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ECIDA OKs packages for Steuben, New Era

Business First of Buffalo [ View Original Article ]

By James Fink

Originally Published: Monday, June 14, 2010

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency's directors have approved separate incentive packages that were sought by Steuben Foods Inc., and New Era Cap Co. Inc.

In the case of Steuben Foods, which is proposing a $52 million expansion of its Elma plant that could lead the way for the company adding 150 more jobs, the ECIDA incentives are one-third of public financial support the company says it needs before the project can begin.

Steuben is also working with the Empire State Development Corp. on a $5 million job training grant and a package of low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority.

"This is a good first step," said Tom Krol, Steuben general counsel.

Steuben is considering sites in Idaho and on the West Coast, if the public-sector incentives can't be obtained. However, doing the expansion in Elma is Steuben's first choice, Krol said.

"We don't want to go that route," Krol said of expanding elsewhere. "We expect a good outcome, but the ESD aspect is absolutely critical."

Steuben, which produces aspectic drinks and other food products, has invested more than $200 million in the Elma plant. The company has 500 people working in Elma.

The proposed expansion will add 70,000-square-feet to the 300,000-square-foot plant and handle packaging operations and production lines.

The ECIDA offering includes a $1.3 million property-tax abatement, plus $422,000 in sales tax savings and a waiver of $96,000 in mortgage recording tax.

At the same time, the ECIDA directors also approved a $239,000 abatement package for New Era Cap to help finance a $1.3 million expansion of its Derby plant.

The Derby plant, with nearly 300 workers, will be New Era's sole U.S. manufacturing plant as the company has shut down similar operations in Alabama.

New Era will be adding 25 workers initially, but that could swell to more than 100 if the company's projections for increased production comes true.

The ECIDA abatement package includes $48,000 in property tax savings, $160,000 in sales tax savings and $31,000 in mortgage recording tax savings.