The success of the burgeoning yogurt industry has helped the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) be named the Industrial Development Agency of the year in upstate New York, for their work in developing the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia.
This is the second year in a row the GCEDC has won a major award from the upstate chapter of Real Estate Development Association, NAIOP for a development project.
Communications director for the Development Center, Rachael Tabelski, says the award is validating and encouraging.
“This award further validates that the strategy we’re working under, it does work, and it has created jobs in the area, and for a development organization we’re all very excited for the recognition, and look to move forward with other projects we have going on.”
Tabelski says between them, the companies have invested upward of $220 million and will create more than 230 jobs.
She says the success of the business park to date, reinforces the economic importance of agriculture and food manufacturing in the region.
Tabelski says the agriculture sector is not “recession-proof,” but it is durable and has continued to grow.
“This is something that the community can look at and say, ‘we can still see growth here while the rest of the economy is trying to pick up steam and get back on track' ... it’s something we can hang our hat on, it’s something we can move forward with for our economy.”
In August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosted the first New York State Yogurt Summit to hear ideas from industry leaders and farmers.
Between 2005 and 2011, the state’s yogurt plants doubled production and increased employment and wages in the sector by 14 percent.
Tabelski says the Agri-Park is a site companies can graduate to when they want to expand, but want to keep their business in western New York.
This is the first year the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP) has given an award for Industrial Development Agency of the year.
Last year, GCEDC won a NAIOP award for the MedTech Center in Batavia, an accelerator facility for life science companies.