Potsdam motor maker, sticking to plan, buys land for factory
BY CRAIG FREILICH
North Country This Week
POTSDAM – Motor maker LC Drives has bought the land they want for their factory as they continue seeking investments and a show of political support for their plan to bring 200 or more jobs to the town.
LC Drives has purchased two lots amounting to about 58 acres across State Rt. 56 from Sissonville Road. It has high-power electric lines and natural gas lines crossing it, which would be a plus for siting a factory, and company officials have said they can develop water and sewer services themselves if they have to, but they could take advantage a new water and sewer district nearby if the town goes ahead with its plan for that. The town’s consultant on that project says funding for that is looking very positive.LC Drives Director of Strategic of Planning Devon Sutton of Colton said the company’s plans for the site are being helped by a “Shovel Ready Infrastructure” grant program from National Grid that helps potential good customers get over the many regulatory hurdles such a project entails, “to avoid things that could cause delays and confusion, and help position the project for success.”
“We’re already working with the utilities,” Sutton said, and the Department of Transportation, for approval for entrances to the highway, the Department of Environmental Conservation, for impact on the landscape, the state Historic Preservation Office, to see if there is anything of archaeological interest on the site, and other agencies, to clear some potentially time-consuming requirements, “so when all those approvals come in, all the project has to do is design the building and build it.”
The company now employs about 36 people and intends to have 50 people working for them by the end of the year in their current manufacturing facility in Clarkson University’s downtown campus buildings. Sutton says the company plans to steadily build up to the 200 to 300 in five years they would need to bring the new factory up to production capacity.
The company continues to seek out investors beyond what they have raised so far.
“We are looking at a broad spectrum of options for public and private investment,” Sutton said. She would not speculate about how much the total of investment needs would be.
In May the company announced a $15 million “strategic investment” from Koch Engineered Solutions, and the company has been the beneficiary of several grants at various stages of the company’s growth.
In 2018 the St. Lawrence County IDA Local Development Corporation approved a loan of $100,000 as part of a $500,000 loan package with the Village of Potsdam Growth Fund, the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation, and the North Country Alliance to provide interim financing to LC Drives while they waited for funds from a $500,000 Empire State Development grant awarded in late 2016.
They are also pursuing a strategy of soliciting from “state, local and regional partners support to show that they indeed want the project.”
“There is a lot of appetite in the North Country for these numbers” – the hundreds of jobs the factory could provide – and “all the ancillary economic development” such an influx of activity will bring, along with the slowing of the “brain drain” from this area with its plethora of willing, talented and educated people.
“That’s right smack in the middle of the priorities” of the people she will be meeting with, to persuade them to talk up the project to others who could make the difference seeing the project come to fruition.