Canajoharie’s second-largest employer needs $14 million for infrastructure improvements and upgrades, and it’s unclear if anybody, including New York state, will be able to help.
Candymaker Richardson Brands, a subsidiary of Founders Equity Inc., currently employs 128 people in its Erie Boulevard plant, which is only partially used.
For the past two years, company officials have said that they intend to use more of the factory by acquiring more food-related businesses.
Now, officials are unclear whether the current operations can be maintained, meaning that the 128 jobs currently there could be threatened if the company doesn’t get some assistance.
The Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency is drafting an application for $500,000 in state funding, but Economic Development Director Ken Rose said he is unaware of any $14 million funding package or where it might come from.
“If we’re not successful in getting support, it’s possible that things can move against us,” said John L. Teeger, a principal at Founders Equity, which purchased Richardson Brands as one of its portfolio companies in 2006.
Warner Johnston, a spokesman for Empire State Development’s New York City office, was unable to provide any new information on Friday related to the company’s call for help.
Johnston said that the office is busy reviewing requests for help from numerous businesses throughout the state, and he was unable to detail what the process is by which funding decisions are made.
Johnston said “a variety of people” make decisions related to funding requests, including the board of the Empire State Development Corp. and its CEO.
Johnston said it would be inappropriate to discuss the state’s understanding of the severity of the situation or any timetable by which funding decisions are made.
The Richardson Brands factory is currently dependent on Beech-Nut’s boilers, which provide steam through piping.
Rose said he’s been in discussions with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority in the hopes of finding help to get a boiler for Richardson Brands’ 180,000-square-foot facility.
“We’re trying to put the pieces together,” Rose said.
Canajoharie Mayor Leigh Fuller said that the boiler and gear associated with it could cost $1 million.
He said that that cost, added to additional water and sewer charges for users including the business, could push Richardson Brands out of the village altogether.
“They’re looking for help or they’re looking for an escape from Canajoharie,” Fuller said.