REDCO awarded $1 million to continue its Resource Partner Enhancement Program

The Rochester Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) has been awarded a $1 million Small Business Administration grant to continue to improve Rochester’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through its innovative Resource Partner Enhancement Program (RPEP).

RPEP is a two-year peer learning cohort program designed to provide developmental support and collaboration opportunities that increase the cultural relevance of services and resources offered by local entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs). The program leverages public investment and a team of organizational coaches to build and maintain a cooperative network of support services for the region’s diverse small business community.

Cohort two is scheduled to launch during the winter of 2021 and will include Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, Venture Jobs Foundation, Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Rochester and the Business Insight Center at the Rochester Public Library among its participating organizations. Each organization will be assigned an organizational coach who will assist with the development of an evidence-informed enhancement plan, piloting new and improved programs and resources. They also will attend an annual convening, participate in an Undoing Racism Workshop and collaborate with their peers during monthly meetings to develop cohort-wide enhancements.

“I’ve never seen this before. This is the beginning of a new era of collaboration between our partners in service to our local entrepreneur community, and ultimately their families,” said Baye Muhammad, CEO of REDCO.

Cohort one launched in November 2020 with $1.5 million in support from Empire State Development as part of REDCO’s Revitalize Rochester Fund. Cohort one participating organizations include Urban League of Rochester, Ibero-American Action League, the Rochester Commissary, JustCause, Walker’s Legacy Foundation and Greater Works Collaborative.

“I am overjoyed by the SBA’s transformational investment in our second cohort of the Resource Partner Enhancement Program,” said Lomax Campbell, president and CEO of Third Eye Network. “Our first cohort has been able to accelerate the evolution of their organizations and increase the relevance of their offerings for our diverse small business program community in the first year of the program.”

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GCEDC approves incentives for five Genesee County projects

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) board of directors on Thursday approved incentives for five projects with a total capital investment of roughly $28 million and accepted an initial application for a proposal by Liberty Pumps for a $13.7 million expansion of the company’s manufacturing facility.

GCEDC approved incentives for Gateway GS LLC for the build-out of a third 27,000 square-foot building at the Gateway II Corporate Park in the town of Batavia. Gateway will receive mortgage, sales and property tax exemptions of some $386,000.

Gateway plans to invest roughly $2.36 million. The proposed facility is expected to be completed in 2022 and will create 21 new jobs with an average salary of $42,000 annually, plus benefits. It is estimated that the project will generate $28 of investment into the local economy for every $1 of incentives.

The organization also approved final applications for incentives for four community solar projects with a combined generation of 15.65 megawatts.

Trousdale Solar LLC and Trousdale Solar II LLC are building two projects that total $14.8 million of investment on Ellicott Street Road in the town of Batavia. The projects will generate 5 MW and 4 MW of electricity and more than $930,000 in future revenues to Genesee County and the Batavia City School District over 15 years. The projects will receive roughly $2.5 million in property and sales tax incentives.

Batavia Solar LLC (YSG Solar) is building a $3.5 million solar project at the Upstate MedTech Park in the town of Batavia. The project will generate 1.65 MW of electricity and more than $150,000 in future revenues to Genesee County and the Byron-Bergen School District. The proposed project agreement is estimated to provide some $500,000 in property and sales tax incentives.

NY CDG Genesee 1 LLC plans to build a $7.3 million solar project on Oak Orchard Road in the town of Elba. The project will generate 5 MW of electricity and more than $518,000 in future revenues to Genesee County, the town of Elba and the Elba Central School District. The project is estimated to provide $1.2 million in property and sales tax incentives.

The board approved an application for consideration of incentives from Liberty Pumps. Liberty Pumps is proposing to make a $13.7 million capital investment to expand its manufacturing operations at the Apple Tree Acres business park in the town of Bergen.

The family- and employee-owned company is proposing to build 107,000 square feet of new warehouse and manufacturing space to accommodate the continued growth of the business. The project is expected to create some 30 jobs over three years while retaining its current employment of roughly 280.

The company is requesting $1.4 million in property and sales tax exemptions. The project is estimated to produce $29 of investment into the local economy for every $1 of incentives. A public hearing will be conducted because incentives total more than $100,000.

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Regional Economic Development Council adds new members

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) on Monday held a virtual public meeting to discuss its efforts to support and reimagine transformative projects designed to maximize the region’s future.

