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Kodak adding to Windsor facility

By Kelly K. Serrano
Times-Call News Group

WINDSOR — An expansion of Eastman Kodak Co.’s Windsor plant will have a $126 million economic impact on Colorado and a $4.9 million impact on Weld County over 10 years, according to a Greeley economic development expert.

Kodak announced Monday that it will build a 12,000-square-foot facility and add 60 jobs to expand its thermal media ribbon production capacity in Windsor.

The facility now covers about 9 million square feet and employs 1,700 people, said Lucille Mantelli, Kodak Colorado Division spokeswoman.

The expansion is in response to the growing popularity of Kodak’s digital photography products, according to a press release.

The photography giant chose the Windsor site instead of its Rochester headquarters because the plant here already makes the ribbons used in Kodak’s EasyShare Printer Docks and Picture Maker kiosks.

The company took advantage of economic incentives offered by the state and county, said Ron Klaphake, president and chief executive officer of the Greeley/Weld Economic Development Action Partnership.

The county will rebate 50 percent of the personal property tax the new operation will pay over its first 10 years, which equals more than $600,000, he said.

The Colorado Economic Development Commission also approved a $120,000 incentive grant and a $24,000 job-training grant for Kodak, because the salaries of the new jobs will be more than 125 percent of Weld’s average salary of $38,000, Klaphake said.

In both cases, Kodak must make the investment before it reaps the incentives, he said.

“You don’t get the cash until you create the jobs,” Klaphake said.

And the incentives are small compared with Kodak’s “substantial investment,” which will total as much as $40 million, he said.

“Anything that we can do in this community to ensure its long-term viability in being here is very important,” Klaphake said. “If we can get them to expand ... it solidifies their position here.

“This was a natural fit; we tried everything we could ... to tell them, one, we wanted them here and, two, to help (in) whatever we could.”

Mantelli said it could be a year before construction of the new building begins, but Kodak will begin hiring while it is in progress.

“We don’t have an end date established,” she said.

The digital businesses generated $4 billion, or about 30 percent, of Kodak’s $13.3 billion in 2003 sales.

The company has said it would cut as much as a quarter of its work force, about 12,000 to 15,000 jobs, during a three-year period as it refocuses its business on digital photo kiosks. Kodak has placed about 50,000 Picture Maker kiosks worldwide.

The Windsor plant employed 1,900 about two years ago, Mantelli said. Many of the 200 jobs lost since weren’t filled as employees retired.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.