POTSDAM — A unanimous vote at Thursday night’s Town Planning Board meeting approved innovative motor maker LC Drives building a 120,000-square-foot factory at 6968 Route 56, potentially leading to 200 new jobs.
Planning board members voted 5-0 in favor of having the manufacturing company, which makes permanent magnet electric motors, move forward with building on the site. The site is being purchased from Richard Moose, Town Code Compliance Technician Michael Boysuk said.
“It will be just about the size of Walmart here in Potsdam. It’s a good size facility,” Mr. Boysuk said.
The site is at the back of a driveway, which will be turned into a roadway, across from Sissonville Road and will be out of site of the public, he said.
“The beauty of this whole concept is that they are going to beef up that road and they will go up the hill into the facility,” Mr. Boysuk said. “It’s basically going to be out of sight because if you look that way, headed toward Norwood, there’s a hill and you have a gigantic row of trees to the north, and the east and the south are all trees, so basically it’s going to be hidden in there. You’re not even going to know it’s there.”
He said the location was also ideal for the company due to the power and natural gas lines located there.
LC Drives Director of Strategic Operations Devon C. Sutton said groundbreaking on the new site is likely to begin spring of 2020, with the factory completed by December 2021.
The construction project is not yet funded, and the company is looking at feasibility and planning boards, with the next step being design and estimation to find out how much it is going to cost, what they want to build and where they want to build it.
“From there, the fundraising has to start,” she said.
They are currently in Clarkson University’s Shipley Center for Innovation in Damon Hall, where they have been since 2014, two years after the company was started by CEO Russel H. Marvin.
Both Mr. Marvin and Mrs. Sutton are Clarkson alumni.
She said the new facility will open up a variety of jobs including mechanical and electrical engineers, production jobs and office jobs; all things that she said come along with running a light manufacturing company.
“We design in house, have components made elsewhere, and then the components come back to us and we assemble our motors there,” she said. “The prime applications are marine propulsion, like cargo container ships; wind turbines; and other applications, like for industrial oil rigs ... So really motors, generators, they’re large scale industrial motors.”
To help those operations grow, she said they just received $15 million in Series A financing from Koch Engineered Solutions. That money will not go toward facility growth, she said.
“So now we are just experiencing this rapid growth, so a lot of scaling up, hiring, expanding facilities,” she said. “We went through the Shipley Center for Innovation and this is a program that Clarkson has where they help young companies learn how to grow and grow sustainably and then launch them into full commercialization,” Mrs. Sutton said.
There are currently 20 employees, which the company hopes to increase to 50 by the end of the year, she said.
The multitude of talent in the community, the building up of Potsdam and consistent support LC Drives has received from the surrounding area that Mrs. Sutton said are some of the reasons why the company continues to expand throughout the north country and specifically the town.
“There are so many people starting to really see Potsdam as a place to live, learn, work, you have the universities right there, you have the hospital right there,” she said. “The town is just gradually growing in an organic and sustainable fashion and the town, in particular, has been so forward thinking in how they’ve planned development.”
She said Mr. Boysuk, Town Supervisor Ann Carvill and Code Enforcement Officer James A. Plumley “have been phenomenal to work with.”
“They have been real partners in the growth,” she said. “And from our point of view, the region is just a great place to grow. We don’t buy into the narrative that you can’t do business in the north country, or New York. We think that this is a great place to do business.”