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State approves funding for upstate food and agriculture projects


Empire State Development approved funding for two upstate food and agriculture related measures in their meeting Friday.

Farmers in upstate New York will soon have a new place to take their produce for processing and packaging. Empire State unanimously approved the allocation of three grants to the Growing Upstate Food Hub in Canastota village, near Syracuse.

The facility will receive over $2.5-million in funding through a Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) grant to restore a vacant 45-thousand square foot building to house the hub. The project will also receive funding for energy efficiency and a capital grant for equipment.

ESD Central New York Regional Director Jim Fayle says the project was one of their top priorities recently, given the region’s strong agricultural base.

“This should stabilize this facility, have it equipped sufficiently enough that it will not need additional support," said Fayle.

Fayle says the project is expected to be completed within 18-months.

The ESD also approved $2-million in funding for Niagara County Community College to finance the reuse of the old Rainbow mall in downtown Niagara Falls. ESD Acting Chairman Kenneth Adams says the space will operate as a regional culinary center.

“Bringing students and now restaurants, food lovers and people. You know wine tasting events, other food promotional events right to the heart of Niagara Falls in what otherwise had been a derelict facility in which no one could imagine a future, so in that regard it’s a really terrific project,” Adams says.

The Niagara Falls project is expected to be completed within the next month and create 30 new jobs.

A range of other projects for the state were also approved for funding on Friday.

Ashley is a Buffalo native, and is in her second stint as reporter at WBFO. During her first tenure at the station, Ashley covered a variety of issues in the western New York region and earned an Associated Press award for team coverage on “Same Sex Marriage in New York.” Ashley has also worked as an anchor/reporter at WBEN in Buffalo and WBTA in Batavia.