Vitality You Can Taste

Vitality in the Valley returns on June 4-5, 2024, with a new flavor you can taste for yourself. With the pairing of local cuisine and handcrafted drinks, the fifth edition of this annual event will be better than ever as the food, beverage, and agricultural ecosystem comes together at Herkimer County Community College in Herkimer, New York.

Join us as Cory Albrecht, the Director of the Advanced Institute of Manufacturing (AIM) at Mohawk Valley Community College, describes what’s on the menu for manufacturers. From the pre-event reception for exhibitors to educational opportunities for attendees, Vitality in the Valley is a signature event that delivers even greater value each year.


Steve Melito: Hey everybody, welcome to New York State Manufacturing Now, the podcast that’s powered by FuzeHub. I’m your host, Steve Melito. Today we’re talking to Corey Albrecht, the director of AIM at MVCC. AIM is the Advanced Institute of Manufacturing, MVCC is Mohawk Valley Community College, and they’re both acronyms that you’re going to want to remember. AIM is the Mohawk Valley’s regional center for the New York State Manufacturing Extension Partnership, of which FuzeHub is also a part. AIM and FuzeHub work closely together, including on two upcoming events that we’ll talk about today. Corey Albrecht, welcome to New York State Manufacturing Now.

Cory Albrecht: Hey, Steve, thank you so much. Happy to be back. I think that’s my second or the third time on this broadcast.

Steve Melito: It is. I think it’s at least your second. It could be your third.

Cory Albrecht: That’s right. It’s going to be a fun few minutes. I look forward to discussing here a couple of very major events that we have going on, so it’s going to be a good discussion.

Steve Melito: Absolutely. So let’s start with our event called Vitality in the Valley, and for folks that don’t know what is it, when is it and why do we have it in Herkimer, New York,

Cory Albrecht: Okay, so I’ll take those one at a time here. So the event that we’re having, it’s in the month of June. It’s on June 4th and June 5th. Okay, this year we’ve had it various different times. It is our fifth year that we’re having this and, like you said, it’s going to be in Herkimer, New York. So it’s being held at Herkimer County Community College. HCCC is a great partner and a location for this event and you could probably imagine here, when you look on a map of the state of New York, Herkimer County is right in the middle of the state. So when you have an event like this for manufacturers and specifically for the food and beverage manufacturers, we want to draw not only from the Mohawk Valley, which is our six counties, but we want to extend a little to the north country and a little towards Syracuse and Albany and downstate to the Hudson Valley. So, Herkimer is the location for this and it’s a perfect location.

As far as what the event is, we’re looking to bring together the food and beverage manufacturers that we have. So we’re looking at the breweries and the distilleries and the wineries and the soda producers and the coffee roasters, and it goes on and on. And if you’re dealing with baking products, right? So the doughs and the breads and and all that. Any meat processors? Right? So if you’re processing livestock, we’re looking to attract those companies at this event, as well as all the dairy producers too, which we have a ton of here in the Mohawk Valley.

So these are your yogurts and the cheeses and the milk products and the ice cream manufacturers and they’re going to come together and on June 5th, which is the second day of the event, we’ll have over 100 people. I think last year we had like 125 or 130 people registered for the event. They’re coming together for a full day event where we will have a 30 to 40 table manufacturing exhibitor showcase and they’ll all have their tables laid out at Herkimer County Community College where others can really visit the tables and kind of walk around during the showcase and get a feeling and network and go back and forth. And that’s only a part of the day. We have panel discussions and we have presenters and we have the keynote speakers, and we have the luncheon and there’s really a lot going on in a very short period of time there, Steve.

Steve Melito: That’s great. And I should add, for folks that don’t know, Herkimer is about 45 minutes west of Albany on I-90 and even less time away from Utica, an easy drive from Syracuse and I would even say downstate out to Rochester.

Cory Albrecht: That’s right.

Steve Melito: Certainly more than welcome to come and beyond.

Cory Albrecht: Very centralized, I would agree.

Steve Melito: Absolutely. So, Corey, as you mentioned, this is going to be the fifth time we’ve held this event, and that’s fantastic, so, what’s going to be different this year?

