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Ebenezer Railcar Services gets $900,000 in tax breaks for West Seneca expansion

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency on Wednesday approved a package of $897,500 in property and sales tax breaks for a $6 million expansion project by a 37-year-old freight rail car manufacturer based in West Seneca.

Ebenezer Railcar Services wants to more than double the size of its facility at 1005 Indian Church Road. The employee-owned company has a 67,462-square-foot manufacturing building on its 48.26-acre property, but it wants to build a 94,000-square-foot addition on an unused portion of its land for more manufacturing, warehouse and office space.

That would allow it to not only increase production capacity at its current site, but also to consolidate all of its Western New York operations to one location. The employee-owned company also has a leased 84,000-square-foot facility in Blasdell, which it will vacate upon completion of the addition.

The expansion also would allow the company to implement more advanced and technical manufacturing processes, by upgrading the facility and equipment. Officials expect to purchase "a significant amount of equipment" for welding, metal fabrication and advanced manufacturing, as well as cranes and jacks.

The expansion would result in more local jobs, while reducing or eliminating the need to outsource some production to a sister company in Colorado, Liberty Railway Services. Ebenezer employs 84 people now but expects to add 13 full-time jobs, paying an average salary of $55,000.

ECIDA officials noted that Hamburg and Blasdell officials were contacted but did not object to the tax breaks.

Ebenezer Railcar both makes and repairs freight cars, although manufacturing is expected to take up the bulk of its future operations.

Rail car maker seeks ECIDA tax breaks to keep expansion on track

The company focuses on small-volume orders, usually of less than 100 cars per order, as well as specially designed rail cars. It's the only freight rail car manufacturer in the state. While most of its competition is based in the United States, their production is usually in Mexico and Canada.

The company said it needs the IDA subsidies to "reduce the financial impact of this significant investment," so it can focus on growing the company "to provide a stable and competitive financial future of the company."

Otherwise, the expansion won't happen locally, but potentially at the Liberty operations in Colorado instead, the company said.

The project costs include $4.5 million for the construction, plus $1.3 million for new equipment and $200,000 for other furnishings and professional services. Funding includes $3.5 million in equity and $2.5 million in bank financing. Ebenezer has also been approved for state Excelsior Jobs tax credits and is seeking a capital improvement grant from New York State Electric & Gas.

Officials hope to have the project completed by March 2019.

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