Tonawanda News — AMHERST — The commissioner of Erie County’s Department of Environment and Planning, Maria Whyte, highlighted three potential economic growth opportunities in the Tonawandas Friday afternoon at a Ken-Ton Chamber of Commerce Luncheon.
The projects, which were included in Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s “Initiatives for a Smart Economy report,” are in varying stages of development, but two of the initiatives — the Spaulding Fiber plant site in the City of Tonawanda and the North Youngmann Commerce Center — are months away from fruition.
Workers are currently completing infrastructure improvements to the town’s commerce center, a 92-acre parcel site north of the Youngmann Expressway. The construction, which includes the installation of water and sewer lines, is set to cost $2.8 million.
The town has received $2.1 million from Geico for the project and $500,000 from the Empire State Development Corp.
“This site didn’t require cleanup, because it was really just former fields,” Whyte said.
Last month, Wythe Will Tzetzo, a candy and food specialty company that currently leases town property, announced its intention to move its headquarters to the new park and build a $17 million center. Monday, the Erie County Industrial Development Agency granted the company $5.1 million in tax abatements.
“That is one of those things we struggle with ... when is it prudent to make a partnership with a company?” Whyte said. “This is precisely when abatement makes sense ... when a new generation of wealth is the result.”
The company will hire 25 to 35 additional employees over the next two to three years as a result of the expansion. Construction is set to begin in November.
The Spaulding Fiber site in the City of Tonawanda is also ready for development after an eight-year, $20 million cleanup effort.
“It took a great deal of time to raise the money for the cleanup,” Whyte said. “It’s very exciting.”