GENEVA — An infusion of state money will help the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station modernize its Fruit and Vegetable Processing Pilot Plant.
State Sen. Mike Nozzolio, R-54 of Fayette, announced the $3.4 million allocation Tuesday. He said it would create local jobs and keep the region on the cutting edge of research and development.
“This funding is a gigantic first step in bringing the Food Science mission of Cornell into the next century,” Nozzolio said in a press release. “We are fortunate here in the Finger Lakes to be home to one of the world’s top agricultural research centers. This funding will provide the modern infrastructure necessary to expand the quality and efficiency of New York’s entire food processing industry.”
The New York State Food Venture Center uses the processing plant for its product and business development operations. The Center serves 2,500 companies a year, many of them start-up processors.
Dr. Tom Burr, the station’s director, said the plant also serves the cider, wine, brewing and distilling industries. It badly needs an upgrade, he said.
“This is 1950s-vintage [equipment], so it’s failing as far as infrastructure,” he said.
The plant is located in the Agriculture Sciences Research Laboratory, previously known as the Food Science Laboratory. The station hopes eventually to renovate the entire building, a $47 million project.
The plant was the first priority, however.
“We certainly can do a significant amount of work with $3.4 million and improve that facility to where it will be more functional and be able to serve better the food and agriculture industries in the state,” Burr said.
Nozzolio said the Food Venture Center has approved 6,600 projects for 1,718 entities since 2000. Those projects generated 859 full-time and 1,718 part-time jobs.
“The innovative work conducted at the Agricultural Experiment Station helps bolster upstate’s cornerstone industries,” Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-131 of Canandaigua, said in a press release. “This is exactly the kind of investment necessary to help revitalize our economy and generate jobs. I congratulate Sen. Nozzolio for his efforts to secure these critical resources.”
Burr said he was grateful for Nozzolio’s help. He called the allocation “amazing.”
“It really allows us to start a most needed project that’s going to have a huge impact on the station,” he said.
The design work is already done, he said, so the project could begin soon.