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Brunner expansion is a big win for Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 April 2014 at 12:00 am

Editorial

Photo by Tom Rivers – Brunner International is expanding in Medina, adding a 48,000-square-foot building and 35 more employees.

MEDINA – A Canadian company is investing $10 million in Medina as part of an expansion that will add 35 jobs and retain 363 current positions at Brunner International.

The news is a big win for the community and the Orleans Economic Development Agency, which worked with many local, state and federal agencies to facilitate the project.

The EDA’s involvement demonstrates the agency and its staff of three employees can pull off a big project. It should inspire confidence in other companies looking to invest in Orleans that our economic development agency is up for the task.

The EDA worked with the town of Ridgeway and Orleans County to gain site plan approvals. The agency also is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to relocate a wetland. The company with help from the EDA was able to secure a low-cost hydropower allocation form the New York Power Authority as well as $750,000 in state economic development incentives.

There were a lot of moving parts and the Orleans EDA worked for many months to line up incentives and approvals to make the project a reality. Brunner was also considering Kentucky for the project.

Brunner will build a 48,000 square foot addition at a time when Worthington Cylinders is closing down in Medina, laying off 150 workers. Worthington is shifting production from the former Bernz-O-Matic facility to a site in Wisconsin.

That is a difficult loss for the community. Brunner provides an opportunity for some of those workers to find new jobs. Jim Whipple, the EDA chief executive officer, also believes the Bernz-O-Matic site will be desirable for another business. The building has been well-maintained, has railroad access and could be eligible for low-cost hydropower.

The county was hit with a major job loss last year when Chase shut down its Albion call center, laying off 413 people. Claims Recovery Financial Services has been in major growth mode and moved into the Chase site earlier this year. About 600 people work at the site. CRFS helped to soften the blow from Chase’s exit.

CRFS was working out of a neighboring site in Albion and also a building at the Olde Pickle Factory in Medina. Those sites are now being marketed to other companies, Whipple said.

He sees some other positives in the county. A Canadian firm is turning a vacant warehouse on McKinistry Street in Albion into an electronics recycling operation. BoMET Holding Inc. plans to hire 30 people at the Albion site.

The Wegman Group also is working to develop The Cottages at Troutburg in Kendall at a former Salvation Army camp. Those seasonal homes will boost the tax base for the community and the new residents will provide customers for businesses in the Kendall area.

The Cottages, BoMET, CRFS and Brunner all received some assistance from the EDA, and the agency showed it was up for the job to persuading the companies to invest in Orleans.