At the Feb. 22 meeting of the Finger lakes Economic Development Center (FLEDC), the board approved an incentive for Oak Hill Bulk Foods to undertake an 8,000 sq. ft. expansion of their store on Rte. 14A in Second Milo. Phil Riehl, president of Oak Hill, says the project will also include extensive interior renovations and rearrangement, expanding their retail, and bakery production areas, as well as the increasingly popular Oak Leaf Café.

Riehl says it has been 7 1/2 years since their last expansion, and the business has expanded faster than he anticipated. He expects construction to begin midsummer for the addition that will be on the south side of the current building. This will accomodate both the expanded retail space and a new, larger bakery needed for Oak Hill’s expanding product lines and increase in the wholesale market.

Once the bakery has been relocated and made operational, the current bakery will be remodeled for expansion of the Oak Leaf Café, perhaps during the winter, says Riehl. He also plans on rearranging the parking plan and adding more greenspace on the property, designed to be more aesthetically pleasing on approach from the road.

FLEDC CEO Steve Griffin says Oak Hill’s total company investment for the project is $375,000, and they expect to hire 10 additional full time employees in the next 3 years. The total projected economic benefit of Oak Hill’s expansion, including company investment, new employment wages paid, PILOT payments made, over the next 10 years is estimated to be $2,935,535. Griffin adds that the total tax incentive package over same 10 year period is projected to be just $56,976.

FLEDC staff changes

On a more bittersweet note, Community Development Director Kari DeWick bids farewell to FLEDC, at least as an employee. She has accepted a new position as a mortgage originator at Lyons National Bank here at the Penn Yan office.

As the Community Development Director, DeWick was responsible for helping to cultivate business growth in Yates County, and also improve the overall wellness of the Yates County community through partnerships with area organizations. She has helped increase career opportunities for young people through the Explorers program at area schools, and has been an organizing force behind the Yates Young Professionals organization.

DeWick joined FLEDC in June 2015 after being with the Steuben County IDA for 1 1/2 years. Prior to that she worked at Ferro Corporation in the Customer Service Department for three years. A graduate of Le Moyne College in Syracuse with a degree in Business Management, FLEDC and all the businesses they help develop look forward to drawing on her skills and experience in finance to continue in the cause of making Yates County’s economy prosper, just as one of her predecessors, Ryan Hallings, who was also hired by LNB, has done. Griffin joked that with a record like this, FLEDC should start charging LNB a training fee.