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Unifrax revives plan to build manufacturing plant in Town of Tonawanda

Unifrax Corp. is reviving a plan to build an $18 million manufacturing facility and create 25 jobs in the Town of Tonawanda.

The company proposed in 2014 building a 76,000-square-foot facility in the town's North Youngmann Commerce Center, next to its existing corporate headquarters.

The town Planning Board approved the expansion that year and the Erie County Industrial Development Agency approved $1.2 million in tax breaks for it. But the project has been on hold for more than two years.

Wednesday night, the company will ask the Planning Board for a preliminary site plan review for a larger 83,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at that site.

A new approval is necessary due to a "sunset clause" that requires a developer to go through the process when there is a lapse of more than one year, said James Hartz, Town of Tonawanda director of community development.

Town officials are pleased the project is back.

"This is a good project. Everyone is thrilled that this project is moving forward. Its additional jobs and investments in the town," said Hartz. "There's a lot of wins here."

Unifrax, which produces high temperature insulation products for the automotive industry and other customers, employs 2,500 people worldwide in 12 countries, including about 330 people in Tonawanda. It moved its corporate headquarters from Niagara Falls to Tonawanda in 2011. Its European headquarters are located in Lorette, France. Unifrax also has two worldwide research and development facilities, located in Tonawanda and in Runcorn, England.

Although the new manufacturing facility was not built in 2014, the company did complete a separate $33 million project to expand its main plant on Fire Tower Drive in Tonawanda.

A company spokesperson declined to comment on the $18 million expansion before the Planning Board meeting.

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