BATAVIA – Muller Quaker Dairy’s yogurt plant, a $206 million investment, is on track to open this summer in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.
An Alpina Foods yogurt plant that opened last year in the same business park is far ahead of schedule in employment and production.
And efforts continue to attract more funding for a planned high-tech business park called Western New York STAMP that could employ thousands of people when fully built.
The Genesee County Economic Development Center paused to provide an update of those projects Friday at its annual meeting at Genesee Community College, during what has clearly been a busy time for the organization.
Economic development officials say the new projects’ impact extends beyond Genesee County, by potentially drawing workers from both the Buffalo and Rochester regions.
And the yogurt plants tie into a growing industry that state officials are eager to cultivate, with Upstate New York’s abundance of dairy farms.
The Muller Quaker Dairy plant, a joint venture of PepsiCo and the Theo Muller Group, had a high-profile groundbreaking in August in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on Route 5. The giant, white-walled facility is preparing to start production in July and is expected to employ about 150 people by the end of this year, said Steven G. Hyde, the GCEDC’s president and chief executive officer.
Just next door, Alpina Foods’ $20 million plant opened last October and now has about 75 employees, said Roger Parkhurst, the plant’s director of operations. “It’s been a very hectic pace, because we’re exceeding the pace of our growth that we anticipated.” Popularity of Greek-style yogurt “has allowed us to accelerate the pace of manufacturing.”
The Alpina plant’s output is about a year ahead of what it had anticipated, Parkhurst said. “That’s challenged us to work harder to get things up and running smoother.” More than 500 people applied for jobs at the plant, and the site is continuing to increase its workforce.
Hyde, of the GCEDC, said he is talking to three other business prospects for the business park but could not yet identify them. “It’s all the supply-chain stuff that likes to cluster around big plants.”
A second access road, this one connected to Route 63, is planned for the park, Hyde said. That project could open up another 100 acres of the park for development.
Meanwhile, efforts continue to develop Western New York STAMP (Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park), a high-tech business park planned for the Town of Alabama, five miles north of the Pembroke interchange of the Thruway.
Economic development officials are trying to secure $36 million from the state this year for the project. Hyde said those funds would help the park reach what he called “shovel-ready lite” status, allowing for the site to be aggressively marketed to prospective tenants, such as computer chip fabricators.
“That would allow us to basically fully acquire all of the 1,240-acre site, it would allow us to do all the critical preconstruction engineering, design and permitting for all the water, sewer gas and electric [services],” Hyde said. Many of those services would come from extending existing infrastructure to the site.
Hyde and Thomas Kucharski, chief executive officer of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, said STAMP has gained name recognition among the site selectors and industry officials whom they talk to about attracting plants to the park.