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ECIDA APPROVES TAX BREAKS FOR FOUR PROJECTS

Genius Tools Atlantic, an Ontario-based industrial tools manufacturer, plans to open a warehouse and distribution center in Orchard Park that is expected to employ more than 20 workers within two years.

The 26,000-square-foot Orchard Park facility will be the first facility in the United States for Mississauga, Ont.-based Genius, which makes tools for industrial, automotive and construction uses.

The $2.3 million project at 15 Cobham Drive was granted tax breaks that total more than $485,300 on Monday by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

The IDA also approved nearly $32,000 in tax savings for Hart to Hart Manufacturing, an Arcade manufacturer of weather lock snaps for window and shower enclosures that plans to move to Sardinia.

While IDA officials said the $165,000 Hart to Hart project is smaller than most of the deals the agency typically is involved with, they said the company would have moved to Erie County, Pa., if the incentives were not approved.

Hart to Hart has had problems with flooding at its current location and also needs additional space, said Al Culliton, the IDA's chief financial officer. The company is acquiring two acres off Route 16 in Sardinia, where it will build a 5,616-square-foot factory and showroom.

Hart to Hart, which currently employs five people, expects to hire seven additional workers during each of the next two years, IDA officials said.

The agency also approved $114,500 in tax breaks for five related companies controlled by businessman Manfred Koch to build a 23,854-square-foot manufacturing and office building in Sardinia.

The Koch companies, led by Mark 1A LLC and four other entities, will occupy more than 80 percent of the new building and are expected to create 20 additional jobs during the next two years. Koch had considered moving his businesses out of the area, said David Kerchoff, the IDA's deputy chief lending officer.

Erie County Executive Joel Giambra said the project raises concerns about suburban sprawl and asked why they were moving into a new building along the Wyoming County border rather than into one of the region's existing industrial parks.

"I just have concerns about continuing to build outward," said Giambra, who did not vote against the incentives for the project. "It appears that we're allowing sprawl to continue unabated."

Kerchoff said the project, which Koch hopes will be the first phase of an industrial park in Sardinia, will bring business to a distressed area. The project also will allow Koch to consolidate his businesses in a single location, while helping to build the business base in Sardinia, said Charles Webb, the IDA's executive director.

The IDA also approved nearly $660,000 in tax savings for Zion Holdings LLC, which is buying and renovating a 25,000-square-foot building at 599 Delaware Ave. as part of a $2.75 million project.

The building will be leased to Buffalo Clinical Research Center, a prescription drug research laboratory. The research center, which currently leases 9,000 square feet of space on Delaware Avenue, does Phase One drug testing in trials required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The company, which said it probably would move out of the city without the IDA incentives, has 20 employees.

e-mail: drobinson@buffnews.com