Empire State Development (ESD) today announced that O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc., a dairy cooperative based in Genesee County, will construct a more than 20,000-square-foot addition at its production facility.
In an effort to meet the growing demand of its customers, the cooperative will install a new retort beverage production line and install support equipment at its facility located at the corner of Cedar and Ellicott in the City of Batavia. The additional space will facilitate the addition of up to 20 new jobs; 440 jobs will be retained.
The cooperative expects to have the new line up and running sometime next fall.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council is supporting the growth of food processing companies, like O-AT-KA dairy cooperative, which will be retaining hundreds of jobs and hiring additional employees to help them on their path to continued success.”
O-AT-KA’s production facility ensures there is a market for milk produced by more than 400 farms in the Western, Finger Lakes and Central New York regions.
The cooperative is majority owned by Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., which is headquartered in Buffalo, New York and also by Dairy Farmers of America, a cooperative with a strong presence in Central New York.
Michael Fuchs, O-AT-KA’s Chief Financial Officer and project manager said, “This project supports our continued growth and will allow us to meet growing market demands for our products.
"The support we continue to receive from ESD, GCEDC and our Board of Directors is a testament to their commitment to the livelihood of our dairy farmer owners and to our position as a leading employer in Western New York.”
Empire State Development is providing a total of up to $750,000 for the project through a Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Grant. Genesee County Economic Development Agency also offered incentives for the enterprise. The total project cost is $34.5 million.
Supporting agribusiness is a top priority for the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and the locally designed the Finger Lakes Forward economic development plan.
Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Bob Duffy said, “The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council is committed to supporting projects that grow jobs. Agriculture is an important industry and a key driver of our regional economy.
"This expansion project will also create solid opportunities for area farmers, shaping the future of the region’s agricultural industry, helping to move the Finger Lakes forward.”
State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer said, "Agribusiness is Genesee County's number one economic driver, and growing demand for milk products produced by our local dairy farmers will help to reinforce this important industry.
"Today's announcement by O-AT-KA Milk Products will further strengthen our local economy. I commend Genesee County's largest private-sector employer for continuing to create jobs for Western New York residents."
Assemblyman Steve Hawley said, “Economic development and business expansion, especially when it comes to the dairy sector, is tremendously important to our region. I am pleased to see that not only will O-AT-KA be expanding its production, but also adding 20 new jobs to solidify itself as a top-tier producer in Western New York.
"The support of businesses and job creation at the state level benefits our entire community, and this is a prime example of our state’s agricultural sector rising to one of the best in the nation. I look forward to the continued prominence of our area’s farmers and producers and am proud to share in their success.”
Steve Hyde, president & chief executive officer of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, said, “The GCEDC is proud to assist O-AT-KA Milk Products, the largest private sector employer in Genesee County, to expand its operations. O-AT-KA is an industry leader through innovation and commitment to excellence.
"Through our collaboration with Empire State Development and the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, we are demonstrating that companies like O-AT-KA can grow and prosper in New York State.”
O-AT-KA’s name was taken from the Seneca Native Americans, and means leaving the highlands or approaching an opening. The “highlands” refers to Wyoming County, New York and the “opening” refers to the Genesee River flowing into Lake Ontario.
The cooperative opened in 1959 with only five employees and has since grown to provide employment tomore than 440 people contributing to growth in the local economy. O-AT-KA has long-term business relationships with many Fortune 500 listed manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers.