EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It’s been a year since it was announced the Bristol Myers Squibb plant on Thompson Road was being bought by a Korean conglomerate, Lotte, and it all became clear why at a ribbon-cutting, celebrating the transition Monday.

As part of his remarks to a large crowd and in an interview with NewsChannel 9, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon opened up about the anxieties he and other leaders had about Bristol Myers Squibb’s growing disinterest in continuing robust operations.

“Five, six years ago, this facility was really in jeopardy of being shuttered if not disassembled,” McMahon told NewsChannel 9.

“You had a campus here, a very large campus, only a portion of it was being utilized,” he added.

McMahon said there were early discussions about Onondaga County bailing out the facility and using some of the unused space and scientific infrastructure for its wastewater treatment operations.

Around the same time, the Korean conglomerate with divisions in candy making, liquor distilling, retails, hotels and baseball teams was exploring business opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry. On Monday, we got a reason why the new owners, Lotte, were saving the historic plant.

McMahon said, “They understood it would cost a lot of money to redo what we already have here.”

Lotte’s first customer: Bristol Myers Squibb. Many of the company’s products will come from the same facility.

Lotte’s general manager: a longtime Bristol Myers Squibb employee who worked in East Syracuse, Michael Hausladen.

“These jobs are not just run-of-the-mill manufacturing jobs. These are high-paying, high-technical jobs. When people say it’s about STEM, this is where these STEM jobs are going to be,” said Hausladen.

Lotte is already adding 70 people to its existing workforce of over 400 and will expand facilities as business allows.