Speaker Heastie Continues Annual Statewide Tour with Stops in Rochester and Onondaga County

Speaker Carl Heastie today continued his annual statewide tour with stops at Special Touch Bakery and the Lexington Avenue Community Garden in Rochester with Assemblymember Sarah Clark, and the White Pine Commerce Park and the North Syracuse Early Education Program in Onondaga County with Assemblymember Al Stirpe.

“My statewide tour gives me the opportunity to travel to the different corners of New York and see the things that make our state such a great place to live, as well as the challenges that are facing our most vulnerable populations,” Speaker Heastie said. “My stops today in Rochester and Syracuse allowed me to see all of that, from the great work being done in the community at places like Special Touch Bakery, the Lexington Avenue Community Farm and the Main Street School to places that are ready to build the bridge to the future like the White Pine Commerce Park.”

On the first stop of the day, Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember Clark toured Special Touch Bakery in Rochester with President and CEO Donna Dedee. Their mission is “a purpose for all,” and they operate under the principle that everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue their dreams, have a meaningful career and earn a competitive wage. It allows employees, those with disabilities and those without, to work side by side in the bakery. Special Touch Bakery received a grant for up to $481,000 from New York State through Empire State Development to build their state of the art facility toured today.

Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember Clark also visited the Lexington Avenue Community Farm. One of the largest urban agriculture sites in Rochester, it includes a community garden, commercial growing operation, public park and play area. The community garden provides space for 65 families to grow approximately 6,000 pounds of food, and the urban farming operation contributes on average 2,000 pounds of food to Foodlink’s programs. The farm is operated by Foodlink, a Rochester based nonprofit whose mission is to build healthier communities and end hunger by addressing the root causes of food insecurity.

“Communities here in Rochester and across the state face diverse sets of issues, from access to jobs to food insecurity,” Assemblymember Clark said. “Organizations like Special Touch Bakery and the Lexington Avenue Community Garden are shining examples of the commitment of our friends and neighbors here in Rochester to our communities and to its residents. It was great to tour these locations with Speaker Heastie today.”

Speaker Heastie continued his statewide tour in Onondaga with Assemblymember Stirpe at the Heritage Hills Brewery on Palladino farms in Pompey to discuss the potential projects for White Pines Commerce Park. The 1,200 acre site has been considered as a location for a semiconductor chip fabrication complex. The land at White Pines is undeveloped, but “shovel ready.” If a facility is built there it could employ more than 5,000 people, invest billions into their plants, and create a high tech, superconductor corridor from Albany to Syracuse.

Together, Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember Stirpe also visitedthe North Syracuse Early Education Program's Main Street School, a prekindergarten program which works with disabled and nondisabled children. Because of its status as a special needs school, it is experiencing funding issues. Legislation passed by both the Assembly and Senate, if signed into law, would update the funding calculations for the North Syracuse Early Education Program and others like it, allowing it to receive funding at the same level as public schools.

“It is always great to have Speaker Heastie join us here in Onondaga County on his statewide tour,” Assemblymember Stirpe said. “Today we were able to look at potential sites to become a high-tech hub and create over 5,000 jobs. We also got to visit Main Street School, which needs legislation that both houses have passed and signed into law, so that these schools can continue to furnish services that will provide special needs students with a chance at a bright future.”