Tonawanda News

Local News

May 15, 2013

Delivering on a vision

FedEx breaks ground at solar park hub in town

Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — FedEx broke ground Tuesday on a planned $10.6 million office and distribution center in the town’s Riverview Solar Technology Park that’s expected to preserve more than 1,000 area jobs.

State and local officials touted a deal that offsets about 40 percent of the project’s cost through state Excelsior tax credits and tax abatements through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. FedEx Trade Networks, the international freight and forwarding arm of FedEx that will operate at the park off River Road, brings $5.2 million to the total project cost.

In return for the financial incentives, the company is effectively preserving almost 1,000 existing jobs in the area, as well as promising to add at least another 82 jobs as part of the agreement for state funds.

Fred Schardt, president and CEO of FedEx Trade Networks, travelled from the company’s Tennessee headquarters to the site of the planned 88,000-square-foot building on Tuesday. He told those in attendance the decision to move into the Riverview complex is about more than subsidies. 

The 185-acre commerce park, owned by developer Thomas Montante, is the first solar-ready business park in the state. 

“We understand the importance of doing business in an environmentally friendly way,” Schardt said. “We want to be sustainable.”

As part of the project, Montante has agreed to build the area’s first integrated solar array as part of the new structure, in the form of a 100-kilowatt wall of solar panels expected to save the firm the same amount of energy as burning 80,000 gallons of gas, officials said.

He said in addition to savings, such initiatives line up with the company’s environmental goals, including reducing its fleet’s carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by the end of the decade. The company also has a goal of generating up to a megawatt of solar power.

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