MADE IN NORTH ALBANY FROM SOUP TO NUTS, MANUFACTURING CENTER KEEPS NEIGHBORHOOD ALIVE

WINIFRED YU Staff writer
Section: CAPITALAND RPT,  Page: CAP15

Date: Sunday, February 27, 1994

ALBANY Along the northern edge of the city, in an area dominated by old warehouses and factories, workers churn out nuts and bolts, sell food and print books.


Welcome to North Albany, the quiet but busy home of the city's largest industrial area. According to George Leveille, the city's commissioner of economic development, the neighborhood has long been the city's most concentrated area of industry. He estimated that there are as many as 75 businesses in the neighborhood, which spans about 1,600 acres, or 1 square miles. Among the businesses housed in this area are Ruch Distributors, a beer and ale distributor; Thruway Fasteners, maker of nuts and bolts; and American Dixie Group Inc., which builds prototype machinery. Several larger companies also have offices here, including Albany Savings Bank's operations center and Matthew Bender and Co. In 1989, the state Assembly moved its printing operations and other offices to the neighborhood, locating in a building on Enterprise Drive.


``I think it's a great area,'' said Roberta Young, the president and owner of RBM Guardian Fire Protection on Enterprise Drive. ``I don't know if that many people are aware of it.''


Young said her company, which moved into its current office three years ago, employs about 35 people.


A longtime business in the area is Joseph Treffiletti & Sons. Joe Treffiletti, one of the owners, said his operation has been there since 1960, long before Interstate 787 was built. Today, it employs 18 people.


``We're here, and we're going to be here,'' he said. ``It's a critical part of the city.''


Like RBM and Treffiletti, most companies in the neighborhood are small, Leveille said. In all, he estimated that the neighborhood employs 2,000 people.


``It's critical to the city's economy,'' Leveille said. ``It's well-situated by the interstate.''


The presence of an industrial neighborhood is a boon to any economy, said Kevin O'Connor, president of the Center for Economic Growth. Such industries tend to create other jobs, and generate exogenous income, money earned from outside a region.


O'Connor said he does not expect large industries to flourish here or anywhere else in the near future. ``The IBMs, Kodaks and Xeroxes will continue to downsize,'' he said. ``The smaller companies will come into the market, and North Albany's industrial park is ideally suited for that.''


O'Connor predicted that the North Albany neighborhood will draw more small, privately held companies. ``Eighty percent of all jobs created today are by small companies,'' he said. ``With today's technology, you can have companies with tremendous output with few employees.''