Aid sought for hub that will package food
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.