Cattaraugus County seals deal to build new $500M Great Lakes Cheese plant
Hundreds of Southern Tier jobs are saved and hundreds more eventually will be added, while local cows will continue providing raw milk with a deal to build a new $500 million cheese factory in Franklinville.
Great Lakes Cheese had planned a new plant in Allegany County, but the land deal fell apart and there was concern it might move elsewhere, leaving the Southern Tier without another major manufacturer. The company wanted to build the plant to replace one in Cuba, but the situation became shaky when there was pushback against taking good agricultural land for the plant, on another site.
Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Corey Wiktor said the final deal is good for the community.
"There's a need of roughly 32,000 dairy cows to help support this. So our agriculture community and industry certainly needs a shot in the arm and this project is one that could deliver that," Wiktor said. "And we conservatively think there will be retention and growth of 600-jobs in the agriculture community."
Wiktor said the plant will make lots of different kinds of cheese.
"Italian and types of American cheese. So all your pepper jack, colby jack, your swiss and various cheddars and cheeses of that nature, shredded cheeses," he said. "They do a lot with Taco Bell and the various cheeses you buy in Aldi's."
Wiktor said Great Lakes Cheese is also looking to local companies to build the plant.
"It's going to take a large mountain of men and women to build this project," he said. That's what's great with the company. They've really dedicated to utilizing local labor and suppliers and I can tell you we've already sent them numbers of companies over and they've already received bid-type packages."
The county agreed to $166 million in tax breaks, but no cash payments as part of the overall deal. It's all a sign of the continuing strength of New York's agricultural industry, because last year there was agreement on a large expansion of an ice cream plant in Dunkirk, using more local cows.