Hitchiner announcement a positive for community

MILFORD – Voter approval in March of a tax exemption for new industrial buildings factored into the decision by Hitchiner Manufacturing Company to build a $50 million foundry in Milford.

At a press conference last week featuring Gov. Chris Sununu, town, state and company officials talked about plans for the new 85,000 square foot facility that is expected to add 85 jobs.

The approval of Article 23 on this year’s town warrant means 50 percent of town and local school taxes will be exempt the first year a plant in operation, 40 percent the second year, 30 percent the third year, 20 percent the fourth year and 10 percent the fifth year.

Those exemptions and help from two state agencies, the Business Finance Authority and the new Department of Business and Economic Affairs, made Milford competitive, said Hitchiner CEO John Morison III, despite the state’s high energy costs and other drawbacks of staying in New Hampshire.

“We identified an opportunity for helping mitigate the risks … and building a state-of-the-art foundry,” he said, calling the plans “good news for Hitchiner, our employees and New Hampshire.” He also said the public and private sectors need to work together to make New Hampshire more competitive, build up its workforce and, most importantly “find competitive and reliable sources of commercial energy.”

The governor agreed, saying there is still a lot of work to be done in New Hampshire to provide housing and bring down energy costs.

Milford Town Administrator Mark Bender was among town and state officials who met with Gov. Sununu in February to work out a business plan.

“We are thrilled at the decision and appreciate” the cooperation of state agencies and the governor, Bender said at the April 4 press conference. “We’re proud you’re headquartered here in Milford.”

Hitchiner manufactures investment castings for industry, including aerospace, defense and automotive industries, and employs more than 675 people.

The privately owned company was founded in Manchester in 1946 and has two plants in Mexico. About six years ago it closed its Littleton, N.H. plant, folding operations into the Milford facility.

James Key-Wallace, executive director of the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority, had a message for other businesses in the state:

“If your company is trying to grow and you feel stuck – reach out.”

Financing help from the agency was the most significant part of the deal, and Milford’s five years of tax relief was “pretty significant,” said Hitchiner assistant finance director John Morison IV.

The expansion is scheduled to begin in June.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.