Locate Finger Lakes Business Journal

Officials hopes more products will feature the words ‘Geneva Made’

LOCATE Finger Lakes was proud to have worked with the City of Geneva, the NYS Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech, and a number of food companies, especially RealEats and its CEO Dan Wise on this great initiative.

Special recognition is deserved by Geneva City Manager Sage Gerling, Center of Excellence Director Catharine Young and LOCATE Finger Lakes Board Member Maureen Ballatori for their hard work on the initiative.

Former NYS Senator Mike Nozzolio
Chairman, LOCATE Finger Lakes

Geneva Made Food and beverage businesses are already thriving in this region, but a new partnership thinks Geneva has a chance to be an even bigger player.

An effort launched Wednesday, Geneva Made, looks to accelerate that growth.

The partnership includes the city and the New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech, along with assistance from some of the region’s food and beverage businesses and other academic institutions.

City Manager Sage Gerling said there are close to 100 food and beverage businesses in Geneva, but room for many more.

“We can’t think of a better place for food and beverage businesses to grow than right here in Geneva,” Gerling said. “By collaborating with other leaders representing the dynamic ecosystem, we can collectively demonstrate and elevate everything this area has to offer.”

Cathy Young, director of the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture, said Geneva has all the components needed to attract and grow food and beverage businesses.

“We have world-class research and support for these companies right in our backyard,” Young said. “We’re looking forward to continuing to help them grow.”

The effort to bolster the food and beverage industry in the city goes back several years, Gerling noted.

The effort started in 2015 with the development of the Food and Beverage Innovation District, she said, with the first projects the Port 100 co-working space and the city’s Innovation Kitchen at the Geneva Enterprise Development Center.

Gerling said the city hosted a summit in 2019 with local, regional and state officials, resulting in the launch of the Food and Beverage Consortium. A branding strategy discussion ensued, said Gerling, and developed into Geneva Made.

Geneva Made was developed with 29 Design Studio of Geneva, owned by Maureen Ballatori. The firm specializes in developing creative strategies for food, beverage and agricultural brands.

The Geneva Made initiative is being underwritten by the city’s partners in the project, and money from the city’s Revolving Fund paid for 29 Design’s services, Gerling noted. The state Center of Excellence will provide program coordination support, she added.

“Companies include the Geneva Made brand mark on their packaging to let consumers know that they are backed by a whole community committed to their growth and success,” Gerling said.

Dan Wise, founder and CEO of RealEats counts his company among Geneva’s biggest food and beverage success stories, with the company expanding from the Geneva Enterprise Development Center to its future home in the former Cheribundi facility off Routes 5&20.

“We believe in Geneva,” Wise said. “It has been an instrumental location as we continue our fast growth trajectory.”

Gerling considers RealEats a true GEDC success story, even if it needed to leave the city proper to expand.

She emphasized that the effort goes beyond the city limits.

“Geneva Made is a Geneva-area initiative,” Gerling stressed. “We are collectively working together to make Geneva the place where food and beverage companies start, grow and expand. We definitely have a need to create more spaces in Geneva for companies to grow.”

She noted that a second manufacturing building will open next year at the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park, or the Tech Farm on Pre-Emption Road, adding 20,000 square feet of space for food and beverage startups.

“The demand for being in the Tech Farm is excitedly high, and the Tech Farm board is leading the charge for additional development opportunities in the park,” Gerling said.

This article originally ran in the Finger Lakes Times on November 10, 2021.
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