culinary institute of america

farmingToday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has heeded his call and selected the Hudson Valley Food & Beverage Alliance for an award of $3,431,000 to launch a new coalition and facility to help local flood-ridden farmers recover from last fall’s tropical storms and develop new business opportunities with New York food companies. Specifically, the HV Food and Beverage Alliance will use the EDA investment at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Poughkeepsie to construct a new facility that is designed to help farmers link up with New York food and beverage producers, like Dannon and Pepsi, and develop business relationships to help those farmers bounce back from the devastating tropical storms of last year.  
In early March, Schumer helped secure $200 million in federal flood aid that had been tied up in bureaucratic red tape for months, making it available to disaster counties like those in New York. With Schumer’s help, the Hudson Valley Food and Beverage Alliance, part of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation (HVEDC), applied for and was awarded a commitment of those federal funds, which will boost job-creating projects in local flood-damaged areas.
Today, the EDA notified Schumer and the HV Food and Beverage Alliance that the agency was granting it a $3.4 million preliminary award, pending receipt of final supporting documents. “This federal investment is incredible news for farmers across the Hudson Valley, who will finally see a source of relief from last year’s flooding through this unique rebuilding opportunity at the Culinary Institute of America,”  said Schumer. “The Empire State is blessed with a wide range of world-class food companies, and they should get their products right here in New York.
The new CIA center will be a one-stop shop to link farmers who badly need a boost with companies who need top quality farm products, from fruits and vegetables, to dairy, and more. It’s a win-win for our companies and our farmers, and it’s a smart federal investment that will help our local economy bounce back from the storms. I am thrilled that the EDA has heeded my call and made this wise investment in this new center that will not only help our recovery in the short term, but provide key support to farmers for years to come.” 
The HVEDC’s Hudson Valley Food and Beverage Alliance’s plan will connect local farmers with NYS food and beverage distributors, such as Pespi and Dannon, in addition to smaller manufacturers who provide auxiliary services to the regional food industry. These timely connections between economically-distressed farmers and local businesses will be coupled with innovative training opportunities at the CIA’s new center that will revive generations-old agricultural mainstays in the Hudson Valley, such as Wigsten Farm. 
The CIA and HVEDC plan to use federal funds to help finance the construction of a physical headquarters for the HV Food and Beverage Alliance. The center will offer networking and business opportunities to give farmers access to new markets, consumers and revenue streams. The center will give farmers the ability to interact and create business relationships with globally recognized and world-wide companies such as Pepsi, Heineken and Dannon. Schumer noted that by fostering these relationships, farmers will have the ability to offer their products to these companies and have special access as local farmers to provide produce needs to these companies. 
The center will also offer farmers the necessary resources to recover from Tropical Storm Irene, sustain their current farming operation as well as expand and create new economic opportunities for local farmers. The center will offer technical support for farmers and as well as scientific data and market research to make their crops and yields more efficient. For instance, working with industry experts, the center will be able to offer farmers information on which crops interact well with one another, which cash crops may affect their current crops and which high-demand and emerging specialty crops may be best suited for their specific farm. 

The proposed CIA Center and food and beverage alliance will offer networking events, workshops and workforce development based on the individual and collective needs of local farmers who are recovering from the storm. The center will also act as a hub for farmers to have direct access to professional business training, services and resources and will offer farmers assistance in identifying, applying for, and being awarded all sources of government, private and not for profit funding sources. Finally, the center will also give farmers, both recovering from the storm and new developing farmers, access to business training and resources in the field of finance, taxation, human resources, workforce management, marketing and advertising, government relations and public affairs and other business-related services needed to sustain, compete and grow in the local and national markets. 

In November 2011, Schumer helped pass legislation that included billions of dollars in disaster funding, which would help New Yorkers recover from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee. That Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations “mini-bus” legislation included $200 million appropriated for the EDA to distribute to disaster-ridden counties. The EDA will be able to use this funding to provide financial resources and technical assistance to help rebuild economic development and provide grants to build new infrastructure, like basic utilities, research facilities, and businesses that foster economic development to retain or attract jobs to the region. 

The EDA plays a critical “second responder role” in addition to FEMA, in helping local governments weather the storm and provide emergency funding for repairs. Schumer’s push to secure a $200 million lifeline in the FY12 Appropriations “mini-bus” legislation funds a variety of EDA projects in the wake of these major disasters. Specifically, EDA can be tasked with the following projects in the wake of a major disaster, which fit perfectly with the stated goals of the CIA farming center. 

1.)    Strategic Planning: EDA offers financial resources and technical assistance to help develop and enhance economic development plans following a disaster. This is achieved through the funding of disaster recovery plans, strategies, and funding for disaster recovery coordinators.

2.)    Infrastructure Development: EDA offers grant funds to build new infrastructure (e.g., business incubators, technology parks, research facilities, basic utilities such as water treatment) that foster economic development to retain or attract jobs to the region. 

3.)    Capital for Alternative Financing: Through EDA’s Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) program, non-profit and governmental entities can apply to establish an RLF which in turn makes below market-rate loans to businesses to help recovery
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