SYRACUSE — The $90 million building New York State built for California light-bulb maker Soraa, only to have the company pull out, moved a step closer to usefulness Feb. 6.
The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) approved a 15-year, $3.1 million payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement with a different California firm to take over the empty space in DeWitt.
Following a brief phone discussion with Dinesh Ramanathan, president and CEO of NexGen Power Systems, the OCIDA board approved the PILOT for his company. But the vote didn’t come until after a discussion of what measures were in place to ensure the project went through.
Responding to questions from OCIDA board member Kevin Ryan, Ramanathan said there was wording in the agreement requiring the company to reach certain job-creation numbers. “There are clawbacks and other terms that essentially make sure what happened with Soraa doesn’t happen with us,” Ramanathan told the board. A clawback is the recovery of money already disbursed.
“We have clawbacks on everything,” OCIDA Executive Director Julie Cerio added.
The space NexGen is looking to occupy is an 82,000-square-foot building at 50 Collamer Crossing Parkway in DeWitt originally built, with state taxpayer money, to host Soraa, a maker of LED lighting. That company eventually walked away from the project.
In its application, NexGen said the high-tech company expects to create 290 jobs in the next seven years. The application said those jobs will pay annual salaries between $51,000 for fabrication technicians and $155,000 for those working in research and development.
OCIDA also approved a sales-tax exemption on materials the firm buys to improve the facility, saving NexGen up to $40,000.
NexGen holds multiple patents and creates gallium-nitride semiconductor devices. The company says its products allow for the building of smaller and more efficient power converters. Such converters are part of most electronics, creating a market NexGen said tops $3 billion and is expected to grow larger than $9 billion.
During the phone call, Ramanathan said Empire State Development had approved a $15 million grant for NexGen’s project.