With the ups and downs in the economy, it's unfortunately not rare to see companies come and go and the dairy plant in North Lawrence was one of them. Healthy Food Holdings had closed and all the machinery inside was about to be auctioned, when Upstate Niagara Cooperation stepped in. And now, about a year later, employees and community members are celebrating the new opportunities at North Country Dairy. Cara Thomas has more.
NORTH LAWRENCE, N.Y. -- Matt Davis has worked at the North Lawrence Dairy Plant for seven years. And over time, has worked for numerous owners. When the day came in January 2011 when Healthy Food Holdings announced that the dairy plant was closing, Davis said it was one of the saddest days of his life. But it wasn't long before his luck turned around.
"In May, late April, early May, it was announced that Upstate Niagara was going to purchase the facility, which was one of the happiest days of my life," he said.
Davis was asked to come on board as the plant manager.
North Country Dairy has been operating as a yogurt plant since October. On Thursday, Upstate Niagara Cooperative and North Country Dairy celebrated their grand opening.
CEO of Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Lawrence Webster, said, "The event represents to us a celebration of opportunities. Opportunities to support the local economy, opportunity to set the stage for a very promising future hopefully in this area."
After investing about $11 million in refurbishing the 90 year old plant, Upstate Niagara Cooperative received a bit of help from many local government officials, the New York Power Authority, as well as other state and county agencies. And their contributions come from the belief that this dairy plant could be an economic development boost for the area.
Gil Quiniones is the President of the New York Power Authority. He said, "The Governor recognizes that the strategic use of these resources could be the crucial pivot for businesses getting back on track, as demonstrated by what we've witnessed here."
"It's huge for the community. People downtown, even the surrounding communities, Massena, Potsdam, where we draw a lot of our employee base from, everybody's real talkative about it and very supportive," said Davis.
The new yogurt plant is expected to employ around 80 North Country residents. Workers say they have huge plans for the future.
Operating for less than a year, North Country Dairy is already shipping their products across the country, selling more than 15 flavors. Their clients range from airlines and cruise ships to local super markets.