Schuyler County Partnership Embraces Opportunities with Upstate Revitalization Initiative Win
Click here to read the fully Schuyler County White Paper, which shares the larger vision for a bi-national ultra-premium wine, craft beverage and culinary region that fosters innovation within the culinary & vinification sciences.
The New York Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) is part of an overall program aimed at systematically revitalizing the economy of Upstate New York. Modeled after the success of the Buffalo Billion Initiative, the URI is an opportunity for the communities of upstate New York to address the economic challenges of their regions and work together in bringing jobs back upstate. In January of this year Governor Cuomo along with other community and business leaders announced the URI program and the partnership between the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC).
Schuyler County has four projects that are in line for funding the first year alone. These projects are:
- Removal of Watkins Glen WWTP from Seneca Lake waterfront (DEC). $600,000 URI funding leveraging nearly $25,000,000 additional public and private funding.
- Ultra Premium Beverage Center in Schuyler Business Park – Phase 1. $1,000,000 URI funding; $5,000,000 additional private-sector leverage.
- Vineyard Reclamation and Replacement Program – Year 1. $500,000 URI funding.
- Southern Tier Agriculture Education Fund, including a Viticulture NYS Certified Apprenticeship Program. The entire fund will include $2,500,000 in URI funding over the five year period.
In addition, Project Seneca’s efforts to continue the revitalization of the Seneca Lake waterfront and canalway were specifically identified as a “Signature Project” in year 2 and beyond.
Here is a more detailed explanation of the proposed programs:
Premium beverage processing: The Southern Tier is home to a growing premium beverage industry that includes liquors, spirits, wine and beer. Schuyler County is the fourth-ranked county in the state for the number of wineries (NYS Wine and Grape Foundation). The total number of beverage firms in the region has increased 85% in the past decade, and in 2013 alcohol manufacturing produced more than $4.5 million for the region. The Food and Agriculture Initiative will support growth in this industry by connecting small and startup companies with processing/packaging resources that maximize profit in the premium beverage industry, including the construction of regional facilities to enhance capacity. In particular, a centralized location for wine production, warehousing and distribution is needed.
The Ultra Premium Beverage Center, to be undertaken by Three Leaf Partners of California and located in the Schuyler County Business Park, will address logistic issues related to the production and export of ultra-premium wines. This facility is modeled after those in California that reduce overhead costs, storage and shipping expenses of independent wineries. Phase 1, to be undertaken in 2016, involves construction of a 20,000-square-foot facility and will employ 20 people.
Vineyard Reclamation and Replacement Program in several counties, including Schuyler, Steuben and Tompkins. There is a shortage of vinifera grapes in the region, which is preventing wineries from increasing production to meet demand. It is projected that each 25,000-case winery results in 15-20 full-time, year-round jobs and up to an additional 30 part-time, seasonal positions.
The Viticulture NYS Certified Apprenticeship Program will address the need for skilled labor in wineries, identified as a significant barrier to future growth for the entire industry. For example, Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development is working with wineries and local colleges to create New York State Certified Apprenticeship Programs modeled after similar apprenticeships in California and Europe.
To read the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council URI plan, visit: