Photo courtesy of Rosie's Facebook page

ITHACA, N.Y. — Three Ithaca area companies related to food are predicting that they will create a combined 125 jobs over the next several years.

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“We’re really excited about these companies,” says Martha Armstrong, of the Tompkins County Area Development agency.

“They’re homegrown here and they’re reaching regional markets successfully … it’s exactly the kind of job creation we’re looking for.”

The companies are:

3 companies predict that they’ll create a combined 125 jobs over the next several years, according to a new report.

1) Ithaca Hummus, which envisions 44 new jobs over the next three years;

2) Rosie, an online grocery shopping application, predicts 59 new jobs in downtown Ithaca;

3) The Ithaca Beer Company is planning a 23,000 square foot expansion that it says will create 22 new jobs.

Photo courtesy of Rosie App’s Facebook page

Report predicts job growth

On Monday, TCAD is set to present a report to the Tompkins County Legislature’s Economic Development Committee about plans for a revolving loan fund for the three businesses.

The news about the projected job totals emerged in that report. For Rosie and Ithaca Hummus, the jobs are expected to be created over a three-year period; for the Ithaca Beer Company, the estimated time-frame is four years.

All three companies have at least some connection to Cornell University — the founders of both Ithaca Hummus and Rosie graduated from the university, while the former brewmaster of the Ithaca Beer Company was also a Cornell graduate.

Ithaca Hummus, which is currently renting space at the Finger Lakes Food Hub in Groton, was offered a $100,000 loan for equipment and working capital. Rosie, located in downtown Ithaca, is also awaiting approval of a $100,000 loan for working capital.

See related: Ithaca Hummus rapidly expanding in New York, other states

Meanwhile, the Ithaca Beer Company — perhaps the best known of the three for Ithacans — says its expansion will “increase production by 40 percent each year over the next four years.”

Fans of IBC’s beers are not the only ones who will be pleased by that growth. “That they’re adding substantial employment to their operation is just fantastic,” Armstrong said of the Ithaca Beer Company.

Companies say they’re committed to Ithaca

Chris Kirby, founder and president of Ithaca Hummus, said about three-quarters of the company’s new jobs will be related to on-site production. The remaining quarter will be on-the-road jobs consisting of promoting the Ithaca Hummus product in grocery stores.

“One of the core values of our company is to provide people with living wage jobs and better benefits,” Kirby says, “and what I would want if I were working a line-level position.”

Rosie, meanwhile, says it has also committed to expanding in Ithaca.

“Our team is excited to be selected by TCAD to make use of this working capital to further accelerate our rapid national growth and expansion,” said Director of Marketing for Rosie Applications Inc. David Makar in a statement.

See related: Ithaca grocery start-up makes pitch to Shark Tank at MGM Grand in Las Vegas

“From alleviating food access issues to empowering local retailers to compete with big box stores, Rosie leverages Ithaca’s strength as an entrepreneurial hub to provide the fastest, most convenient way to shop for groceries.”

Photo courtesy of Ithaca Beer Company’s Facebook page

Officials say they’re encouraged by trend

Local officials heralded the predicted growth of the three companies as a positive sign for the region’s economy.

“Local agriculture, innovative attitudes and industrious spirits are the hallmarks of these businesses,” Mayor Svante Myrick said in a statement.

“They’re also the ingredients needed to build a diverse, prosperous and sustainable economy. I’m inspired by them and we will continue to invest in businesses like these through the Industrial Development Agency.”

Encouraging local growth in agriculture was the focus of an event at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works in May. (Full disclosure: The Ithaca Voice is a member company of Rev and operates out of the incubator’s office space.)

See related: Ithaca area ‘just so ripe’ for growth of food industry

Tompkins County’s food and beverage sector grew at a rate of 7.5 percent from 2009 to 2014, according to a report from the Tompkins County Area Development, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the local economy.

“This was impressive growth for a relatively small sector with about 400 jobs in 2014. This compares to 1.6% growth rate for New York State and 0.4% for the US,” says the report, which the Ithaca Voice reported on in March.

Armstrong, of TCAD, suggested that the trend is already materializing in the growth of the companies. (Though she noted that Rosie, the grocery store app company, is better thought of as a software company.)

“Some of them will be food-manufacturing jobs — the kinds of jobs that are available to people with high school degree and usually have a higher pay range than flipping burgers at McDonalds,” Armstrong says.

“It’s really nice we’re seeing these smaller companies have success.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.