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Grant to help former Kraft building become hops facility

NEW LIFE FOR VACANT WAREHOUSE

OBSERVER Photo by Natasha Matteliano Pictured is the former Kraft building on Talcott Street.

A vacant warehouse in Dunkirk has received funds to start the process to give it a new purpose.

On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Empire State Brands will receive $2,940,000 from Empire State Development to renovate a vacant food processing facility in Dunkirk. The project will include the development and launch a vertically-integrated growing, processing and packaging operation for the production of quality hops, malted barley, wheat, rye and other grain products. The new processing facility will enable further agricultural growth and create jobs in the region.

The grant will renovate the old Kraft building located on Talcott Street, last used by ConAgra.

The total project cost is approximately $14.7 million, and Thursday’s announcement is the first step toward that. The $2.94 million will assist Empire State Brands in leveraging private capital to get the facility purchased, renovated, and equipped.

A feasibility study completed in the fall by First Key, which was funded in part by the county, the CCIDA, and local foundations, demonstrated the viability of the proposed Empire State Brands model of an integrated grower/processor using Chautauqua County as a central hub of operations.

“Throughout the Regional Economic Development Council process over the past nine years, we have seen unprecedented regional investment focusing on a ground-up, strategic model that has spurred tremendous growth in every corner of this great state,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement Thursday. “By bringing together local leaders and stakeholders who are invested in their communities we have replaced the ‘one size fits all’ approach to economic development with one that is unique to each community, creating opportunities for success all across the Empire State.”

Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas was excited about the announcement. “Our development team worked hard with the county in formulating a nice application,” he told the OBSERVER.

“The county wanted this. We wanted this,” Rosas added. “It’s going to have a good impact regionally.”

The mayor took the time to thank Chautauqua County officials for working so diligently with the city in bringing this about, as well as the city’s development team and Gov. Cuomo.

“This is a competitive process that took us quite awhile to get together, but we’re all going to feel the positive impact this will have for the city,” he said.

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