My thanks to Earl Wells, President of e3 Communications, for that generous introduction.
At this point, I know that everyone has been acknowledged, so let me just say how delighted I am to be joining my friends and colleagues at this grand opening of the new Beech-Nut manufacturing facility here in the Town of Florida.
Given the history of this project, it is certainly gratifying for me to be part of this special day for the Mohawk Valley. On behalf of the New York State Assembly, I congratulate Jim Schneider, Doctor Arend Oetker, and the leadership of Hero AG not only for completing this new plant but as well, for constructing a facility that meets the LEED standard for green building design.
I remember touring Montgomery County with my former Assembly colleague and now Congressman Paul Tonko, to inspect the damage following the devastating floods of June 2006. Paul urged and the Assembly provided $3.85 million to help Beech-Nut repair the flood damage and upgrade its operations.
It was clear to all of us then that we needed to do much more to keep Beech-Nut viable and competitive in the world market, and it was clear to us that Hero could pack up and move Beech-Nut out of the Mohawk Valley and out of New York State, ending a more-than-century-old partnership.
Instead, we dedicated ourselves - public and private - to taking this historic partnership to the next level.
With the commitment of Hero and the bipartisan support of the Governor and the Legislature - bolstered by the leadership of our great United States Senator, Charles Schumer, our outstanding Congressional Delegation, local leaders, including the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, and the Greater Capital Region Building and Construction Trades Council - we crafted an economic package ($106.5 million) to ensure that the best baby food in the world would continue to be manufactured right here in Montgomery County.
To further demonstrate our own commitment to this project, the Assembly provided a $3 million grant - courtesy of then-Assemblyman Tonko - to help offset the costs of constructing this new facility.
Yes, the victory delivered by this partnership is a state-of-the-art, green manufacturing facility, but it is also 356 manufacturing jobs saved, 135 jobs added, not to mention the 400 construction jobs that were created.
In addition, the entire economic food chain of this region is being strengthened from our growers to our customers.
This is indeed a testament to what can be accomplished when we work together as partners and commit to rebuilding New York and creating jobs. This plant - the economic victory - is also a lasting tribute to Congressman Paul Tonko and his love of this region.
On behalf of the State Assembly, I offer our gratitude to Hero/Beech-Nut. It's great to have you here. We look forward to working with you to bring additional jobs and more opportunity into the Mohawk Valley and throughout Upstate New York.
Congratulations, Paul. Congratulations, everyone.