Boat firm may move to Rome

Jennifer Fusco

The prime location near the Erie Canal and the state's incentives for businesses has resulted in a solar-powered boat company to consider relocating to Rome, officials said Tuesday. 

Canada-based Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company may move to the city, bringing more than 100 jobs at full production, officials said. 

“When you look at the logistics of putting it in Rome - you have the canal right there,” Mayor James Brown said. “This would be monumental for our area.” 

Company President Monte Gisborne also considered Florida and Maine, but said Rome is high on the list, he said. 

“Within the next month a decision will be made to go forward, likely into Rome,” Gisborne said. 

Since its establishment in 2005, Tamarack Lake, currently based in Brechin, Ontario, has sold six solar-powered boats, each of which had a consumer price around $30,000, Gisborne said. 

Those boats were limited production prototypes, which helped to further develop the product, he said. 

The relocation and redesign project would cost about $2 million, he said. Funding would come from the company itself, some outside investments, pre-sale orders and state grants, he said. 

Gisborne's business plan for future production projects 120 boats in 2008 and increases to 1,200 in 2012, he said. 

The company would manufacture boats and sell them to individuals, Gisborne said.

Selling through established boating retailers also could be a future option, he said. 

Negotiations in the works

New York State Energy Research Development Authority is offering $500,000 to Tamarack Lake to make 1,200 boats a year by 2012, according to Jan. 2 article by CBC News, a Canadian media outlet. 

Authority spokeswoman Colleen Ryan said contract negotiations are still being worked out. She said it was too premature to answer questions on the number of employees, money, production and location. 

Gisborne also said he has not finalized an agreement with the state. 

“We are deciding how we are going to do it, and how much money we're going to need,” he said. 

Oneida County Industrial Agency spokesman Rob Duchow said because the agency hasn't taken any action on the business, there is nothing public he could release about any possible tax breaks. 

“It's like any company we may be dealing with - we treat all that information confidential until the appropriate time,” he said. 

Why Rome?

Gisborne first visited Rome last summer and has been keeping in contact with city officials, the mayor said. 

“He has been aggressively looking at facilities to set up his manufacturing business,” Brown said. 

Gisborne has looked at two sites in Rome - one in the West Rome Industrial Park and one on East Dominick Street, Brown said. 

He is expected back within the next few weeks. 

Gisborne reached out by e-mail about a year ago to municipalities along the Erie Canal about relocation, Brown said. 

Brown said he immediately contacted Gisborne, trying to get him to visit Rome. 

Abby Westervelt, director of corporate relations in the Cornell University College of Engineering, said the school encourages economic development - especially environmentally friendly businesses such as the boat company. 

“With the right project scope, we can often work with projects that can benefit our students,” she said. 

The college at times supplies those types of businesses with interns. 

“Typically we have worked with companies to help in advancing their research interests,” she said. “There's a huge interest in renewable energy across the region.”