Empire State Development Announces Renowned Hard Cider Maker Blake Farms To Expand Operations Into New York State

July 25, 2022

Family Owned, Michigan Based, Hard Cider Producer Building Facility in the Town of Wolcott, Wayne County; Commits to Creating Almost 70 New Jobs

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

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced that Michigan based hard cider manufacturer Blake Farms has committed to expanding its operations into New York state. Citing an increased demand for its products, the company will establish operations at a site located on Lummisville Road in the Town of Wolcott in Wayne County, pledging to create up to 69 new jobs in the Finger Lakes region. Blake Farms had considered expanding elsewhere but selected Wayne County for this project due to its renowned reputation as the top apple-producing county in all of New York state.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Cheers to Blake Farms for choosing to expand its hard cider production in the Finger Lakes – New York’s other “Big Apple.” Construction of the state-of-the-art facility in the Empire State’s highest apple-producing county will add great-paying local jobs, boost the regional economy and reinforce the state’s craft beverage and agribusiness industry leadership."

Blake Farms’ cider operation has experienced rapid growth, producing over 875,000 cases of cider or 2,000,000 gallons of cider in the last year alone, making it one of the largest hard cider producers in the nation. Founded as a family run apple farm in 1946, the company began manufacturing hard cider in 2013, and now distributes its products to 21 states.

Blake Farms Co-Owner & President Andrew Blake said, “As Blake’s continues its pursuit of being the stewards of all things apples, we felt compelled to invest in regions with robust apple growing and processing traditions. We intend to be a sustainable grower, processor and fermenter of all things apples and we couldn’t be more excited about engaging with the rich apple growing tradition found in upstate New York. We are excited at the opportunity to become a member of the Finger Lakes community and we feel this is the first step of our commitment to sustainable agriculture in the state and region. “

ESD is supporting the company’s expansion in New York state with up to $600,000 in performance-based Excelsior Tax Credits in exchange for the company's job creation commitments. Wayne County and Cornell AgriTech are also assisting Blake Farms with the project. The total project cost has been placed at $9 million. The project is already underway, and the company expects to be operational at the site in the 4th quarter of 2022.

This project additionally supports the locally designed strategy of the Finer Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) which is laser focused on supporting next generation manufacturing and technology in the agriculture and food production industries in an effort to move the region forward.

State Senator Pam Helming said, “There is no better place to grow a cider business than Wayne County – the apple capital of New York State! From the amazing apples grown by our local farmers to the critical business development support provided by Cornell AgriTech, the Finger Lakes is a vital hub for food, beverage and agribusiness. I am thrilled to welcome Blake Farms to Wayne County and the 54th District. Thank you to Andrew Blake and everyone at Blake Farms for their investment in our community.”

State Assemblyman Brian Manktelow said, “Locally, we have known that our climate is great for beer, wine and cider, and now the rest of the country is starting to catch wind. Thank you, Blake Farms, for expanding your operations in Wayne County. This is a testament to their superb products as well as our fantastic apple production. We have fabulous seasons for growing, great people to work the fields, and production lines and a community ready to further embrace the Blake Farms culture. Cheers to many more years of growing good times here in Wayne County.”

Wayne County Industrial Development Agency CEO and Executive Director, Brian Pincelli said, “Apples are big business in Wayne County and we are very proud of our Ag-economy and all it has to offer. The addition of Blake Farms as a Hard Cider producer and the new jobs they are bringing is exciting and we look forward to assisting them now and in the future.” 

Catharine Young, Executive Director of the New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech, said, “Cornell AgriTech is recognized globally for excellence in food and agriculture research and technology and has been an invaluable resource to apple growers and processors to strengthen the industry.  The Center of Excellence (CoE) links Cornell’s innovation with the private sector to grow businesses, jobs and opportunities, and is working with companies such as Blake Farms by connecting them with the various resources they need to succeed.  It is exciting that Blake Farms is growing its operations in New York and the CoE will continue to provide business and technical expertise as they build out their Wayne County plant and begin production.  The CoE’s colleagues at the Cornell Craft Beverage Institute also have worked with Blake Farms and there are many synergistic opportunities for product testing, research and development in the future.  We are grateful for the company’s investment in our apple industry and the local economy and the state’s strong support of this project and look forward to assisting the company develop a vibrant future.”

For additional information about Blake Farms, visit: https://blakefarms.com/.

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 regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture‎ and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. 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.

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NEW YORK,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

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