BY DAVID KRECHEVSKY, REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
The state has approved an $800,000, low-interest loan to help a Southington manufacturer upgrade its equipment and add jobs.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Monday the state Department of Economic and Community Development and the Connecticut Development Authority will provide the loan to AcuCut Inc. at 200 Town Line Road.
The two agencies will each contribute $400,000 for the 10year loan, at a 3.75 percent interest rate, said David Treadwell, spokesman for the DECD. The loan includes a condition that the company must add 10 jobs within the next three years, or pay a penalty equal to $1,000 for each job it fails to add. AcuCut, founded in 1978, does high-tech machining of metals, including electrical discharge machining, or EDM, and industrial laser cutting. EDM uses sparks of electricity to cut very hard metals or to make intricate cuts that would be difficult with conventional tools.
The company produces items for manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive, power generation and medical industries.
According to Rell, AcuCut built a state-of-the-art, 30,000square-foot facility in 1998 and employs 56 people, but is now looking to expand.
Scott Barmore, AcuCut’s chief executive officer, said the company will use $200,000 of the loan toward purchasing a new $1 million machine that will improve production and allow them to add the jobs.
“It’s a laser drilling machine called a YAG laser,” he said. “It will be a complement to our EDM drilling, but it will put holes in much faster than EDM would be able to.”
Barmore said his company drills holes primarily for aerospace and power generation parts, some of which may require 10,000 holes in one part.
“You could never compete putting those 10,000 holes in with EDM. It just doesn’t go fast enough,” he said.
AcuCut also hopes to fill a void in Connecticut, Barmore said.
“There’s no one in Connecticut that offers this YAG drilling as a service now,” he said. “There are companies that do have this type of machine, but they do only their own work. You’d have to leave Connecticut to get this type of work.”
Barmore also hopes to position his company as a vendor for Pratt & Whitney, which will build engines for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that is still being developed but eventually will head into full production.
“There aren’t enough approved vendors to support that,” he said. “Though that’s a ways off, we felt like, ‘You can’t wait.’ You have to be a player first and maybe then you can land some of that work down the road.”
He also said the decision to expand in a bad economy was based on concerns over the growing state budget gap.
“With the budget deficit, we felt one of the first things to go would be a (loan) program like this,” he said. “Who knows how long that will be available.”
Rell said the state is determined to do what it can to help companies in Connecticut.
“Although the manufacturing world has changed dramatically in many respects, the bottom line is still about innovative people making innovative products,” Rell said. “This has always been Connecticut’s strength, and our state will continue to encourage companies like AcuCut to keep and grow jobs here.”
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