WATERTOWN — Canadian manufacturer EZ STAK plans to relocate and bolster its Watertown operations with more tools and workers, and it is seeking state grant money to help.
David J. Zembiec, deputy chief executive officer of Jefferson County Economic Development, said the agency helped EZ STAK, Kingston, Ontario, apply for $1.24 million through the state Consolidated Funding Application program so it can buy and renovate the former Packaging Corp. of America facility on Old Rome Road in the town of Hounsfield. The state aid would also help the company, which makes modular interior storage systems for vehicles for utility companies and first responders, manufacture some components for its shelves, cabinets, lockers, chests and drawers.
Michael Lawrenson, president and CEO of EZ STAK, did not return a request for comment.
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council named the effort one of its 11 priority projects for state funding through the Consolidated Funding Program, meaning it aligns with important goals from the state and regional council. EZ STAK aligns with their push for workforce development because its $6.2 million project, which includes purchasing an automated sheet metal processor, air compressor, warehouse racking, upgraded powder coating machinery, is expected to create 15 jobs, according to the council’s 2019 progress report.
“What they’re adding is doing some of the manufacturing of pieces here in Watertown, as well as assembly,” Mr. Zembiec said. “We’re happy when a company is willing to grow,”
EZ Stak opened its Watertown plant in February 2018 on Fisher Road in the Jefferson County Corporate Park.
At the time, the company was only able to recruit a few workers to assemble its products, an issue that limited its desired functions for the plant. In the past couple years, however, the manufacturer was able to hire more employees, increasing its staff to 21 workers. Mr. Zembiec said relocating and purchasing new equipment will allow EZ STAK to further its growth.
“They’ve kind of grown more than we’d hope,” he said.
Jefferson County Economic Development also aided other entrepreneurs in applying for state money through the Consolidated Funding Program. Agency staff helped Watertown developer Michael E. Lundy apply for $500,000 for water, sewer, natural gas and three-phase electric infrastructure for his upcoming Thousand Islands International Agribusiness Park on Route 3.
They also helped MetalCraft Marine, Cape Vincent, apply for $23,900 to purchase a modern CNC Press Brake, which will allow the company to perform more aluminum boat building work in-house.
“Any business that has a project and would like to participate in the CFA process next year, we greatly encourage them to contact us,” said F. Marshall Weir, JCED marketing director. The agency can be reached at 315-782-5865.
The state typically announces funding awards through the REDC initiative Consolidated Funding Application program in December. They will award $750 million to public and private entities this year, according to a news release from the North Country regional council.