Aid sought for hub that will pack­age food

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

Ulster County In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Agency of­fi­cials have been asked to contribute $20,000 of the $60,000 cost of es­tab­lish­ing a food pack­ag­ing hub through Arc of Ulster-Greene.

At a meet­ing last week of the gov­ern­ing board of the county agency, Galileo Tech­nol­ogy Group part­ner Vin­cent Coz­zolino said the fa­cil­ity would be part of a net­work of pro­duc­ers who want to keep their prod­ucts pro­cessed within the re­gion.

“We have a ris­ing, artisan, food-pro­cess­ing, food-man­u­fac­tur­ing clus­ter de­vel­op­ing in Ulster County and there’s an in­ter­est to con­tinue that to grow,” he said.

“We’ll cre­ate artisan food man­u­fac­tur­ing pods, a bunch of them ... (and) we’ll fit that space up. We’ll go out and at­tract food man­u­fac­tur­ing star­tups us­ing some of our other part­ners — (such as) Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity, Culi­nary In­sti­tute (of Amer­ica) — we’ll find these com­pa­nies, we’ll bring them in here, we’ll set them up, we’ll give them all the equip­ment nec­es­sary to run.”

Arc of Ulster-Greene has two build­ings on Cor­nell Street with about 15,000 square feet of space for­merly used for work pro­grams un­til state fund­ing was re­duced.

“All they do now is col­lect bot­tles,” Coz­zolino said. “Five-cent bot­tles and trade them in for eigh­tand-a-half cents.”

Arc of Ulster-Greene works with about 1,300 peo­ple with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties. Gary Bel­lows, Arc busi­ness devel­op­ment of­fi­cer, said in a tele­phone in­ter­view that the pro­posal will be re­viewed by the Arc board of di­rec­tors, but added he is en­thu­si­as­tic about the op­por­tu­nity, which would al­low com­pa­nies to con­sider hir­ing from the pool of peo­ple who helped dur­ing the startup op­er­a­tions.

Bel­lows also said there had been a peak work­force of about 300 peo­ple when fund­ing was avail­able, but the amount has dwin­dled to about 45 peo­ple at an El­lenville work site. How­ever, there is an am­ple pool of qual­i­fied em­ploy­ees cur­rently avail­able.

“If to­mor­row it was at full ca­pac­ity, we prob­a­bly could sup­ply at least 100 peo­ple,” he said.

“The one thing that I think is im­por­tant, and I don’t think peo­ple un­der­stand this, but roughly 90 per­cent of all peo­ple with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties are un­em­ployed.

There’s a very small amount that are (em­ployed), so any­time we can cre­ate a job or get some­body with a de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­ity a job in Ulster County, it’s a real win.”

Agency board members said the pro­posal to contribute to­ward the project would be con­sid­ered at a fu­ture meet­ing.

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