ASHVILLE – An international cheese company that first opened a local operation in Chautauqua County three years ago is now closing its doors.
On Monday afternoon Chautauqua County officials announced they had received news that Castelli America closed its Ashville facility on Friday, Dec. 6. The closure affects approximately 50 employees.
The Nuovo Castelli Group, which is based in Italy, is a producer and distributor of a variety of Italian cheeses. It initially purchased the former Empire Specialty Cheese manufacturing plant, located at 5151 Fairbanks Rd. in Ashville in September 2016.
Acting Chautauqua County executive Steve Abdella said that despite the county, the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, the State and Federal governments all providing assistance to the company in the form of low-interest loans, grants, and technical assistance, officials were informed that Castelli America has been experiencing challenges related to production and sales.
According to recent news releases, officials with Castelli will plan to sell their entire operation to Lactalis, the largest multi-national dairy products cooperation in the world. Lactalis is headquartered in France and has several locations in the U.S.
The facility has benefited from more than $8 million in upgrades to its equipment, building structure, and waste treatment facilities. Just last year Castelli was able to secure two federally-funded Community Development Block Grants to expand the facility and create additional jobs.
Deputy County Executive for Economic Development Mark Geise said the IDA is hopeful that the facility will be attractive to potential new operators.
“This is a state-of-the-art facility with a ready source of milk producers, and the CCIDA is hopeful that the facility will be attractive to potential new operators,” Geise said.
“We don’t know what the sale of Castelli America to Lactalis will mean yet for the Ashville facility,” said Abdella. “Chautauqua County and the CCIDA are doing everything in their power to assist the company and its employees. We have contacted the Chautauqua County Workforce Development Board to help connect displaced workers with current job openings and available re-training programs. We are also in discussions with the State to help the displaced workers, and to find a purchaser for the facility if Lactalis decides to not keep it open.”