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Artist's rendering of the new facility (Source:  Laurentian Aerospace)
Artist's rendering of the new facility (Source: Laurentian Aerospace)

Laurentian set to break ground, promising hundreds of new jobs for Plattsburgh

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A Canadian firm called Laurentian Aerospace says it has locked in the financing needed to go forward with a massive new project in Plattsburgh. The company plans to build a refurbishment and maintenance facility that will service the commercial airline industry at Plattsburgh's airport, site of the former Air Force base. As Brian Mann reports, the long-awaited announcement means hundreds of new construction and permanent jobs for the city.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

At a press conference Tuesday morning at the Platsburgh Chamber of Commerce, Robin Wohnsigl, president and CEO of Laurentian, said preparations for a groundbreaking next month are already underway.

"Today we've got money that's tranferring between our primary investor, Verdant, onto our construction team.  As of today, our construction team is at work," he added, sparking a round of applause.

The $175 million facility is expected to begin hiring between two hundred and three hundred full-time workers next year. 

Michael Jeffrard is president and CEO of Liati Capital, one of the companies that helped put together the deal.

He says investors are convinced that American airlines will prefer to refurbish their big planes at a facility in the US, rather than send them overseas to facilities in the Middle East and Asia.

"Why would you want to fly your airplanes to China, when you could fly them to Plattsburgh?" Jeffrard said.

Laurentian officials say the project could eventually grow to employ as many as 900 workers.

Karl Johnson is managing director with the Verdant Capital Group, the largest private investor in the new company.  

"We're extremely excited about the project and its multiple opportunities for growth in the future," Johnson said.  "So we're looking forward to standing by this team, not just to get the first hangar in the ground, but to see where this takes us in the future."

This project took years to put together and it also required a huge effort by local and state officials, as well as Plattsburgh's Chamber of Commerce. 

Clinton County put together a bond package that allowed Laurentian to borrow more than $120 million at low cost.

Adore Flynn Kurtz, president of Clinton County’s Development Corporation, says that government involvement was key.

"It means that their borrowings will be at significantly lower interest rates over a long period of time," Kurtz said, pointing out that the package helped Laurentian to attract "good investors" in the private sector.

Laurentian President Robin Wohnsigl acknowledged the importance of that public support yesterday and also acknowledged just how important this project has become for Plattsburgh and Clinton County.

"It's mind-boggling sometimes to recognize the responsibility we have as Laurentian to you, the community, in putting this thing together," he said.

In a statement issued yesterday, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand praised the project.

“Investment in this kind of state-of-the-art technology is vital for New York to stay competitive in the 21st Century,” Gillibrand said. 

She said the company will provide a new hub at Plattsburgh International Airport and could help attract other aerospace suppliers and companies to the city.

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