State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R, C - Schenectady) announced today with Governor Eliot Spitzer and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation, producer of all-natural baby foods, is investing more than $124 million in the construction of a new 650,000 square-foot processing and packaging plant in the town of Florida and relocating its corporate headquarters to this new facility.
Beech-Nut is currently headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. 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.
The company expects to retain and relocate 356 jobs at locations in nearby Canajoharie and Fort Plain. The new plant and headquarters will lead to the creation of 135 new jobs in the town of Florida.
The Empire State Development Corporation and Beech-Nut have agreed to a series of project milestones, through which the company will be eligible to apply for up to $18 million in funds for construction, and machinery and equipment costs. Under the agreement, Beech-Nut will receive the full amount upon reaching project targets set by the Empire State Development Corporation.
A portion of the funds will come from the Empire State Development Corporation’s JOBS Now grant program, which offers financing assistance for major business expansion and job creation efforts to private, non-retail companies. As the project is located in the Amsterdam Empire Zone, Beech-Nut will also be eligible for an estimated $42 million in Empire Zone benefits, based on meeting predetermined employment targets.
Beech-Nut has also reached an agreement with the Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency for up to $38.5 million in tax incentives. The company is eligible to apply for: a $2 million grant from the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA); a $750,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Community Renewal’s Office for Small Cities; and up to $250,000 in grants from National Grid. Beech-Nut also will receive $3 million from a State Assembly appropriation grant.
"Beech-Nut’s continued success in Montgomery County is a story of resilience," said Governor Spitzer. "Not only will this new facility expand the state’s manufacturing base, it will also be a boon for local farmers and the entire region."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "The presence of Beech-Nut’s parent corporation’s headquarters here in Montgomery County not only builds upon one of the nation’s prestigious food company’s long tradition in our state, but it also stabilizes our highly skilled manufacturing workforce with good paying jobs and confirms that New York State is a hospitable place to conduct business. From our farms to our suppliers to our processors to our wholesalers and retailers, we will make this state ‘number one’ all along this important economic food chain. Our joint commitment here today is to strengthen the economy of Montgomery County and all of the Mohawk Valley, a commitment the Assembly is backing up with an investment of $3 million."
Empire State Development Upstate Chairman Daniel Gundersen said, "We are pleased that a homegrown company like Beech-Nut continues to be so successful. The added benefit of having the Beech-Nut corporate headquarters here in the Town of Florida will have a positive effect throughout the County."
President and CEO of Beech-Nut Christoph Rudolf said, "Beech-Nut has been a proud contributor to the economy of upstate New York since our founding in 1891. We thank the state for giving us the opportunity to plant our roots even deeper and advance our mission of providing the best baby food available."
State Assemblyman Paul Tonko said, "The preservation of manufacturing jobs and the relocation of a major corporate headquarters to the Mohawk Valley is proof positive that an upstate economic resurgence has begun. This day would not have happened without the vision of Governor Eliot Spitzer, the steadfast leadership of Speaker Sheldon Silver and the collective efforts of our local officials. By working aggressively to retain and grow jobs in the food manufacturing industry, we strengthen our partnership with the agricultural community and help build the foundation for economic expansion right here in Montgomery County. I am thrilled about today’s great news."
1State Senator Hugh Farley said, "This is great news for people in Montgomery County. I am thrilled to have worked with Senator Chuck Schumer and Assemblyman Paul Tonko, true champions of our community, along with Governor Spitzer's new economic development team and our local officials, in not only keeping Beech-Nut, but in providing remarkable opportunities for economic growth."
Chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Thomas P. DiMezza said, "We are pleased that Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp. has chosen the Florida Business Park as the location to construct their new food processing facility and corporate headquarters from St. Louis. This investment by Beech-Nut in Montgomery County demonstrates once again that Montgomery County and upstate New York continue to be an attractive area for businesses to grow and prosper."
Town of Florida Supervisor William E. Strevy said, "We’re very happy that Beech-Nut has chosen the Florida Business Park to construct its state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. We’re happy to retain the jobs in Montgomery County and look forward to the future creation of 135 jobs."
NYSERDA President and CEO Peter R. Smith said, "NYSERDA welcomes the opportunity to work with Beech-Nut again. We have assisted in technical feasibility studies and upgrades of the Canajoharie site, and we are eager to offer our New Construction and Industrial Process Efficiency improvement programs to help them optimize their new Mohawk Valley facility."
Division of Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner and Housing Trust Fund Chair Deborah VanAmerongen said, "Beech-Nut's announcement today is welcomed news to the residents of Montgomery County and to all New Yorkers. It demonstrates in concrete terms Governor Spitzer's commitment to improving the business environment in upstate New York and providing jobs for its residents. I am pleased that the Office for Small Cities will be able to help defray the significant project costs associated with this critical endeavor."
National Grid Vice President Marilyn Higgins said, "National Grid was delighted to assist Empire State Development in accomplishing this complicated multi-jurisdictional project for the Mohawk Valley. Beech-Nut has historical significance for upstate NY, has been a great customer of ours for decades and will now grow and prosper here for years to come."
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.
This announcement marks the 15th upstate economic development project in 2007. It is projected that these projects will retain and create nearly 6,000 jobs. Some of these projects include: Sematech in Albany County; BAE Systems in Broome County; Corning, Inc. in Steuben County; Carestream Health in Monroe County; Bass Pro Shops and Citigroup in Erie County.