Charles “Chuck” Schumer talks about the “totally exciting” 3D technology that Norsk Titanium uses to produce titanium aerospace parts faster and far cheaper than traditional means. At the Plattsburgh plant Friday, the senator promised to support addition of language in the Senate’s version of the Defense Authorization Bill that calls for the military to look at the new technology when procuring contracts. (Credit Photo @ KAYLA BREEN)
PLATTSBURGH — U.S. Charles Schumer is hopeful that Norsk Titanium will benefit greatly from future military contracts. “With the military, there is huge potential for Norsk,” the Senate majority leader said during a visit to the manufacturing plant Friday. “I promise everyone here that whatever clout I have I will use to convincethe Department of Defense that this is their future here.”
Norsk Titanium uses 3D printing technology to manufacture titanium parts for aircraft, mainly, but it can also make parts for other military vehicles, such as ships and tanks. The technology allows products to be produced much quicker and less expensively. The company employs 40 people now in a temporary site in Clinton County Air Industrial Park, where five machines are producing parts. Norsk CEO Warren Boley said two more machines are expected to go online soon, and two more are on the way from Norway. Before long, a large manufacturing plant will be built on the property of the former Clinton County Airport, where as many as 400 people will work on 23 machines. Boley said ground will be broken on that facility in mid October, with completion scheduled for April 2019.
DEFENSE BILL ADD
Schumer said he will try to get language in the Senate’s version of the Defense Authorization Bill next week that calls for the military, when procuring contracts, to examine technology such as what Norsk uses. North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro) has included the same language in the House of Representatives version of the bill, and Schumer said he hopes to match that effort. “You have my full commitment,” the senator told Norsk and local officials. North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said getting such language in the Defense Authorization Bill would be a huge door-opener for Norsk. “People always talk about how much airplanes cost — well, this will take millions off the cost, and it will be much quicker,” Douglas said.
Schumer said Norsk is in the perfect position to benefit from military contracts because its technology is so sophisticated that there is little or no competition.
“The idea that you print titanium and combine the great uses of titanium and the use of 3D technology is totally exciting,” he said.
“Sometimes, we forget that the unbelievable technological revolution is just changing things so rapidly, sometimes for the worst, but usually for the better, and this is an example of for the better.”
Schumer (D-NY) said he expects Norsk will be a strong contributor to the North Country economy for decades to come.
“Nobody has this technology. That is amazing,” he said.
“If this gets off the ground, which I have every confidence that it will, the number of jobs here will grow and grow and grow.”
Getting a foothold on military contracts would be a tremendous boost for the company, Boley said.
“When you look at the uses of titanium in commercial aerospace, in military applications and in oil and gas and marine areas and high-end automotives, there are a lot of opportunities,” he said.
“Opportunities with the Department of Defense are very, very significant. If you look at the amount of titanium used in an F-35 (fighter jet) or a new bomber or a submarine, it is a very significant opportunity.”
NO REASON TO LEAVE
Schumer said a prosperous Norsk will give local people more opportunities to stay in the North Country for careers.
Keeping young people here will be key for the North Country’s future, Plattsburgh City Mayor Colin Read said.
“Look around you. This is where opportunity is,” he said.
“With the local training and colleges, there is no reason for our kids to leave anymore.”
A GOOD FRIEND
Schumer’s visit to Norsk marked his 26th trip to Clinton County since he was elected in 1998.
He won re-election last year to a six-year term and easily carried the county.
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman said the senator has been a good friend to the North Country, helping to bring many economic opportunities.
“Senator Schumer’s fingerprints are all over this region,” he said. “He has been such a huge champion on behalf of our region.”
Clinton County Legislature Chairman Harry McManus (D-Area 1, Champlain) said Schumer’s help in securing funding for Plattsburgh International Airport has allowed the region to grow and attract such companies as Norsk.
“It’s a commitment on the part of our leadership in Washington to look at the future and say this is where Plattsburgh is: It’s in the future,” McManus said.
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