ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers are unhappy that Hacker Boat Co. is using state money to move out of the county.
The Capital Region Regional Economic Development Council got Hacker a $600,000 state grant so it can expand its operations by moving to Queensbury in Warren County.
That means closing Hacker-Craft plants on Delano Road and Montcalm Street in Ticonderoga, a loss of 38 jobs locally.
“To pirate a company out of one county into another county, I just think is wrong,” Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said. “If you have an existing company that’s located in one county, and then to take state funds and move them 50 miles down the road into another county, it shouldn’t be happening.”
‘NEEDS LARGER FACILITY’
No one at the Capital Region Regional Economic Development Council offices in Troy responded to a request for comment Friday.
That council applied for the funds, which were awarded in December.
Hacker spokesman Kenneth J. Rawley said they’d move to Queensbury with or without state funding, because Hacker needs a larger facility to build bigger boats. In addition, the boatbuilder needs to be closer to Albany International Airport, he said, because many customers fly in there and travel to Hacker to order one of the custom mahogany speedboats the firm builds.
Essex County Industrial Development Agency Co-Director Carol Calabrese said they previously brought in resources to help Hacker stay in Ticonderoga and get municipal water service extended to the Delano Road plant so the firm could retain and expand that facility.
“We had worked diligently with them. We had no idea that this was coming.”
Even after the grant was announced they tried to talk with Hacker, Calabrese said.
“We have continued to reach out to them, just because we believe it’s the right thing to do, in case there’s any opportunity whatsoever that we can retain any of their operations in Essex County. We are aware that they’ve received our messages.
“We’ve supplied information on other resources that they could secure in Essex County, which are the same resources that they can receive in the other county,” she continued. “In addition, we’ve also supplied them with current available space that potentially could accommodate them.”
‘AFTER THE FACT’
The company plans to build a new facility in Queensbury and consolidate its production and restoration in the same building.
Hacker says the workers can transfer to the new plant in Queensbury when it’s up and running; a search for a site is still under way.
But Scozzafava said he doubts people would make the two-hour round trip every day.
“How many people are going to be able to drive down to someplace in Warren County from Ticonderoga or wherever they’re from; it’s just not going to happen.”
Supervisor Debra Malaney (R-Ticonderoga) said the state award is very controversial.
“When they (Regional Economic Development) got the application, no one was aware they planned on relocating.
“It was after the fact.”
She said the town and IDA have been working with Hacker on facilities expansion since 2011.
“It is extremely frustrating. These Regional Development grant opportunities are relatively new, within the last couple of years, and this situation is the first of its kind.”
SILVER BAY FACILITY
Hacker Boat Co. now produces 15 to 20 boats a year, with prices around $100,000 and up. The move to a larger production facility is expected to create up to 50 more jobs over the next five years.
Hacker Boat also has administrative and sales offices in Hague’s Silver Bay hamlet in Warren County and said recently there were no plans to close the Silver Bay facility, which is located on Lake George.
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