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Ceres seeks tax break to expand plant

A company that makes cubic zirconia for the world jewelry market is looking for a tax break to finance a major expansion here.

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency on Wednesday received a request from Ceres Crystal Industries on Liberty Drive for a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, deal to help with a $5.4 million, two-stage expansion.

The company received a PILOT in 2005. The expansions -- two buildings of 10,000 square feet each -- would increase production and make room for equipment that could recycle some of the current production waste into usable crystals.

Company Controller Robin Selino said Ceres is planning to invest in a new crystal-growing process. The New York Power Authority already has supplied Ceres with a block of low-cost power. The company's employment of 50 is expected to more than double after the expansions, Selino said.

Ceres is owned by investors from France and Switzerland, and its markets are global.

"Very little of our product stays in the country," plant manager Michael Lynch said.

The board set a public hearing for Nov. 10 in its offices on the Ceres request.

The IDA also approved three property tax breaks and a loan.

NuComm International US, a call center company, and Oberlin Plaza One, the owners of The Summit mall on Williams Road, received a 15-year PILOT for a NuComm call center in a vacant 6,000-square-foot store at the mall. The company promises to create at least 150 jobs that will pay about $12 an hour.

Northgate Health Care Facility on Nash Road won a 15-year PILOT for a 4,200-square-foot addition to its nursing home. It will house a dialysis treatment facility operated by Apollo LTC. Nine jobs are to be created.

Merritt Machinery of Summit Street, Lockport, had seven more years added to the eight years remaining on a PILOT granted to its former owners. The company was recently sold.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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