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PLATTSBURGH, NY-New York Gov. David Paterson was among the dignitaries on hand for the groundbreaking for a new $25-million urban transit bus assembly plant here on Wednesday. Nova Bus, a division of the Volvo Group, has now started work on a new 135,740-sf facility at the Banker Road Industrial Park.

The firm, headquartered in Quebec, will be receiving a $1.3-million JOBS Now capital grant from New York State and will be eligible for $8.6 million in state tax credits as well as another nearly $1 million in energy grants in connection with the assembly plant venture. Nova Bus anticipates completing the building by Jan. 2009 and then starting test production in March 2009. Full production is expected by the summer of 2009. Nova Bus will employ 160 workers by the end of 2009, 240 by the end of 2010, and 300 by the end of 2011, state officials say. The company will purchase and install more than $5.7 million in machinery and equipment and initiate a $1.5-million worker-training program.

State officials say that Nova Bus considered several East Coast locations before deciding on the Plattsburgh site. Nova Bus selected the site at the Banker Road Industrial Park due to its proximity to its headquarters in Quebec and the fact that the plant will give it the opportunity to market its products to New York State’s numerous transit systems.

Nova Bus president and CEO Gilles Dion said during the groundbreaking that “today represents a significant milestone in the history of Nova Bus. We thank the Town of Plattsburgh and New York State for the warm welcome, and we look forward to building new partnerships with operators and to contributing to the development of American public transit.”

Nova Bus had operated plants in Schenectady, NY and in New Mexico but shut down those operations in 2002. Gov. Paterson said that “this is the kind of targeted investments we need to make to revitalize communities and secure the good, stable jobs that are the bedrock of any economy. We have made a commitment to Nova Bus and in turn this company is making a commitment to this community that will pay dividends for years to come. I am proud to welcome Nova Bus to the North Country.”

The firm, which has been supplying buses predominantly to Canadian public transit systems and a small number of US customers, needed to establish a US presence in order to better compete in the US transit bus market. In fact, Nova Bus had to establish a US assembly plant to comply with the Federal Transit Administration’s Buy America requirements. State officials explain that those federal rules mandate that a majority of a bus’s parts be manufactured and assembled in the US in order for the bus to be purchased using FTA funds.

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