A Florida-based sugar and cane sweetener processing company that opened in Lackawanna's Gateway Trade Zone earlier this year is expanding to handle its growing import and distribution business.
City officials have approved Sucro Can Sourcing's proposed redevelopment of an abandoned industrial building within the former Bethlehem Steel complex.
The Coral Gables-based company plans to spend $1 million to convert the former Blowing Engine House No. 3 into a bulk warehouse facility for cold storage of imported raw granular sugar.
That would significantly boost the company's onsite storage capacity, and comes less than a year after it opened a temporary storage facility in the Gateway Metroport in April, with 21 jobs. The project is expected to be completed by early 2021, now that the city has cleared the site plan and granted a special-use permit.
“Since we started the Lackawanna operation in January 2020 our experience has been extremely positive. We’ve had tremendous support from all local agencies and officials, as well as various trade partners,” said Jonathan Taylor, founder and CEO of Sucro Sourcing.
Founded in 2014 and based in Coral Gables, Sucro Sourcing provides sugar for mills, processors, distributors and industrial customers, and also supplies pure cane sweetener. Besides Lackawanna, the company has operations in Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, and multiple locations throughout South America, as well as a sugar refinery in Hamilton, Ont.
Its operation in Lackawanna, which extends its ability to serve the food industry in upstate New York, recently added a liquid sugar processing facility that supplies several leading global multinational food companies.
As part of the project, Sucro is buying a 12-acre brownfield parcel within the steel complex, and officials said additional development is possible, depending on market conditions and demand.
“Sucro Sourcing’s decision to invest in a new permanent warehouse operation here in Lackawanna reflects the growing value new businesses are seeing in our city and the tremendous development potential we have to offer,” said Lackawanna Mayor Annette Iafallo. “It’s also a testament to the strong partnership efforts between New York State, Erie County and the City of Lackawanna to restore the former steel plant complex land to productive reuse.”
The Lackawanna trade zone, administered by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, is part of the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zone program, which was created to encourage international trade and make U.S. companies more competitive globally.
The zones are secure areas in or near U.S. Customs ports, where tariffs and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol entry procedures do not apply, although Customs does have an operation there to process cargo.
The Lackawanna zone includes an inland deep water port and easy access to both rail lines and the New York State Thruway for transportation. It's adjacent to the former Bethlehem Steel property, a 240-acre swath of formerly polluted industrial land that Erie County, the ECIDA, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Lackawanna have worked to redevelop.
The polluted land is being remediated under state supervision under the Brownfield Cleanup Program. The site includes new road infrastructure, utility service and zoning rules – as well as special tax incentives – to encourage clean manufacturing and distribution facilities.