By Dave O'Connor
WESTFIELD - Two North East Pa. women doing business as Rae Foods Inc. are receiving substantial federal, state and local financial incentives to locate a start-up pierogi manufacturing business in Westfield, according to a variety of news releases.
Left to right: David Carr, CCIDA CFO Rich Dixon, Mayor Michael VandeVelde, WDC Director Aaron Resnick, Beverly Braley and Rachelle McFeely of Nowinski Pierogies, County Executive Greg Edwards, CCIDA Director Bill Daly, Supervisor Martha Bills, Legislator John Hemmer.
Rae plans to market its products as Nowinski Pierogis. The firm's president, Rachelle McFeely and her partner Beverly Braley said in a news release last week that they had worked for Nowinski Pierogi but later issued a correction stating neither had been employed by Nowinski.
Rae will make "a $2.5 million investment in our economy," according to NYS Senator Catherine Young. "Everyone loves pierogis, especially when it means we are gaining more than 50 new full-time jobs," Young said.
Present plans envision production beginning in October at the former Exempt Firemen's hall on 75 Bourne St. McFeely expects 13 new jobs will be created during the first 12 months of production in the 15,000 sq. ft. building.
"We are really excited about our new facility in Westfield," McFeely said in a news release. "Our business is based on Christian principles of honesty, integrety, hard work and kindness. We look forward to growing the business together with our employees."
"We really appreciated all of the support we received from economic development groups to politicians and Westfield officials," McFeeley said.
"Being from Pennsylvania we were unfamiliar with the local area and what was available to us. Everyone's support was a tremendous help and made us comfortable with choosing a location out of state."
McFeely and Braley were referred by a local real estate agent to Aaron Resnick, executive director of the Westfield Development Corp. who reached out to the county Industrial Develpment Agency.
"(The IDA) then launched a review of local and state economic incentives available to attract the company to New York," according to Bill Daly, IDA administrative director. "Elected officials from the federal level all the way to the local level were engaged together and led the charge in providing support and resources to Beverly and Rachelle at every turn," Daly said.
The company will, among other incentives, receive a $640,000 loan from the AL Tech Revolving Loan Fund for working capital, machinery and equipment; a 10-year payment in lieu of tax benefit; abatement of sales taxes during building renovation and abatement of the mortgage recording tax. Additional but unspecified economic incentives have been approved by Empire State Development.
As recently as July 15, former Westfield Mayor Dave Carr was concerned the business might not come. Speaking at the July village board meeting Carr said that Rae Foods had encountered one bureaucratic delay after another. "We can't let this thing fail," Carr concluded. Code enforcement officer Jim Pacanowski followed Carr and said he understood a required environmental study was at least one cause of the delay but gave no other details.
Rae was the subject of what was termed a "deviation hearing" at an IDA meeting Feb. 19. That hearing was required, according to IDA project manager Kristine Morabito, because the agency was going beyond its standard uniform tax exempt policy for Rae, which she said will be offered a payment in lieu of taxes and other benefits outside of what is normally proposed. Also at that session the IDA approved a State Environmental Quality Review for Rae.
Resnick, following the February meeting, said he was very pleased with the new Westfield business. Rae had made its business proposal to the IDA in January.