Kevin Weaver of Fishkill liked brewing beer in his garage and knew how to automate stuff. In 2003, he started marketing his automated system to his fellow hobbyists. Then the craft beverage scene exploded, and by 2014 he'd quit his day job and moved operations from home to a warehouse. This summer, Brewmation opened its new $1.1 million facility, where they manufacture turnkey automated brewing systems, tanks, control panels, and related equipment for clients all across the hemisphere, doing all of it right from idyllic Hopewell Junction.
"Anywhere south of here and the costs and tax rates shoot up," says Weaver. "We're right next to I-84, which is ideal for having trucks come in and out. We're in a 'corporate industrial park,' but we're between a church and a school. We've got a great labor pool in the ex-IBMers, and when we hire out-of-towners we can offer a great place to relocate."
Brewmation is far from the only company to appreciate the virtues of East Fishkill. National Resources, a specialized development and investment firm, just purchased 300 acres of the former IBM campus from owner Global Foundries and plans one of its trademark iPARK mixed use facilities, to encompass tech and flexible development with a mix of retail, residential, and hotel space. "The business plan is to take advantage of the $1 billion in infrastructure that currently exists at the site and provide new warehouse distribution opportunities in the I-84 corporate growth corridor," said NRE president Joseph Cotter in a statement. "The skilled workforce in the area should be a major attraction for employers."
Then there's the Sports KingDome, a 347,000-square-foot world-class baseball, softball, field hockey, lacrosse, and soccer tournament facility that's currently under construction. Along with the advantages mentioned by Weaver and Cotter, Sports KingDome cites the area's vibrant athletic scene.
Business with Pleasure
This part of Dutchess County blends business with pleasure in a nimble, practiced sort of way. It's a virtuous cycle: the employees of major operations provide a natural customer base for numerous small local businesses, which employers can then tout when selling new hires on the area's quality of life. There's a well-curated, quietly bustling feel to the villages and hamlets and their surrounding towns of East Fishkill and Wappinger: public works and education are solidly funded, history is cherished. It's not every town where library patrons can pick up their local produce deliveries along with their reading, but patrons of the charming 1887 Grinnell Library in Wappingers Falls can, as fruit and vegetable delivery outfit Field Goods makes a weekly drop there.They've also got award-winning live theater from the County Players, celebrating 60 years in 2018. (The noir thriller "Wait Until Dark" opens on November 4.)
Besides the KingDome, Fishkill is where you'll find Dutchess Stadium, home of the Hudson Valley Renegades. Carnwath Farms Historic Site & Park, a preserved estate purchased by the Town of Wappinger in 1999, is a feast of historic and architecture: Carnwath Manor, an 1850 pre-restoration mansion, the 1873 Carriage House, a 1927 cottage, the Frances Reese Cultural Center, where you will find the Sports Museum of Dutchess County; Carnwath Chapel, and several hiking and walking trails, all of it laced with breathtaking river views. Railroad history is cherished at the restored Hopewell Depot in East Fishkill, a museum that opens onto the 13.4-mile William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail, which winds across the county to the Walkway Over the Hudson.
That kind of play works up an appetite, and whether you want to eat out or cook, you'll find plenty of options. There's an outpost of Adams Fairacre Farms, the full-service grocery that also offers prepared foods, flowers, gifts, and housewares, in Wappinger. Fans of Indian cuisine won't want to miss Saraswati Grocery, with its wide selection of Indian and Pakistani foods and spices.
When it comes to dining out, the area's all about quality and choice. Independent restaurateurs here succeed in winning patrons away from neighboring franchises on a daily basis with creativity and verve; many have won over much bigger markets before choosing this as home. In Wappingers Falls, for example, you'll find refined northern Italian at Aroma Osteria.
Then there's Heritage Food and Drink, opened by a Manhattan-based restaurant whiz who fell in love with someone raised on a Milton apple farm. They do locally sourced cuisine with an international flair (try the apple-and-ancho chili glazed ribs or the cast iron beer mac and cheese). The Maya Cafe and Cantina serves Zagat-rated Mexican. At the Belgian-inspired Dutchess Biercafe, you can nibble house-made pretzels with your ale and/or feast on charcuterie and local cheese or the "Best of the Wurst" with house-made German mustard. And you'll find yet another food culture's wizardry being practiced on local ingredients at modern French American bistro Le Express.
It takes talent to absorb rapid development and stay down-to-earth and close-knit, but Wappinger, East Fishkill, and Fishkill and their hamlets and villages are proof positive that it can be done, displaying the sound business sense and organizational gifts of their Dutch predecessors in 21st-century iterations.
That intelligent refinement and good sense is displayed in all walks of life. The area's premiere veterinary care facilities, Earth Angels in Wappingers and Hopewell Animal Hospital, both offer cutting-edge integrative medicine. Municipal websites are navigable and transparent. The Wappingers Central School District operates 10 elementary schools, two junior high schools, two high schools, and an alternative school with aplomb and high ratings. Residents can get from town to town, to the mall, or to neighboring Poughkeepsie or Beacon and on to Manhattan via regular Loop busses, or call Dial-A-Ride.
The single biggest reason Kevin Weaver chose East Fishkill for Brewmation headquarters: It's five minutes from his beloved home. The family relocated from Tarrytown 24 years ago and never looked back. "Such a truly great community," he says. "And the most beautiful location I have ever worked in in my life."