Assemblyman Pete Lopez, Senator Steve Saland, Congressman Chris Gibson And Columbia County Leaders Advance Cheese Processing Plant

Effort to Help Spur Job Creation – Strengthen Farm Families
April 19, 2012
Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R,C,I-Schoharie) was joined by State Senator Stephen Saland and United States Congressman Chris Gibson to announce the conversion of a vacant factory in the Town of Livingston, Columbia County, into the first phase of development of Hudson Valley Creamery to process French gourmet cheeses.

The project has been a high priority for the coalition which sees agriculture as key to bringing New York State out of its recession.

Assemblyman Lopez, who serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly’s Food, Farm and Nutrition Task Force, said, “Hudson Valley Creamery has made a deliberate commitment to producing and marketing in the region and across the United States. Along with reusing a formerly empty building and creating new jobs, this project brings the promise of partnering with local family farms to bring more nutritious, affordable, food products to our tables.”

Supporting New York State’s farmers and food producers has been a top priority for Assemblyman Lopez, and when he was approached by Hudson Valley Creamery investors, he was immediately supportive of the project. Senator Stephen Saland and Congressman Chris Gibson also worked with the Assemblyman, local leaders and the investors to help launch the project, which was recently awarded a $300,000 grant through the Community Development Block Grant program.

“The news that Hudson Valley Creamery has chosen to expand its business into Columbia County couldn’t come at a better time and demonstrates that the changing dynamic in Albany is reaping benefits,” stated Senator Saland. “I was pleased to work with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office to help bring this artisan cheese company to the Town of Livingston. Hudson Valley Creamery will not only bring job opportunities to the region, but will help support New York’s farmers and food producers and strengthen our local economy.”

Congressman Chris Gibson said, “I am proud to support the Hudson Valley Creamery, a project which is bringing jobs to our region as well as important partnerships with New York family farms. In Congress, I voted in support of funding for the Community Development Block Grant program for this very reason – the local impact these federal resources can have as we grow our economy and create jobs. I look forward to continuing to work with state and local leaders to support the growth of the Hudson Valley Creamery in Columbia County.”

The grants were discussed at a grand opening celebration, which included a tour of the new facility and a cheese-tasting reception with representatives from Groupe Eurial, the European investors behind the creamery, and Couturier North America, the company who originated the project 10 years ago and will be distributing the cheese under the brands Couturier, Capra and, eventually, as Hudson Valley Creamery.

Olivier Pretelat, Chief Executive Officer of Hudson Valley Creamery’s parent company, Groupe Eurial, is very enthusiastic to commence U.S. production of the 116-year old company’s iconic brands, stating his intention “to build on New York’s longstanding, rich dairy tradition, and establish the Hudson Valley as preeminent for the finest goat cheeses.”

Tim Turner, Eurial’s attorney and financial advisor, stated, “It is exciting to imagine how far this region can grow in specialized dairy with Hudson Valley Creamery as the anchor. We have built great relationships here and are very grateful for the hard work of Assemblyman Lopez, Senator Saland, Congressman Gibson, Commissioner Ken Flood and others for helping make this project a reality.”

“This project has been very important to me throughout the last decade, and I am very pleased that it has gained the international and local support of so many partners. As we move into phase two of the project, I look forward to continuing to work with these partners to further advance the goat-dairy industry,” said Alain Foster, President of Couturier North America.

Both state legislators, the congressman and the investors also worked very closely with Columbia County and its economic development organization, the Columbia Economic Development Corporation, on development of Hudson Valley Creamery as well as with the Town of Livingston.

Patrick Grattan, Chairman of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, thanked Assemblyman Lopez, Senator Saland and Congressman Gibson. “This project will not only support our number one industry agriculture but create much-needed employment opportunities for our residents. The Columbia Economic Development Corporation worked tremendously hard to insure that this project came to fruition.”

“Any time we can bring new business in, and create jobs, it’s a good thing. We look forward to having a good working relationship with them,” said Kevin McDonald, Town Supervisor of the Town of Livingston.

The project has garnered significant statewide attention from Governor Cuomo’s office and from Kenneth Adams, President, CEO and Commissioner of Empire State Development (ESD), the state’s lead economic development agency. Funds for this project were channeled through New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), using federal Community Development Block Grant monies, and awarded through the Housing Trust Fund Corporation. Recently, 15 awards were made through HCR, totaling $4.2 million statewide, which drives as much as $64 million in private investment.

“Supporting the growth of agri-business is a priority for Governor Cuomo and critical to the economic growth of New York,” said EDS’s President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “ESD applauds Assemblyman Lopez, Senator Saland, New York’s Homes and Community Renewal, the local leaders in Columbia County and all of those involved in helping Hudson Valley Creamery open operations in the Capital Region. The company’s new processing facility not only promotes the reuse of our vacant sites, but also means the creation of new jobs in the local area. We welcome the company to New York, and look forward to its success.”

Hudson Valley Creamery will use the $300,000 grant to further assist their start-up, which has already seen more than $2 million in private investment. The company has completed phase 1 of their start-up, which included the conversion of their new state-of-the-art cheese producing and packaging plant, housed in the site formerly abandoned by Entenmann’s over a decade ago. During phase 1, the company created 25 full-time jobs to produce and package artisan cheeses.

Hudson Valley Creamery hopes to continue working together with Assemblyman Lopez, Senator Saland, Congressman Gibson and the community to further strengthen New York State’s attention to goat milk and product development. Most goat dairy producers in New York State are small family farms that are producing just enough milk for boutique goat-dairy production (most commonly as goat cheese or soap). Hudson Valley Creamery hopes to widen this industry by encouraging more commercial production in New York State to help create jobs and strengthen New York’s agriculture.

“Eurial and their dairy processing fits in so well with our rural economy, and we look forward to the opportunity for New York farms to lead the Northeast in this emerging market,” said Todd Erling, Executive Director of Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation.

“All of us understand the significance of advancing projects like this across New York State,” concluded Assemblyman Lopez. “Investment in Hudson Valley Creamery and other farm-based companies can make a difference for Columbia County and the state as a whole. We’re aggressively seeking to identify other opportunities that will bring new jobs and investment into our region.”