GLOVERSVILLE -- The Gloversville Common Council is poised to vote on approval of an application for $750,000 in federal grant funding for Century Linen & Uniform.
Gloversville grant writer Nick Zabawsky said the money would be from the federal Community Development Block Grant program administered by the New York state Office of Urban Renewal. He said the grant, if approved, would be administered through the city to Century Linen & Uniform, contingent upon the company investing $3.2 million of private capital in new equipment at its 335 North Main St. location and retaining the 165 jobs there.
"This is for industrial laundry equipment -- big giant washing machines and dryers and folding machines and all of that kind of stuff," Zabawsky said.
Century Linen President Matthew Smith said his company, which is owned by his father, Richard Smith, employs a total of about 300 people between its two plants in Gloversville and Johnstown. He said the company right now processes about 375 tons of commercial laundry per week, most of it from the healthcare and food and beverage sectors.
"Both of our plants right now in Gloversville and Johnstown are over capacity, so we need to do something -- either re-equip, get a new replacement plant or a third plant," Smith said. "We're running multiple shifts in both plants six days a week, and we're working with the space we have, but we need more space. We're extending the equipment more than it should be. We're running it for a longer time. We'd like to get it to the point where we're only running one shift."
In 2015, Century Linen, then known as Robison Smith Inc., received a $1.7 million Empire State Development grant aimed at helping to keep the company in Fulton County by helping it build a new plant. The company had attempted to acquire and then revamp a 60,000-square-foot facility in the Johnstown Industrial Park, a project estimated to cost $12 million. In May, the company announced the plan wouldn't work, due to utility problems in the park. The grant money still has not been spent.
"There was not enough natural gas at that location, so that didn't work out, but we are still actively looking at different options for either re-equipping our current plants with new equipment, or an additional plant that would still be within Fulton County," Smith said.
Zabawsky said the $750,000 CDBG grant money would have "claw back" provisions that would allow the city to seek the money's return if Century Linen & Uniform failed to spend the money on equipment for its Gloversville plant and didn't keep its job retention obligations. He said it will be responsibility of city officials to monitor the business's compliance with the grant rules.
Mayor Dayton King said he expects the Common Council to unanimously approve the grant application at its Aug. 14 meeting.
"We would do this with any private business that wanted to apply for this kind of grant for new equipment," King said. "The laundry industry, I understand, is all about how much laundry they can do per hour. So, they've got 160-plus employees here, and we want them to stay in Gloversville, so we're going to try to get them what they need to do that."