ASHVILLE – Castelli America, LLC has officially closed its facility located at 5151 Fairbanks Road on Friday, affecting approximately 50 employees according to Chautauqua County officials.
The Nuovo Castelli Group, based in Reggio Emilia, Italy, is a producer and distributer of variety of Italian cheeses. The company purchased the former Empire Specialty Cheese manufacturing plant in Ashville in September 2016.
Since its reopening, the plant has benefited from more than $8 million in upgrades to manufacturing equipment, building structure, and waste treatment facilities. In 2018, Castelli America also worked with the Town of Harmony and the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency to secure two federally-funded Community Development Block Grants to expand the facility and create additional jobs.
“Despite county, state and federal assistance in the form of low-interest loans, grants, and technical assistance, we were informed that Castelli America has been experiencing challenges related to production and sales,” said Mark Geise, Deputy County Executive for Economic Development and CEO of the CCIDA.
“This is a state-of-the-art facility with a ready source of milk producers and the CCIDA is hopeful that the facility will be attractive to potential new operators.”
According to recent news releases, Castelli Group is expected to be sold to Lactalis, the largest multi-national dairy producer in the world. It’s global headquarters are located in Laval, Mayenne, France, with it’s US headquarters in Buffalo.
“We don’t know what the sale of Castelli America to Lactalis will mean yet for the Ashville facility,” said Stephen Abdella, Acting Chautauqua County Executive.
“Chautauqua County and the CCIDA are doing everything in their power to assist the company and its employees. We have contacted the Chautauqua County Workforce Development Board to help connect displaced workers with current job openings and available retraining programs.”
Abdella also said the county is currently in discussions to find a new buyer and operator of the plant should Lactalis choose not to reopen the Ashville plant.