Cory Albrecht: Well, I think, Steve, you want to keep some of the main parts of it right. So what brings the people together and brings the businesses together and ultimately brings the partners that we have from across the Mohawk Valley and the state of New York – we want to keep that very similar. We want to keep that the same. A couple of changes we have this year and again this is our fifth year. We took a year off during the pandemic. We had to. It hurt all of us. But we took a year off during the pandemic. You know we had to. It hurt all of us, but you know we’re back in action here.

So, in the first couple years of the program it was where agriculture met the advanced manufacturers of the greater Mohawk Valley. So we would have the food companies and your DOD companies and your metal fab and the aerospace and wood product manufacturers and electronics and things like that. It was really inclusive for everyone. We are still asking those advanced manufacturers. Still, if you’re interested in attending, our door is always open for you. One of the small transitions for this year is a heavier focus right on that food and beverage industry. So the title for the event, it’s the Vitality in the Valley where agriculture meets the food and beverage manufacturers in the state of New York. So it’s more of a focus on those specific food and beverage manufacturing industries that I went through. That’s one of the small changes in the transitions that you’ll see us moving into in years to come for this program. The other change that we’re having and personally I’m extremely excited about this one the evening before the event. So that’s why I said the event is a June 4 and a June 5. It’s on the 4th and the 5th. Everyone who is a sponsor or a partner for the event or if you’re registered as an exhibitor, which means you are bringing your product and your service for the showcase on the floor at Herkimer on the 4th you’re invited to the opening reception that we have, and this has been a highlight and I think we might get to it a little bit more during our conversation here this morning, but it’s one of the highlights that we have for the event.

Not only do we have great food manufacturing here in the Mohawk Valley region, but we have great food and restaurants and the catering companies. So the reception is absolutely fantastic. We’ve teamed up again with American Dining from Herkimer County College and we have their executive chef Mike Tubea. He’s going to be there. He’s putting on fantastic food in the spread for everyone. So in the past we’ve had the meatballs and the shrimp and the pork sliders and the charcuterie boards and it’s just more food than we know what to do with.

This year we’re taking a few hand-selected restaurants in the Mohawk Valley and we’re talking like five or six of them and we’re pairing them with beverage manufacturers and right now lined up, we have FX Matt Brewing Company. They’re located here in downtown Utica, New York. They’ve been a fantastic partner for, I think, every year that we’ve had this program. They will be there at the reception with some of their products. We have Utica Coffee. We have High Burl Brewery they will be there as well and we have a distillery organization called Old Distillery Homestead and they will be there, as well.

If you can imagine, a reception right, which is the opening for the event and the program, and we have these pairings again between the food and that will be a supply to the restaurants and then we have them paired with the beverage. So it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity and at the opening reception, of course you know, you’ll have the networking opportunities and you can sample the actual end product from the companies that will be exhibiting that following day. So we’re very excited about that, and that’s a little bit different from what we’ve done in the past.

Steve Melito: Sure, I’m excited about it and excited to meet all of the exhibitors who are going to come. Earlier this week there was a maple syrup producer from the Mohawk Valley that just registered as an exhibitor, certainly looking forward to having a chat with them. You mentioned a lot of types of companies that should come, but who else should exhibit and what’s in it for them? Is it something that you should come to if you’re a brewer, a microbrewer, a winemaker? What are some examples?

Cory Albrecht: I would say a few different things.

If you’re looking for some type of help, right and that help can come in a variety of forms. This is a networking opportunity. So not only manufacturers, but we’re going to have representatives from New York State and specifically Mohawk Valley that are involved in workforce development right, that are involved in training grants, that are involved in higher education, that are involved in the SUNY Apprenticeship Program, that may have funding opportunities for these companies. And it’s really a showcase again, not only for the businesses and the companies but all the attendees that will be there, as well. So there’s a lot of resources that are going to be there on June 4th and June 5th. The other reason which I really believe these companies should attend, and even people coming from the community, is if you’re looking for any assistance in things like advanced manufacturing or if you want to transition to a more automated manufacturing process, there’s going to be engineers and technicians and companies there that can assist you with that. So I really think it’s a full array of different specialties and professionals and resources that are going to be there.

