Company sour on refusal of grant

Company sour on refusal of grant
The Post-Standard - Syracuse, NY

Saturday, October 22, 2005
By: Charley Hannagan, Staff writer

Did a public relations flub keep a Salina company from getting state help to expand and create 30 jobs? Or can the company pay for the expansion without state aid?

Earlier this month, J.G.B. Enterprises Inc. won a $40 million contract to build portable water systems for the Air Force. Oct. 3, the company announced the contract and said it will need to double the size of its Executive Drive building to accommodate the work. It will create 30 jobs; the company employs185.

Oct. 13, J.G.B. asked the state for a $150,000 grant to help with the expansion. The state said no.

Company Vice President Stephon Starrantino said he thinks the state rejected the request because the company announced the expansion first.

That's not so, said Tom Gillson, vice president and regional director of the Empire State Development Corp. in Central New York.

When J.G.B. announced the contract, it was obvious to the state it didn't need help to expand its building, he said.

"They bid on a contract. They secured that contract. Therefore they must be able to perform," Gillson said. "If you're announcing that you're doing the project, then you don't need us."

The state doesn't give grants to companies that can pay for an expansion or new equipment on their own, he said.

Starrantino wondered how the state would know whether the company needed the money. The company didn't disclose its finances in the half-hour talk with state officials it had Oct. 13, he said.

"It's a bad excuse," Starrantino said.

The company plans to go forward with the expansion, even without the state's help, Starrantino said.

The whole incident, however, leads him to believe the state is moving its focus away from helping manufacturers, he said. J.G.B. gets monthly phone calls from economic development officials in Georgia and Virginia encouraging the company to move to those states, he said.

The company doesn't want to move, Starrantino said.

"Do I want to be in New York? Yeah 110 percent. I love our community," said.