AUBURN | Nestled behind a plaza on Genesee Street and a small doctor's office on Columbus Street, Currier Plastics, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, is expanding its business operations.
The company launched a $21 million expansion project last October that will add 55,000 square feet and renovate the company's existing facility. The new building is expected to be done in the spring or summer, according to the company.
Selected as a priority project by the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council in 2011, the project received $1.75 million in state funds. Currier Plastics will invest more than $20 million in the project.
John Currier, president, explained why the company elected to remain in Auburn, rather than expand elsewhere. He said investing in a new building is a big decision that's hard to turn back from, once construction is started.
"It's easy for us to buy equipment. It's easier to justify than bricks and mortar," he said. "Once you build a building, it's yours."
After listening to pitches from economic development departments in other states, evaluating several new locations for expansion and hiring a firm to analyze logistics for those other locations, Currier decided to stay here.
"We decided unless there is a very clear economic advantage (to expanding elsewhere), we'd like to do it here," Currier said.
Currier praised the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council for its help in navigating the state's economic development landscape.
"With this Regional Economic Development Council concept, it was one-stop shopping," he said. "Being able to contact just one entity was helpful."
After acquiring some properties adjacent to the existing building, Currier broke ground and is now 60 to 70 percent done with the expansion, Currier said. Equipment will be moved into new manufacturing area sometime next month. The existing building is being torn up and renovated so that the entrance will be situated in the new courtyard.
In the new building, there will be a large manufacturing floor, offices, a cafeteria, a quality assurance lab, a new maintenance shop and warehouse space.
"It basically doubles our manufacturing footprint," Currier said. "We'll buy equipment as we need it to fill the new building."
Currier said the updates to conference rooms and the new landscaping planned for the grounds will make the facility attractive to visitors.
"We constantly have customers coming in from out of town," he said. "You don't need the Taj Mahal, but you need to look nice. The standards of a manufacturing facility have changed over the last 20 years. No more smokestacks."
Currier Plastics now employs 100 and is anticipating adding 50 jobs over the next three years due to the expansion.
"We've probably filled five of them so far," Currier said.
Besides adding jobs, Currier said the impact of the expansion will be felt locally in the existing economy.
"We constantly have people in from out of town," he said. "Certainly the hotels and restaurants feel that impact."
Currier Plastics also hires from outside the area, bringing in plastics engineers and their families who relocate to the area and infuse the economy, Currier said.
Currier Plastics buys locally for supplies whenever it can, he added. Johnston Paper and Mier Tool are two companies that supply Currier Plastics.
"Manufacturing has one of the highest dollar return rates of any marketing segment," Currier said.