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Potsdam’s LC Drives closing its doors for good

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 11:52 AM EDT
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POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - A Potsdam business is laying off more than 100 workers and closing its plant for good. The downfall was swift for a company once hailed as a start-up success story.

LC Drives manufactured electric motors in buildings on Clarkson University’s downtown campus.

Three weeks ago, the company sent workers home and said it was closing its doors due to loss of revenue.

At the time, employees were told they were being furloughed, but now the plant is closing permanently.

In a memo Thursday, founder and CEO Russel Marvin explained to workers that a possible investor backed out.

“At this point, I do not believe that there will be another investor that will bring LC Drives back – at least not one that will allow it to be the current size and scale,” he wrote.

The memo also said, “We did great things at LC Drives and have a near commercial ready product that would revolutionize the large electric motor business. I am as perplexed as you are as to why decisions were made that put is in this situation. I am sorry.”

Clarkson’s entrepreneurship center helped the company get off the ground at the college’s Damon Hall.

The business also received $700,000 in state grants. It’s nearly finished paying off $500,000 in loans from the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency.

“An unfortunate part of working in economic development or in industry – there are no guarantees,” said Patrick Kelly, St. Lawrence County IDA chief executive.

LC Drives has paid back all but $55,000 of its IDA loans.

Marvin, in his memo, says the company is now owned by Koch Industries. It invested $15 million in LC Drives two years ago. Koch Industries did not respond to a request for comment.

Health insurance for LC Drives employees ends Thursday. Marvin told employees to contact Koch Industries with any problems. Kelly said the priority now is finding jobs for those thrown out of work.

“When this many people are affected, this many workers, this many families, obviously you want to do whatever you can to try to keep them here and help them get through this as quickly as possible,” he said.

The IDA, Clarkson and the state’s One Stop Career Centers are teaming up in that effort.

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