Finger Lakes Regional Prosperity Network

Finger Lakes Regional Prosperity Network (FLRPnet) (formerly known as TCAD Foundation) is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that was created by TCAD in 2013 to extend the capacity and reach of economic development efforts in Tompkins County and the greater Finger Lakes region.

Mission: Working to improve the economic condition of the region particularly of underserved and economically isolated people.

Vision: Economic prosperity for the region.

FLRPnet seeks to catalyze, plan, develop partnerships, and build funding for projects where there is a common economic development mission across multiple counties in the Finger Lakes region.

FLRPnet’s impact focus areas are:

  • rural wealth creation
  • workforce development
  • entrepreneurship
  • energy transition

FLRPnet’s first major initiative is a regional business incubation program targeting the food-processing sector.

FLRPnet Activities

Regional Prosperity: Collaboration Across Boundaries – Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Finger Lakes Regional Prosperity Network hosted a one day forum to gain critical engagement for their rural wealth creation initiative. The forum brought together agricultural, business, economic development, non-profit, education, and government leadership from 12 rural counties of NY (Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Yates).

A specific objective of the forum was to inspire engagement in implementing a regional food-processing business incubation program. The program intends to network and leverage existing resources in the food sector as well as fill service gaps. The forum provided a key opportunity to connect with regional partners who can contribute resources, knowledge and ideas to make the food sector incubation program a success.

The keynote address was made by Leslie Schaller, Director of Programs at the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, a model regional development agency serving 32 rural counties of Ohio since 1985.

Food Processing Business Incubation Program

The Finger Lakes Food Business Incubator Program (FoodBIP) is a new program that connects Finger Lakes food and beverage manufacturing entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed. Beginning in early 2019, FoodBIP will offer business services including individualized technical assistance, mentorship, resource matchmaking, marketing and business consulting, and an online information portal for growing food businesses.

In 2019, our focus will be on farm, kitchen, and factory-based businesses that are…

  • manufacturing specialty foods or beverages
  • based in or around Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, and Tompkins counties
  • wholesaling or intending to wholesale to a larger market (regional and beyond)

For more information, please contact FoodBIP.

Funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Tompkins County Development Corporation, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County will provide initial support for the program to serve Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, and Tompkins Counties. After the first-year pilot, the program will be expanded to serve a 12-county Finger Lakes region.

FoodBIP Pilot Receives Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Award

Ithaca, NY (4/25/18) – Congressman Tom Reed announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission has approved a $67,728 grant to the Finger Lakes Regional Prosperity Network (aka TCAD Foundation) for a pilot Food Processing Business Incubation Program (FoodBIP). FoodBIP is a technical support program for the local food and beverage manufacturing sector. “This grant will help manufacturers build necessary connections that will give them a fair chance in the food industry and allow them to grow. I care about bringing more jobs to our region and with this program, I believe that goal can be achieved,” Reed said.

Read full press release

Food Processing Strategy

The food-processing sector is growing significantly in the Finger Lakes, yet businesses are facing hurdles to commercialization and scaling up to larger markets. FLRPnet’s 2016 report Needs Assessment and Strategy for a Food-Processing Business Incubation Program looks at how to support this important industry and accelerate its growth.

Based on the study results, FLRPnet is building a food processing business incubation program (FoodBIP).  The most recent step is completion of the business plan: Recommendations for the Configuration of a Food Processing Business Incubation Program.

FoodBIP Director Appointed

The Finger Lakes Regional Prosperity Network and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County announced on November 27th the appointment of Amina Omari as the founding Director of the Food Processing Business Incubation Program (FoodBIP). Ms. Omari will be responsible for developing and managing a dynamic technical assistance program for the Finger Lakes food manufacturing sector.
Ms. Omari has over 18 years of experience in the food and beverage sector, most recently as Chief Operating Officer of Gimme! Coffee. She brings extensive experience in every aspect of business development. FoodBIP will launch in December. Press Release

FLRPnet Board of Directors

Janet E. Hawkes, Ph.D. (Chair)

Janet serves in an advisory capacity to a number of companies, ministries, and non-profit organizations addressing food system and environmental issues associated with sustainable agriculture, water quality, nutrient management, climate change, agroforestry, and food system issues. Ms. Hawkes was previously Managing Director of HD1 LLC a consulting and project development company focused on sustainable agriculture and environmental practices. She also served as Executive Director of the Cornell Educational Resources Program at Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Director of NYS Agriculture in the Classroom Program, and Principal Investigator on a variety of state, national, and international agriculture programs funded with private and public funds.

Janet has worked in agriculture economic development in the South Pacific, Asia, Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean. 

She was the Executive Director of an environmental and agricultural education center, and as a Cooperative Extension Agriculture Agent in NYS. Hawkes served on several Advisory Boards for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO), the USDA, and the US Department of Energy. Domestically, she served on the Stone Barns Center for Sustainable Agriculture Board of Directors, on the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) Biomass Coordinating Council, Tompkins County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board, Tompkins County Water Resources Board, and TCAD Board, as well as other economic development, environmental, education, and agriculture organizations.

