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A River Runs Against It

   The most recent example of forbidding business climate was near the state capital of Albany: Holcim's Canadian unit St. Lawrence Cement, which had just won an award for its Mississauga, Ont., plant's environmental performance, wanted to build a $353-million cement plant in Greenport, N.Y., at a time when the nation is in sore need of cement. But New York Secretary of State Randy Daniels concluded that the plant would not be consistent with state waterfront revitalization and coastal management programs.
   So instead, St. Lawrence will upgrade its existing plant across the river. But more than a river separates the parties. St. Lawrence officials chose not to respond to a query from Site Selection. But an April 2005 news release documented how the company had worked since 1998 on the permitting process, which included 17 federal, state and local permits.
   "In light of this decision and in the context of the cement shortage experienced in many states, we are taking a number of steps to reinforce our supply lines," said Philippe Arto, president and CEO of St. Lawrence Cement, after the negative finding from the state. "This includes a new US$10-million investment program at our Catskill plant to improve its reliability and overall performance. We will also strengthen our network of distribution terminals and our long-term contracts with Holcim Trading to secure sufficient imported cement to meet needs in excess of domestic production in the region. In addition, we will continue to focus on developing long-term solutions to maintain our ability to supply the cement needs of our customers in the Northeast U.S. market on the most competitive basis."
   The company was forced to take a write-down equivalent to $48 million in its second quarter.
   All of which gave further meaning to another comment by Linda Sanford: "Excessive regulations and taxes and health care and energy costs are a huge burden and make us uncompetitive versus many other states," she said in September, while also calling for private-sector boards, rather than Albany elected officials, to guide state economic development policies.

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