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Aerospace firm CPI Aero will remain on LI, add 85 jobs in return for NYS aid

CPI Aero announced an $8.7 million order from

CPI Aero announced an $8.7 million order from the U.S. Air Force for parts for the T-38 supersonic jet trainer. Here, Kleber Castro, structural engineer, works on a leading edge for a wing of a Gulfstream G650 aircraft in 2014. Credit: Heather Walsh

Defense contractor CPI Aerostructures Inc. has committed to staying in Suffolk County despite entreaties from other states and will add 85 jobs to its payroll of about 300 people, state officials said Thursday.

The hiring and nearly $6 million in improvements to the public company’s Edgewood factory are being supported by $3.75 million from Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency.

CPI Aero makes structures for the A-10 "Warthog" ground-support aircraft and the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early-warning aircraft, among others. On Tuesday, it announced an $8.7 million order from the U.S. Air Force for parts for the T-38 supersonic jet trainer.

ESD CEO Eric Gertler said Thursday that CPI Aero has been based in Suffolk for more than 40 years and its "decision to expand its manufacturing facility in [the county]…is a vote of confidence in New York State. By doing so, the company will continue to contribute to Long Island’s historic role in aerospace," he said.  

Douglas McCrosson, CEO of CPI Aero, said it faces competition from rivals in regions with lower costs.

"As we explored potential alternatives to New York, it became clear that other states could potentially offer operating cost savings, but they couldn’t replicate what has been the secret to our success — our talented workforce and a labor pool with the aerospace and defense manufacturing skills that will be needed to support our growth plans," he said.

CPI Aero has pledged to keep its employment promise for 10 years in return for the state aid, according to an ESD spokeswoman. The aid consists of a $1 million grant and $2.7 million in payroll tax credits over five years as the jobs are created.

The company has extended the lease on its factory at 91 Heartland Blvd. to 2023 but could then move to a new building adjacent to Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, state officials said.

"I am personally aware of efforts by other states to lure them out of New York," said Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association business group, referring to CPI Aero whose CEO serves on the LIA board.

"CPI Aero’s commitment to our region demonstrates that manufacturing companies remain an important part of the overall economy and are worthy of support from our federal, state and local governments," said Law, who is co-vice chairman of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, which recommends projects for state funding.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter both agreed. Citing the coronavirus-induced recession, Bellone said CPI Aero’s decision to stay in the county and expand is encouraging because of the "much needed job growth."

Carpenter said, "We are always happy to see a business make an investment and keep these jobs here in the region."

Besides the state grant and tax credits announced on Thursday, the company already receives 130 kilowatts of low-cost electricity from the state Power Authority in return for retaining 228 jobs, according to a 2014 agreement. The authority "has no additional power supply agreement with CPI Aero for its current expansion project," spokesman Paul DeMichele said.

The company reported a loss of $4.5 million in 2019 on sales of $87.5 million, according to the most recent available data.

Thursday’s announcement came in the middle of trading on Wall Street, where CPI Aero shares closed up 11 cents, or 2%, to $4.95 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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