Malta distribution firm seeks to expand
Owner, an IDA member, asks for tax breaks
MALTA A videogame distribution company owned by one of the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency board members is asking for tax breaks from the agency for a new building at the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park.
Fillpoint has outgrown its current 30,000-square-foot building on Knabner Road in Malta and is looking to occupy most of a new 90,000-square-foot building to be built at STEP by Jersen Construction of Waterford.
Jersen, on Fillpoint’s behalf, is seeking a five-year property tax exemption and other tax incentives worth an estimated $686,000.
The managing partner in the 10-year-old company is Glenn Rockwood, who has served on the IDA board since 2009. He is also chairman of the Malta Planning Board and the town’s deputy supervisor.
Rockwood has recused himself from the agency’s discussion of his application, and he left the room while it was being discussed at an agency meeting Monday in Ballston Spa.
“Other than knowing how the process works, I don’t think I have an unfair advantage,” Rockwood said afterward. “I think this is a project that would clearly qualify for IDA benefits.”
He said he hadn’t spoken to any other IDA board members about the application.
The IDA is authorized to offer tax breaks as an incentive for companies to locate in or expand in Saratoga County.
Fillpoint currently has 43 full-time employees. In its application it said that will increase to 75 employees within three years if the move goes forward.
The company also hires about 300 seasonal employees to help it meet business volume that typically peaks around the Christmas holidays.
Fillpoint fills Internet orders for videogames and accessories placed through the websites of large retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy.
In 2009, Fillpoint bought SVG/Crave of Santa Ana, Calif., acquiring offices in California and a large warehouse in Indiana.
Rockwood said company growth is part of an evolution within Internet-based distribution. “The industry is getting bigger, and the number of players is getting smaller,” he said.
If the project is approved, Rockwood said the warehousing is likely to be consolidated in Indiana where lease rates are much lower, but light assembly and corporate office jobs will be consolidated in Malta. The current local payroll is about $4 million, and would grow.
“We’ve built the business here and we’ve grown the business here,” he said.
In a letter accompanying the application, Rockwood said the IDA tax breaks are integral to keeping the company from expanding elsewhere.
“The bottom line is we would like to stay and be comfortable in our decision,” Rockwood wrote in a letter that was also signed by most of the other local employees. “The benefits provided by the IDA will have a significant impact on the decision.”
The company hopes to move its warehousing to the new site by mid-October.
Fillpoint has a five-year IDA tax exemption on its current building, which opened in 2006. IDA board members said if Fillpoint is to get a new five-year tax break, it will have to pay the back taxes it would have owed on its current building, totaling about $200,000.
Rockwood indicated he would agree to that. “If we’re going to get the [new] benefit, we’re going to have to,” he said.
The current building would be returned to the tax roll, either sold or leased, Rockwood said.
The state Energy Research and Development Authority is in the process of approving the use at the STEP park, which is primarily targeted to energy research companies. The building would be built on Hermes Road, just east of Hudson Valley Community College’s TEC-SMART building.
“Right now the facility has been approved by the NYSERDA Board of Directors’ Program Planning Committee. However, it does not yet have full board approval. That vote is expected next week,” said NYSERDA spokesman Alan Wechsler.
The IDA will hold a public hearing on the application at 8 a.m. on May 9 at the Malta Town Hall. It could act at a meeting immediately afterward.