“The finding in this report is not accurate,” PepsiCo spokesman Scott Gilmore said of the project’s inclusion in the seantor’s Wastebook. “This grant was given to Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in support of efforts by the GCEDC to strengthen and develop the Agri Park. The Agri Park is where PepsiCo and Theo Muller Group are in the process of building a manufacturing plant that will create approximately 180 jobs in the community.
A statement from the Commerce Department said the grant was designed to promote sustainable job growth.
“This particular EDA investment will help make critical infrastructure improvements to roadways and to the Genesee County aquifer system, which is publically-owned and can be used by a wide variety of businesses in the area,” the Commerce Department said. “Without these improvements, the Genesee County water system would not be able to support the growth of current businesses in the region, or attract prospective businesses to the area. By expanding the availability of clean water and providing immediate access to the aquifer, both new and existing businesses now have the opportunity to expand, hire and boost the local economy.”
But Hart said the money could have been put to better use improving the economy as opposed to helping the companies in the agriculture park get the infrastructure they need.
“Dr. Coburn doesn’t believe its wise to steal from 49 other states to provide corporate welfare to Pepsi in one state,” he said. “Every dollar we spend on corporate welfare is a dollar we don’t have to spend on reparing a road or bridge.”
The aid package was supported by many New York politicians, including Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat. “This federal grant will literally pave the way to a booming Greek yogurt and food processing hub in Batavia,” the senator said in a press release. “This critical U.S. Department of Agriculture award will lay the foundation for major infrastructure upgrades, helping to sprout hundreds of new jobs in western New York.”
The agriculture park also got $200,000 for a road to serve the increased traffic flow as more companies set up shop. It’s part of the USDA’s Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant program, which Schumer’s own press release said “provides grants to small and emerging rural businesses for certain qualifying projects.”
Schumer’s office did not return calls seeking comment.
Will the factory create new jobs? Probably. But with reported revenue of $66.5 billion in 2011, it’s doubtful that PepsiCo needed the help.