Signs of change are coming to Lackawanna.
Flexlume Sign Co., a 114-year-old manufacturer and installer of facility signs, is planning to relocate its entire operation from its longtime home in Buffalo to a new 4-acre parcel in Lackawanna that it is purchasing from the city.
The firm that erects signs for clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses will spend $2 million to construct a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing and office facility at 1 Albright Court, just east of Route 5 and Erie County's new Renaissance Commerce Park, which is on the former Bethlehem Steel property. The City Council on Monday approved the sale of the parcel to Flexlume for $100,000.
Construction is expected to begin in the next few months, pending approval by the Lackawanna Planning Board that is expected in the next two months.
Flexlume will move its 20 employees from its current location at 1464 Main St. in the fourth quarter of 2022, and also intends to add 10 more jobs – a 50% increase in staff.
“Flexlume has called 1464 Main Street home since the 1940’s. And while the facility has served us well over many decades, it’s no longer able to keep pace with the needs of our growing company,” said Flexlume co-owner Curtis Martin. “Our new Lackawanna facility will possess the right combination of space and functionality necessary for continuing Flexlume’s expansion and maintaining our commitment to delivering exceptional service to our customers.”
Founded in 1904, Flexlume has designed and produced signs for clients such as the Buffalo Bills, the Buffalo Sabres, Erie County Medical Center, Tesla, M&T Bank Corp., Bank on Buffalo, Northwest Bank, HarborCenter Marriott and Shea's Performing Arts Center.
This is the latest in several major projects for Lackawanna recently, totaling $74.5 million in investments. Those include TMP Technologies, which makes the Magic Eraser cleaning product; Sucro Sourcing, a Florida-based sugar company; and a new warehouse and distribution center by Uniland Development Co.
“Flexlume’s significant investment in Lackawanna continues our city’s progress in attracting new, long-term development projects and jobs from strong, reputable companies whose products and services are used across the country,” said Lackawanna Mayor Annette Iafallo. “It’s also further evidence that Lackawanna is re-establishing itself as an attractive destination for companies looking to locate or expand light manufacturing, warehousing and distribution operations.”
The Albright Court property was previously part of the former Albright Court Defense Housing Project complex, which was demolished more than 30 years ago. It's located across from the Bethlehem Steel site, but isn't part of it. It's also within Lackawanna's Federal Opportunity Zone and would be the second project in Lackawanna's Brownfield Opportunity Area, giving Flexlume the opportunity to claim state brownfield tax credits for the redevelopment project.
The first Brownfield Opportunity Area project was the Premium Coffee and Queen City Foods manufacturing and distribution facility that was built and opened in late 2020 at 2510 Hamburg Turnpike.
“With the Albright Court parcel being in close proximity to what was for decades one of the largest steel plants in the world, Flexlume’s project will include as-of-right development tax credits,” said Lackawanna Development Director Richard Stanton. “This incentive tool within the BOA helps us transform these former industrial lands to productive re-use.”