A formerly contaminated eyesore will host 150 technology workers later this year as a communications firm builds a sprawling repair facility in Glenville, officials announced Wednesday.
It took the town just 28 days — a record low, in fact — to approve the massive job-creating project on the site of a former tank farm that’s been vacant for two decades.
The process began in November when the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority approached town officials to say a global company was considering putting down roots in the Glenville Business and Technology Park. Communications Test Design Inc., a Pennsylvania company that provides repair and logistics services for the communications industry, wanted to locate a new facility somewhere in the Northeast to service customers in the region.
“Metroplex came to us and said, ‘We’re in a competitive situation here. We have somebody interested in a location, but it has to be ready to go; they can’t really wait for it to be built,’ ” Glenville town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said Wednesday after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the company would indeed be coming to Schenectady County after looking at multiple sites across the Northeast. “It was kind of a ‘build it and they will come’ situation, so we came together as an economic development team to figure out how can we get this process done in the shortest amount of time without sacrificing the integrity of the process.”
CTDI will invest $11.4 million in a 151,550-square-foot facility in the park that will serve as a new testing, repair and logistics operations center for its customers in the Northeast. It will occupy 130,000 square feet, with an option on the remaining space, and will create 150 new jobs, ranging from management positions and logistics personnel to electronics repair and testing technicians.
“CTDI’s goal is to hire 100 percent of the workforce needed in the operation from the local community,” W. Paul Cardell, vice president of CTDI Corporate Operations, said in an email. “CTDI will only recruit from outside of that area if a specific skill set that we need cannot be sourced locally. But we would expect this number to be less than 2 percent of the total positions needed to staff the operation.”
The town of Glenville, Metroplex, the Schenectady County Legislature, Empire State Development and Galesi Group — the Rotterdam developer that owns and operates the park — all worked together to make the deal happen.
On Wednesday, Cuomo’s office announced the details. The state will give the company $800,000 in Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits as it creates the new jobs. Metroplex will provide a $175,000 grant toward project costs. The company is also trying to win a $250,000 grant from National Grid to help offset the costs of running gas and electric service to the new building.
CTDI was founded in 1975 by Jerry Parsons, his father, Don, and his brother Dick in the family garage in West Chester, Pa. Today, it is a full-service, global engineering, repair and logistics company with major telecommunications and cable companies as its customers. It remains privately held and under the ownership of the Parsons family, with more than 6,800 employees at its 66 facilities worldwide. Aside from its global headquarters in West Chester, the closest company facilities are in Coatesville and Pittston, Pa., and Westborough, Mass.
The site the company will occupy once housed a petroleum storage and processing facility that dated to the 1940s. In later years, it was known as the Burgess Oil Facility, but was abandoned by owners George Burgess and Stephen Draper in 1994.
Although they removed most of the more than 57 tanks on the property, they never finished the job — leaving tanks with exposed bottoms and partially dismantled tanks open to the elements. In 1996, the state Department of Environmental Conservation performed a cleanup of the site — at a cost of more than $627,000 — after a town employee saw oil seeping out of one of the tanks. Galesi Group bought the 10-acre parcel from the county a decade later, cleaned up all remaining contamination using state brownfield funds, added the parcel to its business park and built an access road. Finally, in 2010, the site was given a clean bill of environmental health from the state.
Metroplex and Galesi immediately began marketing the site and came close on a number of projects in recent years, said Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen. But it wasn’t until Old Dominion Freight Line announced last year it would invest nearly $8.4 million in a 40,000-square-foot facility nearby that the site became attractive.
“They were a multibillion-dollar company that picked this great business park to locate,” explained Gillen. “Old Dominion picked it over competing locations all over the place. And this site is right next door, clean and ready to go. You can’t win these jobs without sites. You have to have good sites to win projects. So we’re very proud of this win for the county.”
Galesi Group got the ball rolling with the new facility before a deal was even finalized. The developer announced in late October it would build a 151,550-square-foot facility next to the Old Dominion site. COO David Buicko told The Daily Gazette at the time that several companies were interesting in leasing space in the park, which is also home to Adirondack Beverages, Dimension Fabricators, DHA Energy, Latham Plastics and others.
The approval process for the building began Nov. 11 and ended Dec. 9. Throughout this process, town officials declined to disclose the name of the company that would occupy the building.
“We very often get projects where people sort of don’t want their name out there until everything is approved because they are in competitive situations with other sites,” said Koetzle. “So we work with them, and we were very proud to be a part of the process. We knew the importance of 150 high-tech jobs coming here. We knew the importance of investing in our tech park.
“We’re gaining a lot of momentum in there right now. There are already other interested parties looking into it now.”
Buicko said construction began on the site the day after the project was approved. Most of the work done so far has involved clearing some trees and building a pad site. Construction should be complete by mid-summer, he said.
The speedy approval process by Glenville officials has made an impression. Buicko, who serves on the Capital Region Economic Development Council, said he believes the last few months of work are “a great case study” in efficient government.
“One of the things we talk about on the council is infrastructure and how the local approval process can really slow things down,” he said Wednesday. “I think this is a great example of how the community worked together to get a project done in a very expeditious manner so that the company wins and the community wins.”