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Firms seeking state aid say they would create 1,100 jobs

C&S Wholesale Grocers, which supplies markets like Stop

C&S Wholesale Grocers, which supplies markets like Stop & Shop wants to build an automated warehouse in Suffolk. Above, Stephen McEnery restocks Stop & Shop shelves this past year in Deer Park. Credit: Linda Rosier, 2012

More than 1,100 jobs would be created locally over the next few years by 17 companies seeking state aid for expansion projects.

The businesses include AL Energy Solutions LED, Chembio Diagnostic Systems and Lanco. Together, they employ 1,682 people in Nassau and Suffolk counties, officials said.

Last week, the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council recommended the state provide $16.7 million in state tax credits to help the companies grow. The total cost of the building projects is $220.4 million, including the aid being sought from Albany.

The council's endorsement is the first step toward receiving help from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration. Projects are judged on a 100-point scale with the local council awarding up to 20 points and state officials deciding the other 80.

Tax credits are awarded in a statewide competition, with Long Island eligible to win up to $10 million. The winning projects will be announced in the fall.

Of the promised hiring, 35 percent, or 400 jobs, would be at C&S Wholesale Grocers.

The supplier of food, produce and other items to supermarkets and Target stores wants to build a 500,000- square-foot automated warehouse somewhere in Suffolk County, according to a spokesman for Empire State Development. He said 300 warehouse workers and 100 truck drivers would be hired.

C&S' local customers include grocers Waldbaum's, Stop & Shop and Pathmark.

The $130-million proposed facility would mark C&S' return to Long Island.

Five years ago, the Keene, N.H.-based company closed its 526,000-square-foot warehouse in Central Islip, saying it would continue to supply area stores from distribution centers in Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

About 400 employees were laid off, and the union representing some of them charged C&S was shifting work to nonunion warehouses.

A C&S official did not respond to requests for comment last week.

The C&S project, which seeks $3.6 million in state aid, is the biggest in dollar terms and projected job creation.

No. 2 in dollar terms in U.S. Nonwovens Corp., a manufacturer of cleaning supplies, based in Brentwood. Company executives said they were mulling whether to expand in Commack or in another state, such as Pennsylvania or South Carolina.

The local development council endorsed $2 million from New York State for a $16.65-million factory at 360 Moreland Rd. in Commack. The 180,192-square-foot plant would be U.S. Nonwovens' sixth location in Suffolk.

In return for state tax credits, the company would add 120 people to its payroll of 546. Its electric bills have already been reduced by the state Power Authority, and no property taxes are owed on three company buildings for another few years under the state's Empire Zones Program.-

In June, the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency offered nearly $2 million in tax breaks to U.S. Nonwovens if it expands here.

"We've toyed with real estate costs elsewhere," said chief executive Shervin Zade, adding the company must lower its expenses to remain competitive. "We've lost business because we couldn't reduce costs."

Zade said the family-owned company would save by consolidating in Commack operations that are located in rented spaces in a number of states. He said, "We can become more effective through consolidation."

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