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O-AT-KA milk plant expands in Batavia, hopes to create 24 jobs within three years

A Batavia dairy cooperative has finished expanding its warehouse and material-handling functions with state aid, enabling it to continue to grow production and add 24 new jobs within three years.

O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative built a 200,000-square-foot warehouse and added a 35,000-square-foot equipment room to its existing facility, allowing it to bring its warehouse operations back on site so it can produce more shelf-stable dairy-based beverages. The cooperative also bought new equipment to meet its larger objectives.

The cooperative aims to increase export business by 10 percent over the next several years while becoming more efficient and competitive, saving money and enhancing worker safety. Officials ultimately expect that about one-fourth of the cooperative’s total production will be exported as it capitalizes on long-term relationships with Fortune 500 manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers.

Founded in 1959 with five employees, O-AT-KA is now majority owned by the Buffalo-based Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc. and Dairy Farmers of America, a national cooperative with a strong Central New York presence. Its mission is to help ensure a market for milk produced by its more than 400 farm members in Western New York, Central New York and the Finger Lakes regions. The cooperative produces dry, condensed and evaporated dairy products, as well as ready-to-drink dairy-based beverages. After the expansion, it will employ over 350 workers.

Empire State Development Corp. provided a $400,000 capital grant to support the project, which also received help from local government.