GENEVA — In September, RealEats Company President and CEO Dan Wise said a major expansion of the packaged meals manufacturer was in the works.
On Friday, that expansion was revealed, and it’s a big one.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the company, based at the Geneva Enterprise Development Center on Genesee Street, is planning a nearly $2 million expansion that will lead to RealEats adding up to 400 jobs over the next five years, in addition to the approximately 30 employees that work there now. The expansion is set to begin immediately.
Wise, who brought the operation to Geneva in 2017, credited the support of state and local governments for helping make the expansion happen.
“Partnering with New York State, Ontario County and the city of Geneva has enabled RealEats to make it simple for thousands of consumers to have access to real food, solving the classic dinner dilemma Americans face each day,” Wise said in a news release issued Friday. “Locating in one of the richest agricultural food sheds in the northeast, supporting local farms and employment is what we believe to be a unique and impactful template for a more sustainable and healthy food future. The bounty of this region in both agriculture and talent is a perfect match for RealEats. We are beyond proud to see our Geneva team produce amazing meals from local ingredients that help time-pressed Americans take better care of themselves.”
The state said the expansion “builds on the Finger Lakes’ vibrant agriculture and food processing sector that is a central part of the regionally designed Finger Lakes Forward economic development plan.”
Geneva City Manager Sage Gerling said that the “city is appreciative of the state, Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and Ontario County’s economic development partnership in fostering RealEats’ expansion within the city’s kitchen. These community development infrastructure investments forward the thriving entrepreneurial spirit of the Finger Lakes Food and Beverage Innovation District here in Geneva.”
The state said the project is getting a $500,000 Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative Grant. RealEats also is eligible for up to $3 million through the Excelsior Tax Credit Program in exchange for promised job commitments. The company also got $1.1 million in Community Development Block Grant funds through New York State Homes and Community Renewal that was awarded to the city and Ontario County over the past two years.
Local leaders chimed in on the news.
• State Sen. Pamela Helming, R-54 of Canandaigua: “This announcement demonstrates that the Finger Lakes region’s agriculture industry and food processing sector is truly renowned across New York State and our nation. RealEats America’s decision to expand its operations into the city of Geneva, the heart of a region already famous for its vibrant food and beverage offerings, will bring more prominence and notoriety to our community.”
• Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-131 of Canandaigua: “RealEats’ expansion in the city of Geneva is a great example of the mutual trust the company has in our region and the community’s faith in its product. We welcome the new jobs that will come with this growth as well as all the ancillary benefits associated with the company’s continued success.”
• Former State Sen. Mike Nozzolio: “Real Eats brings to Geneva and the Finger Lakes region energy, excitement and jobs in the dynamic food sector. By combining great food ingredients from the region, world class chefs preparing meals and internet-based direct on-line order and home delivery, Real Eats is a job producer for our region today, and is positioned to be a significant contributor to the economic future of the Finger Lakes.”