Castelli America has closed its cheese factory in Ashville, eliminating about 50 jobs, Chautauqua County officials said.
The former Empire Specialty Cheese factory, located at 5151 Fairbanks Road, closed on Friday, county officials said. The factory was acquired by Nuova Castelli Group, an Italian cheese producer, in September 2016.
French dairy giant Lactalis, which owns Sorrento Lactalis in Buffalo, agreed in May to acquire Nuova Castelli.
County officials said the factory had received more than $8 million in upgrades in recent years to its equipment, building and waste treatment facilities. The company, in conjunction with the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency and the Town of Harmony, also received two Community Development Block Grants last year to expand the facility and create additional jobs.
“We were informed that Castelli America LLC has been experiencing challenges related to production and sales,” said Mark Geise, deputy county executive for economic development and CEO of the county’s IDA, in a statement. “This is a state-of-the-art facility with a ready source of milk producers, and the CCIDA is hopeful that the facility will be attractive to potential new operators.”
“We don’t know what the sale of Castelli America to Lactalis will mean yet for the Ashville facility,” said Stephen Abdella, acting county executive, in a statement. “Chautauqua County and the CCIDA are doing everything in their power to assist the company and its employees. We have contacted the Chautauqua County Workforce Development Board to help connect displaced workers with current job openings and available re-training programs. We are also in discussions with the state to help the displaced workers, and to find a purchaser for the facility if Lactalis decides to not keep it open.”