abatements. The company is owned by Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc. and Dairy Farmers of America, and exports about 15 percent of its production.

The agency also passed a $1.9 million budget for the 2016 fiscal year, which consists of approximately $1.55 million in revenues from grants, project fees, interest income and Genesee County funding, and $350,000 in cash payments from project fee annuity streams and a sale of land at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen.

Additionally, revolving loan fund interest is expected to generate around $12,000 via 14 active loans, while workforce development initiatives continue to sustain themselves through grants.

The budget includes a 2 percent pay increase for salaried employees. Increased hours for building and maintenance employees connected to the ownership of property at the Western New York Science, Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Park site in the town of Alabama is expected to add another 2 percent to overall payroll costs.

The spending plan calls for a 10 percent increase in health insurance premiums, based on current estimates from brokers.

“The GCEDC budget assumptions are conservative due to uncertainties related to future project activity levels, but we anticipate that 2016 will be another productive year,” said Chief Financial Officer Lezlie Farrell in a news release.

In other action, the board accepted an application for assistance from Reinhart Enterprises Inc. to expand its warehousing space at its 36 Swan St. facility.

The company is seeking $182,460 in sales tax, mortgage tax and property tax exemptions on behalf of its tenant – Continental Auto Parts, a business-to-business distribution center of after-market automotive parts and accessories.

Because the request is for more than $100,000, a required public hearing will be held next week prior to a formal vote by the board.