CCIDA Approves PILOT Incentives to Support Growers’ Co-op Facility Expansion

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Chautauqua County IDA

The County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) Board of Directors today approved a Payment in Lieu of Tax (PILOT) incentive providing Real Property Tax abatement for Growers’ Cooperative Grape Juice Company, Inc. The program will help ease initial property tax increases over the next 10 years following a $3.4 million capital investment to construct two new 500,000-gallon storage tanks and related infrastructure at the company’s facility.

The CCIDA and Growers’ Co-op have been in conversation for nearly two years in the planning and development of this expansion. The 38-foot-wide, 70-foot-tall tanks and an 800 square foot utility building are the latest additions as part of the organization’s continued growth, which will be in addition to the equipment still in operation from numerous expansions beginning in the 1960s.

“Growers’ Co-operative is proud to be a farmer-owned cooperative for 90 years.” said Steve Cockram, Growers’ General Manager. Cockram continued, “Our latest investment will help create a long-term, stable market for Chautauqua farmers by creating more capacity, which gives us a greater competitive edge over other grape-growing regions in Washington and Michigan. As a co-op, all earnings are returned to our local farmer-owners.”

Founded in 1929, the Growers’ Co-op is situated in Chautauqua County, in the largest Concord grape growing region in the world. The Westfield facility expansion will result in one million gallons of additional storage, promoting the ability for local farmers to grow and preserve more grapes, thereby helping to meet the increased demand for single-strength juice by the region’s growing wine industry.

“This exciting project matches Chautauqua County’s ongoing efforts to support initiatives that grow and promote business and culture in our region,” said George Borrello, Chautauqua County Executive. “We’ve had the privilege of working with incredible partners in Steve Cockram and the Growers’ Co-operative, who are committed to the same mission. They truly demonstrated a shared vision through their market research and analysis, which were integral in determining the need and viability of this project.”

“There are a number of exciting benefits resulting from the installation of this juice storage equipment, and Chautauqua County is proud to have worked with Growers’ Co-op to uncover incentives to make their construction possible,” said Mark Geise, Deputy Chautauqua County Executive for Economic Development and Chief Executive Officer of the CCIDA. “Benefits include the support of local farmers, expansion of our Concord grape agriculture market, and tourism as it pertains to our burgeoning wine industry. We also see immediate and long-term benefits through the creation of employment opportunities.”

The construction activities resulting from the project will employ approximately 20 contractors full-time for up to four months. In the long-term, the tanks will have the capacity to hold roughly 700 acres of crop from local farmers, or six 125-acre farms, each requiring two full-time employees plus positions available for up to five harvesters.

“Westfield has long been the proud home of Growers’ Cooperative Grape Juice Company, and it is remarkable to see its growth over nearly a century,” said Michael VandeVelde, Mayor of the Village of Westfield. “We look forward to seeing the results of this project and continuing to work with the Growers’ and Chautauqua County on future growth opportunities.”

“The expansion of the Growers’ Co-op facility is a demonstration of and commitment to our region’s potential for agricultural advancement,” said Martha Bills, Town of Westfield Supervisor. “The new tanks will have a positive impact on helping expand our important local grape economy.”

About CCIDA

The CCIDA is an economic development organization authorized and empowered by the State of New York to make Chautauqua County a better place to work, live, visit, and conduct business. The organization facilitates development by attracting new businesses, while promoting the retention and expansion of existing businesses. Assistance in the form of incentives – tax abatements, low interest loans, and bond financing – enhances the opportunities for job creation and retention for our businesses. For more information visit www.ccida.com.