Low-cost power key to Harden growth


BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT CONNECTION -- At the podium, Harden Furniture President Greg Harden discusses his company's participation in the state's ReCharge New York low-cost power program on Friday at the Harden showroom in McConnellsville. Behind him, from left, are Kenneth Tompkins, regional director of Empire State Development; state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome; New York Power Authority President Gil C. Quiniones; Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, who also is vice chair of the Power Authority Board of Trustees; Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-117, Black River; and Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr.

POWER AUTHORITY PROGRAM OUTLINED -- Gil C. Quiniones, president of the New York Power Authority which administers the state's ReCharge New York low-cost power program, discusses the program's involvement with Harden Furniture company on Friday at Harden's showroom in McConnellsville. Behind him, from left, are state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome; and Harden Furniture President Greg Harden.

McCONNELLSVILLE -- Harden Furniture company has had "kind of a bumpy road" in recent years, but in 2014 is committed to growth in the business and finally has "an economy that lets us do that," says company President Greg Harden.

Harden is "very optimistic" about prospects for the 170-year-old manufacturer of fine furniture in its fifth generation of Harden family ownership, noting that growth in its business equates to more jobs. On Friday he joined state and local officials in detailing a low-cost power program that is a key part of the company's plans.

The success of the state's 2-year-old ReCharge New York initiative to help businesses and other enterprises lower their costs and spur development was saluted at the Harden site by New York Power Authority President Gil C. Quiniones plus several other speakers. Among them were state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome; Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-117, Black River; Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr.

The Harden company is a "prime example of how Mohawk Valley companies are saving money" under ReCharge New York and "reinvesting those funds in protecting jobs, and anchoring and growing their businesses," according to the Power Authority which administers the program.

The company is retaining 252 jobs, with the potential for 10 more as part of a planned project, said Quiniones. Harden had over 400 employees before being affected by a national economic slowdown in 2008. It plans to invest up to $4 million for capital improvements to its operations, said a state announcement. The Power Authority looks forward to working closely with Harden, remarked Quiniones, noting that electrical costs are a key part of the business equation for the company which has a "rich history and success story."

The company was awarded 1.38 megawatts of ReCharge New York power in support of current electrical needs and a possible expansion, said the state. The lower-cost power is "critical as we work our way through a tough economy," said Harden. He mentioned a prior state low-cost power program called Power for Jobs, and said the Power Authority has "never let us down." ReCharge New York offers a "fresh start in our relationship" with the state along with "stable rates for a long time," he added.

Griffo, whom Quiniones said was a co-sponsor of ReCharge New York legislation, explained that while the previous Power for Jobs was good, it was "not that predictable" for "what would be there" long-term. Such earlier programs provided shorter-term power allocations, while ReCharge New York upon its launching offered up to seven-year contracts in exchange for companies pledging to invest in creating and retaining local jobs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was not at the Harden event, said in a statement that the power allocation for the company is "helping to modernize a 170-year-old local business with hundreds of skilled jobs so it can stay where it started...." When he took office, he said, the message from the state's business leaders was to reform economic development programs, and getting ReCharge New York "up and running" was one of his priorities; he signed legislation in 2011 to launch the program. He added it was gratifying to see that businesses like Harden "have seen a tangible return on their participation..."

The program shows that "Albany is listening...helping companies...." said Blankenbush.

The program involves helping to create jobs, but is "also about retention" of jobs, said Picente. Energy costs are a "very large issue," he said, and the state program offers a "big boost" in helping Harden continue creating "the best furniture this nation knows," he commented.

Also speaking at the event were Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, vice chair of the Power Authority Board of Trustees, who said "we look forward to more partnerships like Harden;" and Kenneth Tompkins, regional director of Empire State Development, who called Harden "a true jewel" for the region's economy and said "I think the future is very bright for this business."

In Oneida County, 35 businesses receive low-cost ReCharge New York power, said Picente. Among them: Bartell Machinery Systems in Lee; International Wire Group of Camden and Rome; Kris-Tech Wire Co., Revere Copper Products and Rome Strip Steel, all of Rome; and Indium Corporation of America of Rome, Utica and Clinton.