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Cliffstar donates building to SUNY Fredonia for business recruiting

DUNKIRK – A two-story office building, the former headquarters of Cliffstar Corp., has been donated to SUNY Fredonia for use in recruiting businesses to the Dunkirk and Fredonia areas of Chautauqua County through the state’s new Start-Up NY economic development initiative.

The 18-year-old, 25,000-square-foot building at 60-62 Franklin Ave., recently was appraised at $1.65 million. It was donated by the Star Family, founders and operators of Cliffstar Corp. until its sale in 2010.

The gift is being handled through the Fredonia College Foundation.

“This gives our region an additional asset that will be far more appealing to an existing, relatively mature business than what we currently offer typical, true start-up entrepreneurs within Fredonia’s Technology Incubator,” said Fredonia College Foundation Executive Director David Tiffany. “It also provides yet another opportunity for students to gain internships and post-graduate employment, and it provides the potential employer with a rare opportunity to align itself and its workforce with one of the top public universities in the Northeast.”

Dunkirk Mayor A.J. Dolce said, “We look forward to assisting the college foundation and hope to be bringing new businesses and new jobs to the area.”

Dolce said that the city’s Department of Planning and Economic Development has received a few requests for locations in the city and that he knows the college has also been looking at potential new businesses through the program.

SUNY Fredonia Vice President for Economic Development and Engagement Kevin Kearns, who oversees both the incubator and the campus’ role within the Start-Up NY initiative, echoed Tiffany’s sentiments.

“This facility should benefit both the Chautauqua region and the Fredonia campus,” Kearns said. “We believe this will draw more people to the county – especially Fredonia alumni who might be interested in returning to the area – which ultimately means more jobs will be created, and more money will be spent right here in the community.”

To be eligible for the Start-Up NY program, a business must either be a new company in New York State; an out-of-state company that is relocating to New York; or an expansion of a company that already has employees in New York and is capable of demonstrating that it is creating new jobs, as opposed to moving existing jobs from elsewhere in the state. New companies cannot be in direct competition with existing area businesses, and those in the retail, wholesale, restaurant and hospitality industries as well as a variety of service-based professions are also ineligible.

“The timing of this opportunity is also excellent, as the recent closure of some larger area employers has presented potential Start-Up NY candidates with an excellent pool of skilled, trainable and available workers right here in the community,” Kearns added. “We’re hopeful this will help curb this recent trend and bring some positive economic activity to the region.”

Stanley Star co-founded the Cliffstar Corp. in 1970, serving as its chairman until its sale to the Cott Corp. in 2010. Cliffstar grew to become the largest private-label producer of apple juice, grape juice, cranberry juice and juice-blends in North America. It operated 11 facilities in the U.S., including five bottling and distribution operations, three fruit processing facilities, two fruit receiving stations and one storage facility, and had approximately 1,200 employees at the time of its sale in 2010.

“I deeply appreciate the support we have received from Stanley and Elizabeth Star,” added SUNY Fredonia President Virginia S. Horvath. “They have shown a true belief in Fredonia’s mission, its leadership and, most importantly, its students. On behalf of the 5,400 students at Fredonia and the faculty and staff who work with them, I thank the Star Family for this significant support.”

News Staff Seporter Jay Tokasz contributed to this report.