(WBNG Binghamton) Tuesday, New York Senator Charles E. Schumer called on Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation to immediately settle its obligations – on fair terms – with the Chemung County government and its Industrial Development Agency regarding the facilities it occupies.
According to a news release from Schumer's office:
Returning full control of the facilities to locals will ensure that they can act swiftly to promote future use of the sites, specifically attracting new job-creating operations. Schumer noted this effort would also maximize eligibility for potential federal and other assistance.
According to Sikorsky’s sudden announcement in late September, the site located adjacent to the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport facility, which is owned by the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) will be left empty by the first of the year. The 97,000 square foot facility at the airport is valued at $15 million. Additionally, $13 million in renovations were completed recently to the former Wings of Eagles Discovery Center, converting it into an additional 120,000 square foot facility for Sikorsky's operations.
Senator Schumer immediately called Sikorsky President Mick Maurer upon hearing of the lay-off notices, and urged that the company reverse course and preserve jobs in Chemung County. Sikorsky refused. At the County’s request, Schumer is now urging Sikorsky to negotiate with the County in good faith, and in a manner that satisfies their obligations to the community and workers, to secure a prompt settlement that puts the County in the best position to market and attract new opportunities for the site. Specifically, Schumer suggested a settlement that enables full control of the facilities to return to locals hands ASAP, and ensuring, at a minimum, they suffer no financial harm as a result. Schumer noted that Chemung County might not be eligible for Economic Adjustment Assistance for the U.S. Commerce Department until an agreement for control of the facilities is reached.
“Sikorsky’s rash decision to cut 570 jobs in Chemung County was a slap in the face and showed a total disregard to both the dedicated workers and the community that welcomed Sikorsky to the region with open arms. Now, with no sign of a reversal of this unwarranted decision, the very least that Sikorsky can do is ensure that its old building doesn’t turn into an economic black hole,” said Schumer. “I’ve called the Sikorsky President Mick Maurer, and personally urged that the company work hand-in-glove with Chemung County and the IDA to settle quickly and fairly with the locals so they can, in turn, attract new job-creating operations to this site. Sikorsky must come to a favorable agreement with Chemung County to ensure that the County is in the best position to attract new potential owners to this new facility, so that the site can remain a positive force in Big Flats.”
“Chemung County entered into this in good faith. It was a big company to have in the area,” said Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli. “The County is hoping to be made whole for the commitment that the community made to this project including taxes, and hopefully finding a new tenant to provide jobs which we have lost.”
In his letter to Sikorsky Aircraft Corps. President Mick Maurer, Schumer highlighted that Sikorsky still owes approximately $25 million on the mortgage for the buildings, of which the taxpayers of Chemung County have contributed approximately $7.2 million as equity. Schumer highlighted that given the massive devastation of Sikorsky’s layoffs and departure from Chemung County, at the very least must work as proactively and cooperatively as possible to manage the future of Sikorsky’s three sites. Schumer suggested that Sikorsky should immediately pay off the remaining $25 million mortgage in one lump sum, rather than mothballing the facility with month-to-month payments, allowing the County to retain ownership of the facilities in which Chemung County taxpayers have invested. Regardless of the specific plan, Schumer urged that the negotiations between Sikorsky and the County and IDA must leave locals in the best position to move forward and market the site to new owners.
In light of Sikorsky’s infuriating decision, announced September 25th, to cut about 575 employees in Chemung County, Schumer immediately called Sikorsky President Mick Maurer. Unfortunately, while Schumer urged him to reverse course, the decision was clearly non-negotiable. Therefore, in his letter, he stated that Sikorsky simply must assist the County on developing a plan to find new tenants for the space, to help bring jobs back to Chemung County.
Schumer continued, “Sikorsky’s rash decision was devastating, and I have called the President of Sikorsky, not only to express my great displeasure, but to tell them that they have an obligation to help the workers and Chemung County in every way possible.”