Low-Cost Hydropower and Other State and Local Government Incentives Revive St. Lawrence County Dairy Plant
Some 80 Northern New Yorkers will be back at Upstate Niagara Cooperative dairy plant

Michael Saltzman
(914) 390-8181

July 19, 2012


NORTH LAWRENCE—A St. Lawrence County yogurt production plant is in operation and thriving thanks in large part to an allocation of low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and other state and local government incentives that facilitated the reopening of the facility and the anticipated rehiring of 80 Northern New Yorkers. 

Upstate Niagara Cooperative, the new owner and operator of North Country Dairy in North Lawrence, formally inaugurated the facility’s renewed operation with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday.  Representatives of NYPA and other state and local government agencies and North Country elected officials participated in the event, along with employees of the facility. 

“The opening of North Country Dairy, and using the dairy-processing facility that we purchased in 2011 in North Lawrence, is a tribute to the partnership that we established with New York State and St. Lawrence County governments to restore to operation this facility and make it better, more efficient and profitable than it’s ever been,” said Lawrence C. Webster, chief executive officer, Upstate Niagara Cooperative.  “This has truly been a collective effort, forged by recognition of the importance of this facility to the North Country and appreciation of its value for producing millions of pounds of yogurt from milk purchased from New York State dairy farms.” 

“Low-cost NYPA hydropower from the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project was essential for the purchase of the dairy plant by Upstate Niagara Cooperative and the business plan it deployed for the success of this endeavor,” said Judge Eugene L. Nicandri, a Power Authority trustee and resident of Massena.  “It is gratifying to see first-hand what our collaboration has yielded in the Co-op’s rehiring of workers and its multi-million dollar investment in new high-speed production lines for making yogurt.”

In May, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, which also owns dairy facilities and distribution centers in Buffalo, West Seneca, Rochester, Syracuse and Watertown, began utilizing a portion of the 3-megawatt (MW) hydropower allocation that the NYPA Board of Trustees approved in 2011 for the North Lawrence facility.

“The reopening of North Country Dairy, with the support of low-cost hydropower and other state and local government incentives, is consistent with the efforts of Governor Cuomo to bring about public-private partnerships and leverage state resources for economic development,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and chief executive officer.  “The Power Authority is pleased to be contributing with our hydropower, which is of particular value to energy-intensive operations such as dairy-production facilities, to lower operating costs.”

Upstate Niagara Cooperative, which is owned by several hundred New York State dairy farmers, invested $11 million for the purchase of the dairy plant and its refurbishing. The more than 90-year old facility had been shuttered by its previous owner, Healthy Food Holdings, before being purchased by Upstate Niagara Cooperative.

“The yogurt production at North Country Dairy and the rehiring of many of the facility’s previous employees is a wonderful development for Northern New York and New York State and a testament to the efforts led by Governor Cuomo to return this facility to vitality,” said New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine. “With agriculture an integral part of the St. Lawrence County economy, we were determined to give it our best shot to restore this operation. We’ve achieved what we set out to do, with the dairy processing facility more efficient and economical than ever.”   

In addition to hydropower, Upstate Niagara Cooperative received more than $600,000 in grants and tax credits from Empire State Development (ESD) and more than $800,000 in loans and tax credits from the St. Lawrence Industrial Development Agency and St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency. 

“We are pleased to assist in Upstate Niagara Cooperative's reopening of the former North Lawrence Dairy plant,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams.  “Supporting New York's agriculture industry is a critical piece of Governor Cuomo's economic development agenda and we must do all we can to help it grow and thrive.  We thank our partners, the St. Lawrence County IDA and NYPA, for coming to the table to ensure the return of dozens of jobs and the legacy of dairy manufacturing continues in the North Country.”

“The combined incentives package on behalf of the North Lawrence dairy plant underscored New York State and St. Lawrence County’s commitment to revive the facility, which has been part of the fabric of our agriculture community for nearly a century,” said Brian W. Staples, chairman of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency.  “We knew how important it was for the state and county to help establish the necessary conditions to return it to operation.  That’s precisely what we did and we now see the benefits.”

“The reopening and competitive success of North Country Dairy exemplifies the coordinated efforts that were applied by New York State and St. Lawrence County to rejuvenate this facility,” said Robert McNeil, chairman of the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency.  “This successful initiative demonstrates what can be done when we set our minds to work together for economic development.”

Upstate Niagara Cooperative also receives low-cost hydropower from NYPA’s Niagara Power Project at its West Seneca diary production facility.  That facility, along with the Co-op’s Buffalo and Rochester dairy facilities, also received recent allocations of economical power from Governor Cuomo’s ReCharge NY Program—a new statewide initiative for long-term allocations to businesses in return for job and capital investment commitments. 

The allocation of hydropower that Upstate Niagara Cooperative began utilizing in May at the North Lawrence diary plant is from a block of St. Lawrence industrial power known as Preservation Power. The allocation is from a portion of a 12 MW amount that had previously gone to General Motors’ Powertrain facility, which closed in 2009.

A total of 490 MW of power from the St. Lawrence-FDR project is provided for under a 2005 New York State law for qualified businesses in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Franklin counties under the Preservation Power Program. (One megawatt equals 1,000 kilowatts (kW) and would be enough power to meet the needs of 800 to 1,000 average homes.)


Rep. William J. Owens said, “I am very glad to see North Country Dairy open its doors, contribute to our efforts at economic development in the region, and put 80 New Yorkers back to work.  I’ve taken a strong interest in the return to service of this dairy processing facility, which has become a great story of improving the facility’s business with the critical support of state and local governments.

Senator Patty Ritchie, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said,  “Getting people back to work is the key to getting our economy in the North Country, and across the state back on track.  I applaud Governor Cuomo and the other state and local leaders who helped to reopen North Country Dairy and put 80 people back to work; it's a step in the right direction when it comes to revitalizing New York State.”

Senator Betty Little said, “The revival of this dairy production facility is a major accomplishment for our region—not only for returning jobs to our community but in signifying what can be achieved from the strategic application of state and local government resources in partnering with key businesses. Governor Cuomo and his administration and our local economic development agencies are to be commended for a job well done in helping to bring back to life this North Lawrence dairy plant.  

Senator Joseph A. Griffo said, 'I remember some dark times in 2010, when the rumors first surfaced about the plant's previous owners who were going to shut the facility down. Today's news is especially gratifying because so many worked so hard to keep this manufacturing facility here.  North Country Dairy’s reopening is a formative development for this region moving forward.  We all recognize that economic development is the key to the North Country’s future and that we need to pull together to support existing businesses and attract new ones.  That’s what happened here with the utilization of the lower-cost NYPA hydropower and other state and local financial incentives.”

Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush said, “It’s hard to overstate the significance of this dairy plant to the life of our community.  In addition to the workers immediately impacted by being put back to work, there are secondary effects on the businesses that rely on this processing plant and its workers that are equally as important. I applaud the vision and creativity of everyone who had a hand in establishing the conditions necessary for the facility’s operation.” 

About NYPA:

■The New York Power Authority uses no tax money or state credit. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity. ■NYPA is a leader in promoting energy efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives.■It is the nation's largest state public power organization, with 17 generating facilities in various parts of New York State and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. ■Approximately 80 percent of the electricity it produces is clean renewable hydropower. Its lower-cost power production and electricity purchases support hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the state.■For more information,

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