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Salina's 'hidden gem' to shine again

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."

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