USDA funds to help build new road for yogurt plant Genesee County gets nearly $200,000 grant for secondary access to handle influx of trucks [The Buffalo News, N.Y.]By Jonathan D. Epstein, The Buffalo News, N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Aug. 21--The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded nearly $200,000 in federal funds to Genesee County to support construction of a new access road for Pepsico's Muller Quaker Greek Yogurt factory and Alpina Foods.
USDA Rural Development's Rural Business Enterprise Grant program is providing $199,821 to the county to design, engineer and build a secondary access road into the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia that is needed to handle the influx of trucks and employee vehicles.
The grant was announced by New York's two Democratic U.S. senators on Monday. Other planned infrastructure improvements to the park include building an aquifer needed by food processors.
With the improvements, Muller Quaker Dairy, an international yogurt producer and joint venture between Pepsi and a German firm, will be able to finish its $206 million manufacturing facility that is expected to generate 186 jobs in the short-term and up to 600 in the long term.
Alpina, which plans to open its own yogurt factory this fall, expects to create another 50 new jobs after it finishes its own construction.
The new funding comes after visits to the facilities and public calls for federal investment in infrastructure by Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who touted the award in separate news releases.
"This federal grant will literally pave the way to a booming Greek yogurt and food processing hub in Batavia," said Schumer.
Both politicians have fought for assistance from various agencies to help the agriculture park's road, sewer and water infrastructure. Besides the yogurt factory, they say improvements will support other tenants like Alpina, while bringing more jobs and attracting new business to the rural county, such as Genesee Valley Mushroom, which wants to build a 70,000-square-foot mushroom-growing facility with 100 employees.
"Muller Quaker Dairy is excited to be able to produce and ship our delicious yogurt to eagerly awaiting consumers in the U.S.," said Sam Lteif, Muller Quaker Dairy's CEO, praising Schumer in particular. "The senator's efforts are helping to make New York State the nation's center for yogurt manufacturing."
Schumer called on the USDA in January to help the Genesee County Economic Development Corp. close a $1 million funding gap needed to upgrade the park's infrastructure, and then continued lobbying as he helped both the county and the Town of Batavia apply for the grants in April. That resulted in a $105,500 grant from USDA in May to upgrade an essential pump station to boost the park's wastewater system capacity.
Additionally, the U.S. Economic Development Administration in July awarded $1 million to construct an aquifer-direct water supply system, since municipal water is not ideal for making yogurt products.
Gillibrand said she helped secure $58,000 in USDA Rural Development funding last September for initial infrastructure upgrades to the Agri-Business Park, including expansion of existing roads and utilities.
"This is an important investment that can help attract more businesses to the Genesee Valley Ag-Park and support more jobs right here," Gillibrand said.
"I know the potential the Ag-Park has to help local businesses grow and be a major economic driver for the region. Investing in transportation infrastructure is one of the fastest, most effective ways to create new jobs now, and lay the foundation for more jobs to come."
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