Batavia, N.Y. - For Alpina Foods, it was a choice of building a plant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania or Batavia, Genesee County.
Batavia got the nod. Alpina officials, who are based in Colombia, said they were impressed by the state and county officials who welcomed them and made it easy for them to do business and build the plant.
They also like the proximity to dairy farms, which they will rely on for milk, to make the yogurt. Alpina said something else that sold them on Genesee County -
the quality of the workforce.
Alpina cut the ribbon on its first manufacturing plant in the United States and thanked the community for welcoming them to Genesee County.
The plant has 50 employees, but the company hopes to grow their staff in the next several months. They will make several kinds of yogurt and hope to expand the sale of their products, which are now available in two-thousand stores.
For some former Kodak workers, Alpina has given them a new opportunity and a fresh start.
Kim Rees was laid off from Kodak after 30 years. She was out of work for a year and a half. Then she heard about Alpina expanding and building in Batavia.
She applied for a job and got it, using her experience as a lab technician at Kodak, to get a job inspecting food.
She traded film for food, but says it was all worth it.
"It feels like the good years at Kodak, when I first started in 1981," Rees said. "They really care about their people here at Alpina, this is a whole new start. It's very exciting."