WL Plastics Corp. canceled plans to build a $16 million polyethylene pipe production facility in Fort Edward, N.Y., saying a strategy to expand to the region is no longer economically viable.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based company had planned to open its ninth manufacturing plant in mid-2020 and create 50 new jobs in the town of 10,200 people on the Hudson River.
However, demand for the company's half- to 54-inch water, sewer, mining and industrial pipe dropped and so were plans to grow in the East.
WL officials notified Washington County officials in a letter dated July 8. The letter, which was later given to Plastics News, says the decision wasn't made lightly considering the time and capital WL had committed to the development and the loss to the community in terms of jobs, redevelopment and tax revenue.
"Given the events of recent months, and in particular, the significant impact of COVID-19 on demand for our products, we have made the difficult decision to terminate the project. We have completed a deep analysis of the situation and have come to the conclusion that the project is no longer economically viable," WL Plastics CEO Mark Wason wrote in the letter.
Wason co-founded the company with Steve Burns in 2000 to serve the Rocky Mountain region and three years later expanded to Cedar City, Utah. The company continued to grow through construction and acquisition in Elizabethtown, Ky.; Bowie, Lubbock and Snyder, Texas; Rapid City, S.D.; Statesboro, Ga.; and Mills, Wy.
With an estimated $420 million in annual sales, WL Plastics is the 12th-largest pipe, profile and tubing extruder in North America, according to Plastics News' latest ranking.
In Fort Edward, the company was going to purchase 25 acres of land and two warehouses once used by General Electric to dredge a 40-mile section of the upper Hudson River to remove PCBs, according to poststar.com.
The purchase price of the land was expected to exceed $685,000, according to another local media outlet, Albany Business Review, which also says the property is owned by the nonprofit Fort Edward Local Property Development Corp.
Local officials were surprised that WL Plastics halted the project and disappointed about the loss of 50 jobs paying $35,000 to $125,000 a year and potential tax revenue, especially for the cash-strapped Fort Edward Union Free School District.
"It's a big loss," Dave O'Brien, chairman of the Warren-Washington Industrial Development Agency, told poststar.com.
O'Brien said WL reevaluated the costs of the project, factored in a substantial falloff in oil and gas pipe sales and made a painful decision.
"They are looking at what they have to do to make the company survive. This was a decision that came over the past week," O'Brien told poststar.com.
He also said the Fort Edward facility would have helped WL Plastics diversify its product line, but added, "They can't invest money to expand."
WL officials declined to comment beyond the termination letter.