Family-owned, employee-owned business will retain 228 employees and create 215 jobs in Western New York
Governor Kathy Hochul announced today that Great Lakes Cheese has opened a new state-of-the-art manufacturing and packaging facility in Franklinville and Farmersville. With a capital investment of more than $518 million, the project is the largest infrastructure investment in company history and the largest economic development project in Cattaraugus County history. Great Lakes Cheese will retain 228 jobs in the region, while adding an additional 215 employees. It will also double its milk consumption to 1.42 billion pounds per year, which will directly benefit New York dairy farmers. The new plant will replace the existing facility in Cuba, New York upon project completion in 2025.
“New York’s economic recovery is stronger than ever and Great Lakes Cheese’s new state-of-the-art manufacturing and packaging facility is a historic victory for Western New York,” Governor Hochul said. “The new facility – the largest economic development project in Cattaraugus County’s history – will provide a tremendous boost to the region’s economic growth, nearly double the company’s workforce and increase the stability of dairy farms in our state. I have never been more hopeful for the future of Cattaraugus County and Western New York as we continue to make historic investments to improve the lives of hard-working New Yorkers.
Great Lakes Cheese CEO Dan Zagzebski said: “Great Lakes Cheese was uncompromising in finding a site that worked for our employee-owners, our business and the local community. Franklinville ticked every box. The community has understood and adopted our vision “Together, for generations to come”. They have partnered with us on this historic investment so that generations of employee-owners can thrive in Western New York.
Great Lakes Cheese is a national manufacturer and packager of natural and processed bulk, shredded and sliced cheeses. The company has eight existing factories, including two manufacturing plants in New York, Cuba and Adams. The company is also building a new facility in Abilene, Texas, which is expected to open late this year. The increased capacity and capabilities of the new 500,000 square foot facility in Cattaraugus County will support Great Lakes Cheese’s growing network of facilities. The new facility and the company’s processing facility in the North Country will together use approximately 14.4% of New York’s total milk production.
Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency, awarded a $3.7 million grant and up to $14.6 million in tax credits from the state’s Excelsior Jobs Program. New York based on performance in exchange for the creation of 215 new jobs. ESD’s Excelsior jobs program encourages businesses to grow and relocate to New York City while maintaining strict accountability standards to ensure businesses meet their employment and investment commitments. Additionally, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) will provide over 5.3 megawatts of low-cost ReCharge NY electricity to support the facility.
Hope Knight, Acting Empire State Development Commissioner and President and Chief Executive Designate, said: “As Great Lakes Cheese opens an impressive new manufacturing facility and nearly doubles its local workforce, the company secures its long-term future in Western New York. We are thrilled to support Great Lakes Cheese as it begins its next chapter in New York State.
New York Power Authority Interim Chairman and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said: “NYPA is proud to support Great Lakes Cheese’s expansion, which will create 200 jobs and have a significant impact on the economy of Cattaraugus County. NYPA hydroelectricity is the backbone of economic development in Western New York and our support for this project builds on the tens of thousands of jobs already supported by the Niagara Power Project.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said: “This is great news for New York Dairy, the largest sector of New York’s agriculture industry. Great Lakes Cheese has a long history of producing some of our state’s finest dairy products, and we’re thrilled to see them continue to grow, increasing demand for milk from New York dairy farmers and creating more than 200 new jobs – all great news for our dairy industry. This expansion will help solidify the future of Great Lakes Cheese and ensure that New York State remains a national dairy leader, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them.
Cattaraugus County IDA Executive Director Corey R. Wiktor said: “We are honored to warmly welcome Great Lakes Cheese to Cattaraugus County! This is the largest private economic development project in the history of this great county. We now have a golden opportunity to combine an industry-leading, family-run business with Cattaraugus County’s dairy and agricultural heritage and industry. Our partners at Empire State Development have been absolutely instrumental in helping this project come to fruition in Farmersville.
Family-owned and employee-owned, Great Lakes Cheese celebrated its 60th anniversary in business in 2018. The company’s long-standing record of investing in thriving communities is directly tied to the fact that the company operates within a culture of ownership. Through its employee share ownership plan, all employees have a stake in the company and share in the rewards.
State Senator George M. Borrello said: “Today’s groundbreaking for the new home of Great Lakes Cheese represents a transformative moment for this valuable New York State company and the culmination of years of effort, planning, problem solving and collaboration. My congratulations and gratitude go out to the Epprecht family, the company’s leadership team, and the broad coalition of state and local partners who shared our determination that this region was the best place for Great Lakes to Cheese realizes its vision of the future. I was proud that my team and I were able to advocate for keeping this project in the district, protecting jobs, and ensuring that dairy farms will benefit from an expanded market. This project will be a game changer in the best sense of the word, and I look forward to the great successes that lie ahead.
Assemblyman Joe Giglio said: “This ground breaking is the start of great things to come for our region and for Great Lakes Cheese. I am so happy that the company has chosen to stay in Western New York and that its management has recognized the value of this part of the state. We have a skilled and dedicated workforce and abundant resources for the dairy industry. It is gratifying that months of negotiations will not only keep hundreds of jobs here, but create even more. This successful factory relocation is the result of the hard work, diligence and cooperation of the Great Lakes Cheese management team and numerous government and local officials and agencies.
Farmersville Deputy Town Supervisor Mark Heberling said: “It’s a historic moment for our city to rediscover its cheese roots. With the majority of facilities located in Farmersville, we know this will have a positive impact on our residents and the surrounding community for generations to come. We couldn’t be happier and more hopeful for the future. We would like to thank everyone involved, the Epprecht family, the Cattaraugus County Legislature, the Cattaraugus County IDA and the landowners, including Kody Sprague and Jason Schwab, for their foresight and perseverance.
Village of Franklinville Mayor Michael Sikora said: “We are thrilled to be part of the largest project in Cattaraugus County’s history, one that is helping to retain local jobs and create even more. That being said, we are also seeing renewed commercial interest in Franklinville. This is promising for Franklinville and for small American towns. Everything is welcome.
About Great Lakes Cheese
Great Lakes Cheese is a leading award-winning manufacturer and packager of natural and processed bulk, shredded and sliced cheeses. Great Lakes Cheese, the nation’s largest natural cheese packer, serves grocery stores, clubs and supermarkets, as well as restaurant chains and foodservice distributors. The company has a national footprint with facilities in Ohio, New York, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and one under construction in Texas. Family-owned and employee-owned, Great Lakes Cheese celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2018.