Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced more than $763 million in economic and community development funding through Round VIII of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. Locally, Lake Katrine-based Bread Alone will receive $800,000 toward expanding their base of operations at 2121 Ulster Ave.
“We’re really proud to be part of the revitalization of the Hudson Valley, and we consider ourselves just a piece of that revitalization,” said Dan Leader, Bread Alone’s founder and CEO. “Of course it’s good for our business and it’s good for our employees. It means more jobs. It means that we can look at opportunities that we might not have been able to look at without it. And it gives us room to consider our options. And that’s really important.”
Bread Alone moved to Lake Katrine five years ago from a 7,000-square-foot production headquarters in Boiceville that the company called home for nearly three decades. They converted the 23,000-square-foot former Clarke American check manufacturing building into a production facility which opened in October 2013, adding a cafe in early 2015. Leader estimated that the move led to the hiring of around 60 full-time employees.
Bread Alone was part of a group of Mid-Hudson Valley 122 businesses and projects awarded a total of $87.1 million, with the bakery celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. In the governor’s press release, Bread Alone was noted for its commitment to sustainable business operations, which feature LEED-certified construction and expanded use of renewable energy.
The Regional Councils were established in 2011 as part of Governor Cuomo’s focus on community-based and performance-driven economies. Since its inception, $6.1 billion has been awarded to over 7,300 projects which are projected to create more than 230,000 jobs statewide.
Leader credited his son Nels Leader, Bread Alone’s vice-president, with putting together the successful funding application. The grant will be paid after Bread Alone shows it was able to accomplish what it set out to do in its application.
“We spend the money, we prove we spent the money, we prove we’ve created the jobs, and then we get the money back,” said Dan Leader. “It’s not like you get the money ahead of time. It’s very, very detailed, and it’s very accountable. You don’t get the money unless you meet the goals. We went to them with an expansion plan with options within that plan. It’s a very transparent and very accountable process.”
While the governor’s press release indicated plans to expand Bread Alone’s production facility by a further 15,000 square feet as part of a $4.4 million expansion, Leader said that was premature.
“I don’t want to throw out exact numbers because this is a process,” he said. “We have to look very carefully at what this will be. And at this point in our growth we’re going to be very careful. We’re not going to do anything until we’ve thought it through carefully. This is not a shovel-ready process. This is an idea-ready project.”
Leader added that the project would likely unfold deliberately, a change in pace from their last expansion. The move to Lake Katrine happened literally overnight in October 2015; following the regular bakeoff in Boiceville, the crew moved thousands of pounds of inventory and machinery overnight to be ready for the next day’s bakeoff in the new location. Leader said that lessons have learned since arriving in Lake Katrine, which could translate into up to another year of planning.
“I think we’re going to take 2019 to look at everything very carefully,” he said. “I’m not sure what the timeline is on the grant. But after having done the expansion from Boiceville here, I would look in hindsight and say, ‘What did we do wrong?’ I think we rushed a little bit in making the plans. Not that we made any big mistakes, but there are refinements we would have made had we just slowed down a little bit.”
Leader said that Bread Alone would proceed with care to ensure they’re making the right move for the business and the community.
“We have a lot of resources in terms of professionals in the field who can work with us,” Leader said. “We’re committed to doing this right and we’re committed to doing this in a way that’s a win for Bread Alone and a win for the Hudson Valley.”