Cayuga Milk Ingredients, a farmer-owned dairy processing company launched eight years ago in Aurelius, is moving forward on a massive expansion plan that will include a new bottling plant and add more than 70 jobs.
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Cayuga
Cayuga Milk Ingredients plans a major expansion of its facilities in the Cayuga County Industrial Park in Aurelius. Provided

The company recently reached an agreement to buy several parcels from the Cayuga County Industrial Development Agency in the industrial park it owns off Routes 5 and 20.

CMI will use the additional land for a nearly $150 million expansion that will include a 130,000-square-foot aseptic processing and bottling facility, along with enhancements to existing facilities to accommodate increased production.

Those enhancements include two new raw milk receiving bays, upgrades to its wastewater infrastructure to allow for an extra 350,000 gallons to be treated per day and a larger staging area for trucks delivering the raw milk, according to project documents filed with the IDA.

In a press release, CMI said it plans to break ground on the project in the spring.

“Cayuga is strong and profitable, with a long history of growth and transition,” said Neil Rejman, CMI board chairman, in a press release. “We’re looking forward to the future with ambitious projects, like aseptic, that let us build on the dependable people and progress we have developed over the last eight years.”

CMI currently employs 91 people and exports its products to more than 75 countries. Its main product line has been milk and protein powders, with some refrigerated liquid products. But with room for growth, the company is adding aseptic beverages that use sterilization equipment to provide increased shelf life.

The new facility will have capacity for producing 150,000 gallons of aseptic drinks each day. It will include a warehouse for those products that will use automated storage and retrieval system technology.

According to project documents filed with the Cayuga County IDA, the project will add an estimated 74 jobs at the industrial park, with average annual pay of $70,000. The project would also support more than 400 construction jobs.

The IDA board last month approved two land development agreements with the company. For the new bottling facility, the company will pay $720,000 to acquire vacant land from the IDA. It will also pay $258,000 for empty parcels that will be used for the other aspects of the expansion.

Total investment for the project, the project documents show, would be an estimated $149.1 million, including $132.2 million on the bottling plant and $16.9 million on the receiving bays and wastewater infrastructure.

Finalization of the land purchase agreements will include financial assistance packages that would include property and sales tax exemptions. The IDA and CMI are still negotiating terms of those deals.

“CMI has worked closely with the Cayuga County Industrial Development Agency since its first land purchase in 2012 and looks forward to the 130,000 square foot addition,” the company said in its press release.

The IDA also issued a statement, which included praise for the work of the nonprofit Cayuga Economic Development Agency, which provides economic development administrative services.

CMI and the IDA have been discussing the project for several years, but a key development allowing it to move forward happened earlier this year when the federal government awarded the county a significant infrastructure grant.

The $1.1 million grant through Economic Development Administration’s American Rescue Plan Economic Adjustment Assistance Program is the major source for funding a new wastewater pumping station at the industrial park.

“The new wastewater pumping station will be critical in supporting CMI’s expansion project in addition to supporting the park’s other tenant, Denkavit, an animal feed producer,” the IDA said.

Globally, consumers can’t get enough of the quality and taste of American dairy products. Foreign exports of American dairy are twice the volume of the nation’s domestic dairy consumption. Last year, about 18% of U.S. dairy production was exported, and economists forecast that percentage to grow more than 25% in 2023.

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