The revival of a former Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna has taken a step forward, with a Buffalo company planning to build a new manufacturing plant there.
TMP Technologies, which makes cleaning products including Magic Eraser, has signed a letter of intent to buy about 28 acres of property off Route 5 for about $1.1 million. If the sale and construction go as planned, the plant will open next year, retaining about 100 jobs and adding 30 jobs over the next several years, said Bob Laughlin, the company's president.
Beyond supporting TMP's own growth plans, the $13 million plant would be the first new business to set up operations on about 150 acres of former Bethlehem Steel property that Erie County acquired for redevelopment, with financial help from the state. New York state provided $10 million from its Buffalo Billion II program and $2.78 million from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council to support the effort.
The TMP plant would be located near the Welded Tube of Canada plant, which opened in 2013 and now employs about 100 people at a factory that makes piping for the energy industry.
The board of the Buffalo and Erie County Industrial Land Development Corp., which technically owns the property, is expected to vote on the property sale later this summer or in early fall. The ILDC is an affiliate of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.
TMP hopes to start construction of its new, 280,000 square foot plant this fall. The company has submitted an initial site plan to the Lackawanna planning board. Laughlin said he would ideally like to have the new facility ready a year from now.
TMP plans to relocate operations from a 120,000 square foot manufacturing facility on Dingens Street to Lackawanna, but would retain its locations on Northland Avenue in Buffalo, where its administrative operations are, and in Wyoming, N.Y., Laughlin said.
TMP was founded in 1954, and makes an array of cleaning products. Laughlin and a business partner, Kirk Dorn, acquired the business a few years ago. The company has faced a space crunch at the Dingens Street location due to higher sales volumes and expanded product lines, Laughlin said.
Over time, the company has needed more and more of its space for manufacturing, and is now using four other locations for storage, "which is logistically difficult," Laughlin said. "Now we're to the point where we're running out of manufacturing room, so we had to do something."
As the company looked around for options, it couldn't find any existing industrial properties that suited its needs, Laughlin said. Its search then turned to available land to build something new, and the ECIDA drew the company's attention to the Bethlehem Steel site. Company officials determined the Lackawanna site was a good location, with land for expansion if necessary, Laughlin said.
TMP is looking forward to moving into a larger facility, as well as helping bring a former Bethlehem Steel site back to life, Laughlin said.
Erie County Mark Poloncarz said he was confident the former Bethlehem Steel property would attract businesses, once the infrastructure was in place to accommodate them.
"It was imperative that government took the lead on the project, and once we would and did that, others would follow. And that's exactly what it is," said Poloncarz, who is also the chairman of the Industrial Land Development Corp.
Poloncarz said TMP represents a good first arrival, as a Buffalo company with a proven track record and a need for more space.
"It's not like we're selling it for someone for speculation on property," he said.
The land TMP plans to buy is a combination of land that the county had already acquired from Tecumseh Redevelopment, as well as land that was scheduled to be part of the county's next phase of land to buy from Tecumseh.