Officials tout growth in city, Griffiss

Lieutenant governor in Rome to help cut ribbon at Orgill and Cold Point; tour additional projects

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“All roads lead to Rome.”

In an address to company and local officials, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul shared the history of Rome and Griffiss Air Force base in order to recognize the growth and new life created as more businesses continue to come make Griffiss Business and Technology Park home.

“This is an exciting day and thanks for having faith in us,” said Hochul as she addressed representatives of Orgill.

The lieutenant governor was among dignitaries for the official ribbon cutting ceremony and Rome Area Chamber of Commerce First Dollar of Profit Award presentation at Orgill, Inc. Distribution center located at 1 Atlas Drive on Thursday morning.

Despite the odds and challenges presented during the construction phase as the COVID-19 pandemic struck soon after groundbreaking, Orgill nonetheless managed to construct and open their state-of-the-art facility six months ahead of their projected opening date last month. The facility located across Route 825 from the Wingate by Wyndham, occupies 776,000-square-feet, with another 250,000-square feet of exterior storage space.

In her remarks, Hochul went on to identify Rome and the central New York region as a solid contributor to the state’s economy that is overcoming an economic downturn through teamwork. She noted through the region’s history how area residents helped build the Empire State with the building of the Erie Canal and the businesses that grew along it as a result. Manufacturing jobs were pivotal in helping to lift the area out of the Great Depression and into World War II. Then came another downfall with the closing of Griffiss Air Force Base in 1995.

“I tell you this history today because it’s part of a great future,” said Hochul, adding that working hard is “in the blood” of local workers who will be loyal to their employers. “...There are still better days ahead. As they say, ‘Rome was not built in a day,’ but you can say” this distribution center “was basically done in a day, and it’s the best pandemic story I’ve heard yet.”

Back in 2019 when Orgill announced it would make a home in Rome, it was anticipated that at minimum, around 225 new jobs would be created for the region. Today, company officials said that number will increase to around 300.

Orgill, Inc. President and CEO Boyden Moore commended Vice-president of Northeast Distribution Mark Scanlon for assembling a “great team,” in Rome, with the number of company vendors and customers continuing to grow.

Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo opened remarks by noting the “interesting negotiations” that took place in order to bring Orgill to Rome and get the company up and running ahead of schedule during the pandemic.

“It’s really fun to see the final product and how this facility has turned out,” said Izzo. “We couldn’t be more proud. This is the second distribution center to make a home at Griffiss Park, so this is quite an historic event.”

She said, “More jobs are coming, and that says the distribution center is performing well.”

County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. remarked how he would pass the empty site where Orgill now sits each day while traveling to work at the County Office Building in Utica, and how Orgill’s location here in Rome was a significant symbol of how the city — and even county — were moving forward today.

“...And this was something that happened during the pandemic and while there was silence, this was going up,” Picente said. “We talked years ago about the devastation that happened here” when the base closed, “and we said we would never look back on that day, that we would look to the next day — and we’re here. This building shows what can be done when everyone works together...When people believe things can be accomplished, that’s when things happen.”

Shawna Papale, chief administrative officer for Mohawk Valley EDGE, recalled the guard gate once located near the Orgill site and the funding originally received for the demolition of old houses and buildings on the base. Today, she said that has turned into an $800 million investment, “and I can’t wait until we hit $1 billion, and that will happen soon.”

Papale noted there are about 6,000 jobs located at GBTP and that the park, “is like a city in and of itself, just like when the Air Force Base was located here, and it’s a wonderful place to be.”

Scanlon, vice-president of Northeast distribution for Orgill, lauded support from local officials for helping the company accelerate its project.

“We’re proud to be part of the Rome community and New York State,” said Scanlon. “This facility could not have been built in the timeline it was without the partnerships we had.”

Also helping to celebrate the official opening of the distribution center, was Rome Area Chamber of Commerce First Vice Chairman John Calabrese, who presented a Rome necktie to Boyden Moore, Orgill president and CEO, as well as a First Dollar of Profit Award to Scanlon. In his remarks, Calabrese lauded the opening as a grand occasion for the city, its residents and the area business community. Orgill’s investment, he said, is adding to the economic foundation of the city and region.

In addition for being part of the Orgill ribbon cutting, Hochul was also in Rome Thursday to tour the Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects with Izzo with stops at:

The 300 block of West Dominick Street to tour the new Art Walk with sculptures and benches that harken back to the area’s history as the Carrying Place in pre-colonial times;

The renovated Capitol Theatre, 220 W. Dominick St., which has been brought back to its original luster of the late 1920s, as it anchors the Downtown Revitalization Initiative’s efforts to create a thriving art and cultural area; and

The new home of the Cold Point Corporation, 510 Henry St., where she made an advanced manufacturing jobs announcement, commenting on how the city’s DRI projects — funded with $10 million from the state — will help create even more jobs and attract even more businesses to the city.

Like Orgill, the Cold Point Corporation cut the ribbon on its new facility on Thursday, a 50,000 square-foot, $5.1 million state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.

The completion of the Cold Point Corporation facility marks a milestone for this signature project from Rome’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative plan and a strategic site identified in the Erie Boulevard Brownfield Opportunity Area, which will help to attract talent and a 21st century workforce to downtown Rome by establishing an advanced manufacturing facility with more than 50 employees within a five-minute walk to the downtown core, officials said.

The facility will house a more efficient industrial layout, add at least one additional manufacturing line, double warehousing and distribution capacity, and create up to 15 additional jobs in the near term. The site has been the focus of major state agency partnerships and funding assistance. Empire State Development, the City of Rome, the Department of Environmental Conservation, Rome Industrial Development Corporation, National Grid, and Rome Community Brownfield Restoration Corporation partnered in 2008-2009 to complete a $3 million brownfield remediation and restoration effort on the Rome Cable Complex 3 site.   

Cold Point Corporation was awarded a $900,000 DRI grant through Rome’s $10 million DRI and $300,000 in Excelsior Jobs tax credits from Empire State Development for a commitment to retain 37 employees and create 24 new jobs. Cold Point Corporation identified the need for a new facility to facilitate growth and the addition of a new manufacturing line and warehouse space.

The new facility, in concert with other DRI funded projects such as a distinctive downtown branding and way finding programs and dynamic new civic spaces, will transform Downtown Rome into a destination for a diverse range of small business, entertainment and restaurant uses, officials said. 

When DCI and Brownfield projects are completed, “People won’t even be able to recognize Downtown Rome,” Hochul added.

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