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Wed., Sep. 2
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County to add industrial sites to Free Trade Zone


The U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board has approved Jefferson County’s application to expand its Foreign Trade Zone, granting the status to three new industrial sites. Businesses in these areas now will be able to apply for FTZ status through the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, which helps lower their operational costs by reducing duty tax payments on foreign components for finished products.

The additional sites are the 122-acre City Center Industrial Park on Arsenal Street, 1,059 acres at Watertown International Airport off Route 12F near Dexter and a 95-acre expansion to the Jefferson County Corporate Park on Coffeen Street, adding to the original 115-acre zone at that site.

Companies that participate in the FTZ program are able to make delayed or reduced duty payments on foreign components for finished products that are sold in the U.S.; if products are shipped overseas, duty payments are eliminated.

The expansion will be especially beneficial for manufacturers at the sites that import and export products, said David J. Zembiec, deputy director of the JCIDA. Businesses outside the properties will be able to acquire a special “usage-driven” permit to do so.

“We’re certainly encouraging businesses to apply for this,” Mr. Zembiec said. “Some companies are going to look more seriously at purchasing imported materials for their products, and this will give them a lot more flexibility and be a helpful tool, particularly for distribution centers and manufacturers. A company that may be importing and exporting to Canada can eliminate the duty here — so that’s cost savings and a strategic advantage.”

The county established the Foreign Trade Zone in 1984 when it launched the industrial park off Coffeen Street, which has doubled in size since then and created demand for the additional sites, Mr. Zembiec said. The county has the ability to include up to 2,000 acres of different sites, and property will be activated on an individual basis when businesses become established.

From a logistics standpoint, businesses with FTZ status that import products are able to do so without all of the red tape involved at ports to acquire customs clearance, Mr. Zembiec said. Rather than waiting weeks to acquire approval, imports are shipped directly to companies.

The zone at the airport also will be a boon for international air traffic, Mr. Zembiec said, as planes flying abroad will be able to save money on fuel. For example, “if a corporate jet is buying fuel and flying into Canada, it can eliminate the duty” on that purchase, he said.

Donald C. Alexander, CEO of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, said the FTZ properties also are expected to be a catalyst for economic development, making the county more attractive for logistic companies and manufacturers to set up shop. The JCIDA has sought for the last five years to establish an industrial park at Watertown International Airport, where it owns 37 acres. The flight service at the airport now offered by American Eagle Airlines to Chicago, which started this fall, also has ripened the area for development.

“I think having the site next to the airport is great,” Mr. Alexander said. “It will give us another opportunity to look at companies that need access to air and logistic companies that do a lot of importing and exporting.”

The trade zone board is available at

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