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Canajoharie Future Uncertain after Beech-Nut Pullout

By Dave Lucas


Albany, NY – As one Mohawk Valley Community prepares to cope with the loss of a major manufacturer and employer, another one stands to reap the benefits. WAMC's Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

Folks in Canajoharie are marking time: the Montgomery County village's largest employer, Beech-Nut, is preparing to open a new manufacturing plant in the town of Florida... The baby food operation has been a mainstay of the village economy for more than 75 years. The 2006 flood that saw the Mohawk River snake up the streets of Canajoharie heavily influenced BeechNut's decision to move to higher ground. To ensure that "higher ground" wasn't too far away, The Empire State Development Corporation, The Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency, NYSERDA and other agencies offered BeechNut millions of dollars in grant money and tax incentives... The International company is investing more than 124-Million dollars to build the new processing and packaging facility near Amsterdam, which will become home to its corporate headquarters.

The plant is expected to be fully operational by 2011. Canajoharie Mayor Leigh Fuller says he remains hopeful, but has no answers when it comes to the long-term effect the pullout will have on the village

Without BeechNut there are only 900 taxable buildings: not enough to carry the village debt load. Fuller says the good news is that BeechNut is staying in the area, the bad news is that BeechNut's move will impact another local employer, Richardson Foods. The Richardson building is heated in winter by steam generated at BeechNut.

There may be a silver lining in all of this: a possibility that another International company will utilize the vacant BeechNut plant: Mayor Fuller points out that Nestle Waters North America, owner of Poland Spring, Deer Park, Perrier and other brands of water, is conducting tests for quality and volume at several sites nationally, including one at the Canajoharie watershed where drilling began last summer.

Fuller says a geologist is working a few sites on a daily basis. A Nestle spokesperson says the Canajoharie testing involves a lengthy evaluation. Tonight the Montgomery County Planning Board is expected to be granting some final approvals and BeechNut officials are optimistic they'll be breaking ground in the town of Florida next month.