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General Composites heading to Willsboro

WILLSBORO/WESTPORT Willsboro is about to become even more enmeshed in the textile industry. General Composites Inc. is planning a major expansion to the town of Willsboro. The move was announced last week by business owner Jeff Allott. The company will be consolidating both of its facilities in Westport and Moriah into a significantly larger space in the building formerly known as Tambrands, where Commonwealth Home Fashions is currently situated. Allott said General Composites will lease over 40,000 square feet of dedicated and common space, including the main entrance and reception area. Commonwealth Home Fashions, Bargoose Home Textiles and Versailles Home Fashions will continue to run operations out of the same facility. General Composites was started in 1990 as a manufacture of medical, aerospace, and high performance sports products using advanced composite materials. The former Tambrands facility has several existing facilities like clean rooms and air conditioning that Allott said would help with production. General Composites previously operated out of two smaller facilities with 46 employees. Allott said he anticipated the move would help with plans to expand. He said the tentative 3-5 year projects had the company adding another 15-20 employees. Allott credited Bill McClay, owner of Commonwealth Home Fashions, with making the move possible. My heart is with the town of Willsboro, and I was hoping it would happen, said McClay. Commonweath Home Fashions has been downsizing for a while, and McClay said the space was available. Commonwealth currently employs 20 people, who work in importing and distributing products. McClay called it a win-win situation, offering the space General Composites needs while cutting overhead for Commonwealth Home Fashions. Willsboros good fortune is a loss for the Westport community. Westport supervisor Daniel Connell expressed his disappointment in the move. General Composites is one of the largest employers in Westport. The town did everything that we could think of to try to get General Composites to stay, said Connell. He said the town had helped prepare the industrial park for tenancy, and the board had agreed in concept in providing the maximum tax incentives available under the law. Allott said the Westport town board had been exemplary in its efforts to help, but the bank financing just didnt work out. We are truly heartbroken to be leaving such a great town, but several attempts to expand there have met with failure and we have run out of time, said Allott. Allott explained that a new building project was shelved after it was appraised at less than half the projected $1.9 million cost to build. That left us with a significant financing gap simply too big to broach, said Allott. We have a regional focus, though, and were very pleased to be able to find a solution that will keep us inside of Essex County for years to come. Allott said the business had investigated possibilities in Middlebury, Vt. and Plattsburgh before deciding on the Willsboro site. Its going to be great. As sad as it is to leave Westport, everyone is excited to be in the same building, said Allott.

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