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Tulip Corp. considered moving but chose to build new plant in Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS – Tulip Corp. celebrated the groundbreaking for a new plant on Thursday with a host of people who made the company’s planned move happen, from politicians and community leaders to board members and the plant workers themselves.

But the celebration was also about how everyone had worked together to make sure the molded plastics manufacturing facility would remain in Niagara Falls.

The new $11.7 million factory will be built next door to the existing 114-year-old, 125,000-square-foot plant at 3125 Highland Ave., which was not equipped to handle future growth. The move will preserve jobs for 84 current full-time employees and create an additional 10 jobs.

Craig Kellogg, Tulip’s president and chief executive officer, said the company hopes to move into the new plant by December.

Kellogg admitted that when the company first contemplated the need for more space two years ago, it also looked out of state.

“I realized we needed to do major repairs – which are really not cost-effective – or develop an entirely new footprint,” he said.

He said executives looked both in the region and out of state, but he said they were impressed by how hard everyone fought to keep them in Niagara Falls.

“I’m thrilled that we are here today. There are a lot of people who said this wouldn’t happen,” said Sam Hoyt, senior vice president of economic development at Empire State Development. He called the groundbreaking a collaboration between the public and private sector.

The new factory will be used to streamline the company’s thermoplastic injection molding, which creates products for batteries, bottled water and dairy product producers, along with custom orders. Tulip has committed a total of $10.3 million to the project.

OSC-Brightfields Corp., a Buffalo-based company headed by Jon Williams, will construct the new 70,000-square-foot facility on the 7 acres of cleaned-up property and lease it to Tulip.

OSC led the $17 million remediation of the new site, one of the largest such projects in the state, which was performed with Honeywell through the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s brownfield cleanup program.

In addition, the New York Power Authority board of trustees approved a Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board award of $1 million to subsidize the project. Tulip currently receives 300 kilowatts of expansion power and 1,200 watts of replacement power through the authority.

To encourage Tulip to remain in New York, Empire State Development also agreed to provide the company with $300,000 in tax credits and a $250,000 capital grant.

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency awarded payment-in-lieu-of-taxes breaks on sales and mortgage taxes amounting to $1.9 million over the 15-year term. OSC will receive $1.6 million from the state under the brownfield cleanup program on a total cleanup investment of $25 million.

Assemblyman John Ceretto, D-Lewiston, said keeping the plant open was very personal to him, noting that he worked at the plant, formerly known as Prestolite, for 21 years, and had been the union president.

“I worked hard with my colleagues to make this happen. I understand,” Ceretto said. “I will never forget where I came from.”