Thank you, Governor.
I can honestly say that in all of my years in state government, this is the first time I've been to a "yogurt summit."
That being said, I commend Governor Cuomo for bringing us all together this morning.
I would also like to take a moment to recognize my colleague, Assemblyman Bill Magee who is with us today. As chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, I can tell you New York's farmers and agricultural community have no greater friend than Bill Magee. I have worked with Bill in the Assembly for more than twenty years, so I can tell you that he is a tireless advocate for New York's farmers.
Together, agriculture and its related industries are among the most important economic engines in the State of New York today.
From FAGE to Chobani to PepsiCo, dairy farming is especially important to our continued economic recovery. Our investment in this industry - the farmers, the manufacturers, the distributors - has an economic "ripple effect" statewide.
This has been demonstrated by the partnership between the State of New York and PepsiCo to create their Genesee County yogurt manufacturing facilities. This initiative alone stands to create close to 200 new jobs. That's 200 salaries to support hardworking families.
As I and my Assembly Majority colleagues have been saying for two decades, we need to build upon our competitive advantages. Agriculture, and dairy farming in particular, is one of those strengths. This is the job creation approach we have been acting upon all along.
Dairy farming and processing combined are an $8.9 billion business in the Empire State. They support a marketplace that is growing and thriving due in no small part to government working in concert with private industry.
The key is partnership. Today's event provides a superb illustration of that.
We must work together, government and business, to retain the companies that we have, to attract new companies to our state, and to nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship that lives and breathes in every county of our state.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has already declared that New York is among the top states for economic growth and quality of life.
If we make it our mission, there is no reason why we cannot make New York the "yogurt capital of the United States, if not the world."
We in the Assembly are committed to ensuring that this industry thrives in the Empire State. We have the leadership in Governor Cuomo and in the Legislature to get it done.