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Manufacturing company considering Starbuck Avenue business incubator

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WATERTOWN — A manufacturing company plans to relocate from a neighboring county and move into the Watertown Center for Business and Industry on Starbuck Avenue.

William J. Soluri, the industrial center’s site manager, said the company — a 22-year-old Canadian firm with a U.S. subsidiary since 2004 — is stable because it has government contracts at Fort Drum. He declined to release any more details, saying the firm wants more time to notify its employees about the potential move.

The WIC business incubator offers low-cost rent to its tenants with the idea that they will grow and then move out on their own.

The manufacturer employs three workers but intends to expand that number to about 10 over the next three years, Mr. Soluri said. The company needs to move from its current location to cut down on higher operating costs where it is now, he said.

The WIC’s Facilities Committee approved a one-year lease with the company for 7,000 square feet of space in Building C with the option for two more years. The lease is expected to go before the full board at a meeting later this month.

The manufacturer would be taking over space that previously was occupied by Current Applications Inc., which designs and makes prototype motors. New York Air Brake currently is using the space for storage.

According to the proposed lease, the company would pay a full base rent of $3.15 per square foot for half of the 7,000 square feet and $2 per square foot for the other half. If the company remains for the optional years, the lease would increase to $2.50 per square foot for the second year and to $3 in the third year. After that, it would pay full-market base rent, Mr. Soluri said.

Donald W. Rutherford, the WIC board’s chairman and CEO of the Watertown Local Development Corp., said the potential tenant would be a good addition to the small-business incubator.

“The fact that they will have 10 employees and it is manufacturing, I support the lease,” he said.

WIC board member J. Paul Morgan, who also serves on the Facilities Committee, suggested Mr. Soluri complete more of a background check on the company’s financial state before the full board votes on the lease.

The prospect of bringing a new tenant into the facility comes at a good time for the financially strapped WIC. It will help with increasing utility costs, Mr. Soluri said.

Last month, he said if that space was rented out, the WIC would end up making $40,000, which could be used to make improvements at the facility. Otherwise, WIC would break even if the space remained empty, he said.

The industrial center has 21 tenants totaling a workforce of 172 employees. The WIC recently started preparation work on a $475,000 project to expand administrative offices for the Jefferson County Local Development Corp. at the center. That project is slated to be completed next fall.

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