Tech firm delivers big news

Silicon producer Momentive Performance Materials announced Friday that it will build a $65 million t

Silicon producer Momentive Performance Materials announced Friday that it will build a $65 million technology center in Rensselaer County and relocate its global headquarters to a new $16 million building near the center.

Momentive President and Chief Executive Officer Jon Rich said his company considered other locations for a new headquarters, including Atlanta and Raleigh, N.C. He said the decision to come to the Capital Region was primarily motivated by the availability of high-tech talent, low cost of living, support from New York state and airport access.

“This is a place where we can recruit and attract the highly technical people that we need. There is a great university pool of people here,” Rich said.

The new facilities are expected to employ a combined 250 people with a total annual payroll of $38 million.

Rich said some of the employees will be transfers from among Momentive’s approximately 5,000-employee workforce, including some from the company’s Waterford manufacturing facility. He said at least 150 of the jobs will be new to the Capital Region and will probably have average annual salaries of greater than $100,000. He said the new technology center will be used for designing and developing new products.

“We’re looking for highly qualified technical people. Scientists and engineers, both bachelor degree people and Ph.D.s,” he said.

The construction of the new facilities will be supported by $6.5 million in state capital grants secured by former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick. Property tax reductions also will be in place for the new buildings for a period of 10 years.

Company officials said they have not yet finalized the location for the new facilities but have narrowed the field to several locations in Rensselaer County and expect to make the final decision soon with the beginning of construction targeted for 2009. The project is expected to employ 150 construction-related jobs, Rich said.

Bruno and Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, D-Cohoes, attended a news conference Friday at Momentive’s Waterford plant. Canestrari praised Bruno’s role in securing state funds to help pay for Momentive’s move.

“I want to thank Joe Bruno’s help on this measure. I think it’s safe to say that in my lifetime, in the Capital District, we won’t see the likes of another Joe Bruno,” Canestrari said.

Bruno said the capital funds secured for Momentive, as well as other projects he’s promised capital grants to, will remain secure even after he leaves office, which is expected sometime this year. He said economic development efforts in the Capital Region over the last decade were key to building the infrastructure necessary to attract a company like Momentive.

“[Momentive’s products] affect every aspect of our lives. From the time you wake up when you brush your teeth and take your shower, when you go to work and when you come home. Their products surround us,” Bruno said.

Momentive produces silicon and silicon derivatives from quartz, as well as specialty ceramics. Company officials said their products are important components of hard goods such as computers and soft goods like skin cream. The company’s move to Rensselaer County is close to a return home because its first silicon operations were in Waterford in 1947, when it was still owned by General Electric Co. Momentive was created when Apollo Management L.P. bought GE Advanced Materials in December 2006.

Momentive’s Waterford plant is expected to get a boost from Empire Zone benefits, if Gov. David Paterson approves legislation expanding benefits to the facility. Empire Zone status would grant tax breaks and utility discounts to the business.

Momentive officials said the company plans to spend $150 million on capital projects at the Waterford plant following Empire Zone designation.

Shawn Williams, the president of the Americas for Momentive Performance Materials, said Momentive’s employees in Waterford account for about 20 percent of the company’s global workforce, which spans 35 countries.

Rich said the company will go forward with its plans in Rensselaer County regardless of whether the Empire Zone legislation is approved. He said some Momentive employees have already begun to relocate from its former headquarters in Wilton, Conn., to the company’s interim global headquarters at 22 Corporate Woods Blvd. in Albany.

Categories: Schenectady County

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