State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R, C - Schenectady) joins Governor David A. Paterson in announcing that Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation is breaking ground on a new, 550,000-square-foot, "green certified" plant and headquarters in Florida, Montgomery County, which will expand New York’s manufacturing base, provide good jobs for residents and become a boon for local farmers.
Plans for the $124 million, all-natural baby-foods plant were initially announced last year, and include relocating Beech-Nut’s corporate headquarters from Missouri to New York State. The company will employ 356 people – including 135 news jobs – at the new state-of-the-art facility. Beech-Nut will also rely on locally-grown food for its products.
"With this milestone today, Beech-Nut is beginning a new era in its storied history in Upstate New York, and we are delivering on the promises that were made last year," said Governor Paterson. "This new plant represents the kind of cooperative efforts we need to strive for in New York State. In this case, we keep a business that is already here, attract new jobs and encourage the use home grown foods from our New York farmers. Not only is the company making a commitment to Upstate New York, but also to modern, ‘green’ technologies that will serve well into the future."
The company is replacing its aging Canajoharie plant. The 100-plus year old facility suffered extensive damages during the Mohawk River flooding in June 2006, scrapping prior plans to undertake a more modest equipment upgrade. The considerable flood damages prompted Beech-Nut’s decision to construct a new plant that will feature modernized processing equipment.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said: "Beech-nut has been an important part of the economy of New York State and the Mohawk Valley for more than a century, and my Assembly colleagues and I – especially former Assemblyman Paul Tonko – were instrumental in continuing that tradition of success with our support for this new manufacturing facility. By keeping Beech-nut in Montgomery County, this new plant will preserve or create nearly 500 jobs – an estimated three percent of all private sector jobs in the county – and support economic activity that will preserve even more jobs."
Senator Hugh Farley said: "The Beech-Nut brand is over 100 years old, and is highly respected. I commend the Governor and ESDC for helping to keep the plant in Montgomery County, not only retaining and expanding good jobs for local workers at Beech-Nut, but also continuing an important market for local farmers. This new "green" facility will keep the brand successful and will bring the company to greater heights."
Upstate Empire State Development Chairman Daniel C. Gundersen said: "This is a significant first step towards the Mohawk Valley’s economic revitalization. We applaud the leaders of this community for making this project a reality with today’s ground-breaking and look forward to Beech-Nut’s continued contributions to the region."
Last week, New York State granted the company the environmental permits necessary to begin construction. In the last year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has worked proactively and cooperatively with the company, achieving a quick turnaround to get the necessary environmental permits, while also ensuring energy and water conservation, water infrastructure upgrades and habitat and wetlands protection.
The state collaborated with Beech-Nut to address potential issues upfront in the process, including the toll on the local water system, the loss of wetlands and the loss of habitat for the Northern Harrier, a threatened marsh hawk. Beech-Nut will use modern technology to reduce water consumption by 40 percent and will tap into the City of Amsterdam’s water system to make sure waste-water is treated properly.
Plans are for the facility to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, making it one of the most "green" plants of its kind. The company will also set aside nearly 50 acres for wetlands and habitat mitigation – enough room for the Northern Harrier to continue to thrive in the area – and create green open space around the plant site. Furthermore, air quality will improve as emissions from the new production facility will be less than those from the production facilities that are being replaced.
Beech-Nut began as a family business in Canajoharie in 1891, producing meats. The company entered the baby foods industry in 1931, and went on to become the first in the industry to remove added salt from their products. Today, Beech-Nut produces more than 150 all-natural products and is the only major company to offer baby food free of added sugar.