Hudson Valley Sees Explosive Growth in Food and Beverage Industry

John Jordan | August 29, 2015

Laurence Gottlieb, president and chief executive officer of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. and a frequent speaker before the  Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors’ Commercial Investment Division, was recently selected as one of the region’s “Top Thought Leaders” by 914 Inc. magazine.
Laurence Gottlieb, president and chief executive officer of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. and a frequent speaker before the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors’ Commercial Investment Division, was recently selected as one of the region’s “Top Thought Leaders” by 914 Inc. magazine.

In recent years, the Hudson Valley region has seen substantial growth in its food and beverage industry. Perhaps what was once the region’s best-kept secret, the Hudson Valley’s food and beverage industry has experienced continuous expansion in size, popularity and recognition. This widespread development has been demonstrated in its craft breweries, distilleries, cider mills and wineries. Regional produce and locally sourced foods have also garnered increased interest from residents and tourists alike. In addition to fostering engagement and enthusiasm among locals, the Hudson Valley’s booming food and beverage industry plays a significant role in the future of our region’s economic growth and success.

Throughout the last decade, entrepreneurs in the Hudson Valley have substantially advanced every area of our region’s food and beverage industry. The Hudson Valley’s many wineries have produced critically acclaimed wines and increased interest in our region’s vineyards. These entrepreneurs also contribute to local wine trails, which draw in enthusiasts from all over the state and country. Even further, the Hudson Valley has become a center for locally sourced produce and refined foods. Each year, food festivals such as Hudson Valley RibFest and the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival are greeted with great enthusiasm and participation.

Regional craft breweries and independent distilleries are also forming and finding success at an unprecedented rate. Just this summer, the Hudson Valley made plans to welcome the first rum distillery in Orange County. Our area’s craft brews, ciders and hard ciders have reached a level of incredible recognition. This year, national hard cider producer and distributor Angry Orchard Cider Company announced that they will be opening a research and development facility in Montgomery.

The consistent expansion of the Hudson Valley’s food and beverage industry will have a major impact on our region’s economic growth. Last year alone, tourists put $100 billion into New York’s economy. Our thriving food and beverage industry brings in thousands of visitors each year from in and out of the state to experience our festivals, participate in tastings and go on tours of our region. Tourists are investing their disposable income into our locally sourced products, and into our economy. When these visitors return home, they spread awareness of their experience in the Hudson Valley, thereby deepening and expanding engagement in our region’s industry.

The opportunity for economic growth stemming from the Hudson Valley’s food and beverage industry is virtually limitless. As we raise awareness of our region’s vast offerings, we will see a return not only in tourist dollars, but also in the increased interest of companies looking to conduct business in our area. Growing our local food and beverage industry can develop our region’s economy by contributing to significant job creation in our area. According to the most recent report of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, distilleries alone contributed to 1.2 million jobs nationwide. Expansion in this area of our industry provides the opportunity to create new jobs, grow local businesses and position our region as a cultural center for locally sourced food and beverages.

On a more local level, support of the Hudson Valley’s food and beverage entrepreneurs has an undeniable, direct impact on our region’s residents. Local food and beverage entrepreneurs should not be underestimated; they are business-savvy, motivated individuals who often start their businesses as a second career. The creation and expansion of their breweries, wineries and restaurants generates jobs for locals, helps Hudson Valley farms stay in business and increases our area’s supply of locally created goods. Additionally, craft brewers and distillers often conduct their business in older industrial spaces, which they renovate and restore to serve a functional purpose.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has consistently concentrated on the growth of this industry in New York State, because he believes we have some of the best food and beverage products in the world. The Hudson Valley’s flourishing beverage trade has had such an impact on our region’s growth that U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney proposed The Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act in an effort to cut taxes for our area’s entrepreneurs in this field. HVEDC has worked in partnership with New York State’s Department of Agriculture and Markets as well as the  Taste NY team to rapidly expand the market and support these burgeoning entrepreneurs.

This year, the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation (HVEDC) is continuing our commitment to fostering the success of regional food and beverage industry leaders. Our annual Hudson Valley Beer, Wine, Spirits & Cider Summit will be held at the Culinary Institute of America this October. The Summit provides a forum for local industry leaders to learn more about their craft while forging new business relationships.

Through strengthening local businesses and raising awareness of the Hudson Valley’s prosperous food and beverage industry, we can anticipate steady economic growth in our region. Entrepreneurs’ dedication to their craft, combined with local opportunities to cultivate and advance businesses, have the potential to make the Hudson Valley a celebrated, prosperous landmark of the food and beverage industry.

Laurence Gottlieb is president and chief executive officer of The Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. based in New Windsor, NY.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth