Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced last week that Bitzer Scroll Inc. will invest $30 million and create 289 new jobs over the next five years in the town of Salina.
The manufacturer will make scroll compressors for air conditioning units in the Salina Industrial Power Park, located off Military Circle. The Bitzer manufacturing plant will take 60,000 square feet of space in the 800,000 square foot building.
The development marks a resurgence of industry in the town, according to Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra.
“The power park is a hidden gem in the town,” Nicotra said. “There are 800 or 900 employees working there, and you wouldn’t necessarily know that. I didn’t know it.”
Nicotra said the deal had been in the works for about a year before Spitzer’s announcement Feb. 21.
Already, the building is being modified to accommodate Bitzer Scroll, a division of the Stuttgart, Germany-based Bitzer Group.
“They’re already at work converting the building,” said Paul Mackey of Pyramid Companies, the brokerage that handled the lease to Bitzer. “The offices are underway pending some approvals from the town, and the manufacturing is expected to start next year.”
The scroll compressors crafted in Salina will be the first Bitzer product to be created outside of Bitzer’s native Germany. The company, which was founded in 1934, does about $1 billion in the design, manufacture and sale of compressors, condensing units and pressure vessels for refrigeration and air conditioning units for apartment complexes and supermarkets.
The company will receive Empire Zone tax breaks and several grants, including $1.4 million from the Syracuse Center of Excellence for Environmental and Energy Systems, in exchange for locating in the town of Salina.
But it wasn’t the money or the promise of incentives that drew Bitzer to Central New York.
“The president of the company, Richard Kobor, has ties to the Syracuse area,” Mackey said. “And he wanted to come here because of the wealth of talented, skilled occupation workers we have. He felt our workforce can help Bitzer achieve its goal of making a first-rate product in the air conditioning industry.”
Nicotra said the workforce drew Bitzer to Central New York, but the Salina Industrial Power Park enticed it to locate in Salina.
“They’re in Central New York for the quality and competency of our workers,” Nicotra said, “but they chose this facility because it offered what they needed — a big space that can be transformed to fit their needs.”
Nicotra’s and Mackey’s comments were echoed by Assemblyman Al Stirpe.
“Bitzer’s decision to locate in Central New York shows we have the talent employees want,” Stirpe said in a statement. “We can draw cutting-edge firms and the quality jobs that they create to the area.”
Indeed, Bitzer joins several other top-notch businesses at the Salina Industrial Power Park The former General Motors plant is now home to FRALO Plastech, Carpenter Industries, New Venture Gear and Reva Plastics Corp., among others.
“The Bitzer facility really complements that tenant base,” Mackey said. “It fits in well.”
Not only is the firm a good fit in terms of business; it’s also a good fit in the town of Salina, which has been working to reshape its image and draw more new businesses.
“This means we’re getting jobs, good jobs,” Nicotra said. “These are high-paying jobs, not minimum-wage jobs. We’re getting more bodies in the town and spending money in the town. It’s definitely a great thing.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.