The council — which is tasked with implementing a focused, strategic plan that reflects the Finger Lakes region’s efforts to ensure sustainable and long-term growth in the nine-county region — also added two new members. Monroe Community College President DeAnna Burt-Nanna and ESL Federal Credit Union President and CEO Faheem Masood will replace Lisa Barnes and longtime member Augie Melendez, chief human resources and diversity officer at Hillside Family of Agencies, on the council.

“We want to thank Lisa and Augie for their tireless efforts in assisting with our mission. Augie has been with us since the beginning, dedicating himself to our mission and working tirelessly to improve the economic outlook of the Finger Lakes region. Lisa’s expertise in regional business and economic development has served our community well during her tenure. Their contributions and impact on this community cannot be overstated,” said FLREDC Co-Chairs Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy and SUNY Geneseo President Denise Battles in a statement. “While we are saying goodbye to two great leaders, we are excited to welcome Dr. DeAnna Burt-Nanna and Faheem Masood to the council. Together, we will continue to work toward our mission of ensuring a strong and prosperous future for our region. We remain steadfast in our commitment to move the Finger Lakes forward and are lucky to have them with us in that effort.”

The FLREDC is working to leverage the region’s advantages in key industry sectors, including agriculture and food production, healthcare and life sciences, optics, photonics and imaging, tourism, arts and skills and talent development. The FLREDC represents Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties.

In May this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched Round XI of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative, kicking off a new decade of economic development in a post-pandemic recovery. The 2021 funding round includes more than $750 million in state economic development resources.

The Regional Councils will identify and recommend priority projects that will be eligible for up to $150 million in capital funds on a rolling basis; projects will be reviewed throughout the round. An emphasis will be placed on project readiness and alignment with each region’s strategic plan.

Additionally, projects within each region also will be eligible for a share of $75 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow business in the region. Projects from all 10 regions submitted through the CFA will be eligible for more than $525 million in other state agency funds, which are available on a set timeline. Regional Economic Development Councils will review the projects and provide scores that reflect how well a project aligns with a region’s goals and strategies, officials said.

To date, the Finger Lakes REDC has received $721 million for 950 projects.

“I’m excited to join the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council to realize a vision that will bring our economy back quickly and energize those who love to live, work and learn here. A highly motivated and educated workforce will make all the difference and MCC is ready to do its part,” said Burt-Nanna.

Masood added: “It is an honor to represent ESL and serve on the Finger Lakes Region Economic Development Council. The work conducted by this council in partnership with Empire State Development continues to be vital to the progress and resiliency of our regional economy. I look forward to collaborating with my fellow councilmembers in our collective efforts to develop a more prosperous Finger Lakes region.”

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Regional Economic Development Councils begin next decade of awards

The state of New York will continue its successful Regional Economic Development Council initiative and a more than $750 million Consolidated Funding Application.

The CFA opened on May 10, enabling businesses, municipalities, nonprofits and the public to begin applying for assistance from dozens of state programs for job-creation and community development projects.

“The COVID pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on our state, but now is our time to build back better and stronger than before and create a New York that serves our children and their children and their children,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “It’s going to be hard — it’s always hard to do what has never been done before — but after what New Yorkers have been through this past year, there is no challenge they can’t meet today.

“We’re announcing a new decade of the Regional Economic Development Councils so that regions all across the state can plan their own economic rebirth and come up with their own smart and daring plans to rebuild, and New York state will fund it,” he added. “We’ve done this before and it’s worked tremendously well, but it’s more important this year than ever before because the stakes are higher this year than ever before.”

Round XI of the REDC initiative includes core capital and tax-credit funding that will be combined with a wide range of existing agency programs totaling roughly $750 million. The core funding includes $225 million in grants and tax credits to fund high-value regional priority projects. The budget also makes more than $525 million in resources from state agencies available to support community revitalization and business growth consistent with the existing REDC plans through the CFA process.

In order to be responsive to the immediate needs of the development community and as the state is making crucial investments to generate economic activity, the $150 million in grant funds from Empire State Development will be made available to projects on a continuous and competitive basis this round, officials said.

“As we enter the 11th round of this initiative and as the state continues to move forward following the devastating effects of the pandemic, we are committed to this bottom-up approach to foster regional partnerships and make strategic investments,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, chair of the statewide REDCs. “New York has seen tremendous growth in all 10 regions through the REDCs.”

