Life after Beech-Nut in Canajoharie
We were glad to see Montgomery County penalize the Beech-Nut company last month for failing to create the number of jobs promised as part of a deal that saw it move from its longtime home in Canajoharie to a new plant in the town of Florida in 2010. The company got more than $100 million in state and local incentives, and the village of Canajoharie, home to Beech-Nut for 116 years, got an empty factory. Now it appears the building will be reused, and that, too, is reason for gladness.
The former plant was sold last week by Beech-Nut to a development company that specializes in the rehabilitation of old industrial buildings. The plan is to tear down about 30 percent of it, renovate the rest and lease it to shipping (the building is right off the Thruway) and light manufacturing companies.
Just bringing life back to the familiar white hulk will be a morale booster for Canajoharie, which was hit hard by Beech-Nut’s departure.
But the keys, of course, are tax revenue and jobs. Beech-Nut has continued to pay regular property taxes on the unused building the last few years, so it’s a little concerning to hear county economic development officials raise the possibility of a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes deal.
Any such agreement should be for as short a term and for as much revenue as possible, be tied to job creation, and have a claw-back provision in case the developer leaves.
As for jobs, it is discouraging that much of the construction work will apparently be handled by an out-of-state firm. And it’s hard to know exactly how many permanent jobs will be created. That will depend on how the building is configured and how many tenants there will be.
But we like the idea of a multi-tenant building, since that means diversification in a village and region that knows what can happen to one-industry towns. It’s also nice to hear the developer say he has companies that are interested. “I wouldn’t buy a building if I didn’t have people lined up.”
May there be many occupants and much life in that building for many years to come.