Planned Potsdam factory could bring 200 jobs
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 5:28 pm

BY CRAIG FREILICH
North Country This Week

POTSDAM – A company hoping to create 200 local jobs will present plans for a 120,000 square foot factory to the town Planning Board Thursday.

Innovative motor maker LC Drives is asking for approval of their site plan at 6968 State Hwy. 56, across the road from the intersection with the Sissonville Road.

“We’re going to the planning board with a concept,” said LC Drives Director of Strategic Planning Devon Sutton.

If the planning board approves, LC Drives consultants, engineers and building contractors will work up detailed plans for the site, buildings, parking lot and other aspects of the project.

Sutton said Richard Moose has accepted their option to buy two adjacent lots totaling about 58 acres. The site has 115-kilovolt electric lines and natural gas lines crossing it, which were “a big selling point” in its selection, she said.

Potsdam Advantages Cited

The company’s decision to locate the facility in Potsdam is not by chance, according to Sutton.

“We’ve experienced a lot of interest locally” since the company’s announcement last month of a $15 million investment from Koch Engineered Solutions, she said. The company is in the process of hiring 20 more people now, resumes are welcome hiring is continuing and, she said.

“There’s a lot of talent here. We see Potsdam as an excellent place to be” for their plant. The reception and help from local government have been “phenomenal. The village and town have shown they are a great place to do business,” she said.

She cited Town Supervisor Ann Carvill and Code Enforcement Officer Mike Boysuk as being “incredibly helpful. They are forward thinking, and have made it very easy to go through the process.”

The $15 million from Koch is helping move the company to “the next stage of growth,” said LC Drives CEO Russ Marvin.

That money will help them through development and initial manufacturing to a sustainable manufacturing posture, but “the project is not yet funded,” Sutton said.

Building and opening the light manufacturing facility will call for much more investment, Sutton said.

More Investment Needed

“If the town planning board approves, we move to more detailed design, and fundraising,” she said.

Clarkson University’s Peyton Hall business incubator and Shipley Center for Innovation will likely help with that.

CEO Marvin is no stranger to tracking down investment, but he says Clarkson and its resources continue to be a great help on many fronts, particularly with its broad network of alumni and business contacts.

The company is turning to Brooks Washburn Architect PC in Potsdam for much of the design and planning work.

They have taken all the required steps with engineers, planning boards, the state departments of environmental conservation and transportation to take the project to this point.

Sutton says there appears to be sufficient capacity at the town’s Unionville water and wastewater facilities to provide the plant with what it needs. If not, LC Drives is prepared to design and build their own well and treatment facility, Sutton said.

In addition, the town is looking into developing a second water district along Rt. 56 not far from the LC Drives’ proposed factory. In any case the water and wastewater plan must be in place before any final approval is granted, according to the county planning board’s review of the plan.

As far as zoning is concerned, the property is in a Highway Commercial zone for which only a special use permit is required for this project, Boysuk said.

Founded in 2012

Since its founding in 2012, Marvin has been working with a team developing LC Drives’ high-efficiency motors and generators that are about half or less of the size and weight of current units of comparable capacity. Marvin says the motors have the potential to cut in half the huge amount of electric power motors around the world now use.

They are targeting markets for oil and gas and mining operations, marine propulsion, wind generation and electric vehicle applications.

While the company is manufacturing a 20-inch version of their motors for customers now and has purchase orders for more, they will not be moving immediately out of their manufacturing facility at Clarkson University’s business incubator, according to Sutton.

When they get to staffing the new plant they will be looking for people with “the right attitude and the right skill set,” she said.

But whoever is hired “will need development and training. Even the most seasoned personnel can’t walk in and start working on day one. They all will require training,” Sutton said.

The planning board hearing begins at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 27 in the boardroom at Town Hall, 18 Elm St.