NEWARK — A company that almost ended up in the industrial graveyard is set to begin a new phase of growth.
IEC Electronics broke ground Thursday, under sunny skies, on its new 150,000-square-foot corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility at Silver Hill Technology Park. The company plans to create up to 362 new jobs.
The total cost of the project is about $22 million, and IEC is on track to begin operations at the facility in early 2020.
Jeffrey Schlarbaum, IEC’s president and CEO, said the job-creation effort already has started, with 230 new employees added over the past 12 months — and 175 of those are in Newark.
In total, IEC has about 800 employees today. Contrast that to its slide in the 1990s, when its consumer electronics business vanished. A company that was employing thousands in not only Newark, but around the world, with sales of about $300 million, was suddenly down to 100 workers and sales of about $20 million, Schlarbaum noted.
With the consumer electronics business heading off to places like China, Schlarbaum said IEC needed to “create a business model we knew could sustain in the marketplace.” That model is manufacturing precision-built products for industries ranging from aerospace to medical products.
“Our business model has stimulated a lot of interest from customers which are largely Fortune 500 companies that are global in nature,” he said, “but they choose us for their mission-critical products.”
And, everything IEC builds is done in the United States, he noted.
Schlarbaum said that with business expanding, a new facility was needed, and they “looked far and wide” for the best place to do that. Ultimately, he said, it was Newark that won out.
He added that reinvesting in the “foundation we have built was the right thing for the company. We are proud to still be a growing part of this community and see a bright future ahead.”
IEC is getting some significant funding toward the expansion.
Empire State Development is providing up to $2 million through a Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative Grant and up to $3 million through the Excelsior Jobs Program in exchange for IEC’s job-creation commitments. Additionally, Rochester Gas & Electric and New York State Electric and Gas offered up to $670,000 in assistance. And, Wayne County is providing incentives for the project that include a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.
Site work is underway at the industrial park where Ultralife, Eldercare and Finger Lakes Community College already have significant operations.
Newark Mayor Jonathan Taylor said it was a “pretty big day in the village of Newark.” He said village government has worked over the years to “make Newark a community that is shovel-ready” for both residential and business development.
“All those years of planning have led to this point,” he said, adding that “ribbon-cuttings and groundbreakings never get old, and we’ve had a lot of them lately.”
Congressman John Katko also attended. Katko, R-24 of Camillus — his district includes Wayne County — said the IEC expansion is some of the biggest economic-development news in Wayne County in years, and he credited tax cuts and regulatory changes at the federal level with encouraging business investment.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said in a press release that “the decision by IEC Electronics to grow in Wayne County, instead of innovating elsewhere, reflects both the region’s strengths and New York State’s strategic commitment to fostering a business-friendly environment that leads to job creation and retention.”
Wayne County Economic Development Director Brian Pincelli, who was there Thursday, said in a statement through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office that “we couldn’t be more proud of IEC Electronics and their commitment to Wayne County and the village of Newark. IEC Electronics is a major employer in the county and their commitment to stay and grow in our community is a big win for our economy.”
The region’s state legislators could not attend, but issued statements through Cuomo’s office:
• State Sen. Pam Helming, R-54 of Canandaigua, said the “construction of a new, state-of-the-art facility sends a strong message that manufacturers can succeed in our region.”
• Assemblyman Brian Manktelow, R-130 of Lyons, said the “new building is being designed from the ground up, making it extremely efficient and ready for future expansion and added employment in this advanced technology industry. I commend IEC for its commitment to Newark that has endured for nearly 50 years.”