Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that, after their push, the village of Westfield will receive $2,116,400 in federal funding for upgrades to the village's waste-water treatment facility. This funding will be allocated by the federal Economic Development Agency and will benefit Chautauqua County's grape producers and processors.
Schumer and Gillibrand explained that this waste-water treatment plant helps support the grape and agri-business industries in Western New York, and more than 80 percent of the cost of the water treatment plant is currently absorbed by grape processors. Now that this funding has been made available, grape producers will not need to bear the brunt of the renovation costs in addition to the daily operational costs.
Schumer and Gillibrand said that these waste-water treatment facility renovations and upgrades will create and retain 146 jobs, leverage an estimated $400,000 in private investment and be a significant boost to the local grape industry.
"This federal funding is great news for the village of Westfield and our Chautauqua County grape processors, who already bear the brunt of the daily operational costs for the village's waste-water treatment plant," said Schumer. "This significant infusion of federal funds will allow the village to upgrade its facilities and avoid passing along the costs to these grape processors, while creating and retaining close to 150 jobs in the process. Grape growing and processing is incredibly important to the economy of Chautauqua County and it is investments like these that can help keep the grape industry strong and growing."
"This is a much needed investment for Westfield," Gillibrand said. "Upgrading water infrastructure is an effective way to support local businesses and attract new jobs to Chautauqua County, and deliver clean drinking water to more local families. This new water treatment facility will cut costs and strengthens Westfield's grape industry and the region's economy."
"There is absolutely no doubt that this is a public-private partnership. Eighty-one percent of the costs of the water treatment plant are absorbed by the grape processors," said Mike VandeVelde, mayor of the village of Westfield. "The plant hasn't had a major upgrade in almost 40 years. Any additional costs would have hurt the ability of the processors to remain competitive. I'm thrilled that Senators Schumer and Gillibrand have helped us obtain this money, which will help revamp the water treatment facility and help keep the costs for the processors down."
For the nearly 40 years that the plant has been in need of updating, the three largest grape processors in the Western New York area have contributed most of the funding toward maintaining the water treatment facility, but the equipment is 38 years old. These companies, Welch Food's Inc., Growers Co-Op and The Wine Group, Inc. - three companies that are staples of the Western New York grape industry - have been bearing the brunt of the cost. The grant will help mitigate the costs of the new upgrades, which means the costs won't be passed on to the processors in addition to limiting the costs they already bear for general operation of the treatment plant.