Energy firm’s project clears hurdle

The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency approved a land development agreement with DigiCollect LLC, a New York City software company. Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The biggest economic development project in Jefferson County’s history cleared a hurdle on Thursday.

The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency approved a Land Development Agreement with DigiCollect LLC, a New York City software company that has proposed building a 50,000-square-foot facility in a business park, near the Watertown International Airport on Route 12F in the town of Hounsfield.

The agreement would give DigiCollect an exclusive option for one year for 12.5 acres at the property in the business park that the JCIDA owns. The agreement also calls for a six-month extension.

“This is the page where to start,” said David J. Zembiec, chief executive officer of Jefferson County Economic Development.

The software company plans to manufacture sensors for monitoring residential grids and transmission and distribution lines. The $30 million plant would create 400 jobs over three years.

The JCIDA would transform the property to the company once it goes through site plan review and other permitting, Mr. Zembiec said.

DigiCollect is the sister company of Convalt Energy, a renewable energy company that plans to manufacture solar panels in a 315,000-square-foot plant at the airport business park.

Hari Achuthan is DigiCollect’s chairman, while he serves as the president for Convalt.

That $63.1 million manufacturing plant would employ 290 workers. The project can create 4,555 jobs in 10 years, according to the company.

Mr. Achutan is still working with investors for the project.

He’s also still arranging to relocate some equipment from Oregon that he purchased from another energy renewable company, SunPower Corporation, Mr. Zembiec said.

According to the company’s tax abatement application, DigiCollect needs a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, program to compete with energy companies in China that have lower labor costs.

The project would be financed through $21 million in bank loans, $9 million, and state Excelsior tax credits and investment tax credits, according to the paperwork submitted to the JCIDA.

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