By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — FedEx will likely launch construction on a new facility in Tonawanda's Riverview Solar Technology Park in May that officials say will save nearly 1,000 jobs from leaving New York state and potentially add dozens more.
FedEx Trade Networks and Brokerage, an arm of FedEx that focuses on larger international shipments, are said by state and company officials to be ready to invest $5.2 million in an 88,000-square-foot facility at the business park, though company spokesman Michael Bielskis said a definitive commitment will not be made until April.
Nonetheless, the project seems all but certain. New York state has revealed that it will contribute $2.56 million in Excelsior tax credits through Empire State Development, while the Erie County Industrial Development Agency will vote in April on whether to add more than $10 million in additional tax credits to FedEx.
"Nothing is finalized," Bielskis said. "But it seems very likely."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office made the announcement last week, citing that state contributions will keep 926 employees from leaving the state, and potentially create another 82 jobs, in the sweeping 185-acre Riverview business park just off River Road.
The announcement, which appears to hinge on the approval of the $13 million in tax incentives, comes amid a push by Cuomo to reign in the amount of tax dollars doled out by state IDAs.
However, Tom Kucharski, chief executive officer of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, said the tax incentives will ensure the project moves forward with the looming possibility that the company would move the project to Tennessee or Indianapolis, where FedEx also has a strong presence.
“We feel very fortunate we stayed in the elimination round and ultimately got a deal with these guys,” Kucharski said in a statement, while adding that the idea of incorporating green elements to the picture was also attractive to FedEx.
TM Montante, which operates Riverview business park, will also construct a 100-kilowatt solar capacity that will be tied into the pending FedEx building, according to state officials.
Should the project move forward, FedEx will consolidate many of its buildings into Riverview, with access to highways, rail lines and the Canadian border a short distance away, according Bielskis, who would not pinpoint which of FedEx's local facilities may be consolidated until after an official decision is made by the company.
"What we're looking to do is consolidate a number of offices in Tonawanda and Buffalo," he said. "We're excited about it. If we get the approval that is when we hope to have the shovel in the dirt. We're keeping our fingers crossed."
Unifrax, a Western New York company with 100 employees, also moved its operations from Niagara Falls in December, where it now occupies 44,000 square feet.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.