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Suffolk IDA to plastics company: Stay on LI

API (Autronic Plastics) develops and builds LED lights

API (Autronic Plastics) develops and builds LED lights used by construction companies. (May 24, 2013) Credit: Johnny Milano

Suffolk County Friday offered a local plastics company $1.2 million in tax breaks to consolidate and expand its operations here, instead of in North Carolina.

Autronic Plastics Inc., known as API, needs a new office and factory to accommodate demand for its LED portable lights, which are used in construction. It also makes plastic components and DVD security cases found at public libraries.

Chief executive Michael Lax said API has outgrown a headquarters and plant at 29 New York Ave. in Westbury. He said he has two options: move the Westbury operation to a small plant outside Asheville, N.C., or combine both operations in new quarters in Central Islip.

"We'd like to stay on Long Island because of the great group of people we have," Lax said, referring to API's local workforce of 76 people. "But the electric rates in North Carolina are almost half of what they are here and electricity is one of our highest cost items."

He said he would close the North Carolina factory, moving the plastic injection molding machines and nine jobs to Suffolk, if government aid lowers the expense. The project has a $9.5-million price tag.

Lax promised to add 40 jobs to his local payroll within five years. Employees, on average, earn $47,058 per year.

The county's industrial development agency offered to cut API's property taxes by $1 million over 12 years. API also would qualify for a sales-tax exemption on the purchase of equipment for the 100,000-square-foot building at 1150 Motor Pkwy.

Bruce E. Ferguson, a consultant to API and former executive director of the Suffolk IDA, said the company has also asked New York State for help.

The IDA's board of directors Friday also gave preliminary approval to $18.8 million in tax breaks for a proposed shopping center on Jericho Turnpike in Elwood.

The 471,580-square-foot project would include a public library, gym, offices and about 50 retailers, most of them new to the area, said developer Kris Torkan.

Several IDA board members questioned whether aiding the $184.5-million project violates a new state law prohibiting IDAs from giving tax breaks to retailers.

Suffolk IDA executive director Anthony Manetta said the Elwood Orchard development could receive IDA help under a loophole in the law for projects that aren't solely retail, create hundreds of jobs and provide unique services not available elsewhere. "Without question, it passes muster," he said, adding that 740 jobs would be created.

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