Steve Melito: Absolutely. So, the exhibitors get to come to the pre-event reception on June 4th Tremendous opportunity to network as well as just a generally enjoyable time. We’re also looking for more attendees to come to this event, and I saw one that signed up yesterday. It’s a student from RPI that’s interested in learning more about mechanical engineering, so talking to the companies that are there could be a way to do that. Who should come as an attendee? Who are some of the folks that you’d like to see?

Cory Albrecht: I mean, I think you hit it right there. Students would be fantastic, right? this is being held in June on a SUNY community campus. If we have students from the community now, I know June’s summertime-ish there and the students won’t be on that specific campus, but they’re in the community, right? If that’s something that they’re looking at, potentially having a career in at some point in time and they want to understand what those pathways might be, I think that’s a great opportunity to stop in, spend an afternoon with us, meet the companies, meet the manufacturers, make some ties and develop those pathways and those inroads so that you can have a opportunity with that company, if you choose to, in the future.

Other than that, I would say anyone from the community that’s just looking to spend time into a network and to really support our local businesses and not only, again, supporting those local manufacturers that we have in the Mohawk Valley, which we have 400, by the way, but this is a New York State manufacturing event that’s being held in Herkimer, but we have 15,000 manufacturers and we have an incredible manufacturing ecosystem here in the state, and if someone who may not be extremely familiar with that and what that looks like and what that feels like, if they want to spend a few hours, like I was saying, and just experience that and see what’s happening at one of their regional SUNY campuses, this is the perfect time for that. There’s really nothing to lose.

Steve Melito: It sure is, and I’ll give a shout out to Herkimer College, which is our host, and it’s a very easy facility to navigate. You’re not going up tons of different flights of stairs or worried about elevator rides. Easy to get around.

Cory Albrecht: I would agree. Yeah, they’re a fantastic host and, again, I know I said it before, but this is the fifth year that we’ve done this in this partnership that we formed back in 2019 with FuzeHub and, of course, you know, aim and MVCC and the Herkimer County IDA and Herkimer County Community College. It’s been fantastic. This year we have SUNY Cobleskill involved in their Institute for Rural Vitality and I mean you look at the colleges and the MEP centers and the county support from the Economic Development Agency, and I couldn’t agree more. Herkimer does a great job as a host and I mean I tip my hat to you guys at FuzeHub too. You guys bring us all in and it’s a fantastic partnership and I really, truly believe that the hundred-plus people that are going to be there on June 5th they really enjoy it.

Steve Melito: That’s great and many thanks for mentioning everyone who is working with us on this, and AIM’s been a great partner, as well. So we’re excited about this event, especially the pre-event reception. It’s always popular. It’s going to be even better than ever this year. The food is fantastic. So let’s say I’m at a manufacturer someplace in the Mohawk Valley or upstate New York and I want to go to my boss and my boss is in a bad mood and says you just want to go and eat some good food. Is that what this is about? There’s a lot more than that right?

Cory Albrecht: Yeah, I know I make it sound that way, right, because the title of the event. You know, it’s where agriculture meets food and beverage manufacturing. I mean, there is no question that the food is one of the highlights for this, but if you want to spend a couple hours in the evening before and again, if you’re a sponsor, if you’re a partner, if you’re a manufacturing exhibitor, there’s no extra fee for this and you are invited on June 4th to the reception. We’ll begin that reception at 5:30. It runs at 8 o’clock at night and your specific question is other than the food and the drink, what do you get out of this thing? I mentioned on the second day all the resources. I mentioned the MEP centers and the economic developers and Empire State Development and all the sponsors we’re gonna have. And then we have Ralph W Earle, which is one of our sponsors this year. Of course, they’re an automation company and they have a training component to their automation business. You have these service providers and all these resources from, I would say, pretty much all 10 regions in the state of New York. They’re going to be in the art gallery at Herkimer County Community College.

It’s not a very big space, right? So we’re going to be in there. We’re going to be shoulder to shoulder in some cases and we’re going to have opportunities to have a conversation. And those conversations and all that networking, what does that lead to? Right? So now you fast-forward a week or two, even a few days after the event.

What happens from there? You know, I email someone and they email me back and then we set up a virtual call, a lot like we’re doing here, and you have a relationship right. And from that relationship what develops? It’s a partnership, it’s a client, it’s a customer, it’s a friend in a lot of cases. So that’s what takes place there: it’s networking, networking, networking. And again, I know I’m kind of going back here a little bit, but because you have to be a sponsor or a partner or a registered exhibitor to be at the reception, everyone there has a value that they can bring to each other, and I just think we need to take that time in those couple hours and really have those discussions and really harness that and then move that forward after the event.

