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Niagara County seeks additional incentives for Wheatfield warehouse

LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature has requested a $266,000 cash grant from the state to be used as a loan to Borderworx, a Canadian company planning to construct a new warehouse and distribution facility in a county-owned industrial park.

The money would come from the state Office of Community Renewal, and is part of a major incentive package that included a tax break and a $285,000 grant from the New York Power Authority.

The company currently is located on Grand Island, but Borderworx plans a $3.5 million, 50,000-square-foot project it calls Gateway Center on 31 acres it bought from the county industrial development agency in April for $155,000. The new building would be more than three times as large as the company’s current location.

The site is in Vantage International Point, the IDA-owned industrial park off Lockport Road in Wheatfield, where the IDA headquarters building is located. The building would be used as a distribution center for a variety of products imported from Canada and produced north of the border by Borderworx’s clients.

The original Borderworx application to the IDA for a 15-year property tax abatement promised 61 new full-time jobs within three years. The County Legislature resolution approving the grant request, passed Dec. 8, lowered that to 53 jobs.

The $266,000 would be granted to the Niagara County Development Corp., the IDA’s lending arm. The repayments on the expected loan to Borderworx would stay with the NCDC and could be reloaned for other projects, Legislator Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove said.

In another real estate deal, the Legislature voted to hire the commercial division of Realty USA to market 50 Main St., Lockport, one of the three buildings the county purchased in a March auction.

The buildings were owned by the same Texas company, which put them up for bids as a package. The county really wanted 111 Main St. and 20-40 East Ave., both of which have been leased for several years as county office buildings. The building at 50 Main is vacant, and the county had no plans for it.

A onetime Marine Midland Bank location, the site last was occupied by the Niagara County Community College Small Business Development Center, which moved back to the NCCC Sanborn campus in 2012.

The Legislature also voted to hire the Drescher & Malecki auditing firm of Cheektowaga to perform the county’s mandatory outside audit for the next four years, at prices ranging from $67,500 to $69,500 a year. The contract was a substantial savings over the $81,200 the county paid this year to Toski & Co. of Williamsville, as well as the $78,344 the Drescher firm charged the county the last time it had the contract in 2010. Toski sought to increase its fee to $88,800 by the end of the contract in 2018, said County Auditor James B. Sobczyk.

The Freed Maxick firm of Buffalo had a lower bid than Drescher & Malecki, but Sobczyk said he recommended hiring the latter because Freed Maxick lacked enough municipal experience.