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Cuomo announces Alcoa ready to move forward with Massena facilities’ modernization

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to announce a deal on Monday that will secure the future of Alcoa’s Massena operations, preserving more than 900 jobs at the company’s aluminum production facilities and garnering $42 million in modernization money and $10 million in economic development funds for the region.

The company will move forward with the next phase of modernizing its operations as part of its contract with the New York Power Authority, which will continue the supply of low-cost hydropower from the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Hydroelectric Plant.

Those modernization plans involve a $42 million investment for site preparation and engineering at the Massena East smelter. The company will also contribute an additional $10 million toward a North Country Economic Development Fund.

“I just think that’s fantastic news and it’s worth all the effort,” said Ernie J. LaBaff, who is president emeritus of the Aluminum, Brick and Glass Workers International Union and has been a behind-the-scenes force in helping to bring the agreement to fruition.

According to Mr. LaBaff, the agreement between Alcoa and NYPA was a key to keeping those jobs in the north country.

“This goes back to the agreement between the county and the power authority to have power for the next 40 or 50 years at the best rates in the world,” he said.

Mr. LaBaff said that he has spent his whole adult life in aluminum and in the labor movement and that without those jobs, the area’s economy “would go flat.”

The importance of Alcoa to the regional economy was reiterated by Massena Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray, who said, “Alcoa has been here for more than 110 years and we’re anxious for the company to write its next chapter here. The modernization of the East plant will mean the immediate creation of construction jobs and influx of money into our economy. Even more important is the long-term security of the jobs at the plant. I have heard stories of Alcoa employees with offers pending on new homes, and those offers are contingent on the announcement of the modernization. Now those can move forward and young people can plan their futures in Massena. So, this is a very positive development for today and for our community for years to come.”

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