Lawrence Rosenbaum’s idea to stimulate the economy of Auburn, N.Y., may sound a bit cheesy, but for the Albany-based entrepreneur, that’s the whole point.

With endorsements from local politicians and tax breaks from the state, Rosenbaum and his kosher start-up, the Saratoga Cheese Corporation, hope to do many things at once: Create an estimated 77 jobs for Auburn, a Cayuga County farming community, found a yeshiva, revolutionize the national kosher and Halal cheese industry, and establish a Jewish community in the New York countryside.

“We’ll make the highest quality cheese at the lowest price due to a technology” currently used by a German cheese-maker, pledges Rosenbaum.

It all may seem a bit pie-in-the-sky, but Auburn Mayor Michael D. Quill has signed off on Saratoga’s planned construction of a $40 million, 64,000-square-foot plant. In addition, State Sen. Michael F. Nozzolio, whose district includes the town, persuaded the New York Assembly to grant approximately $16 million in tax incentives for the corporation. And the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority awarded the company a $250,000 grant to promote the energy-efficient equipment Saratoga plans to use in its cheese production.

The new venture “will be a big boost to the local economy,” says Quill. “The influx of new jobs will play a vital and positive role in turning things around for us.”

According to William Teator, whose Capital Advocates has been retained by Saratoga to represent the company in its governmental relationships, the construction of the plant will provide an added boost to the local building industry in the form of some 150 construction jobs during a 12-to-18 month period.

Rosenbaum, who walked into a Chabad-Lubavitch center in the Albany area several years ago and is now a regular participant in its daily prayer services, says the project wouldn’t have been possible without the spiritual guidance of several rabbis.

The businessman envisions that roughly one third of the new jobs will be filled by young rabbis, who will serve as full-time kosher supervisors and oversee the milk collection at 23 dairy farms in the Auburn area.

“This lends an entrepreneurial and holy endeavor” to the cheese factory, says Rosenbaum.

All told, Saratoga is expected to pump $3.2 million into the local economy in payroll alone.

“Young couples will be able to relocate to Auburn,” predicts Rosenbaum. “Most will be first-time home buyers.”

An Ethnic Touch

Rosenbaum expects that once Saratoga Cheese Corporation churns at full capacity – it will take until at least 2010 to construct its plant – its output will make a serious dent in the shortage of strictly-kosher cheeses across the United States that adhere to the cholov yisrael standard whereby milk is under constant supervision, from collection to the production of the final product. But while the company will of course include strictly kosher stores in its merchandising campaign, it will market its products to mainstream grocery stores, as well.

Jeannette Hurt, a Milwaukee author who penned The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cheeses of the World last year, says that Saratoga’s business model, which focuses on a line of ethnic semi-soft cheeses, portends a bright future. The company will offer mainstays like feta, mozzarella, muenster and havarti, but will also produce lesser-known Hispanic varieties.

Hispanic cheeses “are one of the fastest growing segments of the cheese industry,” says Hurt.

Rosenbaum, who’s still raising capital to finance his dream, is bullish on the earning potential of the project.

“We will be marketing to everyone,” he says, “not just those who keep kosher or Halal.”