First step completed in proposed Hounsfield solar plant

·2 min read

Nov. 23—WATERTOWN — The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency has a signed Land Development Agreement with Convalt Energy and DigiCollect, two New York City companies that could deliver one of the largest economic development projects in the county's history.

Convalt, a renewable energy company, plans to construct a 300,000-square-foot plant to manufacture solar panels, and DigiCollect LLC, a software company has proposed building a 50,000-square-foot facility, in a planned business park on IDA-owned property near the Watertown International Airport on Route 12F in the town of Hounsfield.

David J. Zembiec, CEO of Jefferson County Economic Development, the IDA's sister organization, said the two companies and the economic development agency have "executed" the land agreement for the IDA-owned property.

"We are excited to work with Convalt and DigiCollect on this exciting project. The LDA is a critical first step to getting the buildings built and people employed," he said in a statement.

The JCIDA would transfer the property to the two companies once they go through site plan review as well as other permitting and after the two companies obtain permanent financing to begin construction, Mr. Zembiec said.

The site plan for the project should start "soon," he said.

Construction would begin in early spring and be substantially completed by late fall.

The JCIDA still must approve a financial package and a tax abatement package for the two companies.

"This is sort of a start," he said about the land development agreement.

Last fall, the JCIDA board approved the agreement, but, by both parties signing it, the agreement is now official, he said

Hari Achuthan, CEO of ACO Investments, the parent company of both Convalt Energy and DigiCollect, credited Mr. Zembiec and the JCIDA for their "great work" on the project.

"We had opportunities to locate these projects in other states," he said. "But upon visiting the available sites in Jefferson County and the importance of USA Made in New York as a global brand, trying to get these manufacturing and engineering facilities up and running here really made the most sense.

"We are pushing hard to make this project a reality."

Convalt Energy expects to build a plant that will construct solar panels for distribution worldwide and employ potentially thousands of people.

DigiCollect will make sensors for the energy industry as well as a suite of software solutions. There will also be a data center attached to the DigiCollect facility, according to the JCIDA.

The $30 million plant would create 400 jobs over three years, according to figures released last fall.

The $63.1 million solar manufacturing plant would employ 290 workers. The project could create 4,555 jobs in 10 years.

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