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Turbine manufacturer eyes Ogdensburg

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A press release from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's office surprised a lot of people in the north country last Friday. The release urged support for a major wind turbine production project that would create 1200 jobs in Ogdensburg. It's an idea that had been floated for Massena a couple years ago, but the shift to Ogdensburg was news to many. North Country Public Radio's Nora Flaherty explains what happened.

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Nora Flaherty
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The Washington, DC-based technology development firm the D’Arcinoff group had been looking into repurposing a former GM plant in Massena for turbine production.

But late last year, an EPA investigation showed that property—a superfund site—was even more environmentally damaged than had been previously thought.

Here’s D’Arcinoff chairman and CEO Michael Darcy:

In order to properly clean up Massena once and for all you have to take down the building. For us, there’s no need to wait to put up structures and facilities, and it makes this for us simply impractical.

Darcy says that rather than building from scratch in Massena, it made sense to move some of the production work elsewhere in the region—he wouldn’t say where—and some of it thirty miles southwest to Ogdensburg.

Darcy wouldn’t say exactly which site his company is considering.  But he said Ogdensburg’s industrial park near the port on the St. Lawrence River is a plus:

Its proximity allowed us to effectively use barge traffic; access to good rail connections, which meant we could move the finished product out effectively; and it was a place where we could move forward very quickly instead of having to erect a facility.

Also part of the region’s appeal is its former auto workers—they already have a lot of the skills they’ll need for turbine manufacturing.

The D’Arcinoff group has been working with Senator Gillibrand and the Empire State development corporation to move the project forward, and Darcy says the last major hurdle they need to clear is getting approval for a major Federal renewable energy grant.

City officials weren’t told of the plans until after Friday’s press release, but D’Arcinoff has been working with the Ogdensburg bridge and port authority on acquiring the property.

If the Ogdensburg plan DOES go through, it could mean about 1200 jobs for the city. That’s a lot fewer jobs than the thousands originally predicted, but Darcy says that’s a lot better than none:

Jobs—and they’re good manufacturing jobs—these aren’t people flipping burgers here.

As well as Odgensburg, the D’Arcinoff group’s project could bring turbine production to Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.

Senator Gillibrand’s office says it could bring a combined 15,000 jobs to the four cities, and a chance to use former manufacturing sites in the new green economy. Darcy says hiring could start as early as June. For North Country Public Radio, I’m Nora Flaherty.

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