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What you need to know for 01/16/2018

Ballston silicone products maker looking to expand


Ballston silicone products maker looking to expand

A maker of specialized silicone products including laboratory-quality membranes is seeking to expand
Ballston silicone products maker looking to expand
Specialty Silicone Products in Ballston, shown Tuesday, is seeking approvals for a $4.2 million expansion to meet demand from high-tech research laboratories.

A maker of specialized silicone products including laboratory-quality membranes is seeking to expand at the Corporate Technology Park off Route 50 in Ballston.

Specialty Silicone Products Inc. has proposed a $4 million addition that would add cleanroom manufacturing space and increase automation in its building at 3 McCrea Hill Road.

The plans are currently under review by the town of Ballston, and the company is also seeking financial assistance through the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency. The IDA assistance is needed to keep the company competitive, according to one economic development official.

“The project is a key step in keeping the company competitive in their industry and assuring their long-term viability,” Jim Angus of the Saratoga Economic Development Corp. wrote in an application to the IDA.

Specialty Silicone currently employs 58 people and would add six more jobs if the expansion goes forward, company officials said.

The expansion would add 18,750 square feet to an existing 33,000-square-foot manufacturing building. The company estimates the building would cost about $2 million, and as much or more would be spent on equipment and machinery.

“We have to expand,” company President Paul DiCaprio said Tuesday. “We’re out of room.”

The company, founded in 1988 by former employees of GE Silicones in Waterford, makes advanced silicone rubber materials used in aerospace, telecommunications, military, automotive, consumer and medical/biotech products.

The main product driving the expansion plan is a silicone septum — or sealed membrane — used in research laboratories and quality control labs around the world. Because those labs are measuring particles down to parts per billion, the company said customers want the septums made in a cleanroom environment.

“The scientists are requiring cleaner and cleaner closures from us and other manufacturers to eliminate the possibility of contaminants that create false positives,” DiCaprio said.

He said the company is still discussing how “clean” the manufacturing space will need to be, “but it will be cleaner than the average manufacturing environment.”

At the same time, the company said it is feeling price pressure from competitors in India and China, creating a need to automate more manufacturing.

“Failure to expand, automate and invest could lead to loss of market share and future business decline,” DiCaprio wrote in a project narrative filed with the IDA.

Specialty Silicones has a $4.2 million annual payroll, with technicians earning an average of $80,000 per year, according to its application.

The company is seeking IDA incentives that could include a $238,000 sales tax exemption, a $20,000 mortgage tax exemption, and a property tax exemption worth between $58,000 and $108,000 over 10 years.

The company moved into its current building, which was also built with IDA financial assistance, in 2001.

Because the IDA is still debating the size of the property exemption to allow, senior county Planner Michael Valentine said the IDA won’t hold a public hearing on the application until its July 14 meeting.

The Ballston Planning Board, meanwhile, will hold a public hearing on the company’s site plan application at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. today in Town Hall.

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