Each of the state’s 10 Regional Councils will identify and recommend priority projects that will be eligible for up to $150 million in capital funds on a rolling basis, meaning projects will be reviewed throughout the round. An emphasis will be placed on project readiness and alignment with each region’s strategic plan.

In addition, projects within each region will also be eligible for a share of $75 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow business in the region. Projects from all 10 regions submitted through the CFA will be eligible for more than $525 million in other state agency funds, which are available on a set timeline. Regional Economic Development Councils will review these projects and provide scores that reflect how well a project aligns with a region’s goals and strategies.

To date, through the REDC competition:

• Western New York REDC has been awarded $620.4 million for 890 projects;
• Finger Lakes REDC has been awarded $721 million for 950 projects;
• Southern Tier REDC has been awarded $702.3 million for 764 projects;
• Central New York REDC has been awarded $789.8 million for 801 projects;
• Mohawk Valley REDC has been awarded $697.7 million for 721 projects;
• North Country REDC has been awarded $682.2 million for 690 projects;
• Capital Region REDC has been awarded $673 million for 933 projects;
• Mid-Hudson REDC has been awarded $713.6 million for 914 projects;
• New York City REDC has been awarded $615.9 million for 819 projects; and
• Long Island REDC has been awarded $727 million for 885 projects.

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Livingston County seeking entrepreneurs for retail business competition

Livingston County Economic Development will award $300,000 in prizes through its Dream-O-Vate Business Competition.

Some 15 winners will share $300,000 in prizes that include training, funding and the essential resources and tools needed to successfully open a business, officials said.

“Starting a business is hard work, especially in today’s economy, said Bill Bacon, director of economic development for Livingston County. “Through the Dream-O-Vate competition, we hope to ease that transition into business for 15 innovative entrepreneurs. In doing so, we’re not only helping the winners, but also our existing businesses as we add to the critical mass in our communities.”

Officials said the county is seeking “makers, creators, movers and shakers” to open retail establishments that will enhance the visitor experience in and around nine historic Main Street districts. Applicants can be a new business start-up or diversification of an existing business.

“We’re hoping that the competition will attract new residents who are looking to make the move from city to country living,” Bacon said. “Our location in the beautiful Genesee River valley on the western edge of the Finger Lakes offers a rewarding lifestyle where you can make real connections and a big difference in a small community.”

Dream-O-Vate is a retail business plan competition that encourages entrepreneurs to compete for the chance to open a storefront and earn a business startup package. It is the second time the county has run such a program; a 2019 program helped nine businesses across five communities.

More information can be found at Applications are due by April 23.

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Battery company to invest $175 million at EBP, create 100 jobs

Canadian battery recovery company Li-Cycle Corp. plans to invest $175 million in its lithium-ion battery recycling hub at Eastman Business Park, creating more than 100 jobs in the process.

In January 2020, Empire State Development said Li-Cycle would establish its first U.S.-based spoke facility in Rochester in an effort to tap into the robust lithium-ion battery supply chain and ecosystem. That announcement came with a $23.3 million investment by Li-Cycle and assistance from Empire State Development of up to $450,000 through the Excelsior Jobs Program. The County of Monroe and Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. also are assisting with the project.

“This international partnership with Li-Cycle will foster the supply chain of lithium-ion batteries, which are in high demand, and will further expand the thriving energy storage industry in the region,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “By investing in New York’s cleantech economy we are creating quality jobs and supporting our state’s clean energy businesses as we build back stronger from the COVID crisis and continue to move the Finger Lakes forward.”

Li-Cycle’s “spoke” and “hub” operations will complement each other. There will be several U.S.-based spokes that aggregate and refine spent, lithium-ion batteries so that the materials are separated and can be made into products. Rochester’s Li-Cycle spoke, due to open this Fall, will be capable of shredding up to 5,000 tons per year of spent lithium-ion batteries.

Ultimately, the hub operation in Rochester will receive battery materials from the Rochester spoke and similar operations across the U.S., and process them further for use as raw materials in future manufacturing, including for new batteries. ESD is assisting Li-Cycle with up to $5 million through the Excelsior Jobs Tax Credit Program once the business starts meeting new employment commitments. Monroe County and Greater Rochester Enterprise are also assisting with the project.

