Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the official grand opening of meal delivery service RealEats 80,000 square-foot production facility located at 1 Montmorency Way (Routes 5 & 20) in the Town of Geneva, Ontario County. Originally located in the Geneva Enterprise Development Center, a local business incubator, RealEats will produce and ship fully cooked, farm-fresh customizable meals from the new Geneva location, where it currently employs approximately 160 people. This expansion builds on the Finger Lakes regions vibrant agriculture and food processing sector, a central part of the regionally designed Finger Lakes Forward economic development plan.
“New York state is globally known for having some of the best food products in the world, and the agricultural industry is an important part of our statewide economy,” Governor Hochul said. “By continuing to build on our investments in successful companies like RealEats, we are bolstering startups that are focused on the future of the agribusiness industry. We are committed to fostering these innovative ideas, boosting job growth, and to further strengthening the regional and statewide economies.”
Founded in 2017, RealEats delivers healthy, portion controlled, chef-cooked meals directly to homes across most of the United States. RealEats selected New York, and specifically Geneva, for its expansion, because of its central location in the world-renowned Finger Lakes agricultural region. Geneva is also home to the Center of Excellence in Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech – the first of its kind facility which pulls together multiple partners to catalyze business development in New York’s agriculture and food industries.
Dan Wise, Company President & CEO said, “We are beyond fortunate to have found a home in the Finger Lakes, where all the real food is. I could not have envisioned that an idea to solve my family’s dinner dilemma would become an important public-private partnership dedicated to building a better food future. We are sincerely grateful for the incredible assistance from Empire State Development, New York State, Ontario County, the City of Geneva, the Center of Excellence for Food & Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech, and the tremendous support of our investors, the New York State Common Retirement Fund, Hamilton Lane, Armory Square Ventures, Excell Partners and GNC, which have been vital for our expansion. This unique collaboration has enabled RealEats to create 160 new local jobs, make significant investments back into our community, and help people across the country enjoy the nutritional benefits of healthy real food.”
Empire State Development has previously supported RealEats continued growth in Geneva through a $500,000 grant, and a $2.45 million investment by Excell Partners, which manages the FLXFWD Venture Fund, supported by the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Up to $3 million is also being provided through the performance-based Excelsior Jobs Tax Credit Program in exchange for promised job commitments. The company also has the distinction of being the $1 million, round one winner of the state supported Grow-NY food and agriculture business competition which is dedicated to growing an enduring agrifood industry innovation cluster in the Finger Lakes, Central New York and in the Southern Tier regions of New York State.
Additionally, through its In-State Private Equity Investment Program, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has invested $7.8 million in RealEats in five separate investments through its partners, Armory Square Ventures and Hamilton Lane. The state pension fund has invested $1.6 billion in more than 500 companies through this private equity program, generating a 10% internal rate of return since 2001. The New York State Common Retirement Fund partners with investment firms to invest in private New York companies.
Empire State Development Commissioner and President & CEO Hope Knight said, “This innovative company’s continued expansion in Ontario County is great news, especially given the boost to local farmers that comes from RealEats’ ongoing commitment to use regionally-sourced foods in their chef-prepared meals. New York’s agricultural industry is the ‘secret sauce’ of RealEats’ success and our statewide economy, and there’s no better place for the company to strengthen its ‘roots’ and ‘grow’ its business than in the beautiful, bountiful Finger Lakes region.”
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said, “RealEats is a homegrown New York success story. It is meeting the growing consumer demand for healthy, easy-to-prepare dinner options that arrive at your door, many created with fresh food from the Finger Lakes. The state pension fund has invested nearly $8 million in RealEats because the company is generating results and shows significant potential as demand for online meal services increases. We’re proud to help this New York business expand into a new facility. We’re putting pension dollars to work in every corner of our state, while generating solid investment returns so public workers can have a secure retirement.”
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “RealEats is an incredible showcase of the diversity and creativity that we see all across New York’s agricultural industry. I’m excited that, as they continue to expand and reinvent, RealEats will be using New York foods in their meals, helping to support our farmers and producers and highlight the best of what our state has to offer. I congratulate RealEats on this grand opening in Geneva, the heart of food research and innovation, and look forward to a great partnership moving forward.”
State Senator Pamela Helming said, “We are proud to have RealEats headquartered in Geneva and the 54th District. RealEats is a success story built on innovation and collaboration. To Dan Wise and the RealEats team, thank you for your continued investment in the Finger Lakes region and particularly for your commitment to our local farmers and the amazing food they produce. Thank you to the City of Geneva, Cornell AgriTech and the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture, Ontario County, Empire State Development and all those who have supported RealEats’ growth and success. The Finger Lakes is truly a hub for food, beverage and agribusiness. Let’s keep growing!”
Assemblyman Jeff Gallahan said, “RealEats new headquarters is a prime illustration of New York’s vibrant agribusiness industry. Providing sustainable and healthy meal options, RealEats demonstrates the diverse nature of the agricultural economy. Not only are they a job creator in their own right, but RealEats supports agriculture jobs across the Finger Lakes by sourcing food from local farmers. RealEats has been a great addition to Geneva and I am sure this new headquarters will enable them to continue to grow and succeed in Ontario County.”
Geneva Town Supervisor Mark Venuti said, “When we heard RealEats needed more space and was looking at the large empty building in the town, we were in full support. We wanted this growing business to stay in Geneva, so the town agreed without hesitation to be the applicant for a Community Development Block Grant to assist with its renovation costs. Congratulations and welcome to the Town of Geneva.”
Retired State Senator, Michael Nozzolio, Chairman, LOCATE Finger Lakes said, “Real Eats is a genuine Finger Lakes success story. Its’ visionary founder and CEO Dan Wise built a creative and innovative company by forging important partnerships with the City of Geneva, Ontario County, New York Empire State Development, the Center of Excellence at Cornell AgriTech and the dynamic and diverse Finger Lakes food production ecosystem. Through Dan’s initiative and hard work he and his Real Eats team have attracted thousands of customers, produced millions of meals, grown over 160 jobs and brought a dynamic new high tech approach to bringing healthy food from Finger Lakes family farms to dining tables across the United States.”
Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Co-Chairs Bob Duffy, President and CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, and Denise Battles, President SUNY Geneseo, said, “The FLREDC recognizes that the agriculture and food industry is changing rapidly, with consumers demanding healthy, high quality, locally grown food. RealEats is the type of innovative partnership that the council is committed to supporting, one that will create jobs and growth opportunities in this critical industry for years to come.”
Catharine Young, Executive Director, New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture, Cornell AgriTech said, “RealEats’ innovation and commitment to excellence have set them apart in the marketplace. They have earned a place on people’s tables across a wide swath of America, providing countless delicious and nutritious meals to individuals and families seeking healthful ingredients, great taste and convenience. The company has established itself as a major employer in the Finger Lakes and an up and coming leader in New York’s agrifood system that fuels jobs and economic growth, and boosts our family farms. Cornell has been proud to work with them through the Center of Excellence, Food Venture Center and Grow-NY, and we look forward to continuing to be a resource to them. We are confident they will achieve much continued success as they flourish and grow in their new location.”
David Helgerson, Managing Director of Direct Equity Investments at Hamilton Lane, said, “RealEats is a great example of the growth capital support NYSCRF is providing Upstate New York companies. Hamilton Lane is pleased to help enable the continued expansion of RealEats into this advanced food manufacturing facility to support the movement toward more sustainable, regionally sourced and health conscious food preferences.”
Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward
Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.
About Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NEW YORK,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.