With farmers and agricultural producers struggling to find buyers in an economy battered by a pandemic, Erie County has two projects underway that aim to generate business. One is still in development while the other is ready now for growers to log in, register and be seen by potential customers.
Available now is the website Erie Grown, which offers listings of open farms, produce stands and other agricultural product distributors. The website was created by the recently formed Erie County Office of Agriculture.
Another initiative, which Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz discussed during a recent COVID-19 briefing, is the development of a future Agribusiness Park in the Town of Evans. Land has been acquired for the project at the site of the former Angola Airport. The next steps include finalizing a master plan which would include utility setup and reworking of the old airstrip to accommodate truck traffic.
"What it does, is it connects producers with businesses that sell agricultural products," Poloncarz explained. "What we're also trying to do is create a hub for industry that relies on agricultural products but often you don't think of as an as a local producer or user of agricultural products."
He cited Rich Products, Goya and Perry's as examples of companies that use agricultural products made in the region.
"What we're hoping it will be is a business park of producers of products that rely on the agriculture of our community to continue to grow," he added.
The agribusiness park was first proposed years ago but had been held up by the effort to acquire the land. Two years ago, the Erie County Industrial Development Agency agreed to use $1.2 million in grant funding to purchase land. Poloncarz credited National Grid with providing grant money.