On Wednesday morning, Edwards, along with several members of his economic development staff, announced that a deal has been finalized that will bring the Empire Specialty Cheese Co. into the former AFA Foods facility in the town of North Harmony.
Edwards says that he is obviously pleased that the county was able to find a new occupant for the facility, less than two years after AFA Foods closed its doors.
The outgoing County Executive also said he was very appreciative of what Empire Specialty Cheese co-owner Tony Carparco had to say about expanding operations into Chautauqua County. “During today’s announcement, he said this is percisely where anyone who is looking to locate their business ought to call because of the quality of the people who worked on this deal, the capacity of Chautauqua county to close a deal, the quality of people that are here to work and the quality of life that is available in Chautauqua County.'”
EDWARDS CALLS OUT RON JOHNSON FOR CRITICISM OF AFA FOOD LOCATION
The current county executive also said that announcement shows that his economic development team is doing its job, despite recent criticism from Democratic county executive candidate Ron Johnson.
“This is a company that governor Chris Christie’s team was courting dramatically, trying to get them to relocate to New Jersey,” Edwards said. “We won that race again, just like we won it against China, just like we won it against Sweden and just like we won it against southern states, and that’s because of who were are, what we offer, and the quality of our economic development teams. So for Ron Johnson – who said it couldn’t be done and who was proclaiming he should be hired because it wasn’t being done – well, he’s wrong again. He’s wrong on the facts, wrong on the realities and wrong for Chautauqua County.”
Edwards was referencing a recent photo featuring the Ron Johnson campaign, showing him out in front of the AFA Foods location and citing the loss of jobs in Chautauqua County during the past seven years.
Last week, the Chautauqua County Legislature voted unanimously to have the county apply for a $616,000 grant on Empire Specialty Cheese’s behalf from the New York State Office of Community Renewal. The money would go toward financing a portion of the cost of equipment and working capital required to establish operations at the former AFA site.
Empire Specialty Cheese currently operates in Conewango Valley, where it has been in operation since 2000. The company currently employs 45 people, but plans to grow to more than 200 employees within five years at the new facility in North Harmony.