“We are excited to be able to announce Rochester as the location of Li-Cycle’s first commercial Hub refinery. This facility will enable sustainable close-loop production of critical materials for the battery industry, such as cobalt, nickel and lithium, right here in North America supporting the development of electric vehicles and other sustainable energy applications. We deeply appreciate the continued support of the local community, government agencies and Kodak in the development of this project,” said Li-Cycle Executive Chairman and Co-Founder Tim Johnston.

Founded in 2016 in Ontario, Canada, Li-Cycle has developed and validated a unique process that allows it to recover 80 percent to 100 percent of all materials found in lithium-ion batteries while maintaining no wastewater discharge and actualizing the company’s zero-waste philosophy. All materials that are recovered from lithium-ion batteries are either processed to the point of being reusable in battery production, reusable in other applications or sent for further processing to other recyclers to ensure all materials generated are being returned to the economy.

“The planned Li-Cycle Hub project is a perfect fit for Eastman Business Park and Rochester. The Hub project needs the vast resources of the park, including the utilities provided by RED-Rochester and the rail, security, risk and facilities management services provided by Kodak. The new jobs created by the proposed project will, directly and indirectly, benefit the Rochester area,” said EBP President and Eastman Kodak Co. CFO Dave Bullwinkle.

Li-Cycle selected Eastman Business Park after determining it was the best location for the company to quickly develop the Hub by leveraging existing infrastructure at the park and provide services to its growing client base across the U.S. and beyond.

“Our investment in Li-Cycle’s lithium-ion battery recycling facility at Eastman Business Park represents our continued commitment not only to this company but in broader economic opportunities within the sustainable energy industry. This forward-thinking project will add high-quality jobs in the Finger Lakes region and advance our efforts to establish New York state as a world leader in energy storage,” said ESD Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler.

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Unshackle Upstate touts new economic recovery plan

Unshackle Upstate, an advocacy group for upstate job creators and taxpayers, has released an economic recovery plan that would halt minimum wage increases and reduce taxes.

“Fast Forward – A Rapid Recovery Plan for the Upstate Economy” suggests delaying scheduled increases in upstate minimum wage; reducing the income tax rate, corporate tax rate and sales tax rate for localities with fewer than 1 million people; establishing and empowering a bicameral, bipartisan upstate legislative caucus to advance pro-growth proposals; investing in upstate infrastructure needs including cell and broadband access; and reducing the cost of construction through reform; among other things.

Brian Sampson
Brian Sampson

“Rather than waiting on Washington to save the day, there are things state officials can do right now that will help rebuild our economy and revive our communities,” said Brian Sampson, Unshackle Upstate chairman and president of Associated Builders and Contractors, Empire State Chapter. “Unshackle Upstate’s Fast Forward agenda will give a much-needed boost to small businesses, family farms and taxpayers across the upstate region. Our elected leaders need to get back to work and get our economy back on track.”

According to the report, New York has paid out more than $40 billion in temporary unemployment relief and more than 81,000 federal PPP loans have been issued to businesses statewide, totaling more than $20 billion. And, citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, “nearly every upstate county has recorded population loss since 2010.”

“Unless Albany takes action, the upstate exodus will continue,” according to the report. “Fast-tracking the proposals contained in this plan will help ensure upstate’s ‘new normal’ is better than before.”

Unshackle Upstate notes that New York’s business tax climate is ranked as the second-worst nationwide by the Tax Foundation. New York has the third-highest cellular taxes and the seventh-highest gas tax in the nation, according to the report. Unshackle Upstate contends that New Yorkers with private health insurance pay $5.2 billion in taxes.

One facet of Unshackle Upstate’s plan is to make the state more affordable for all by:
• Reducing the property tax burden by addressing unfunded mandates on local governments;
• Enacting reforms to reduce energy costs for residents and employers;
• Eliminating unnecessary health care taxes, assessments and surcharges;
• Rejecting a single payer health care system; and
• Lowering excise taxes.

Unshackle Upstate is calling on leaders in Albany to address aging roads, bridges and transportation needs, stating that on average, a New York driver loses $2,768 annually due to deteriorating roads and bridges and related traffic congestion.

The group is calling for fulfilling broad energy needs “like expanded natural gas pipelines and access to Canadian hydropower” and supporting regional parity to address critical infrastructure needs.

Reducing the cost of construction has long been a part of Unshackle Upstate’s agenda. The coalition suggests reforming the way New York calculates Prevailing Wage and enacting a 5-year moratorium on the Scaffold Law. The law — enacted 135 years ago, it holds employers and property owners liable when a worker becomes injured due to a gravity-related fall — costs New York taxpayers $785 million each year, according to the report.

“We can and must do better,” the report states. “Now is the opportunity for Albany to fix the past mistakes that have made New York a challenging place to do business and an expensive place to live.”

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Henkel to invest $17 million in Geneva plant, create 180 jobs

German chemical and consumer goods company Henkel AG & Co., KGaA, plans to add nearly 200 jobs in the Greater Rochester area with a $17.3 million investment in its Geneva manufacturing facility. The company, known for its beauty care brands like Dial soap, Schwarzkopf, Alterna, Kenra, Pravana, Sexy Hair, Joico and Zotos hair products, will invest a total of $23 million in its North American manufacturing facilities.

The funds will provide new equipment and a series of improvements that will support additional production of Dial liquid hand soap and hand sanitizers at its Geneva, N.Y., and West Hazleton, Pa., sites.

“We are thrilled to announce a supply expansion of essential products in North America,” said Doug Parkinson, vice president of operations at Henkel’s Geneva facility. “It’s not only a win-win for our business, it will support our local job and economic growth. Investing in Dial will provide consumers and businesses with much-needed home and personal hygiene products.”

Henkel plans to invest $17.3 million at its Geneva facility, seen here, and create nearly 200 jobs. (provided)
Henkel plans to invest $17.3 million at its Geneva facility, seen here, and create nearly 200 jobs. (provided)

To support new lines, which will contribute some 45 percent to 55 percent of total production at the Geneva facility, the company plans to create 180 new jobs at the plant. The company’s facility in Geneva, acquired by Henkel in 2018, also will be re-branded from Zotos Professional to Henkel to reflect the expansion of its operations beyond professional hair care products to supply essential products like antibacterial soap and hand sanitizers.

“There are now 180 new reasons to cheer every time we wash our hands thanks to the expansion of Henkel’s manufacturing facility in Geneva,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer in a statement. “This will lather up a major economic boost in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes region by harnessing our skilled workforce to manufacture the sanitizers and soaps needed in our homes and workplaces during the pandemic, all while investing over $17 million to create 180 new jobs. I applaud Henkel for doubling down on its Geneva workforce and committing to grow this facility now and into the future.”

Some aspects of the new technology will be installed in October and be operational in November 2020, while the remainder will be up and running by June 2021.

“This new investment builds our long history of commitment to the Geneva community and sustainability efforts,” Parkinson noted.

In 2011, the company invested $6 million to build two 1.6MW wind turbines that now provide up to 20 percent of total site consumption equivalency, and on a windy day, the turbines can fuel the entire plant, he said.

“Additionally, the facility is investing $5 million in a wastewater treatment system that will ensure a clean effluent stream, ultimately enabling reusable water as a pillar of our community sustainable strategy,” Parkinson added. “With this new Henkel investment and the addition of the powerhouse Dial brand, our modern operations support the addition of 180 highly-skilled and talented employees that we are attracting from our local community to help further strengthen the Finger Lakes economy. We are extremely proud to be increasing our essential manufacturing of Dial soap and sanitizer products, during this challenging time.”

In North America, Henkel operates across its three business units: Adhesive Technologies, Beauty Care and Laundry & Home Care. With sales of roughly $6 billion in 2019, North America accounts for 26 percent of the company’s global sales. Henkel employs some 9,000 people across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

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GCEDC adopts budget, approves incentives

The Genesee County Economic Development Center has adopted a 2021 budget that includes projected expenditures of $23.3 million.

The budget includes $21.2 million in grants for the continued development of infrastructure at the Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP), of which $19.5 million — the remaining funds from the original $33 million state allocation — is earmarked for the advancement of Phase I infrastructure at the campus. Some $1.6 million — the initial funds from the $8 million Empire State Development grant — is dedicated to the advancement of Phase II infrastructure.

The 1,250-acre STAMP campus in the town of Alabama is the largest high-tech greenfield site in New York with a capacity of low-cost hydropower for energy-intensive industries and a labor shed of roughly 2 million workers from the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions.

