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SCHUMER URGES USDA TO AWARD ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LOAN TO MAJOR JOB-CREATOR IN ORANGE COUNTY - USDA SUPPORT OF EXPANSION OF INNOVATIVE CONTINENTAL...

July 22, 2014



SCHUMER URGES USDA TO AWARD ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LOAN TO MAJOR JOB-CREATOR IN ORANGE COUNTY - USDA SUPPORT OF EXPANSION OF INNOVATIVE CONTINENTAL ORGANICS FISH AND PRODUCE FARM PROJECT COULD CREATE 100+ JOBS, MANY OF WHICH WOULD GO TO RECENT GRADS AND VETERANS

Innovative Orange County Fish and Produce Company That Supplies Hundreds of HV & NYC Restaurants Seeks $10 Million Loan Award To Expand Its Operation - But They Need Help From The USDA To Make It Happen

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced his push to secure $10 million in federal funding though the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help Continental Organics, an innovative hydroponics food production company in Orange County, expand its operations and potentially create over 100 jobs in the region. Schumer explained that Continental Organics is a high-tech controlled environment agriculture (CEA) company located in New Windsor that produces aquaponic vegetables and fish through a system that uses 90 percent less water while producing yields 9 to 10 times higher than conventional agriculture, according to the firm. These foods are then sold to hundreds of Hudson Valley and New York City restaurants.

The $10 million loan guarantee from the USDA that Schumer is seeking would help Continental Organics add another 100,000 square feet of indoor CEA facilities, a 2,500 square foot expansion of the compost house, an additional solar power system, and a 4-acre expansion of the raised bed garden; all of these additions to the existing facility would help Continental Organics increase its farm production and create jobs.

"Continental Organics is a home-grown Hudson Valley company wants to expand its state-of-the-art food production facility to create local jobs for recent graduates and veterans in the Hudson Valley, produce more healthy foods for our, and become a boon for the regional economy," said Schumer. "I am urging the USDA to provide this growing Orange County company with the funding they need to make this expansion a reality. We should do all we can to support innovative, job-creating companies like Continental that are primed for growth but just need a little kick-start."

"Senator Schumer has been a steadfast supporter of our mission to expand local access to natural and organic products in the Hudson Valley," said Michael Finnegan, CEO of Continental Organics. "His continued support will help us grow and create even more jobs; especially for veterans looking for opportunities in the Valley."

Schumer explained that, since its first seeds were planted in 2012, Continental Organics has been working to grow and expand its facilities to become an even bigger presence in the Hudson Valley. With this USDA funding, Continental Organics would immediately be able to add up to 36 full-time jobs--in addition to the 44 full-time jobs created by previous expansions--for Hudson Valley residents. Schumer pushed the USDA to swiftly review and approve Continental Organics' application for this expansion loan, as this is a company ready to hire, grow and bring economic prosperity to Orange County and the entire Hudson Valley.

Schumer further explained that, in addition to the expected 80 full-time jobs, approximately 64 construction jobs, 47 indirect jobs and 31 induced jobs will be created as a result of this expansion. Roughly 25 percent of these Continental Organics jobs will go to recent grads. The company also has a veteran employment goal of 60 percent. Meaning many of these new jobs will also go to veterans. Presently, Continental Organics employs 45 people, of whom 23 are veterans and 11 are young professionals.

Continental Organics has created the largest and most evolved indoor closed-loop farming system and developed a number of patentable technology innovations--including CO2 sequester and reuse equipment, a commercial scale composting facility that combines fish and vegetable waste with municipally sourced wood chips, thereby preserving landfill space, and two acres of conventional outdoor organic gardens. These practices, taken together with Continental's unique business model that eliminates all preservatives, chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs; while serving an exclusively local customer base within 100 miles of the farm, makes the Continental Organics model one of the most sustainable food production systems in the U.S. Continental Organics is also a "Zero Waste" facility and has successfully negotiated separate agreements to install a solar power system to reduce its carbon footprint.

A copy of Senator Schumer's letter to the USDA appears below:

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by Continental Organics for a $10 million loan guarantee through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Such funding will enable Continental Organics to facilitate construction of Phase 3 of their long-term expansion project, benefiting many across the Hudson Valley. This project will allow the organic and hydroponic industries in The Hudson valley continue to develop and bring new long-term, sustainable jobs to Orange County.

Phase 3 of Continental Organics' expansion is being is a planned expansion in conjunction with its lenders, led by Orange County Trust. The expansion will add another 100,000 square feet of indoor Controlled Environment Agriculture ("CEA"), a 2,500 square foot expansion of the compost house, additional solar power systems; and, a 4 acre expansion of the raised bed garden. Most importantly, Phase 3 will create 36 new permanent jobs; 64 construction jobs; 47 indirect jobs and 31 induced jobs. Continental Organics has been committed to hiring as many veteran disabled employees as possible and will continue to hire returning disabled veterans as they expand and create jobs with this USDA funding.

This funding will expand the capabilities of the facilities, and I applaud Continental Organics for its foresight. As you may know, farms have historically been a key component of the Hudson Valley economy and way of life and this federal investment will allow farming to continue to be an integral part of the fabric of the Hudson Valley. By supporting this innovative, forward thinking business, we are proving the Hudson Valley can and will be a leader in the future of farming and sustainable agriculture. I sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.

Thank you for your consideration of this important project. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my Grants Director.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

Read this original document at: http://www.schumer.senate.gov/Newsroom/record.cfm?id=355080


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