County to host hops, grains study meeting

OBSERVER File Photo Developer Chris Lacorata, pictured, will be one of the presenters Wednesday to discuss growing hops in Chautauqua County.

MAYVILLE — More information will be released this week on the possibility of growing hops in Chautauqua County.

At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, George Borrello, county executive, and key project partners will be discussing the findings of the recent hops and grains processing facility study in the Chautauqua County Legislative Chambers on the third floor of the Gerace Office Building, located at 3 N. Erie St., Mayville.

The study was a dual effort undertaken by the county and developer Chris Lacorata to investigate the viability of creating a vertically integrated agribusiness using Chautauqua County as a centralized hub for growing and processing, with operations extending through the Western New York and Southern Tier regions.

The study was completed by First Key and was partially funded by Chautauqua County, Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, Gebbie Foundation, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation.

During the presentation of the study, Borrello and Lacorata will be joined by Mark Geise, deputy county executive for economic development/IDA CEO.

In March, the legislature approved funding $20,000 toward the $120,000 feasibility study. Half of the study was funded by Lacorata, who has 35 years experience in strategic development, with most of this time working in the beverage industry with corporations like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation pledged $20,000 and Northern Chautauqua County Foundation funding $7,500 toward the study as well.

In February, Lacorata gave a presentation to the legislature Planning and Economic Development Committee about a new concept called “Project Grow Chautauqua” that could be the start of growing hops and barley in the county. He has been working with a committee of local stakeholders, which includes the IDA, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Southern Tier West and the State University of New York at Fredonia on the concept that would be a dual industry with the hops and barley being grown for both the craft brewing and spirits industry as well as for the healthy foods industry.