Assemblywoman Jenne: Low-Cost Power Bringing New Jobs to North Country
Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne talks with Mike Huth, chief executive officer of Potsdam Specialty Paper, Inc., following a ceremony marking the completion of a major expansion project at the manufacturing facility in Sissonville in the town of Potsdam. Potsdam Specialty Paper employee Michael O'Shea is shown in the background.
Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne said a partnership between Potsdam Specialty Paper and the New York Power Authority spells good news for the people that will fill 22 new jobs being created at the paper plant. Mike Huth, chief executive officer of Potsdam Specialty Paper, Inc., and Judge Eugene L. Nicandri, vice chair of the New York Power Authority Board of Trustees, also spoke at a ceremony marking the completion of a major expansion project at the paper plant.
Doug Drumm (l), operations manager at Potsdam Specialty Paper, discusses the manufacturing process at the plant with Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne and NYPA Board of Trustees Vice Chair Eugene L. Nicandri.
Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne was on hand Friday morning at Potsdam Specialty Paper for a celebration marking the completion of an expansion project that will pave the way to add another 22 employees to the 70-member workforce. The manufacturing facility has operated at its site on the Racquette River in Sissonville continuously since the 1890s, with the exception of a two-year period in the 1970s when the plant was going through an ownership transfer. She said the expansion was a direct result of a 400-kilowatt allocation of low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority's St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project. Assemblywoman Jenne said she was thrilled with the expansion project and the growth of the workforce. "We know the low-cost hydropower generated at the New York Power Authority's St. Lawrence-FDR Project is a critical component of our economic development efforts in the North Country. Potsdam Specialty Paper, a major private sector employer in the Potsdam area, is showing that lowering energy costs for businesses in the region can translate into new employment opportunities," she said. "The addition of 22 more jobs at the paper plant is a significant investment by Potsdam Specialty Paper and provides new employment opportunities for nearly two dozen local residents. That's great news and an effective use of state resources," she added. "The current owners of this facility took over at the worst possible time, just as the market was crashing. But they persevered, and it has been a team effort. Everybody here really cares. The workers here are old school. They are doing work that generations of North Country workers have done, just a little more high tech," according to the assemblywoman. Assemblywoman Jenne said the expansion project reflects the company's strong leadership and the public-private partnership between Potsdam Specialty Paper, the state and the New York Power Authority. "This company has put a strong emphasis on research and development since day one. They've invested in their physical plant and their employees. When I came here the first time nearly a decade ago, it was clear they were going to invest in this plant," she recalled. Potsdam Specialty Paper has invested more than $2 million in this expansion project, which allowed the company to add a new paper and film coating production line that will lead to production efficiencies, increased capacity and the ability to manufacture new products. PSPI is a producer of specialized latex saturation-base papers used in several different products found in the automotive, building and construction, home décor and medical industries. The original paper mill was constructed in 1892 by the Racquette River Paper Company and was purchased by PSPI in 2008 from MeadWestvaco. The firm is now a leader in creping for tape base and medical paper applications and is considered a global leader in latex saturated specialty papers with a diverse global customer base. Mike Huth, chief executive officer of Potsdam Specialty Paper, Inc., said the low-cost hydropower is critical to the plant's operation since energy reflects 30 percent of the facility's expenses. "Addie was here when we took over this facility in October after MeadWestvaco decided this business was not part of their strategic business plan. By December 2008, when the financial crisis was in full swing, it was a little tough. But Addie's support at that time made a big difference. Addie has been around this plant and knows people on the floor," he pointed out. Assemblywoman Jenne also praised NYPA Vice Chairman Eugene L. Nicandri for his support for economic development efforts in the North Country Judge Nicandri, speaking at the event, said, "NYPA's St. Lawrence-FDR hydroelectric facility is the cornerstone of NYPA's economic development efforts in the North Country, providing a tremendous advantage to local businesses. PSPI is clearly committed to growing its businesses in St. Lawrence Country and has big plans for its future." NYPA's hydropower allocations from the St. Lawrence-FDR power plant are provided to manufacturers under seven-year contracts and are reserved for businesses in Franklin, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. In addition to the hydropower allocation, PSPI also receives 2.1 megawatts from the Governor's ReCharge NY program for the retention of 67 employees and $14 million in capital investment commitments. ReCharge NY is a statewide power program designed to spur economic development throughout the state by providing low-cost power to businesses and other entities that agree to create or retain jobs. "This is a very exciting time for Potsdam Specialty Paper and a critical step towards securing our competitive advantage in the markets that we currently serve," PSPI Operations Manager Doug Drumm said. "With the reduced energy costs that we're expecting, we'll be able to reinvest dollars into our business and solidify PSPI as a premier employer in the North Country for many years to come. I want to extend my thanks to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the Power Authority for providing us with significant support to our daily operation costs," he added. Mr. Drumm led Assemblywoman Jenne, Judge Nicandri and Potsdam Town Supervisor Rollin Beattie on a tour of the facility.