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Proposed cheese plant location in Allegany County scrapped by company looking to build

Great Lakes Cheese Company Inc. had hoped to secure a piece of land near the Belvidere Crossroads through eminent domain. Several other sites now being considered.

AMITY, N.Y. — The company that hoped to build a $500 million cheese plant near the Belvidere Crossroads in the Town of Amity, that's central Allegany County, is headed back to the drawing board.

Great Lakes Cheese Company (GLC) had hoped to secure the piece of land owned by a local dairy farm through eminent domain.

In a statement Wednesday, GLC said they are no longer considering the site, cited "a multitude of factors," but did not respond to 2 On Your Side when asked about specifics.

According to the Allegany County Industrial Development Agency's Executive Director Craig Clark, secondary and tertiary sites are now being considered. However where they are located Clark wouldn't say.

According to proposal documents, 80 initial sites were whittled down to four, which leaves the potential for three other options.

"They just did a risk analysis and for them, there were just too many things that just weren't falling in place," Clark said.

Back on May 6, Clark told 2 On Your Side the decision to pursue legal action to forcibly take the land, reimburse the owner and build was not something the ACIDA took lightly. The agency has been working on the project with Great Lakes Cheese since 2019. 

"It was the last effort to try and save the project," he said.

Credit: ACIDA.org
The 229-acre piece of property sits in both Amity and Angelica just off I-86.

The plant totaling 480,000 square feet would be similar to other "super-plants" owned by GLC in Hiram, Ohio, Plymouth, Wisconsin, Fillmore, Utah, and Manchester, Tennessee.

The company added in their statement:

"...This facility will proudly support the great people and dairy farms of the region. We have been working closely with the Allegany County Industrial Development Agency (ACIDA)..."

State Senator George Borrello (R), who represents the 57th district which includes Allegany County, told 2 On Your Side, while pushback and protests about eminent domain were at the forefront in several media reports, other factors including limited access to infrastructure also played a role in scrapping the site plans.

Both Borrello and Clark said the company wants to stay in Allegany County and is an important part of the local economy. GLC currently operates the Empire Cheese plant in Cuba, NY.

"The ACIDA's priority is to continue to work for them [Great Lakes Cheese] to make sure they stay in the county and obviously WNY. It's really important for all the current and future employees and all the dairy farmers," Clark said.

This new plant, wherever it ends up would still be eligible for around $200 million in tax incentives over 20 years. Borrello called the money, a reality of doing business in New York State.

"The important thing that we want people to understand is that if we want businesses like Great Lakes Cheese, which has other locations in other parts of the country to stay here, we're going to have to level the playing field for the cost of doing business here," Borrello said.

Clark admitted that while the company had hoped to break ground by early fall, that may not be possible anymore, but he said the ACIDA will continue to try and make that happen.