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Kohler Awning gets $108,000 in ECIDA tax breaks for expansion

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency on Wednesday approved just over $107,000 in tax breaks for Kohler Awning, which is building a 12,000-square-foot addition to its existing facility in Cheektowaga to gain more space for manufacturing, welding and storage of its products,

Kohler plans to spend $850,000 to expand its 38,000-square-foot facility at 2600 Walden Avenue, adding one job for an additional installer, with an annual salary of $26,000.

The IDA approved $70,000 in property tax savings over seven years, $29,000 in sales tax savings and $8,500 in mortgage recording tax breaks to support the project. The project is expected to generate $19,000 in new revenues to Erie County, Cheektowaga and the school district.

The family-owned company, founded in 1925, makes fabric awnings for residential and commercial construction. The company, which last expanded in 2006 with a 10,000-square-foot addition that was also supported by the ECIDA, had 45 jobs at that time but now has 53 employees overall, earning an average of $29,000 per year. Its prior payment-in-lieu-of-taxes arrangement expires in 2023.

Cheektowaga Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski, a member of the IDA board, briefly questioned the tax breaks, citing the single job being created by the project and the retail nature of part of Kohler’s business.

“I’ve gotten calls about that, about Kohler Awning being a retail business,” she said. “I’m the one getting the questions.”

But IDA officials said it’s not the same as going into a grocery or other store, and noted that the benefits will only apply to the manufacturing portion of the business. The incentives passed unanimously.