“The GCEDC is building WNY STAMP and STAMP’s North Campus and South Campus as a catalyst for the success of the people of Genesee County and companies that will create a stronger future in our region,” said GCEDC Chairman Peter Zeliff.

The GCEDC anticipates $375,000 in revenues from project origination fees and $3,300 in revenues from revolving loan fund interest and $280,000 in project revenues recognized in previous years. Revenues also include a $300,000 grant that will be allocated by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC) to support the agency’s overall Economic Development Program.

“There is a large body of work that occurs at this agency each year, and I am pleased that we continue to find resourceful ways to serve the businesses and citizens of Genesee County,” said GCEDC CFO Lezlie Farrell. “Operating expenditures have been controlled and reduced wherever possible.”

The GCEDC budget anticipates a $233,000 allocation by the county to support economic development that results in a growing return on investments. In 2019, the last full year of data available, GCEDC projects produced more than $5.03 million in combined PILOT payments and property taxes to local taxing jurisdictions.

“Genesee County is a vital partner in our efforts to bring new business and growth to our region. We rely on the Genesee County Legislature to support our budget and operations so we can continue to enable business and community success,” Zeliff said. “In 2019, Genesee County and local taxing jurisdictions benefited from $21.5 dollars returned on every $1 allocated to GCEDC operations.”

Separately this week, GCEDC approved incentives for a building renovation project in the city of Batavia.

Neppalli Holdings LLC will invest roughly $1.165 million to renovate a 3-story building at 99 Main St. in downtown Batavia. The renovation and redevelopment of the 7,500-square-foot building, which was built in 1865, includes a new storefront, façade and reconstruction of the existing three floors.

A dental practice will occupy the first floor with the second floor being developed for commercial office space. The third floor will include two 2-bedroom market-rate apartments. the project will receive sales and mortgage tax benefits totaling $63,500.

Neppalli Holdings is the latest building renovation project to proceed in downtown Batavia through the state’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

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Revitalize Rochester Fund applications now open

Mayor Lovely Warren was joined Tuesday by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and leaders of the Rochester Economic Development Corp. (REDCO) to announce the opening of the application period for entrepreneurs to join a partnership to expand business opportunities in the city’s Commercial Corridors through the $13 million Revitalize Rochester Fund.

“Rochester’s commercial corridors are very fertile ground for bold and innovative business ideas,” Warren said. “Each city neighborhood has its own unique and special character, and our widely diverse commercial corridors represent the centers of commerce and vibrancy for thousands of residents and visitors. Thanks to the vision of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the leadership of REDCO, the Revitalize Rochester Fund gives us a means to unlock the imagination of our entrepreneurs to help us create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities.”

Cuomo first announced the creation of the fund in his 2019 State of the State Address. REDCO will award financing to entrepreneurs who present a viable model to establish a business in a city commercial corridor that is struggling with poverty and disinvestment. In addition to financing for working capital, the fund will provide emerging entrepreneurs with consultation services and the latest analysis of market conditions in particular neighborhoods.

“We are proud of our long history of fostering public and private collaborations in Rochester,” said REDCO CEO Bayé Muhammad. “Thanks to the leadership and support of Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Warren, REDCO can be even more effective at bringing together our economic development partners and the community to support local businesses and provide growth opportunities along our commercial corridors.”

The RRF emerged from a $10 million Empire State Development Upstate Revitalization grant, which enabled an additional $3.1 million in loans from private-sector lenders, including the Greater Rochester Housing Partnership, Upstate National, M&T Bank, Canandaigua National Bank, Five Star Bank, Genesee Regional Bank, Citizens Commercial Bank and Key Bank.

The opening of the application period follows the completion of the city’s 2019 Commercial Corridor Study and coincides with an ongoing neighborhood shopping survey called Rochester TREND. The combination of data from the reports and targeted investments will strengthen the relationship between commercial corridors, commuters and surrounding neighborhoods.

“There’s nothing more powerful than a community that believes in itself, and the Rochester Revitalization Fund is helping to transform Rochester’s neighborhoods block-by-block,” Hochul said. “This fund is giving entrepreneurs an opportunity to unlock their potential and lead the way for Rochester and New York State to build back better, smarter and more resilient for a post-pandemic future.”