Lou Walcer (Vice –Chair)

Lou Walcer was appointed in June 2011 as the first Director of the Kevin M. McGovern Family Center For Venture Development in the Life Sciences at Cornell University. Lou came to this role with a track record of building and launching new products and new ventures as a Marketing/Business Development/New Product Development Director and Consultant to Merck, Schering-Plough and Wyeth; as Officer and Consultant to many Biotech/Medical Device companies; as President of the medical device drug delivery company Medimop USA; and as a Consultant to and Senior Commercialization Officer at Cleveland Clinic Innovations. Lou earned a B.A. degree from Cornell University’s College of Arts & Sciences, and a Master of Business Administration from New York University’s Stern School.

Jean M. McPheeters (Treasurer)

Jean McPheeters recently retired from the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce where she served as president from January 2000 to July 2014. Previously she worked for Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) and as the District Administrator for U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey and district representative for Congressman Matthew McHugh.

Jean is a member of the board of directors of the Paleontological Research Institution and the Tompkins Cortland Community College Foundation. She formerly served on the boards of Tompkins County Area Development and the Cayuga Medical Center as well as state and national boards of her professional associations and many local not-for-profit organizations. Jean co-chaired the successful $2 million campaign for United Way of Tompkins County in 2008 and has also served as the chair of the Board of Trustees of Tompkins Cortland Community College. She and her husband, Daniel McPheeters, live in Brooktondale in a log home they built.

Gene Yarussi (Secretary)

Gene Yarussi served as President and CEO of Emerson Power Transmission
(EPT) between 1989 and 2006 capping a 42-year career. Under his leadership, EPT made several U.S. and foreign acquisitions and positioned the company to operate as one cohesive organization. Since retirement, Gene has consulted with several local start up ventures and has extensive public service. He has served, is currently serving, or consulted with: The Sciencenter,TC-3 Foundation, Racker Centers, Family and Children’s Service, Challenge, Love Living  at Home, Congregational Church and Tompkins Public Library.

Daniel J. Fessenden

Dan Fessenden serves as the Executive Director of the Fred L. Emerson Foundation, a fourth-generation family foundation located in Auburn, New York. Previously, Dan was the founding Executive Director of the Cornell Agriculture & Food Technology Park, and a member of the government relations team for the Carrier Corporation. Dan also served as a member of the New York State Assembly from 1993 to 1999. Dan has been actively engaged with various business, civic and educational organizations throughout the Central New York region, and currently serves as a Director of the Tompkins Financial Corporation, Tompkins Trust Company, and Midstate Mutual Insurance Company. He has also served on the board of several charitable organizations including the Seward House Museum, Wells College, and the American Agriculturist Foundation.

Jeannette Frank

Jeannette Frank is Executive Director of The Arc of Schuyler in Watkins Glen, NY a
nonprofit that provides supports for people with disabilities. The Arc operates a vocational training center, Glen Industries, specializing in co-packing of dry food products and bottling of hot and cold acidified and low acidified foods for small scale producers. Jeannette has over 35 years of programmatic and administrative leadership experience in the field of developmental disabilities. Through partnership agreements, she has been instrumental in opening up some of The Arc’s services to the general public. Examples are operation of the county public transit system (Schuyler County Transit), county mobility management information help line (Transportation Link Line), and a community arts center (Franklin Street Gallery and Gift Shop).  She currently serves on the Board of Directors for SCOPED (Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development), Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben Workforce, NY and the Finger Lakes Collaborative, a consortium of 13 regional Arc Chapters. Jeannette earned her bachelor’s in Social Work from The College of Saint Rose in Albany.

Larry Baum

Larry Baum grew up in the Ithaca area, moving here from a family farm in Genoa, NY at age 7. Larry is a graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Communications. In 1978, Larry along with a partner bootstrapped a two-person computer programming and technology company, which ultimately grew into The Computing Center. Today, The Computing Center provides computer technologies including computer hardware, software, consulting, and services throughout southern and central New York. Larry has served on a number of computer manufacturer and distributer advisory councils and has been a director and officer of several start-up and mid-stage companies. He is currently an affiliate Director of the Tompkins Trust Company.

Larry’s community activities include: Vice-Chair of Tompkins County Area Development’s (TCAD) Board of Directors, Chair of the Cayuga Health System Board, Director on the Legacy Foundation Board, member of the Tompkins County Air Services Board. Past service includes the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency, Tompkins County Development Corporation, Cayuga Medical Center Foundation, Cornell University Council of Entrepreneurship and Personal Enterprise, Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, Red Cross, United Way, Tompkins County Public Library, East Hill Flying Club, Paleontological Research Institution, and Cayuga Nature Center.