Today, at Otis Technology in Lyons Falls, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer joined local veterans, including employees at the Otis Technology, the largest employer in southern Lewis County, and revealed his plan to prioritize the extension of the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credits, which are proven successes in incentivizing companies and organizations like Otis to hire veterans and set to expire at the end of this year. Schumer also announced his commitment to help Otis Technology fairly pursue contracts to provide gun cleaning kits to law enforcement throughout New York State, including at the NYPD.
In addition to his effort to connect Otis with the NYPD's procurement process, Schumer highlighted that Otis Technology already has about five veterans on staff, and he applauded their goal to hire more veterans in the near future. Schumer emphasized that veterans, like the many who have received basic weapons training, are uniquely qualified for positions at Otis and other North Country manufacturers that deal directly with firearms. The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credits, enacted in November 2011, provide tax breaks to employers of up to $9,600 depending on the length of time a veteran has been unemployed and if that veteran has a service-connected disability. Schumer fought to include these critical tax credits in the Senate tax extenders package that was considered in September, and will fight to pass the tax credits before they expire at year's end. Technology officials at Otis discussed how these federal tax credits would allow them to achieve their goal to hire more veterans in the future.
"One of Lewis County's largest manufacturers, Otis Technology, should get a fair shot at winning lucrative law enforcement contracts and hire more vets at the same time," said Schumer. "These vital tax credits are proven successes in helping Lewis County businesses to hire more veterans, and we cannot allow such a powerful antidote to the economic recession come to an end. The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits are set to expire at year's end, which would be a devastating blow to the efforts of companies like Otis Technology that want to get unemployed veterans in the New York State back to work. Renewing the veterans' tax credits isn't just the smart thing to do for businesses and organizations in northern New York and across the country, it's the right thing to do to honor the sacrifices made by our heroes in uniform.
"What's more, these veterans have the chance to manufacture gun cleaning tools that could be used by our heroes who wear NYPD blue. Our veterans have spent months and even years of their lives protecting our freedom, and I am going to fight to renew these tax breaks so that veterans don't spend the same amount of time in the unemployment line."
· Schumer was joined by Otis Technology CEO and President Doreen Garrett, veteran employees, and other workers at the manufacturer who support his push to extend these critical tax credits. Not only could this allow Otis to hire more vets, it would help their competitiveness to provide gun cleaning kits to 35,000 New York City police officers. The NYPD buys their own gun cleaning kits, from a specific store in New York City. Schumer is urging the NYPD to connect with Otis Technologies to start conversations about their technology, the NYPD procurement process, and the best way in which the two entities can potentially work together. Otis Technology is renowned for its "Breech-to-Muzzle" cleaning method, which has been regarded by experts as the most advanced gun cleaning system in the world. This method has been used to clean and improve arms for private consumers such as hunters and marksmen and also for law enforcement and military personnel. The "Breech-to-Muzzle" technology cleans the weapon in the same direction that the bullet moves through the firearm. This method makes sure that dirt and other debris is cleaned out of the firearm as opposed to pushing it back which could cause jamming or malfunctions. Otis has also manufactured a specialized cleaning patch designed to more efficiently clean a firearm without have to completely disassemble the gun. The combination of the cleaning patch and the "Breech-to-Muzzle" method makes Otis Technology a real standout in the firearms field.
The gun cleaning kit Otis produces is high-quality, versatile, and 100 percent made in the USA. Otis has steadily improved the kit since its inception to be as user-friendly and economical as possible. Building off the patented breach-to-muzzle cleaning cable, which facilitates cleaning while preserving the rifling and mitigating malfunctions, current editions are housed in a soft pack that features a belt loop and survey card and has the ability to be stored in rifle butts. Otis caters its kits primarily to the military and competitive marksmen and hunters, and is seeking to broaden its share of the commercial market domestically.
President Obama signed the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credits into law on November 21, 2011 as part of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which contained a series of tax credits for businesses that hire out-of-work veterans. As a result of this tax break, businesses that hire veterans who have been searching for work for at least four weeks, but less than six months, are eligible for a tax credit of up to $2,400 per veteran hired. Businesses that hire a veteran who has been looking for a job for at least six months receive a tax credit worth up to $5,600. A business that hires a veteran who has been seeking work for at least six months and has a service-related disability is eligible for a $9,600 tax credit. While tax-exempt organizations save a slightly smaller percentage, a non-profit company can still save up to $6,240 if they hire a disabled veteran who has been unemployed for six months or more.
Schumer pushed to extend the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credits in light of disappointing unemployment numbers for veterans, particularly in upstate New York. Lewis County alone has 79 unemployed veterans, while the North Country region has 1,367 vets, according to New York State Department of Labor's most recent data from 2010. According to the state's data, there are 16,846 unemployed veterans in Upstate New York as a whole. Unemployment among New York's veteran population, particularly younger veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has remained stubbornly high over the last several years. Last year, the veteran population in the United States consisted of 20.2 million men and 1.8 million women, accounting for about 9.5 percent of the adult population in the country. 2.2 million of those veterans served after September 11, 2011, and two thirds of that total were under 35 years old. Unemployment among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has risen to 12.1 percent nationally, up from 10.6 percent from a year ago. 240,000 young veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed nationwide. An astonishing 21.9 percent of male veterans aged 18-24 who have served since September 11th were unemployed last year, according to data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Otis Technology, based in Lewis County, is an arms company that specializes in gun cleaning kits. The company has been a North Country staple for 26 years and has special programs that target helping law enforcement and the military. Doreen A. Garrett, at the age of 16, started the company in her parent's basement. As the company expanded, Doreen began to hire more employees, and in 1997 she relocated the company to a property on Laura Street in Lyons Falls. Otis has grown to over 154 employees, and has been cited as the largest employer in southern Lewis County. Otis Technology has a 70, 0000-square-foot manufacturing building in Lyons Falls, which was opened in 2005. The company sells up to 25,000 cleaning kits per week. In 2010, Otis Technology opened a research and development facility in Oswego County with the aim of trying to continually improve and produce a better product.