New York is not only a great place for dairy farms but is also a great place to start-up and expand a dairy manufacturing company. The truth is that dairy farms represent 48% of New York State’s agricultural income, provide over $14.8 billion in economic output and the overall dairy industry (manufacturing and farming) employs over 19,000 residents.

Under the leadership of Cornell University, Harvest New York has launched a new initiative called “New York Loves Food Industry” that seeks to attract new food and dairy manufacturing in New York.

Here are seven reasons why New York is the place for your dairy foods business:

 1. Favorable state policies

Under Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State has made food and agriculture a priority in policy and investment activity over the past four years. Tax credits and Empire State Development grants were provided to numerous dairy manufacturers to support expansions and renovations.

2. A talented workforce

New York State has over 469 colleges and universities with over 1.35 million students enrolled. Many colleges across the state are launching new educational programs to better train employees for the dairy processing industry in food safety, quality and processing efficiency. Erie Community College launched a certificate program in bio-manufacturing with a food-processing track. Genesee Community College enrolled its first cohort of students in the new Food Processing Technology degree program.

Cornell University’s Department of Food Science has approximately 140 undergraduate students and 80 graduate students, many of whom are looking for reasons to stay in New York. In addition, the Cornell Dairy Foods Certificate Program enables those already in the industry to expand practical knowledge through the use of hands-on teaching and research application.

3. Forward-thinking dairy farmers

New York State has some of the most forward-thinking dairy farmers in the world. Over the last five years, cow numbers have leveled off to approximately 610,000, yet production continues to grow substantially. From 2009 to 2013, milk production per cow increased 10.2%, confirming New York dairy farmers’ commitment to efficiency.

New York State is poised to support a sustainable dairy industry because of the abundant natural resources, industry collaboration and commitment to agricultural land protection.

4. Accessibility to major markets

Upstate New York is within a 10-hour drive to a consumer base that represents over 40% of the U.S. population and 59% of the Canadian population. Major cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. are a short drive. New York’s physical location enables food and dairy companies to gain major access to Canadian markets including Toronto and Montreal.

 5. Favorable and improving infrastructure

New York State produces 32.3 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy every year, has over 114,000 miles of public roads, 37 freight railroads covering almost 3,500 miles and 141 public airports. Additionally, New York is uniquely positioned to supply the international market with a vast port system.

Economic Development Agencies are also helping to create an environment to foster an environment for food and dairy companies to grow and expand. The Genesee County Economic Development Center developed the Genesee Valley Agri-business Park, a 250-acre shovel-ready property that includes low-cost aquifer water, municipal water, transmission-level electric, an 8-inch gas line and an available rail spur with a main line rail nearby.

6. Robust supply chain network

New York is also home to many companies beyond the farm level who supply to the dairy foods industry. A broad range of engineering firms, ingredient companies, laboratories and consultants are poised to support your business needs.

 7. World-renowned research capabilities

New York State is home to some of the world’s best research institutions in the world. The state has over 19 academic institutions that have focus on the food and beverage industry. Cornell’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences received $125 million in research expenditures in 2011 and is a worldwide leader in food and agricultural research. Rochester’s Institute of Technology is a top university in consumer packaging and graphic design. SUNY Cobleskill is in the midst of securing plans for a food and agricultural center.

The reasons why New York is a great place for your dairy business are the private, public and educational sectors are working together for continuous improvement for the industry.