UTICA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It has taken a lot longer than a proverbial New York minute.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, a company called Valutek promised in 2011 to relocate to upstate New York from Arizona. The state even spent millions of dollars on ads bragging about luring the high-tech firm.
But five years later, Valutek still has not moved. CBS2’s Aiello was demanding answers Wednesday as to why.
In 2013, there was a splashy event celebrating Valutek’s pending move, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo was there. The following year came the flashy TV ads worth millions.
“Why is our Arizona based company relocating manufacturing to upstate New York?” Valutek chief executive officer Greg Heiland said in one of the ads. “I tell people it’s for the climate!”
Heiland was so keen on the business climate in New York state that he would say adios to Arizona, and relocate 25 employees and his corporate headquarters to upstate Utica in Oneida County.
“New York State is rapidly becoming the place to do business,” Heiland said in announcing the move.
But there has been nothing rapid about Valutek’s move to New York, with no sign of any move five years after the initial announcement.
“That’s an eternity in the business world,” said Ken Girardin of the Empire Center for Public Policy.
CBS2 asked Girardin to review the information about Valutek.
“It sounds like it was definitely premature,” Girardin said. “This would also be probably the first company in modern history that had trouble finding commercial space in the Utica area.”
The state promised Valutek space in a building at SUNY-Polytechnic, known as Quad C. The state even filed a legal document saying Quad C was “already home” to Valutek.
But then, the state decided to give Valutek’s space to GE and another big firm. SUNY-Poly spokesman Jerry Gretzinger said that was a “testament to the strengthening business climate in the region and across the state.”
Acres of commercial and industrial space can be found in Utica for as little as $4 per square foot.
But Valutek is waiting for space in a new state-owned building, now in the planning phase. That space will not open until at least 2018.
The Valutek deal is a handshake deal at this point. New York State admitted that it does not even have a contract with Valutek committing them to the move.
And even as the CEO says nice things about New York, Valutek remains firmly in Phoenix – tweeting about treating employees to “the best donuts in Arizona,” and taking some of them to opening day for the Arizona Diamondback.
Valutek does have five employees upstate, but most workers and the headquarters remain in Phoenix.
The company said it is not getting incentives or tax break to move to New York state, but just wants to take advantage of the business environment.