ESD Announces Grand Opening for Holy Childhood Special Touch Bakery in Rochester

New $2.6 Million 20,000 Square-Foot Bakery Will Create Up to 40 New Jobs

October 24, 2017

Investment Complements “Finger Lakes Forward” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced the grand opening of the Special Touch Bakery in Rochester. The fully-integrated environment will offer competitive, community-based employment and training opportunities where co-workers with and without disabilities will work side-by-side. The project will create more than 25 jobs in year one and at least 40 new jobs by year five of its operation. The bakery expands upon the legacy of the pie-baking operation that has served as vocational training at Holy Childhood for more than 30 years; and proceeds from the bakery will benefit the non-profit, non-denominational agency. 

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Supporting forward-thinking, inclusive endeavors such as the Special Touch Bakery is an important component of the Finger Lakes Forward plan. This project will create dozens of jobs and demonstrate how inclusion can be the norm and not the exception.”

Special Touch Bakery is well-known for the pies it has served in Rochester for decades; however, the expansion project goes beyond baking and aims to provide opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to learn food production and service skills, while earning a paycheck. This project enables Special Touch Bakery and Holy Childhood to further reinvent one of their most successful assets, while increasing production exponentially.

Donna Dedee, President and CEO of Holy Childhood said, “We are so proud to see this enterprise come to fruition. It is an opportunity to celebrate people’s abilities, as they work together in a common purpose to make the Special Touch Bakery successful. We are grateful to our many community partners who’ve invested in the project, particularly Empire State Development and Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council which made this a priority project.”

To assist Holy Childhood with the construction of the $2.6 million, state-of-the-art facility, Empire State Development, based on a recommendation by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, supported the project with a grant of up to $481,000.

FLREDC Co-Chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President Bob Duffy said, “The Special Touch Bakery is an incredible community asset. Through this investment, the FLREDC is helping to utilize the talents of all people throughout the region, advancing our efforts to build a more equal and inclusive community as we continue to move the Finger Lakes Forward.”

Due to the expansion, Special Touch Bakery recently incorporated as a separate, not-for-profit corporation focused on food production. Additionally, Palmer Food Services is serving as one of the bakery’s main distribution partners, enabling the bakery to expand regionally, with plans to eventually distribute to more than 25 states.

Special Touch Bakery began in the early 1980s as a single vocational training activity, teaching pie baking step-by-step for training purposes. Later, it continued in a small school kitchen as a vocational training workshop which annually produced 17,000 pies. Holy Childhood serves more than 200 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

State Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle said, “Our community is truly blessed to be home to Special Touch Bakery. Not only will this expansion create new jobs, it will also provide critical training and life skills for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, helping them achieve confidence and independence. I am grateful to Holy Childhood for their dedication to making a difference in the lives of those in need as well as my colleagues on the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council for investing in such an important organization.”

State Senator Joe Robach said, "Today’s grand opening of the new Special Touch Bakery, operated by Holy Childhood, is something we can all be proud of. By offering opportunities where those with intellectual and developmental disabilities can work side by side with non-disabled co-workers ensures that this state investment will enrich the lives of the entire community, along with creating some of the most delicious pies Rochester has to offer!"

State Assembly Member Harry Bronson said, "Recognizing the dignity of all, Special Touch Bakery’s job training and skills development program ensures that everyone has an opportunity to succeed. By providing an integrated program where workers can earn while they learn, Special Touch Bakery is helping to grow our economy while celebrating the strength of our diversity."

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said, “Holy Childhood Special Touch Bakery provides individuals with disabilities the opportunity to show the entire community that our challenges don’t define who we are, nor do they limit what we are capable of,” said Mayor Lovely Warren. “I would like to thank Governor Cuomo and New York State for this worthy investment that creates jobs and sets a shining example of the many benefits of hiring individuals with developmental disabilities.”

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said, “Monroe County has long been a supporter of the Holy Childhood’s beloved Special Touch Bakery, investing over $200,000 every year to assist its vital employment training program. I am thrilled that the Bakery’s new expansion will create jobs for local residents of many different abilities while helping to show that Monroe County is open for businesses of all shapes and sizes.”

For more about Holy Childhood and the Special Touch Bakery, click here.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward 
Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $5.2 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture‎ and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.



Shari Voorhees-Vincent | [email protected] | (585) 399-7055
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