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Strategic Financial Solutions gets 1st tax breaks for Amherst project

A Manhattan financial services firm that promises to bring up to 1,500 jobs to Amherst is kick-starting that investment by pouring $750,000 into a vacant office park building, a commitment that it earned $65,625 in tax breaks from the Amherst Industrial Development Agency on Friday.

Strategic Financial Solutions agreed to hire 300 workers in the initial phase of its proposed expansion. The company, which helps people consolidate their debt, announced six weeks ago that it plans to spend about $20 million to build out the space at 115 Lawrence Bell Drive, a figure that includes construction costs, equipment and employee training, over the next five years.

The overall project is eligible for up to $10 million in state tax credits, if the company meets its hiring goals. Empire State Development would provide Excelsior Jobs tax credits of $277,337 for this portion of the project, an agency spokeswoman said Friday.

Debt consolidation company aims to employ 1,500 in Amherst

In its first phase, Strategic Financial Solutions would spend $750,000 on renovations, equipment and other soft costs on 20,000 square feet of office space at 115 Lawrence Bell, according to documents filed with the IDA.

"I think this is an excellent example of collaborating with our economic development partners. We worked on this with the state for several months," said David S. Mingoia, the Amherst IDA's executive director. "We also worked on this with the Erie County IDA, because not only was this company looking at locations outside of the state, they were looking at multiple locations within Erie County."

Strategic Financial Solutions said in the IDA documents it considered locations in Florida, Georgia and New Jersey for this expansion.

Work would start Aug. 1 and be completed by August 2019. The company pledges to hire 300 people, with annual salaries between $45,000 and $130,000, within two years of the project completion date.

The IDA's board of directors voted to grant the company $65,625 in sales tax breaks. The agency was not required to hold a public hearing on the request because the incentives were worth less than $100,000.

The vote came one day after Strategic Financial Solutions announced it had named Andy Pyne as vice president of operations, putting him in charge of launching the company's Buffalo office. The statement said the first employees will open the Amherst office this summer.

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