DUNKIRK, N.Y. — With the hot weather returning this week - ice cream may be a treat we all enjoy but it's really also an economic engine of sorts for the Dunkirk area in Chautauqua County.
A new cold storage warehouse is just one of many elements of potential job growth for the Southern Tier community.
A sped-up time-lapse video released by the state of New York's Economic Development Agency shows the construction of a new $41 million dollar cold storage warehouse in the town of Dunkirk near the city limits. A new global company called Americold is setting up operations with about 250 construction jobs and 60 new warehouse jobs for a good reason according to New York State Senator George Borrello.
He says, "What we are good at in this region is agriculture and food processing so this helps strengthen something that we're already good at."
The state is providing $700,000 dollars in tax breaks and cheaper electricity to make this work because of the Wells Enterprises acquisition of the nearby Fieldbrook Foods Ice Cream plant. Borrello says that the firm was shipping some of its production down to Erie, Penna. for storage. But now it will stay in the state of New York.
"We now have strategically placed a second now cold storage facility by their facility to ensure that the Dunkirk plant is a good strategic choice for them."
City of Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas also points out, "Wells is going to occupy I believe close to 70 percent of the space in Americold -in this new building"
Wells Enterprises needs room for its Dunkirk ice cream production because "They are in the process of a major expansion project there that will bring in hundreds of more jobs at that location inside the city. So this is a huge announcement."
That's not all.
The formerly known Athenex pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in the town, which the state built for $200 Million, will now eventually house under a least transfer the ImmunityBio production lines. Rosas says "I'm being told that while they are a little bit behind schedule - that they are going to be moving forward and bringing in those jobs that were promised at that site too."
Then toss in the Dunkirk mix is an ongoing $19 million expansion and 100 more jobs at the Ralston Purina pet food plant which already has 500 workers.
And add in the Refresco independent bottling plant in Dunkirk Rosas says they are growing as well, "They are in the process of a $30 million project that will bring in more jobs as well."
Finally, there is the former Dunkirk NRG coal-burning power plant which was mothballed in 2016. Now some ideas for reuse include a data center according to a City of Dunkirk -Chautauqua County study. Rosas said he could not provide further details but did say, "This is a project that could happen. They're seeking financial assistance from the state - millions of dollars there too." Rosas says he has been speaking with various state lawmakers about that project as well.