ITHACA, N.Y. – To spur local job creation and to gain an edge in agricultural research, New York state Sen. Michael Nozzolio (R-54th Dist.) has secured $3.4 million in state funding to help create a state-of-the-art facility supporting food entrepreneurs at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, New York.
The funds will go toward the $13 million needed to modernize the Fruit and Vegetable Processing Pilot Plant, which is Phase I of the proposed $47 million Agricultural Science Research Laboratory project.
“We thank Sen. Nozzolio for his strong support of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and of our programs in Geneva,” said Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “This funding will be important for improving facilities on the Geneva campus and addressing the challenges and opportunities of New York’s food and agriculture industries.”
NYSAES is renowned for helping farmers and entrepreneurs start new businesses that create and retain jobs throughout the state. The Fruit and Vegetable Processing Pilot Plant is the cornerstone facility in which the New York State Food Venture Center carries out product and business development operations. The Food Venture Center responds to 3,500 inquiries for assistance on marketing food products per year.
“This funding is a gigantic first step in bringing the food science mission of Cornell into the next century,” said Nozzolio. “This mission has been successful in growing food processing jobs throughout New York state, and this funding will give the experiment station the tools necessary to continue on the cutting edge of food processing developments.”
Cornell’s Food Venture Center works with small- and large-scale food entrepreneurs to meet the regulatory, safety and stability standards required to produce products for sale.
Local companies such as Mott’s, Rich Products Corp., Seneca Foods, Wegmans, Dinosaur Barbecue and Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva have all been helped. Many wineries and breweries take advantage of extension classes offered there, and wine samples are sent to the vinification lab for analysis and testing.
Since 2000, the Food Venture Center has approved 6,600 products for 1,718 businesses generating 859 full-time and 1,718 part-time jobs. In 2013 alone, 836 products for 265 entities were approved in the state, which translates to 132 full-time and 265 part-time jobs.
The New York State Wine Analytical Lab, the Vinification and Brewing Lab, the National Good Agricultural Practices Program and the Produce Safety Alliance rely on the research facility.
Proximity between the NYSAES and the adjacent technology farm is expected to foster opportunities through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Start-Up NY initiative.
“When this critical research infrastructure project is completed, Cornell and New York state will be able to welcome the most promising innovators in the business of food and agriculture to the experiment station for decades to come,” Boor said.