Biogas, Intergrow, Letchworth among projects to get funding

Biogas, Intergrow, Letchworth among projects to get funding

By Jim Krencik and Joanne Beck Daily News Staff Writers | Posted: Friday, December 12, 2014 12:00 am

CH4 Biogas

ALBANY — The glitzy announcement of $709 million in state funding for economic development focused on the “new” New York, but in the GLOW region, successful projects were largely tied to agriculture and natural resources.

The Regional Economic Development Council awards brought tax incentives for Intergrow Greenhouse’s expansion in Gaines, grants for the Greek yogurt-supporting Genesee Biogas project in Batavia, and promised matching aid for a planned nature center in the Letchworth State Park.

Technologically-advanced projects in Monroe County took the spotlight and a majority of the $80.7 million pledged to the Finger Lakes Region by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Thursday.

The $200,000 grant received by Wyoming County Community Action for agriculturally-focused workforce development programs wasn’t on the Finger Lakes REDC’s Transformative Projects list. That doesn’t reduce the life-changing impact it will bring to farm workers, refugees and unemployed people the program will help when it launches in January.

WCCA Division Director Pat Standish said the program will aid Wyoming County’s farms in meeting the surging need for milk by training a wave of workers who can work as milkers, similar to existing programs churning out machinists and medical assistants.

“We recognize that we have to invest in our young people and employment opportunities for people who have difficulty finding work, but who with training can fill these jobs,” Standish said.

Standish is seeking perspective students and farms to reach out to Community Action at 585-237-2600585-237-2600 , ext. 141, to gauge where workers are most needed. The agency also hopes to hear from current farm workers seeking help in moving up the career ladder in agriculture.

“Our program will focus on long-term skill development in the area and it strengthens our service capacity and needed supports,” Community Action Executive Director Alex Pierce said. “We’re working for the agricultural industry and the critical skills taught in that marketplace.”

Genesee Biogas, a $20 million project planned for the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia by CH4 Biogas, was the recipient of the area’s largest award – a $1.5 million Empire State Development grant.

The project, which received $2 million from the same process in 2013, will construct a 15,000 square-foot biodigester to convert organic waste streams produced in the Ag Park by neighboring Greek Yogurt plants.

Sen. Charles Schumer praised the biogas project’s support, which he said will replicate the success of on-farm biodigesters like CH4 Biogas’ first project – the biodigester installed in 2011 at Synergy Dairy.

“This cutting edge facility is a win, win, win – it will provide renewable energy to the Ag Park, home to companies like Muller Quaker and Alpina yogurt, reduce the need to send waste to landfills, and help attract new businesses to locate to the Ag Park,” Schumer said.

The Open Space Institute, a partner in the $6 million Letchworth State Park Nature Center, received $800,000 in aid from three separate funding steams.

The state has pledged $4 million in aid for the project, which has raised three-quarters of its $2 million private contribution goal.

The project will provide year-round exhibits, programs and observational tools to enhance enjoyment and learning for the more than 700,000 visitors who come to the park each year.

Intergrow Greenhouse’s $13.2 million investment in its hydroponically-grown tomato project received Orleans County’s largest award – a $600,000 tax incentive package.

The 7.5-acre project is just weeks away from completion, Intergrow President Dirk Biemans said, and will lead to 15 additional jobs.

Like the biodigester project, Intergrow’s plans feature state-of-the-art technology, with diffused glass and anti-reflective coating.

“It’s more light into the greenhouse,” Biemans said. “We’ll increase our yields.”

Two Wyoming County businesses received state assistance to expand their operations.

Steel & O’Brien Manufacturing of Arcade, a manufacturer of stainless steel fittings, was approved for a $300,000 tax incentive package to aid the purchase and renovation of a 200,400 square-foot facility for operational expansion.

LVM Materials LLC in Bliss was approved for $25,000 to help the purchase of an abandoned steel fabricating plant, a recently remediated Brownfield site for its wood recovery and re-purposing business. LVM Materials will also restore a building for sawdust procession.

Batavia draws biggest municipal awards

City Manager Jason Molino said it’s great news for the city to receive $200,000 for the Batavia Development Corporation’s small business efforts and another $75,000 toward a renewed comprehensive plan.

“We are very excited for both awards. The $200,000 for a microenterprise program will go towards providing grants to small businesses and entrepreneurs in the city. The BDC, who did an excellent job administering the city’s NY Main Street grant, will handle administering the micro grant,” he said Thursday. “The (comprehensive) plan will help the city define who are we, where are we going, where do we want to go, how do we get there and are we there yet?”

Both city grants, and those awarded throughout Genesee County, are “a testament to our region’s successes and ability to complete good projects that make a difference,” he said.

This award to the city means more than $1.5 million of grant funds received this year. Funding went for everything from a housing rehabilitation program and tree master plan to technical rescue equipment and sidewalk replacement along Liberty Street and Washington Avenue.

“We’ve been fortunate this year to capture some great funding that will help advance our community forward in many ways,” Molino said.

The next largest municipal winner was Orleans County, which received $81,500 for improvements to the county’s Marine Park – half of what they sought.

Planning and Tourism Director Wayne Hale said that with the $160,000 budgeted by Orleans County for local matching funds, most of the project can move forward in 2015.

“The most important parts are to do the northern wooden walkway and stairs, improve our electric shore-power service and playgrounds,” Hale said.

The REDC awards also contributed funding for engineering studies for infrastructure projects in the Town of Batavia, Village of Alexander, Village of Bergen, Village of Arcade, Town of Genesee Falls and Village of Castile.

The Arts Council for Wyoming County received $19,500 for a Shakespeare on Country Lanes, Village Parks and Shining Lakes program, which takes its The Shake on the Lake company on the road to various county sites.

Previous coverage:

ALBANY — The Genesee Biogas project in Batavia, Intergrow’s expansion in Gaines, the planned Letchworth Nature Center and Steel & O’Brien Manufacturing in Arcade were among the projects to receive state backing as part of the state’s fourth annual economic development awards ceremony

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council was named a Top Performer at ceremony, held Thursday in Albany.

Projects recommended by the Finger Lakes REDC, whose focus includes Genesee, Wyoming, Orleans and Livingston counties, will receive $80.7 million in awards.

Genesee Biogas, a planned plant that will convert organic waste streams produced by the two Greek yougrt plants in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, received a $1.5 million grant from Empire State Development.

Intergrow is nearing completion of a 7.5-acre expansion to its Route 98 greenhouse, implementing a diffused glass and anti-reflective coating system. It received a $600,000 ESD tax incentive.

The Open Space Institute received three separate awards that will bring $800,000 to the Letchworth project, which will build a state-of-the-art nature center for year-round exhibits and programming.

Steel & O’Brien received a $300,000 ESD incentive to aid the purchase and renovation of a 200,400 square-foot facility for future expansion.

The Finger Lakes REDC’s presentation focused on the growing wine industry, advanced manufacturing and core of colleges and universities.

Additional grants were awarded to the Orleans County Marine Park, the Arts Council for Wyoming County and a Microenterprise Assistance Program in Batavia among others.

— By Jim Krencik