Earlier this week, Rich Products announced that it plans to invest $18.5 million in an expansion project at its Niagara Street headquarters that will bring major improvements to its customer innovation center and could potentially lead to future growth in our region.
According to CEO William Gisel, the state-of-the-art upgrades will make the customer innovation center here in Buffalo the focal point for Rich's customers from around the world. This facility is a site dedicated to collaboration between Rich and its clients from various restaurants and food companies who are working on product development. Gisel says the upgrades will incorporate culinary centers, laboratories, and communication capabilities to amplify their interaction with global customers. While Rich is no longer a local manufacturing center, it has invested approximately $70 million locally over the last five years in research, development and information technology.
Work on the facility upgrade is slated to begin within the next month and reach completion by March 2014. Rich expects to add 17 new jobs with this expansion, as well as keep 651 existing employees at its Niagara Street location. According to New York State Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy, Rich's investment conveys the company's commitment to the West Side community. "[Rich] is a name that is clearly one that has made a huge impact here, it's one of the largest family-owned food businesses in the country," he said. "It's a great company, it has a great workforce here, and this investment ensures a long-term commitment."
New York State will be supporting Rich's project with $4.9 million in capital grants and tax incentives, including a $2 million grant from Empire State Development and $2.9 million in tax credits through the Excelsior Jobs Program. Tax incentives totaling nearly $419,000 are anticipated to come through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency as well.
The City of Buffalo and Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) are also making efforts to boost Rich's investment by planning infrastructure upgrades along the Niagara Street corridor, stretching from Niagara Square to Tonawanda Street. The City will dedicate $5.6 million to a four-phase revitalization program that will conclude at the end of 2014. NFTA will follow suit with a $4.5 million urban transit project that will improve Metro Bus services in that area. "This is a global company that could make this investment anywhere in the world," said Mayor Byron Brown. The City has recognized Rich's commitment to its hometown and the West Side community and plans to do its part to compliment the company's efforts.
"We are in such a competitive environment today," Duffy said. "Other states are pulling in our companies, trying to pull our jobs away. When companies make decisions like Rich's to stay here and grow, it's time to celebrate."