The RRF comprises the following areas:

• Building Renovation and Streetscape grants will provide funding for facade and building renovations to support existing and new neighborhood businesses and building owners who have limited equity.
• Catalytic Predevelopment Loans will provide flexible, low-interest predevelopment loans to early-stage real estate development projects that are focused on the revitalization of key commercial properties in targeted neighborhood corridors. Funds are to be used for developments that will have high impact, stimulate economic growth and create vibrant commercial areas in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.
• The Urban Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Program consists of $1.5 million to support organizations that provide training, technical assistance and mentorship to entrepreneurs and small-business owners.
• The Worker Cooperative Business Revolving Loan Program consists of approximately $1.5 million to support the development of the Worker Cooperative business models, which provide employees with an opportunity share ownership of businesses. These funds can be used in targeted neighborhoods to start worker cooperatives or convert an existing business to the model.

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Fairport LDC creates COVID grant program for business

The village of Fairport Local Development Corp. will offer a reimbursement grant program to help businesses adapt to the impact of COVID-19.


The Local Investments for Fairport’s Transformation (LIFT) Grant program will assist village businesses as they adapt to operating during the pandemic, officials said Tuesday. The program will provide reimbursement for COVID-19 expenses related to keeping staff and customers safe as businesses reopen or continue to operate during the crisis.

“The village of Fairport Local Development Corp. commits its resources, expertise and energies to creating a local economy that is healthy and vibrant,” said Kevin Clark, FLDC board chairman, in a statement. “During this time especially, our efforts are focused on helping our retail and commercial businesses to adapt to new challenges. The LIFT Grant program underscores our commitment to ensuring the village of Fairport’s position as a premier community offering a diverse and vibrant business district for residents and visitors alike.”

The FLDC has committed $50,000 to the LIFT Grant program. Businesses can receive up to $3,000 in reimbursement for costs incurred since March 15 for the purchase of pandemic-related supplies, services and renovations to enable businesses to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions.

More information can be found on the Fairport Office of Community & Economic Development’s website.

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Grow-NY competition open to applications again

The application window to enter the $3 million Grow-NY business competition is now open. 

Empire State Development and the Cornell Center for Economic Development both announced on Tuesday that the competition is opening up for its second round of applications, due by July 15. 

Last fall the top prize of $1 million went to Geneva’s RealEats, a fully cooked meal subscription business, and one of the third-place winners, with a prize of $250,000, was The Perfect Granola, based in Victor. 

The competition matches up to 20 finalists in the food and agriculture realm with business coaches who work with them before they make a pitch at the Grow-NY symposium, where the winners are selected. Applicants must be in a 22-county region in Central New York, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier, or be ready to establish a presence in those areas, to be eligible to compete. 

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (second from left)  congratulates the $1 million prize winners of the Grow-NY competition: RealEats of America's CEO Dan Wise, culinary advisor Aliya LeeKong, and chief operating officer Keith Lydon.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (second from left) congratulates the $1 million prize winners of the Grow-NY competition: RealEats of America’s CEO Dan Wise, culinary advisor Aliya LeeKong, and chief operating officer Keith Lydon.

The agricultural economy in New York continues to grow with increased investment in our farms and local products,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, chairwoman of the Statewide Regional Economic Development Councils. “These companies are developing ideas and plans to revolutionize the industry by transforming sustainability and improving the health and well-being of New Yorkers. We are committed to helping these innovative companies grow and thrive in New York state.”

Finalists are scheduled to be announced in August, when they’ll meet with a mentor and get an expense-paid, three-day trip to the region to explore development possibilities. Winners will be announced at a symposium in Syracuse in November. 

Kathryn J. Boor, dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said economic development stimulated by the competition “becomes even more vital as we look for ways to recover from the economic effects of COVID-19. We’ve already seen results from the year one winners that fulfill on the promise of the program, and we’re looking forward to more, diverse, high-growth potential applicants in year two.”

Information on the program and how to apply is available by  visiting .

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Rochester communities get share of HUD funding

Dozens of New York localities will share an additional $2.4 billion in funding from the Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD), a part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The funds are to be used for economic development and public infrastructure in upstate communities.

“The Community Development Block Grant is a vital stream of investment that supports local economic growth, community revitalization and affordable housing. Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must not forget to invest in our future, and this funding does just that,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a statement Tuesday. “I worked hard to get this funding on the negotiating table and into the final deal because this program delivers real results to Upstate New York by creating good-paying jobs, delivering essential services that will help communities and investing in affordable housing for our vulnerable populations. I will always fight tooth and nail to protect this critical investment for our communities.”

