September 20, 2011
Dairy plant decision expected by Oct.
C’ville biz park up against Auburn, Cayuga County in bid for 120,000-square-foot facility
CORTLANDVILLE — A group of 28 large dairy farms is looking at the Finger Lakes East Business Park on Route 13 and two other sites in Cayuga County to build a 120,000-square-foot milk processing facility that would create up to 60 jobs.
Cayuga Marketing, a Cayuga County-based consortium of dairy farms in Tompkins, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Wayne counties, is looking to build a facility to process milk, said Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and Industrial Development Agency.
VanGorder said Monday that the group of dairy farmers was still weighing its options. He expected Cayuga Marketing to make its decision by mid-October.
“We’re a finalist,” VanGorder said. “I feel pretty good. It’s potentially a major project for Cortland County. The fact that we’re in the conversation is a good thing.”
The Auburn Citizen first reported Cayuga Marketing’s interest in the Cortland County’s business park, as well as the two other sites in Cayuga County.
Officials from Cayuga Marketing have not returned more than a dozen calls in the last three weeks seeking comment.
VanGorder declined to talk about the other sites under consideration, which are industrial parks managed by the Cayuga County and Auburn industrial development agencies.
Construction will take place in two parts. In the first phase, a 120,000-square-foot facility will be built and require an estimated $70 million capital investment and up to 60 skilled workers.
The second phase could double the plant’s size within five years.
Cayuga Marketing plans to build the facility “to capture more of the consumer dollar while at the same time be able to control our hauling costs and farmer premiums,” according to its website.
The group of 28 farmers employs more than 520 people and has more than 50,000 cows. The group’s primary function is to market milk from its members.
VanGorder said engineers for the company are looking at each site to determine which best fits its needs. He said the company was asking questions about water and sewer rates and other issues.
The company will rely on regional suppliers in its work to process milk for resale as cream and other products to domestic and international markets, VanGorder said.
The 127- acre, $4.5 million Finger Lakes East Business park is near completion after 16 months of construction and years of planning.
VanGorder said the BDC-IDA is working to bring other companies to the park, but declined to provide any details because negotiations are ongoing.
Mike McMahon, chairman of the BDC-IDA and a Homer dairy farmer, said he did not think bringing Cayuga Marketing to Cortland would necessarily help local dairy farmers since the organization mostly markets its members’ milk.
But if Cayuga Marketing decides to build in Cortlandville, McMahon said it would be great for economic development in the county and an asset for the Finger Lakes business park .
“I’m very hopeful that we get it,” McMahon said.
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