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Tompkins County, NY – Congressman Tom Reed announced a $86,500 USDA Rural Development grant last Friday to provide the Finger Lakes Regional Prosperity Network in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County the needed funding to support its Food Business Incubation Program, also known as 'FoodBIP'. Launched in December of 2018, this program acts as technical support for the Finger Lakes food and beverage manufacturing sector.

"We care about making sure local manufacturers, including those in the food and beverage industry, have access to the resources they need," Reed said. "This grant provides funding that will expand this program to a larger area in the district, and as such, will help both local manufactures and their employees – that's a win-win."

"Following the launch of FoodBIP in December of 2018, we are pleased to expand to serve this large rural region in the heart of the Finger Lakes" says Finger Lakes Regional Prosperity Network Chair Dan Fessenden. "FoodBIP is stimulating the growth of the Finger Lakes region's nascent local-foods industry. We are excited to work with farm-based processors and other food manufacturers. These food and beverage entrepreneurs are eager for additional support to help them connect to their markets and grow jobs in the region."

Ken Schlather, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County says, "This program brings together a partnership of CCE and economic development resources to address a regional challenge. This combination can uniquely support the local food sector's growth to serve large commercial markets. FoodBIP is especially relevant in the highly competitive and increasingly regulated food sector."

Amina Omari, Director of FoodBIP adds, "The Finger Lakes region is becoming a regional food and beverage powerhouse. I am thrilled that FoodBIP can help this vision become a reality on a larger scale."

The grant will expand the FoodBIP program to Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins and Yates counties.

The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development is dedicated to improving the economy and quality of life in rural America. USDA Rural Development offers loans and grants to help create jobs and support economic development and essential services.

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