There was a time when members of the community hoped that the former Bethlehem Steel site would be transformed into a recreational park, similar to Rivers of Steel. That, of course, was not possible due to the demolition of the abandoned buildings.
Eventually it became clear that the repurposed 150 acres of land would transition into a zone for new industrial and manufacturing developments – something more in line with Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park.
In 2019, it was announced that TMP Technologies, founded in 1954, would be expanding and relocating onto a 290,000 sq. ft. parcel that would be constructed by general contractor Kulback’s, Inc.
The company initially began looking for new manufacturing space after it outgrew its facility in the city of Buffalo. The land at the former steel plant turned out to be exactly what TMP required in order to remain in the city – TMP ended up purchasing 28 acres of property from the The Buffalo and Erie County Industrial Land Development Corporation (ILDC) as part of its expansion and relocation plans.
Today, the County of Erie, ILDC, TMP Technologies, along with numerous community stakeholders, came together to celebrate the “topping off” of the steel frame structure for TMP’s future manufacturing plant.
Once operational, the plant will employ over 120 new and retained full-time workers, not to mention the 100 construction workers that are currently on the job building the $22 million project, situated on the County-backed modern commerce park.
TMP, “known as The Applicator Company™”, will be the “first in” anchor tenant on the site, thus acting as a draw for other manufacturers to the waterfront property.
“We have taken another major step forward in this important project that we believe will stimulate further economic growth and very promising job creation,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, who also serves as chairman of the Industrial Land Development Corporation Board of Directors. “This is an exciting time for Erie County, specifically the City of Lackawanna. For far too long we heard nothing but disappointment about the former Bethlehem Steel property. Through a lot of hard work and significant collaborative investment thanks to our partners in government and the private sector, we are going to be able to marvel at the tremendous progress we have made in the birth of a state-of-the-art commerce park that will be the home of many good-paying jobs for local residents.”
“Being able to expand our operations in a new facility with logistical amenities like highway access, enough acreage, and convenient commute for our workforce made this the perfect location,” said Bob Laughlin, President of TMP Technologies, whose company specializes in custom foam, plastic, rubber, and metal component fabrication. “We are Western New Yorkers, our employees are Western New Yorkers. TMP is committed to Buffalo, and we look forward to other manufacturers joining us here as neighbors in the new commerce park in the near future.”
“As President & CEO of the ECIDA and the ILDC, I congratulate TMP Technologies on this truly significant milestone,”said John Cappellino, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency and the Industrial Land Development Corporation. “I am extremely proud of our team, and the collaborative efforts with Erie County, the City of Lackawanna, and Empire State Development. I thank the County Executive for his vision and leadership, and former landowners Tecumseh Redevelopment for collaborating on the sale of the parcels. Our mission at both the IDA and the ILDC is economic growth and job creation. As the first tenant of our future commerce park, this project represents a successful step forward in that mission.”
This project has become a sort of rallying symbol in the face of the COVID crisis. As small mom and pop businesses continue to take a beating, and face of the the world’s economy shifts in ways that we never could have imagined, news of this nature is a welcome distraction from the problems at hand.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “New York State support has been critical to Erie County’s acquisition and transformation of land at the former Bethlehem Steel site. At this unprecedented time, New York is building back better, with this company and with a vibrant business park that will attract new companies and jobs to Buffalo.”
“The City of Lackawanna is grateful for TMP’s investment in our community – bringing over 100 jobs and significant long-term economic benefit to our city,” said Lackawanna Mayor Annette Iafallo. “We’re also thankful to them for being a part of the bold vision set forth by County Executive Poloncarz and his team for restoring economic and community vibrancy to this once proud site. We look forward to having TMP as a member of the Lackawanna business community for many years to come.”
“Kulback’s has a long history of high profile general contracting projects in Erie County, but this was a particularly special one. Working on a site with the history of Bethlehem Steel, and participating in the redevelopment process into a new commerce park has been a rewarding project for us. I want to thank TMP for the opportunity, and we are working hard toward the day when this first building on the redeveloped parcel opens its doors to workers and becomes operational,” said Kulback’s President Tom Barrett.