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Erie County Industrial Development Agency directors Wednesday gave their blessing to a $6 million bond sale for Graphic Controls Corp. -- even though no one around the table is sure if the firm will remain in Buffalo.

The Graphic Controls project was one of four totaling $13.2 million approved by the ECIDA board.

The agency also approved a $64 million bond sale for the Episcopal Church Home & Affiliates' Canterbury Woods life care community in Amherst.

The $6 million for Graphic Controls would be used to purchase and install computer equipment and software to automate the monitor and marking systems maker's manufacturing, order entry, planning, procurement and human resource processes.

Before the vote, ECIDA board member and Buffalo Common Council President James Pitts asked the obvious question: "Are they or are they not staying in town?"

Mayor Masiello responded: "We are in constant dialogue with the Graphic Controls people. We've offered them a very attractive incentive package from the ECIDA, the city and the state."

ECIDA Executive Director Ronald W. Coan said the $6 million for equipment was part of the incentive package, and that recapture clauses are imbedded in the agreement requiring the company to repay the $304,000 in sales tax savings it would realize.

Graphic Controls corporate secretary Patricia Baubonis said the company's board is meeting at the end of this month to consider whether the firm remains or relocates, probably to South Carolina.

"No decision has been made (on relocation). We're still putting together the package for our board, which is meeting the end of October," Ms. Baubonis said. "We're also still taking with South Carolina officials."

Also approved, although not exactly as presented, was Ciminelli Development Co. Inc.'s plan to construct a $5 million warehouse, distribution and office facility at 4950 Genesee St. in Cheektowaga.

Ciminelli presented the 63,900-square-foot facility as being 16 percent preleased to Mobile Diagnostic Testing Services, which has outgrown its existing space in Amherst.

While multi-tenant buildings generally have to have preleasing pacts for more than 50 percent of
total space prior to winning ECIDA approval, the Ciminelli building falls within the recently enacted redevelopment district.

Such districts permit building built on speculation for manufacturing and warehouse use, allowing the facility to be approved.

However, ECIDA board member Michael Fitzpatrick looked at Mobile Diagnostics' second-year job projections and cried foul.

"The company is projecting its employment will grow to 74 from the current 62, but they will have no minority workers?" he asked.

Coan said tenants have to be approved by the board in any project using ECIDA inducements. Thus the board voted 14-1 to approve project construction but not Mobile Diagnostics.

William Stark, Ciminelli senior vice president, told the board he thought Mobile Diagnostics has erred in counting its personnel. "I've been to their offices and seen women workers," Stark said.

Using ECIDA inducements, Ciminelli will save $159,000 in sales taxes and $563,958 in property taxes over the life of the 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement. During the same period, Ciminelli will pay $620,014 in property and special district levies.

The board also approved several other projects.

Collection agency Creditors Interchange Inc. won approval for the sale of $1.16 million in bonds to finance construction of a 13,000-square-foot facility in the New Buffalo Industrial Park.

The company will realize $30,000 in tax savings and $135,070 in property tax savings over the 10-year life of the PILOT pact. During that same 10 years, the firm will pay $97,810 in property and special district taxes.

The firm projects its employment will climb to 160 from the current 74 within two years.

Whiting Roll-Up Door Manufacturing Corp., which has been waiting for the right incentive to expand its Akron headquarters, got a $1 million financing package from the ECIDA board.

The maker of roll-up and swinging doors plans to add 26,500 square feet to its existing 400,000 square feet of space, and install state-of-the-art painting equipment.

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