ITHACA, N.Y. — A local manufacturing firm will be closing its Dryden facility and moving to Florida as it consolidates operations in the Sunshine State.

Mettler Toledo Hi-Speed Inc will be relocating to a new factory in Pasco County, Florida, which comprises the northern suburbs of Tampa Bay. According to a report filed this week in the Tampa Bay Times, the new plant will employ over 500 people, but it comes at a major cost – the Dryden plant will be closing, taking 185 jobs with it.

Mettler Toledo Hi-Speed Inc is a subsidiary of Switzerland-based Mettler Toledo, which acquired Hi-Speed Checkweighers in 1981. Mettler Toledo Hi-Speed has been housed in a 27,000 square-foot facility on Barr Road since 1986, and started out in the Ithaca area in 1953 (although technically located in Dryden, the firm uses an Ithaca mailing address). The parent company expects to open the new Florida plant in Fall 2017, at which time all remaining local positions will be transferred. The Dryden factory makes food inspection equipment, such as checkweighers with x-ray machines and metal detectors designed to check the weight of, and find contamination in packaged food products. Salaries posted on jobs website Glassdoor show local positions with salaries ranging from $40,000-$75,000/year.

The Tampa Bay Business Journal is reporting that the company was lured to the location with a combination of state and local incentives, competing against another location near Atlanta. Mettler Toledo has an existing plant closer to Tampa (Mettler Toledo Safeline) that will also be closing and merging into the new facility. There’s no indication of the company having spoken with local or state officials here in New York, though such discussions are usually highly confidential.

“We wanted a location where our current staff would be able to follow us and where we could pull new team members from a diverse and well-educated pool,” said Tampa general plant manager Viggo Nielsen to the Tampa Bay Times.

Assuming plans come to fruition, this will be the largest layoff in Tompkins County by a single organization since Emerson Power Transmission announced plans to shut down its South Hill facility in 2009. It deals yet another blow to the local manufacturing sector, which once accounted for 6,200 jobs and 36% of local employment in the early 1960s, but today accounts for only 3,400 jobs and 5% of local employment. Since 2001, the manufacturing sector has lost over a thousand jobs, although manufacturers had been making making modest increases in their payrolls since the Great Recession.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.