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ECIDA OKs tax breaks for Tomric Systems' expansion

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency has approved a sales tax break totaling $65,625 for Acquest Development Co.'s expansion project for a Black Rock maker of plastic chocolate molds.

Tomric Systems, which also makes food packaging and distributes chocolate handling equipment throughout the United States and Canada, currently occupies 30,149 square feet in the former Buffalo Free Trade Zone Complex at 85 River Rock Drive.

But it wants to renovate and increase its space to 45,030 square feet, setting up a new Chocolate Innovation Center to demonstrate its equipment. It has pledged to add two more workers to its current staff of 25 as part of the proposed $1.575 million expansion.

The facility had been owned by the ECIDA on behalf of the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp. since 1983, providing low-rent incubator space to small companies. But it was transferred directly to BERC last year and then sold to Acquest, which is owned by the Huntress family. The developer now wants to undertake the expansion on its tenant's behalf, including significant upgrades to the HVAC, electrical and fire-safety systems, as well as loading docks.

The 74,000-square-foot building also houses the City of Buffalo Clerk Records, Aries Transportation, and warehouse space for LS&S, but the extra space Tomric would take up is currently vacant. Acquest initially looked at relocating the city clerk records to free up that space – which already had the improvements Tomric needed – but was unsuccessful.

"The high costs associated with these upgrades have created a gap that would need the assistance from the agency to help with lower than expected return on investment," Acquest wrote in its application.

The project, which will create 11 temporary construction jobs paying $576,487, is also expected to generate $540,945 in added state and local tax revenues, according to ECIDA estimates. The project was backed by both the city and Erie County.

Acquest hopes to start work immediately and finish by mid-June.

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