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Editorial: A move made for Greenfield

Manufacturing, be it cutlery, woolen or cotton goods, plastics or taps and dies, is a thread woven throughout the area’s history.

And while the recent history of manufacturing has seen too many downsizings, moves from the region or outright closings, making things continues to play a key part in our economy and community.

That’s why we’ll keep our fingers crossed when it comes to the news involving Kennametal. The company — which has been a manufacturing fixture in Greenfield since 1997 when it bought up Greenfield Tap & Die — has decided to consolidate its operation in Lyndonville, Vt., and move the operations to its plant here on Sanderson Street — or one of its facilities in North Carolina.

That’s bad news for Vermont, but may be good news for Greenfield.

Kennametal says its plan calls for spending $3.4 million in upgrades to the plant and equipment as well as investing another $1.25 million over the next four years. The company sees this as translating into 70 new hires. That’s a significant boost for the company, one that translates into a financial push for the local community as well, whether through tax-base expansion or having those employees spending money in the community.

So what’s it going to take to get Kennametal to pick Greenfield? The company is in the driver’s seat here. The firm, which makes a variety of machine tools, is obviously looking for the best deal, and has submitted applications to the state’s Economic Development Incentives Program. There will undoubtedly be a request for some tax incentives as part of the negotiations.

Still, whatever the town and state would be willing to provide the company to pick Greenfield could prove to be worth the investment.

“This is one of our homegrown industries and we have no plan to come in second!” Mayor William Martin proclaimed when he heard about Kennametal’s plan. “This skilled tool industry has been in Greenfield for over a century.”

Yes, this type of manufacturing has a rich history here — the cutting die, counterpart to the tap, was in fact invented here back in 1871. And GTD, which was located on the Sanderson Street site, was once the largest tap and die company in the United States. During World War II, GTD was so vital to the war effort that it operated around the clock, and anti-aircraft guns were located nearby to ward off any possible air attack.

But we also know that history and tradition isn’t always the draw that a community hopes it is.

Martin and Robert Pyers, Greenfield’s economic development director, fortunately know this. Let’s hope that they can use their whole toolset in convincing Kennametal that its plant and community here is the place to move into the future.

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