The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

June 28, 2013

County officials get IDA update

Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — June’s meeting of Orleans County Legislators and Town Supervisors allowed elected officials the chance to hear about the latest happenings with the Orleans Economic Development Agency and Industrial Development Agency.

This past Tuesday, James Whipple and Gabrielle Barone spoke to the gathered group in Albion and talked about the good — and recent not-so-good — happenings throughout the county.

Starting with the most recent events, Whipple, who is chief executive officer of the IDA, started with the most recent big closings in the area.

“Chase was the last of six or seven banks to come in a use that location,” he said of the Albion-based call center. “The workforce there has been sought after since the closing was announced.”

Barone said the closing was foreseen by the IDA. 

“We expected this, we just didn’t know when it was going to happen,” she said. “We will get passed it.”

Barone said the facility, like the workforce it still employs, is also being sought after.

“It is an excellent back office operation,” she said. She hinted at something possibly happening with the building in the future, but did not go into detail. Regarding the workforce, Barone said CRFS will look to hire soon and there is a possibility much of the Albion workforce from the Chase center could catch on with CRFS.

The other, more recent bout of bad news in the county came with last weeks announcement of the closing of Bernzomatic in Medina.

“Worthington Cylinders purchased the company in 2011, but never owned the property,” Whipple said. He explained that companies that buy businesses but not the land those businesses sit on traditionally look to move those businesses. That made the Bernzomatic announcement not entirely unexpected, he stated.

The workforce at Bernzomatic, Whipple said, is a “mature, good” group of people who, like the rest of the county’s workers, “are resilient.”

Moving forward, Whipple said the IDA’s best customers are companies with strong ties to the community in which they are located. A community’s infrastructure helps to determine where companies choose to locate, he added.

One elected official asked about the recently opened yogurt plant in Genesee County, and whether Orleans County had been in the mix for it. Whipple said it was, but the perks offered in Genesee were a little richer.

“One of the benefits the yogurt plant received in Genesee County was no property taxes for seven years,” he said. “There’s a point where our board and our staff believe we shouldn’t have to buy a plant like that for Orleans County.”

In terms of what businesses would do well in Orleans County, Whipple said any type of agricultural business would “not fail” in Orleans County.

Whipple said the IDA has several sites in development to help attract business to the area, and at least one or two will be “shovel ready” in the very near future.