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Schumer Invites President Of Ivory Coast To Come To Fulton To Tour Chocolate Plant

Schumer, architect of the initial deal to get property donated, says that getting top official from the Ivory Coast to view the plant will lend further credibility to the project and encourage chocolate coop to expand its activities at Fulton

Schumer helped negotiate the initial deal between Richard M. Duffy, principal of Island Capital Ventures, and Nestle to enable production of candy

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today invited the President of the Ivory Coast, S.E.M. Laurent Gbagbo, to come to Fulton to tour the New York Chocolate plant and meet with its developers. Schumer said that having the top official from the Ivory Coast see firsthand the plans for what will be one of his nation's top economic enterprises for its cocoa producers, will give the project further credibility and could encourage the consortium to get even more active at Fulton.

"What's happening in Fulton is exciting for Central New York and exciting for the Ivory Coast. This has a real chance to lift both of our economies in a big way, and the more we work together and support it, the better off we are," Schumer said. "I told the President that having him visit the plant and throw his support behind the project could help us encourage even more activity and expansion at Fulton, and I hope he'll accept my invitation to come here."

In 2002, the government of Ivory Coast set up a new cocoa and coffee marketing cooperative, the Fonds de Regulation et de Controle (FRC). The FRC is owned by the growers, banks, insurance companies and the government (15 percent) and is the investor in the New York Chocolate company. Schumer said that because the FRC is partially governmentowned, the enthusiastic support of the Ivory Coast president of the Fulton project could encourage the consortium to take on more business endeavors in Fulton, lending needed support to future expansion projects.

"If the current plans to produce and manufacture chocolate at the Fulton plant move forward as expected, there may be further opportunities for spinoff ventures such as a trading company for cocoa beans or a warehousing facility, "Schumer wrote today in a letter to President Gbagbo. "The potential that rests in this project is enormous and your support can push us closer to realizing it."

In September, Schumer helped broker the deal that enabled Island Capital Ventures to purchase equipment used by the former Nestle plant to produce lowcarb candy bars, a move that could save many local jobs. The buyer in the deal was Richard M. Duffy, general partner of Island Capital Ventures and an investor in HVC Lizard Chocolate (now called Fulton Chocolate company).

In October, Schumer convened the first ever facetoface meeting between Duffy and the other investor in chocolate production at the site, Dr. Ousmann Gbane of Lion Capital Investment Group, of the Ivory Coast. The meeting enabled the two investors to figure out ways to work together cooperatively at the site. Schumer's meeting provided the first opportunity for the principals from each group to let the other know of their general vision regarding the future of the site, and to explore ways in which to work together.