May 30, 2018

(May 23, 2018) – Columbia County officials applied for grant money to help the Hudson Valley Creamery and local telecommunications company GTel expand as a way to create new jobs.  The county board of supervisors Economic Development Committee passed two resolutions at its regular meeting Monday that would allow the Columbia Economic Development Corporation to administer $650,000 in grant money from the state Housing Trust Fund Corporation to help the Livingston-based creamery and GTel, located in Germantown, expand operations within the county.

“The county and the CEDC have done this multiple times in the last several years,” CEDC President and CEO F. Michael Tucker said Tuesday.

Hudson Valley Creamery LLC, is seeking $375,000 for its $5.5 million goat cheese manufacturing expansion project. GTel is seeking $225,000 to get equipment to expand and service its fiber optic territory, or cables that provide the fastest internet connection, through the 2018 Community Block Grant Economic Development Program.

The state requires the county to apply for the grant on behalf of the businesses, Tucker said.

GTel estimated its expansion project would generate 15 new full-time jobs and Hudson Valley Creamery estimated its project would create 22 full-time jobs.  Columbia County has an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent — a 2.7 percent increase from last April, when the county’s unemployment rate was 3.7 percent, according to the state Department of Labor.

The Hudson Valley Creamery processes curd from France, but the Livingston company is looking to expand to prepossess goat milk from the state, and possibly Columbia County, into cheese, said Jean-Claude Bruneau, the creamery’s general manager.  The expansion project will take a year to complete after the company gets permits from the town in a few months, Bruneau said.  The grant money would be used to pay for new machinery and renovate space in the Livingston plant for the new production, he said.

GTel is looking to add 400 square miles of new fiber serving 7,500 households. The grant would be used to buy equipment to install new fiber optic cables.

At the meeting, Hudson 4th Ward Supervisor Linda Mussmann asked Tucker how the county can ensure local people will be notified of the new job openings and where they can apply to fill them.  The county can include that as a provision in the contract, Tucker said.  The creamery will look for workers with specific skills as well as laborers from the local area, Bruneau said.  “We are looking in the local area,” he added. “It is difficult to bring people from far away to a rural location like this.”

The county passed a resolution in March to allow Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell to sign and submit an application on behalf of the companies for the grant.  The county’s preapplication form will be reviewed for approval by the state Office of Community Renewal. The county will receive a formal invitation to apply for the money if the form meets program requirements.

The county held a public hearing about the grant application April 11 prior to submitting anything to the state.  The state requires no fewer than 70 percent of grant funds be used for activities benefiting low- and moderate-income people, and the area that will benefit from the money must have at least 51 percent low- and moderate-income residents.