As devastating as the impending closing of the Carriage House facilities in Dunkirk and Fredonia may be, the rally that drew hundreds on Thursday to Barker Common in Fredonia was significant.
Area residents, union officials, mayors, state officials and a representative from state Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, Sam Hoyt, all participated in making their voice heard regarding ConAgra's decision to close a 100-year-old business in this region. Many are past disappointment. They are upset and angered.
They also want some assurance that ConAgra will help the workers who are being impacted, and for the facility for a future business or industry. Part of Hoyt's presence was to announce $50,000 from the state to hire a national consultant in marketing the building.
"Our governor believes our union work force is what sustains a community and creates the middle class, and we can't turn our back on them," he said. "The governor stands by you and he will be with you every step of the way."
Just as vital is the support workers and the area are receiving from other high places, including state Sen. Catharine Young, Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
These officials could make things tough on ConAgra in the future if the company does not cooperate fully while leaving the area. The corporation has been the recipient of numerous subsidies, so they do have to answer to federal government.
March's announcement is another bitter pill for this area, which has lost many businesses in recent decades. ConAgra's decision is final, but with representatives in Albany and Washington involved, there is a sense that the corporation has some accountability in helping this area move forward without it.