Steve Melito: Absolutely. The networking is tremendous, especially at that pre-event reception. People are relaxed, they’re excited about the event, lots of good conversations happen, lots of connections get made. So, Cory, we have some great speakers and panelists this year as well. Can you tell us about them?

Cory Albrecht: Yeah, so the panelists right now, we have several actually, and it’s mostly filled up, so we’re going to have some others that also will be joining our group. But right now we have the FX Matt Brewery. Dan Voce is their VP there. He’ll be on the panel for the afternoon in the discussion and he’ll talk about their enterprise that they have there, the investments that they’ve been making, the transition to more advanced manufacturing and some technological solutions that they may have. This is one of the larger brewers in the state of New York right now. We just happen to have them right here. I have them right across the street from my office, but they’re right here in the Mohawk Valley, which is really cool. So, Dan Voce is going to be there.

We have Cathy Young, who’s the director of Cornell Agritech. She will be there representing Cornell University and her New York State-funded COE. It’s an incredible resource what they bring and what Cornell University and the Center of Excellence brings, so we couldn’t be more pleased to have her. We’re going to have a representative from the USDA. Again, it’s a resource for everyone in the room. It’s a panel discussion for an hour and we’re adding others to the panel right now for an hour and we’re adding others to the panel right now, we’ll end up having five or six professionals that individually have something to offer everyone in the room for attendance. So that’s going to be fantastic and we look forward to that.

Steve Melito: Excellent. And June is not that far away. Is there still room in time for companies or organizations to sponsor Vitality in the Valley?

Cory Albrecht: Well, of course. As a sponsorship, I mean it’s a great opportunity. Once again I know we’ve been talking about all this. They would have a opportunity for a speaking engagement at some point in time during the day. It may be in the morning during the welcome. It may be the evening before at the reception. It may be at the luncheon, because there’s a luncheon on the second day, as well. So there are sponsorship opportunities. I mean, I would just say, if a company or a business or a service provider or an individual, if you’re interested in being a sponsor for this event and getting your name on all the marketing materials and have us talk about your company and being invited to the opening reception, as we said the evening before, those opportunities still exist. We have a couple that are lined up right now.

I mentioned Ralph W Earle as an automation company earlier in this broadcast. They’re on board, they are a sponsor, as is Global New York. So we have sponsorships that are filled right now. However, there’s more opportunities and I would just say anyone listening to this if you’re interested, contact FuzeHub. They can certainly help you with that. Steve, I’m sure you could direct someone if they wanted to reach out to you, if they felt more comfortable reaching out to myself here at AIM, I can direct them and I can make it happen for them. So yeah, it’s a long answer, but yes, there’s opportunities still.

Steve Melito: Good, good.

Cory Albrecht: And I know it’s fast approaching here, but we’re going to have between 100 and 130 people at Herkimer College on June 4th and June 5th and everyone there is going to have some tie to food and beverage and manufacturing and advanced technology, so.

Steve Melito: For sure, the sooner that someone signs up as a sponsor, the longer we have to promote them. It’ll be email marketing in advance, so it’s a full package that they get.

Cory Albrecht: That’s true.

Steve Melito: Corey Albrecht, thanks so much for being part of New York State Manufacturing Now.

Cory Albrecht: Okay, Steve, thank you so much.

Steve Melito: You bet. So we’ve been talking to Corey Albrecht, who’s the director of AIM at MVCC. Aim and FuzeHub are working together on two upcoming events the Southern Tier Cybersecurity Workshop on May 1st and Vitality in the Valley on June 4th and 5th. We’d love to see you at these events. For more information and to sign up, go to, then choose the events menu in the events calendar. In the top right corner of your screen, you’ll see both events listed. There’s also a web compliance 101 webinar on May 16th that you won’t want to miss. So, on behalf of New York State Manufacturing Now and FuzeHub, this is Steve Melito signing off.

Exhibitor Inquiry

Attendee Request Form: 2023 Hardware Prototyping Workshop
Thanks for your interest in this resource, fill out the information below to download.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.