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Corning Canton plant expansion praised as partnership; officials break ground on $21 million expansion

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DEKALB - The sky was cloudy, but moods were sunny Thursday morning as officials gathered to break ground on a $21 million expansion project that’s expected to create 40 permanent jobs at Corning Inc.’s Canton plant.

Speakers credited the project as a public, private partnership that could prompt other companies to invest in the region, they said.

“When you put all those pieces together, its a mosaic. It’s a team creating jobs for our region, jobs for our sons and daughters,” said Anthony C. Collins, who serves as co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. He is also president of Clarskson University, Potsdam.

As officials spoke, bulldozers and cranes worked outside preparing the site for the 30,700-square-foot expansion.

The building will include 23,500 square feet for increased production and a 7,200 square-foot warehouse. The project is expected to create about 70 temporary construction jobs.

A strong workforce and proximity to area colleges were also credited as factors that made the Canton plant a top choice.

An allocation of 2.1 megawatts of low-cost hydropower from New York Power Authority was lauded for playing a crucial role in Corning’s decision to invest in its Canton facility. The power is supposed to cost 40 to 50 percent less than wholesale market prices. Since 2012, the company has received 2.2 megawatts of NYPA power in exchange for its commitment to retaining roughly 200 jobs at the Canton plant, McAdoo Road, town of Dekalb.

The project is also supported by $750,000 in tax credits through the Empire State Development Corp. to assist with the job creation project.

“The Canton expansion sends a signal that this area is ready and able to participate fully in a high-growth, tech economy and participate even more fully in the global marketplace,” Eugene L. Nicandri, a NYPA trustee from Massena, said. “Corning’s investment also makes it clear that Canton and St. Lawrence County is a place where highly-skilled individuals can find employment.”

The expansion will allow the factory to increased production of specialized glass products for the U.S. Department of Defense and the aerospace industry.

Curt Weinstein, vice president of Corning’s Speciality Materials, said the expansion will allow the company to produce more of an existing product line, but he would not disclose more details about that specific product.

“I can’t really say. It’s an expansion of a class of products we already make,” Mr. Weinstein said. “It’s a phased process, and we have already started scaling up.”

The Canton plant also produces high-fused silica glass used in the semiconductor industry. The plant supplies microchips for computers, cellphones and other electronics. It has also produced glass for space shuttles,

James H. Brown, project manager for LeChase Construction, Rochester, said crews are in the process of handling concrete and foundation work at the site. Metal for the building is scheduled to be transported to the site in mid to late September. Completion is expected in December.

NYPA President Gil C. Quiniones said he was “thrilled” to be at the Canton plant,where glass is produced for Hubble telescopes, space shuttles and other applications.

“That’s just unbelievable. You can’t get more high-tech than that,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to partner with a company that’s known as a world leader in speciality glass.”

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