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Friday, September 17, 2021

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From the Hornell Evening Tribune:
The one that got away: Allegany County officials react to loss of Great Lakes (Cuba) Cheese plant

Chris Potter
The Wellsville Daily Reporter

It was supposed to be the largest economic investment in Allegany County history. Instead, more than 200 new jobs and a new $500 million manufacturing and packaging plant are on the way to neighboring Cattaraugus County.

Great Lakes Cheese announced Wednesday that it will construct its new facility in Franklinville, officially ending a more than two-year search to replace its current operation in the Allegany County town of Cuba. Allegany County officials lamented the loss of a major employer and a plant that traces its Cuba lineage all the way back to 1871.

“I’m happy for Cattaraugus County but I’m very sad for Allegany County,” said District IV Legislator Karl Graves. “I wish things could’ve been different. At least the jobs aren’t leaving New York state. That’s critical because that would have been catastrophic. Would I have rather seen it in Cuba or elsewhere in Allegany County? Absolutely. We needed that kind of investment.”

The Great Lakes Cheese manufacturing facility on Haskell Road in Cuba produces mozzarella and provolone and is home to award winning string cheese as well.

Construction of the near 500,000 square foot facility is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2022, with the Cuba plant expected to close in 2025. Great Lakes Cheese currently employs 229, and the company expects to add 200 more jobs when the expanded facility comes online.

The move to Franklinville represents a mixed bag for Allegany County. Corey Wiktor, Executive Director of the Cattaraugus County IDA, said Great Lakes Cheese indicated around 95% of the Cuba workforce will transition to Franklinville, keeping many Allegany County residents employed albeit with a longer commute.

Cattaraugus County residents who live closer to Franklinville may be more likely to fill the 200 new jobs, however, with Allegany County also missing out on the ancillary benefits provided by the large-scale manufacturing operation over time.

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