Second parcel considered for food hub; Regional farmers said to benefit
MONTICELLO, NY — Sullivan County legislators heard a presentation on April 3 about a proposed food hub for which the county is being asked to allocate funds.
The food hub is a project of the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), and is a public/private partnership with a company called Ginsburg Food. Walter Garigliano, the attorney for the IDA, said the company is a family business that has been in the food distribution business for 100 years.
Some of the legislators had questioned the proposed location of the operation, which was to have been built on a seven-acre parcel in the industrial park in Glen Wild, but most of the farms in Sullivan County are located in the western part of the county.
Garigliano explained that the operator chose the Glen Wild location because it provides good access to the Route 209 corridor in Ulster County, which is the location of the farms in the Rondout Valley Growers Association, which has some 40 members, and is expected to provide significant product to be distributed through the hub. Further, the location provides closer access to an existing, underutilized wash-and-pack facility in Kingston.
He said other locations such as the industrial park at the Sullivan County Airport were considered and rejected by the operator. He said the operator also decided not to choose a location in Bloomingburg because “there’s enough going on down there already.”
Garigliano said there are two grants coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help pay for the facility: a $213,400 grant that may be used for equipment, supplies, training software and utility upgrades; and another grant for $89,353 that may be used for market research, a feasibility study and farmer training,
The IDA is granting $250,000 for this project. The IDA requested an Empire State Grant of $310,000 through the state Consolidated Funding Application, but was awarded only $200,000, leaving them $110,000 short of the expected cost of the project. The cost of the land on which the project was to be built was $125,000.
Garigliano said that four or five jobs would be tied directly to the new facility, but probably more significant would be the number of new producers who would be incentivized to grow crops that could be distributed through the facility.
Todd Erling, executive director of the Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation, said that the project is part of a larger inter-regional effort, which will include another hub project, which he said could more accurately be called a node, in Columbia County.
At a meeting of the legislature last month, five members of the legislature voted to table the resolution to grant the money because they had questions about the project.
Near the end of the meeting, legislator Alan Sorensen said that just a few days before the meeting, through the foreclosure process, the county had come into possession of a 24-acre parcel of land located just across the road from the proposed parcel in Glen Wild, and that land might be suitable for the project. If that turns out to be the case, he said, it could significantly lower the amount of funding sought from the county.
Garigliano said the analyst working on the project would examine the property to see if it would work.
Legislator Kitty Vetter, who was one of the lawmakers who voted to table the funding resolution, said “the tabling of the resolution was a good thing, so this dialogue could happen.”
Legislator Ira Steingart, who is also chairman of the board of the IDA and one of the lawmakers who voted to grant the money last month, said, due diligence is fine but, “we need to be more proactive to make sure development happens.”
Legislator Cora Edwards said in response, if Garigliano’s presentation had been made to the legislature earlier, the legislators might have “bought into” the project earlier. She said, “As long as you’re giving some of the information to some of the legislators some of the time, you will not get a 100% buy-in.”