Flood-damaged firm turned down for federal grant

Hopes for financial support from a federal grant faded earlier this month for the owners of Kingsbury Corporation in Keene after officials of the Monadnock Economic Development Corporation were forced to withdraw the grant request due to qualification criteria.

“The good news is Kingsbury Corporation pays their people well,” said MEDC President Jack Dugan. “The bad news is Kingsbury Corporation pays people well.”

The MEDC was expected to request approval from Cheshire County officials for a $500,000 federally funded Community Development Block Grant to be used specifically for job retention at the century-old Keene machine tool maker, which suffered severe damage in October’s devastating floods. In order to qualify for the grant, however, 61 percent of Kingsbury employees would have to be earning a low-to-moderate income.

“They weren’t even close. I don’t think we were even halfway to 61 percent,” Dugan said. “We tried until as late as yesterday afternoon to come up with a creative way to work this, but unfortunately they just weren’t a good fit for this type of block grant.”

According to Dugan, a single person living in Cheshire County would have to earn less than $34,000 to be considered low-to-moderate income.

With the block grant no longer an option, Dugan said the owners of Kingsbury are now looking to insurance companies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration for the financial assistance they need to remain open in the wake of the floods.

“They’ve been here for at least a century, and I hope things go well for them,” Dugan said. “They employ 150 people and they pay well — again, that makes it all the more important that things work and those jobs stay here in Keene.”

Makers of high-precision thrust and journal bearing technology since 1912, Kingsbury suffered severe water damage when its Laurel Street factory filled with more than two feet of water during flooding in early October.

Kingsbury owner Iris Mitropoulis was unavailable for comment. — TRACIE STONE

Categories: News