The French dairy powerhosue Eurial International is said to be coming to Columbia County—opening a goat cheese operation in the former Entenmann’s warehouse on Route 9 in Livingston, according to three separate sources.
According to a description in Gourmet News in 2009, “Eurial produces Couturier/ Soignon fresh goat cheese from only the fresh milk it collects from their farmers.” According to one source, the company will initially import curd from France until it secures adequate supplies from regional sources.
Founded as Soignon in 1885, its Couturier division began distributing goat cheese (then a relatively recherché item here) in the U.S. in the early ’80s, and was subsumed into Eurial about 10 years later. The company currently markets its French cheeses in the U.S. through Couturier NA, based in Warwick, Rhode Island.
This continues a recent trend (exemplified by the arrival of 50 new jobs with Etsy in Hudson, 12 new jobs in Stuyvesant with Milk Thistle’s new facility, not to mention the proposed 65 associate positions at Hannaford in Livingston) of Columbia County managing to add blocks of new jobs steadily without any obvious environmental or other so-called “downside impacts.”
Businesses which make use of existing infrastructure, choose sensible locations, and are compatible with the character of the area find the region attractive—and arrive without controversy (unlike, say, the vast, coal-burning plant proposed by St. Lawrence Cement, which promised only one net new job for local residents, yet burned up tons of energy and resources to no purpose).
Over time, the addition of 10 jobs here, 50 jobs there, builds a stable economy, with risks distributed among dozens and dozens of employers—rather than relying on a handful of large industries, who either stay and destroy local residents’ health while chasing away cleaner business, or else stay only as long as they don’t get a sweeter tax deal or other incentive elsewhere. With Taconic’s “mouse farm” laying people off in Livingston, the rumored arrival there of Eurial would seem particularly timely.
Projects like the Americlean toxic waste processing plant (to which Hudson Mayor Scalera and County Development official wanted to give $600,000 to trash the City’s waterfront) or SLC (which would have burned 500 million pounds of coal annually, causing increased asthma, cancer and heart attacks among vulnerable residents) were opposed by citizens not merely on scenic or environmental grounds, but also because they would have diminished the appeal of the area for businesses like those now relocating here—in a beautiful, historic area, where high-tech business can occupy stunning warehouse buildings or agricultural businesses can find quality water and soil.
During the long SLC controversy, there were some who could not give up the 1950s notion that “real” economic development could only mean big smokestacks and giant corporations... even though such industries today only need handfuls of highly-trained engineers to perform work that once required hundreds of people doing manual labor. Growing up in a different era, it was perhaps understandable that some had a hard time accepting that a local economy does not have to rely on a handful of large corporations.
Instead, a community can stitch together lots and lots of smaller businesses—and that in the long run such economies are more diverse, enduring, and mutually-supportive. Even as the nation struggles to see its way out of a depression largely caused by reckless banking and investment practices, it would seem this part of the country is finding its footing on a new, 21st Century path.
After barely a year of operation under new ownership, and less than six months after being nominated for a Chamber “Crystal Apple” award, Blue Stores is closed again. Realty signs sprout from uncut grass on the Route 9 and Route 31 sides of the building, though the outdoor furniture is still in place, and flags still flutter as the traffic whips by at well over the 40 mph speed limit.
To be honest, something felt “off” about the new Blue Stores from the get-go.
The previous management kept things simple and no-nonsense. Probably a minor makeover was overdue. But the new owners clearly overspent on renovating the once down-home but perfectly functional interior. The glossily-painted main dining room seemed like something out of an overpriced Chinatown tourist trap, and contrasted sharply with the Ye Olde Taverne atmosphere of the bar area. Looking around, one tended to wonder if someone had a bunch of cash they needed to park somewhere in a hurry.
Still, the place was often packed on weeknights (a rarity around here), rollicking with live acts and karaoke singers. It seemed to be a new favorite venue for various civic organizations to host their banquets and meetings, and also a handy place for people in the south-central part of the county to catch a playoff game on TV, or just catch up with neighbors at the bar.
Unfortunately, the new Blue Stores was plagued by generic food, straight off some bland food service menu, made even less appealing by frequently amateur service.
It was clear to anyone who has ever bussed a table, scoured out a soup pot, or taken an order (this writer included) that most of the staff had little if any restaurant or bar experience—and the management was failing to train or supervise them. A lot of socializing was going on instead of attending to customers with their hands in the air, trying to order another round. Plus when a bartender doesn’t know what goes into a bourbon and soda or a waitress seems so high that she has to come back three times to clarify what you ordered, that’s eventually going to drive your bottom line into the red.
Ultimately that’s not the fault of some 17-year-old who’s landed his or her first real job; it’s the fault of management. In so many service businesses today, ownership forgets to invest in their staff, teaching them the ropes of the business so that they can excel and move up. (Bar/restaurant work is all about tips, so without that leg up few newbies will make a decent living.) Despite the strong support of the community, from the looks of things this venture was never likely to serve enough drinks or chicken parms fast enough to make back all the dough its backers poured into it.
Let’s hope this historic site gets snapped up by someone with a little more restaurant background, and maybe some hotel experience as well—something like a more affordable version of the Madalin Hotel in Tivoli. Given the history and the prime location, it ought to be a goldmine for the right person.
A man with Columbia County ties was charged last month with “defrauding banks, other financial institutions, retailers, hospitals, and universities out of $50 million” by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the Special Inspector for the TARP program.
Robert Egan, 64, the President of Mount Vernon Money Center (or “MVMC”) was indicted along with his CEO Bernard McGarry, 50, on charges of conspiracy to commit bank and wire
fraud, plus six separate counts of bank fraud.
Though identified in the indictment as a resident of Bedford Corners in
Westchester County, public records also show Egan with a Columbia
County phone number, as well as owning an estimated half-dozen or more parcels in the Town
of Livingston. He is also identified in some financial press reports as the owner of The Egan Group, a security firm.
The authorities’ press release states that the two men were soliciting and
collecting “hundreds of millions of dollars from MVMC’s clients on the false representations that they
would not commingle clients’ funds or use the funds for purposes other
than those specified in the various contracts between MVMC and its clients.” The Feds argue that Egan and McGarry instead used clients’ cash “to fund tens of millions of dollars in operating losses in MVMC’s businesses, to repay outstanding client obligations, and to enrich themselves at their clients’ expense. ... [T]he cumulative total cash balances represented on the vault inventory reports for all of MVMC’s ATM clients falsely inflated the actual cash held in MVMC’s vaults by tens of millions of dollars.”
The indictment [PDF] alleges that the men engaged in a scheme known as a “playing the float,” in which banks and other clients thought their company was holding and replenishing cash in over 5,000 ATMs via an armored car service, while also providing payroll services to hospitals, schools, and other institutions. If, for example, $70-$75 million were being held for clients in February of this year, in truth only “approximately $20 to $25 million in cash” was said to be on hand. That cash would be “floated” around as needed to help cover for the missing millions, according to the charges.
The “float” apparently came to the attention of officers of Webster Bank, which operated about 160 ATMs that were stocked by Egan’s company, in late January, when they realized they were about $12 million short and the bank notified Federal investigators. Egan is further alleged to have admitted the scheme in a phone conversation apparently tapped and recorded by the FBI.
The pair face up to 30 years in jail and massive
fines if convicted. The Feds urge anyone who believes they may have been the victim of this alleged fraud to contact contact the Victim Witness Coordinator at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Wendy Olsen-Clancy, at (866) 874-8900.
I’m reliably told that the Silvernail House in Ancram and the Forth House in Livingston (pictured above) are being considered by the New York State Historic Preservation Office for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.