Supervisors OK Guilford sale; jobs to follow


By Jim Poole

Vacant for more than a decade, the old Guilford Mills plant may boom with 900 jobs within five years.
Schoharie County supervisors on Friday unanimously approved a purchase agreement to sell the plant to Green Recycling Solutions International, a New Jersey company.
"This is great. This is an incredible opportunity for the people of Schoharie County," said county Treasurer Bill Cherry, who negotiated the deal with GRSI.
GRSI is an umbrella company with four subsidiaries making products from software to machines to break down tires. (See related story.)
The sale of the county-owned building is for $2.5 million. GRSI will pay $5,000 at the closing, probably within 30 days.
The company will pay amounts ranging from $60,000 to $81,000 over the next five years. The total would be $356,000.
At that point, GRSI would pay the remaining $2.1 million but would receive steep discounts for jobs created.
For every 50 jobs created, $150,000 comes off the $2.1 million. So if GRSI creates 50 jobs, the final payment is $1,993,000 million; if there are 100 jobs, the balance is $1,843,000 million, and so on.
If there are 725 jobs at the end of five years--GRSI projects there will be 932--GRSI will owe nothing for the final payment.
"Permanent job creation is far more important to Schoharie County than the check they would write to us at the end," Mr. Cherry said.
Assemblyman Pete Lopez, who helped with the negotiations, agreed. He called the sale "a game-changer" because of not only the jobs but getting the building back on the tax roll.
GRSI feels the same way.
"We at GRSI are extremely excited and motivated to transform the Guilford Mills property into a flourishing and dynamic business hub for Schoharie County," Barbara Acuff, the company's chief financial officer, said in an email.
Employment won't start immediately because the 465,000-square-foot plant needs work. According to the purchase agreement, GRSI must start work within 45 days of the closing.
GRSI will also pay the estimated $4.5 million for renovations. Guilford needs heating, air conditioning and electric among many other improvements.
And if GRSI defaults on the sale, the building and improvements revert back to the county.
GRSI's $5,000 down payment is low, Mr. Cherry said, "because the $4.5 million in infrastructure improvement is a significant investment.
"If they're paying $4.5 million, they can't afford a big up-front payment to us."
Details haven't been worked out, but GRSI will likely make payments in lieu of taxes--a PILOT--rather than pay the full tax load, Mr. Cherry said.
"That's normal for any large job creation project," he said.
The key to the sale was including part of Guilford in START-UP New York, which grants tax-free status. Only about one-quarter of the plant will qualify for START-UP; the rest of the factory is subject to taxes.
The tax-free program is linked to SUNY campuses, and GRSI expects to offer opportunities to SUNY Cobleskill students.
Mr. Cherry praised SUNY Cobleskill and the college's Jason Evans for their part in getting the deal done.
He also pointed to Assemblyman Lopez, Senator Jim Seward and county supervisors for their help.
"I'm proud of the Board of Supervisors, SUNY Cobleskill, Pete Lopez, Jim Seward. . .this was one of those cases where it really took all of us," Mr. Cherry said.
"There's no downside to this."
He said county Attorney Mike West and GRSI attorney Frank Catania will work out details of the sale.
Mr. Cherry expected the closing to come before the supervisors' October 17 meeting.