Candy maker gets $1.7M grant, will add jobs

The Canajoharie-based Richardson Brands company will receive nearly $1.7 million from New York state

The Canajoharie-based Richardson Brands company will receive nearly $1.7 million from New York state’s Upstate Regional Blueprint Fund, a $120 million pot of money dedicated to regions with stymied development.

Richardson Brands’ grant is part of $17.5 million being distributed to a total of 15 operations, including $145,000 for Aeon Nexus Corp. in Glens Falls and $4 million for C&Y Albany Hotel LLC, which will redevelop the historic DeWitt Clinton Hotel in downtown Albany, according to an announcement from the office of Gov. David Paterson.

Richardson Brands will be the only major employer in the village of Canajoharie after its biggest employer, Beech-Nut, moves out early next year.

The grant announced Tuesday, totaling $1,697,500, will support the second phase of Richardson Brands’ expansion plans.

Company CEO Don Butte on Tuesday said he was “absolutely delighted” about the support.

Richardson employs about 128 people in the manufacture of candy products including Richardson Mints, Beechies Gum and Pop Shots sports-themed candies.

The firm’s parent company, Founders Equity, purchased Gravymaster in 2006 to bring the production of browning sauce and Dryden and Palmer rock candies to Canajoharie.

Butte said the company has been making the Gravymaster browning sauce, formerly manufactured in a Branford, Conn., plant, since 2007.

The grant money announced Tuesday will enable the company to bring the Connecticut plant’s production of Dryden and Palmer rock candy to Canajoharie.

Butte said rock candy production will require 40 new jobs in the village by the fall of 2010.

In addition to those 40 jobs, the company’s recent acquisition of the Missouri-based Bogdon Candy Company will create 30 more by the start of 2011, Butte said.

Earlier this year, Richardson officials feared infrastructure difficulty at the Erie Boulevard facility could force them to move and asked state officials for economic development funding. The 180,000-square-foot facility relies on steam generated at the Beech-Nut baby food plant on Erie Boulevard, and Beech-Nut’s departure would leave Richardson without steam to cook candy and for heat.

The state in May announced a $500,000 grant to support the purchase of a new boiler to be installed at the Richardson facility, and National Grid supplied a $400,000 grant.

The boiler project, estimated to cost $2.4 million, should be ready for startup in March, Butte said.

Montgomery County Economic Development Director Ken Rose said he believes Richardson’s multiphase acquisition and expansion plan will provide some stable employment in the village.

“It’s a diverse company. They’re not relying on just the candy, they’re exploring other lines and other avenues,” Rose said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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