SCHENECTADY — SI Group will be staying in Schenectady County.
The international chemical manufacturer announced Friday that after searching for a new corporate headquarters site for months, it would move only by a few miles, from Niskayuna to the periphery of downtown Schenectady, keeping 185 jobs in the county.
SI Group earlier this year had said it would relocate its home office and research facilities to an undetermined Capital Region location and sell its verdant Balltown Road campus, leading to speculation it could move to southern Saratoga County or another location.
"It's a lot of jobs. They were a multibillion-dollar company that could have gone anywhere," said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, which worked with the company to find its new location.
Friday morning, the company announced it would move the office operations to the Golub Corp. headquarters on lower Nott Street, which keeps the corporate headquarters in Schenectady County. The move is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2020.
Golub Corp. is the parent company of the Market 32/Price Chopper supermarket chain owned by the Golub family, another fixture of the county's business community. Golub has been seeking to lease out unused space in its modern six-story, 240,000-square-foot headquarters, which it built a decade ago.
About 185 employees will be moving, an SI Group spokeswoman said. SI Group also said it is in the final stages of picking a new location for its research and development labs.
The company was founded locally more than a century ago, but it has an international presence, with chemical manufacturing at its Rotterdam Junction complex and around the world — causing county officials to fear it could relocate to almost anywhere.
As incentives to stay in the county, Metroplex will be paying SI Group $250,000 toward the cost of fitting up the rented space, and another $175,000 toward the actual costs of relocation.
“We worked very hard to retain the SI Group corporate headquarters in Schenectady County as the company considered many different locations. Next up, we are competing strongly for the R&D lab and we are working closely with [commercial Realtor] CBRE Albany to find a new owner/user for the Niskayuna campus," said Gillen, who is also the county's economic development and planning director.
"It was a very competitive situation," Gillen added. "They basically said there was no homefield advantage to Schenectady County. We proposed a number of sites. I know there were multiple sites [considered] in other counties."
SI Group will occupy the fifth floor inside the Price Chopper building, which the company noted meets environment-friendly building standards, has a full-service cafeteria and fitness center, and has direct access to walking and bike paths.
"We're pleased to locate our headquarter offices to a facility that fits our workforce today and reflects the company's culture and values," said David Bradley, SI Group president and CEO. "The location also allows employees to be part of the Schenectady downtown community."
SI Group makes industrial chemicals for industries including plastics, oilfield, rubber, fuels and lubricants, pharmeutical ingredients and industrial resins. It has more than 30 manufacturing facilities on five continents, with about $2 billion in annual sales and 3,000 employees worldwide.
The company was founded in 1906 by W. Howard Wright as a varnish works and grew into an international manufacturer under family leadership until last year, when it was sold to SK Capital Partners of New York City. Dark predictions about what that might mean were reinforced when the headquarters property was put up for sale. It was widely acknowledged that locations outside the county were under consideration.
"Our county economic development team, led by Metroplex, worked very hard to retain this very important corporate headquarters," said Anthony Jasenki, chairman of the Schenectady County Legislature. "SI Group had many choices for its new office location, and we are very pleased to keep this major corporate headquarters right here in Schenectady County."
CBRE-Albany is handling the sale of the current SI Group property, which includes 130,000 square feet of building space and covers more than 80 acres along Balltown Road at the northern end of Niskayuna, in an area zoned for advanced industrial research. Neighbors include GE Global Research and the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory.
Gillen said the goal is to bring another corporate or commercial tenant to that site.