Niagara Gazette

August 5, 2013

Legislature poised to approve 'Empower Niagara' grants to two area manufacturers

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — Two local manufacturers are seeking shares of Niagara County’s low-cost power allocation in exchange for bringing in new jobs.

The county Legislature will vote next week on requests by Diversified Manufacturing on Lockport for access to 200 kilowatts, and Wheatfield-based Delfingen U.S.-New York Inc. for 150 kilowatts, of low-cost hydropower.

The three-year allocations are from Empower Niagara, a county-run program that re-grants shares of the county’s nine-megawatt allocation from New York Power Authority for economic development purposes.

If the allocations are approved, the county will have 380 kilowatts left to re-grant to businesses this year, according to Samuel Ferraro, commissioner of economic development.

Diversified is investing $5 million in expansion of its 410 Ohio St. headquarters. It’s bringing 46 full-time jobs to Lockport from Ipac Inc., a sister company in Amherst, and will have 165 employees under one roof when the consolidation is complete. Diversified designs, manufactures and assembles precision equipment and parts for various industries.

The 200 kW hydropower allocation that it seeks is worth about $62,000 per year, according to the county.

Delfingen is investing $475,000 in relocation of an acquired company from outside the region to manufacture insulation wire harness protection products. Twenty-three new jobs are in the offing. The 150 kW allocation that it sees is worth about $46,000 per year.

Grants to both companies were recommended by the legislature’s administration committee this week.

Also, the committee backed proposed changes in the agreement between the county and Wendelville Fire Company to secure a permanent handicapped access ramp at the fire hall, which is a polling place.

The county previously received a grant from the state to improve polling places. The fire company commissioned the ramp work and received only one bid for construction/installation, for $33,200, which exceeds the maximum amount that the county agreed to pay.

The revised agreement has the county paying up to $29,700 for construction and the fire company chipping in $3,500. Construction is to begin immediately after the Sept. 10 primary election, according to the revised agreement.

In addition, the administration committee:

• Backed reappointment of John E. Shoemaker as director of county real property tax services, effective Oct. 1, for a six-year term. Shoemaker has been in the post since April 2011, when he took over for retired director Bill Budde. The state requires counties to confirm real property directors’ appointments every six years, according to County Manager Jeffrey Glatz. With appointment to a new term, Shoemaker’s salary, currently $68,028, would be raised by 2 percent annually beginning in January 2015.

• Backed hiring of Grand Island-based Cannon Design as a management consultant to guide the county’s acquisition of an Internet-based telephone system. The county expects to invest in excess of $2 million to replace 1,300 telephones and 400 accessories in late 2014. Cannon Design would be paid $74,500 to design the setup and write the county’s hardware bidding specifications.

Among six companies that bid for the consulting work, Cannon’s price was second-lowest; Penfield-based ECC Technologies bid $4,100 less, but the county’s professional services procurement policy allows the legislature to steer work to companies that are based in Niagara or a neighboring county.