The city of Rochester is slated to receive nearly $4.9 million in CDBG “Corona 3” funding, while Monroe County will receive nearly $1.1 million. The town of Greece will receive more than $250,000 and the town of Irondequoit will receive nearly $540,000. Nearly 50 municipalities will receive CDBG funding.

“Investing in local economic growth is more important now than ever,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in the statement. “This funding will help rebuild our communities and ensures the needs of our most vulnerable populations are met today and for years to come.”

Communities in New York state will use the funding to address a wide range of needs and enable local governments to support community nonprofits perform essential services, fund workforce development and training, retrofit community facilities for medical or quarantine use, support food and essential supply delivery to vulnerable populations and support vital governmental functions, officials said.

The additional CDBG funding was allocated to states and units of local governments that received an allocation under the fiscal year 2020 CDBG formula. The funding is 70 percent entitlement communities and 30 percent states. The senators said that the $2.4 billion secured in the bipartisan “Corona 3” negotiations is the first of a series of allocations that localities may be eligible for.

New York state will receive $1 billion in order to support a coordinated response across entitlement and non-entitlement communities. In addition, depending on whether or not a community is affected by COVID-19, resulting in related economic and housing disruption, HUD can respond accordingly with an additional targeted assistance pot of $2 billion.

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GCEDC approves incentives for seven economic development projects

The Genesee County Economic Development Center has approved incentives for a number of projects that will improve solar capacity and add jobs in the region.

The seven projects approved for assistance have vowed to make more than $45 million in capital investments.

The Ellicott Station initiative is a $22 million mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project in downtown Batavia that will include the construction of 55 workforce apartments as part of the adaptive re-use of a former manufacturing facility. The project will transform a major gateway to the city, officials said. Project developers have applied for support from the state Office of Community Renewal.

Ellicott Place is a $3.1 million redevelopment of 45-47 Ellicott St. by V.J. Gautieri Constructors. The project includes the construction of 10 second-floor apartments at the existing facility, as well as the development of first-floor storefronts and building-wide façade improvements.

Both projects support Genesee County’s EDGE economic development strategy for housing to support the growth of local businesses and were recognized as strategic projects in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2018.

Five community solar projects proposed by Borrego Solar include capital investments of roughly $21.6 million and are projected to produce more than $2 million to local taxing jurisdictions, including the Elba, Pembroke and Akron school districts, over 15 years. Each project also would contribute $25,000 toward a community benefit agreement to support STEM education and economic development initiatives, GCEDC officials said.

Borrego’s projects will be located at 3104 W. Main St. Road, 3232 W. Main St. Road and 5230 Batavia-Stafford Townline Road in the town of Batavia, and at 241 E. Knapp Road and 241 W. Knapp Road in the town of Pembroke.

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Area counties eligible for federal grants

A number of Rochester area counties will have access to a $4.5 million federal grant for economic and community development, the New York State Department of State announced this week.

Eligible local counties include Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wayne counties, all part of the Northern Border Regional Commission territory. The territory includes a total of 28 counties in New York, as well as the states of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The NBRC is a regional economic development partnership between federal and state governments.

“The NBRC investments are helping communities throughout the northern border region of New York State implement locally identified priorities to support community development,” said state Secretary of State Rossana Rosado in a statement. “We are grateful that New York’s congressional delegation continues to recognize the importance of these funds to Upstate New York. The Department of State looks forward to working with our partners to implement these funds with communities throughout the NBRC region.”

The Department of State’s Division of Local Government Services works with the NBRC and regional planning organizations to solicit project applications. To be eligible, projects must fall within one of these categories:
• Transportation infrastructure
• Basic public infrastructure
• Telecommunications infrastructure
• Employment-related education, entrepreneurship, technology and business development
• Basic health care and other public services to help economically distressed areas
• Resource conservation, tourism, recreation and preservation of open space for economic development
• Development of renewable and alternative energy sources.

NBRC will award up to to $1 million for infrastructure and $350,000 for other projects. Grants within distressed counties require a 20 percent match. In 2019, the state recommended funding for nine NBRC projects totaling more than $3.5 million. Projects funded included water and sewer infrastructure, telecom, business development, entrepreneurship assistance and transportation.

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