Upstate Niagara will acquire Kraft plant
CAMPBELL--Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Charles Schumer announced Friday, June 30 an agreement has been reached to save the Kraft-Heinz facility in Campbell, as well as at least 150 current employees.
Upstate Niagara, a dairy farmer cooperative that includes member farms from multiple regions in upstate New York, will acquire Kraft's Campbell facility and has committed to investing $10 million in new machinery and equipment.
"This agreement gives this facility a new lease on life, where it will continue to be an economic engine and major employer in the Campbell community for years to come," Cuomo said. "Make no mistake: This plant was in real danger of closing, which would have been devastating locally and caused ripple effects across the entire region and New York's dairy industry. I thank Senator Schumer for working with us on finding this great upstate company to purchase this factory and helping to ensure the future of this and the other Kraft-Heinz plants that were facing imminent shutdowns."
"Working together through many challenges--for over a year--we went from a grim situation, where the Campbell plant was on the verge of being boarded up, to where we are today: an upstate New York company will buy the plant and keep it open for business--to the great benefit of scores and scores of the plant's workers, as well as for regional dairy farmers and the local economy," Schumer said. "I am hopeful with New York's investment to modernize the Campbell plant there is a very real prospect we will be growing jobs here in the near future."
Upstate Niagara, a farm and dairy cooperative that has grown to include members from western New York, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, central New York, North Country and the Mohawk Valley, began producing dairy products in 1971. What began as Upstate Milk grew steadily for years, recently in the purchase of additional fluid and manufacturing facilities across upstate New York, from Buffalo to Batavia and Rochester, and up to North Lawrence. With over 360 family-owned and operated farms, Upstate Niagara Cooperative is one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the United States.
In November 2015, Cuomo and Schumer worked with Kraft-Heinz officials to reach an agreement that prevented the closure of three facilities and layoffs for nearly 1,000 employees in multiple locations in upstate New York. Under the agreement, Kraft-Heinz continued operating the Avon, Walton and Lowville plants while investing into modernizing operations. Additionally, Kraft-Heinz deferred its planned closure of the fourth facility, the Campbell plant, for one to two years, during which time the company worked with state, federal and local officials to identify a new operator.
Upstate Niagara has also reached an agreement with Empire State Development, committing to invest $10 million and retain the remaining 125 jobs and grow employment back to no less than 150 within one year. In return ESD has offered a grant of up to $5 million to assist with transitioning the facility, including the purchase and installation of machinery and equipment.
The 2015 agreement came after the merger of Kraft and the H. J. Heinz Company that summer. The merger triggered an internal company review which put the facilities at Avon, Walton, Lowville and Campbell in line for closure--thereby reducing their total employment in New York state by nearly 1,000 jobs. Upon hearing of the merger and associated review, Cuomo contacted Kraft-Heinz CEO Bernardo Hees to express the urgency of retaining employment in New York, and worked with the company and Schumer in negotiating a deal to save as many jobs as possible.