With their own multi-million dollar investment and some help from New York State, nationally-known dairy producer HP Hood is taking over a former yogurt production plant in Batavia and will reopen it for their own milk production needs. At least 200 jobs are expected to be created.
The facility in which Hood will expand served as the home of Müller Quaker Dairy from 2013 to 2016. The company will invest more than $200 to refit the plant for its milk production. Operations are expected to begin in 2019 and the company, according to state officials, will employ more than 200 people.
"And then it helps us develop our dairy market, which is so important, especially in the Finger Lakes," Governor Cuomo said. "People forget, but the Finger Lakes is a great dairy production region. If it were a state, it would produce more milk than all but 14 other states."
The state is sweetening the deal for Hood by offering $2 million in capital grants and up to $5 million in tax incentives through its Excelsior program. The latter, Cuomo noted, is conditional and based on Hood's performance, including the job creation.
More than 100 jobs were eliminated when Müller Quaker closed its Batavia plant. State officials were asked about that short-lived venture, as well as the risks taken to bring Hood to town. Empire State Development president and CEO Howard Zemsky looked to Hood's name recognition and market presence as signs of hope.
"This is an extremely successful dairy company," said Empire State Development president and CEO Howard Zemsky. "We're thrilled we're expanding their footprint in Upstate New York. It's going to be great for dairy farmers in the industry."
Cuomo added his thoughts about losing a previous dairy venture, which was co-owned by beverage giant PepsiCo. He likened business development to a baseball game, stating that "not every pitch is a strike." He also noted that for every ten businesses, half are gone by five years and then, at ten years, only a third are left.
"That is the natural business cycle. That happens," Cuomo said. "You want to bring businesses to New York, you want to start ten businesses, then you'd better be ready at the end of five years to see a 50 percent dropoff and then be ready to re-purpose those facilities."
He added that if New York State didn't work to bring Hood to Batavia, another state would bring them elsewhere.