WHEATFIELD – After 15 years of waiting, Niagara County announced Wednesday that it is activating a foreign trade zone in a county-controlled industrial park in Wheatfield.
The federal government allows such zones, where goods are exempted from customs duties, near international borders. The county’s location will be in Vantage International Point, as the county Industrial Development Agency calls the 162-acre industrial park on Lockport Road, just west of Walmore Road.
Borderworx Logistics, a Canadian-owned company whose new 50,000-square-foot warehouse is expected to open in Vantage in October, will be operating the zone. The $3.55 million warehouse, to be called Gateway Center, will be a transshipment point for Canadian-made products to be sold in the U.S.
Borderworx bought 31 acres of land in the park from the IDA last year, and that parcel will become the foreign trade zone.
“We had this whole park designated as a foreign trade zone in 2001,” said Susan C. Langdon, IDA director of projects and finance. “It was never activated.”
The previously designated trade zone also includes the former Bell Aerospace plant on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield and 19 acres near Niagara Falls International Airport.
Langdon said Borderworx CEO Dean Wood designed a building that met federal security requirements for use as a trade depot.
Other businesses will be able to benefit from the zone.
“We need to provide incentives to draw companies here that want to create good local jobs servicing international customers,” said County Legislator William J. Collins, R-Lockport.
Wood could not be reached for comment, but Langdon said the 2015 deal with Borderworx envisioned the 31 acres as a trade zone, with potential construction of another 50,000-square-foot warehouse and several smaller buildings on the site.
Once the first warehouse is complete, Borderworx will relocate from Grand Island to Wheatfield. Its work force of nine is expected to rise to more than 50, according to its application to the IDA for aid.
Last year, the agency granted Borderworx a 15-year tax break on the project, and in February, the IDA’s lending arm made a $200,000 loan to the company.
State agencies also have piled on the incentives for Gateway Center. It received a $1 million loan from the Job Development Authority, a $266,000 grant from the Office of Homes and Community Renewal and a $285,000 grant from the New York Power Authority.