Cheese Manufacturer Adding WNY Jobs

October 30, 2013 Updated Oct 30, 2013 at 11:35 PM EDT

By John Borsa

October 30, 2013 Updated Oct 30, 2013 at 11:35 PM EDT

A few years ago, AFA Foods closed its meat processing plant here and laid off its workforce after the company declared bankruptcy. Since then, this 80,000 square foot factory has been empty. But in a few short months, that will change.

"Successful economic development takes knowing what your assets are. And your assets in this particular case are your workforce, location and the available milk that's being produced here in Chautauqua County," said County Executive Gregory Edwards.

Empire Specialty Cheese Co. will invest $6.37 million to expand its business, moving operations to this plant. The company makes fresh ricotta and mozzarella cheese. 46 full-time employees will start working here right away and Empire says it will add up 204 jobs within five years.

The state is giving Empire $650,000 in tax incentives. And lawmakers say it is worth it.

"What really brought them here was the capacity for Chautauqua Co. to help them grow their jobs with the location and the workforce -- connecting the seller to the buyer and identifying the resources that were available to grow the business," said Edwards.

Not only will workers from the former meat processing plant have a chance to return to this site and earn a paycheck -- but Edwards says this is an even bigger win for local dairy farmers.

"It's going to provide a market for our local milk producers to market their milk because this is a specialty cheese manufacturing operation that has significant accounts around the nation."

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