A high-tech collaboration between three regional colleges has been awarded $15 million through a state grant program.
According to a media release from the State University College of Technology at Delhi, the funds will support the creation of biodigesters on the SUNY campuses in Delhi, Cobleskill and Morrisville. The biodigesters will help reduce agricultural waste products while creating more than 200 jobs.
The NYS Bioenergy Learning Collaborative is one of four innovative projects in the second round of the competitive NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program. The economic development projects, awarded $15 million each, were developed and submitted by collaborations among 19 SUNY universities and community colleges.
“The NYSUNY 2020 initiative ties our world-class SUNY system with the state’s economic development goals to both create good jobs for New Yorkers and enhance our higher education curriculum and training and research programs,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a media release announcing the award. “I am pleased to award a second round of these grants to projects that will make significant investments to our economy and will grow our agricultural, health, manufacturing, technology and clean energy sectors and overall boost the economy in upstate New York.”
According to the release, the NYSBLC proposes to develop three commercial-scale anaerobic biodigesters at each campus, resulting in energy production, waste reduction for the expanding dairy industry, and training academic and applied expertise for a scalable waste reduction energy producing initiative.
“The project helps to create an economical avenue to dispose of regional agricultural residuals including cow, horse and other livestock manure, and helps regional farms cost-effectively expand operations including increased capacity to handle waste from animals by supporting the expansion of Combined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) operations,” the release explained.
The project includes partnerships with yogurt producers Chobani and Fage; food processor Beech-Nut; local fast food restaurants including McDonald’s and Burger King; Drainmasters, Price Chopper, Kraft Foods, MorningStar Dairy/Ultra Dairy, Freisland-Campania, Martin Growers and regional agricultural communities including dairy farms, feedlots, vegetable growers, apple growers and other regional agri-businesses.
The collaborative is expected to create 200 construction jobs and 30 engineering and project management support jobs at each of the locations for a total of 690 jobs worth over $8 million. The project can also sustain approximately 75 private sector jobs in dairy production, food processing and yogurt manufacturing industries worth more than $3 million with $734,000 in payroll and benefits per year as academic support at the colleges.
The NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant program was unveiled in May 2011 and signed into law later that year. Round two of the program was announced by the governor in his 2012 State of the State address with a $60 million appropriation enacted as part of the 2012-13 state budget. A third round of of $55 million was announced in the 2013 State of the State and included in the 2013-14 budget.