Herkimer County Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono says many people here in Central New York have been on edge since rumors started flying this past weekend that a press conference planned for Monday in Huntsville, Alabama involved Remington Arms expanding there. Bono says he himself is one of those that have been on edge, "On pins and needles the last few days, you know reports conflict, you have to try and disseminate what's real and what isn't."
Monday afternoon, those rumors became reality, as Alabama's Governor made the announcement with Remington's President that Remington will indeed open a new facility in Huntsville, bringing with it, 2,000 new jobs.
Bono says Central New York was one of 24 regions across the country that made a pitch to Remington to be the home of that new plant, "I know I heard a representative from Alabama say, 'This is Remington Country', but they're going to have to get a new slogan, because THIS is Remington Country, always has been, always will be."
Bono says he called New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Tuesday morning to talk about the Remington situation. He says the Governor called him back within ten minutes and they then had a conference call along with Herkimer County Administrator, Jim Wallace.
Bono says the Governor was involved in the talks regarding Remington's expansion, which ultimately culminated in their choice of Huntsville, "The Governor was notified, and he did offer all the good stuff, you know, the tax breaks and no taxes and cash incentives, so that was all out there. So it's a business decision by Remington and we'll have to deal with that, but I;m just happy that they're going to have a presence here. You know, in two years, they're going to celebrate 200 years, I would hate to have them celebrate that anywhere else, but Herkimer County."
Bono says besides Remington's expansion in Alabama, he believes Remington wants to build a new facility here in our area to replace it's old plant in Ilion, and a possible location for that new plant would be the Frankfort 5-S South Business Park, also known as the Pumpkin Patch. Bono says he addressed this potential new development with the Governor, "And I said, can I count on your support, and can the residents of this county. And he said absolutely, you know, whatever they need, and we talked a little bit about packages that we can put together possibly for Remington. You know, it's a little premature to talk about those now "
The Pumpkin Patch is also a place where Bono and other county leaders are proposing building a manufacturing job training center, "It would train on the basic necessities that would be needed by Remington, the skilled labor, the machining, the math, the engineering, programming, things like that, quality assurance. Things that Remington would need specficially. It would be catered to Herkimer County Community College and they would build a curriculum, and then have either a certificate program or a two year program and that would entice not just Remington but any other business that is long for that machine, manufacturing-oriented type job and find it very difficult to find candidates, so this would be a great, great accomplishment if we could tie that in."
Bono says Governor Cuomo is also onboard with the training center idea and says the Governor is willing to help find some state funding to help make the training center a reality sooner than later.
Bono believes such an investment could help keep Remington here, and help them to definitely decide to build a new facility here, and more importantly, keep the jobs that are here, here, rather than having them up and move them to Alabama or somewhere else.
Bono says he and other county leaders are expected to meet with Remington officials sometime later this week to talk about the company's future here in our area, and he will bring up the idea of the manufacturing job training center.
Bono also added on Tuesday that the Governor brought up the New York SAFE Act, and said that he doesn't believe the state's new gun laws had any effect on Remington's decision to expand in Alabama, rather than here. Bono told news Channel 2, he believes otherwise, "I think it did, but that's besides the point. Now I have to deal with what's left here. I know Alabama's happy,. but I would have hoped that those expansions happened right here."
Neither Remington officials, nor union leaders that represent Remington workers here in Central New York have returned our calls for comment.