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LI council endorses projects for $15.5M in NY aid

Of the expected 950 jobs to be created

Of the expected 950 jobs to be created over the next few years by 20 area businesses, 250 jobs would be at Whitsons Culinary Group, which is looking to move out of its Islandia> headquarters and expand on Long Island. (Aug. 2, 2011) Credit: Steve Pfost

More than 950 jobs would be created over the next few years by 20 area businesses that are seeking state help for expansion projects.

The companies include Hampton Jitney, Quality King Distributors, Wenner Bread and Applied DNA Sciences. Together, they employ 3,121 people locally, officials said.

The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council has recommended the state provide $15.5 million in tax credits and grants to help the companies grow. The total cost of the projects is $208 million, including the requested aid from Albany.

The council's endorsement is important but doesn't guarantee a project will receive support.

Of the promised hiring, 26 percent, or 250 jobs, would be at Whitsons Culinary Group.

The operator of cafeterias at schools, nursing homes and businesses needs more space to accommodate its prepared-meals line, said Holly Von Seggern, marketing vice president.

"We're in a growth mode; we've outgrown our space," she said, referring to a 55,000-square-foot office and plant at 1800 Motor Pkwy. in Islandia. "We're looking for 100,000 to 150,000 square feet in either Nassau or Suffolk counties."

Whitsons would purchase and renovate its new home at a cost of $22 million. The development council has suggested the company be given $3.6 million in aid in return for the hiring pledge and preserving 300 jobs.

Von Seggern said Whitsons is seeing more demand for its prepared meals by schools, senior centers and long-term care facilities. The 33-year-old company operates in six Northeastern states, with a payroll of 2,800 to 3,000.

A year ago, Whitsons paid $1.6 million to settle allegations from the New York State attorney general that it overcharged schools for lunches, including 13 on Long Island.

Whitsons would create the most jobs and receive the most help of the 20 companies mentioned in the 222-page jobs plan from the council.

The biggest project in dollar terms involves Kedrion Group, a manufacturer of blood products used in the treatment of hemophilia and serious injuries. The Italian company hopes to spend $85 million on improvements to 155 Duryea Rd. in Melville, a factory purchased from Grifols, also a producer of blood products.

Kedrion could receive $3.3 million from the state in return for preserving 150 Grifols jobs and adding 80. Kedrion has secured tax breaks from SuffolkCounty.

One of the most well-known applicants is Perfumania Holdings Inc., a producer and seller of fragrances.

The public company wants to add another floor to its warehouse and more offices in Bellport after an acquisition in April. The $4.5-million expansion could receive $2.2 million in aid for maintaining 305 jobs and creating 160 more.

"We're going to need more warehouse space because we're bringing more licensed brands onboard," said Chief Financial Officer Donna Dellomo. She said the company provides fragrances to major retailers, along with operating its own stores and website. "We ship to Walmart, J.C. Penney, Kohl's and many others."

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