Lackawanna is welcoming a rock salt packaging company to the Gateway Trade Center.
Compass Minerals International’s rock salt packaging and distribution facility officially opens for business this week at the lakefront industrial park on Route 5. The facility will receive rock salt from Compass Minerals’ Goderich, Ont., mine, screen and package it as a de-icing product, and ship it by lake freighter and other means for sale to homeowners, businesses and building maintenance professionals.
The Overland Park, Kan.-based company mines and packages salt, nutrients for plants and magnesium chloride for distribution mostly in North America. Its products are used in industrial, agricultural, commercial and consumer sectors. Originally founded in 1844, the company has been publicly traded since December 2003.
Officials cited the new location as ideal because of its quick deepwater access to Canada and to major U.S. markets by train and major highways. “We chose Lackawanna over other possible locations primarily for the proximity to the waterways,” said Jason Bagley, Compass Minerals plant manager. “But our location in the Buffalo area also expands our presence in an important market and improves our customer service, as well. We’re happy to be here in Lackawanna.”
The new $8.5 million packaging operation on six acres along the Gateway Metroport Ship Canal features three structures with different purposes. The complex, whose construction received $1.35 million in tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, includes a 75-foot-high, 18,000-square-foot salt storage dome, a 5,400-square-foot packaging facility and a 28,000-square-foot storage warehouse. It’s expected to employ eight to 10 workers, which means an average of at least $135,000 in tax breaks per worker.
It competes with an existing rock salt mine and packaging plant near Mount Morris, operated by American Rock Salt Co. LLC.
It’s also the newest industrial occupant of part of the former Bethlehem Steel property, which is targeted for redevelopment by Lackawanna and the state through the state-funded Brownfields Opportunity Area Initiative that identifies it as a resource for future growth.
“Collaboration between private and public entities can provide a success story creating jobs and revenue for the city,” said Lackawanna Director of Development Fred K. Heinle.
City, county and state political leaders and company representatives, including Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski, were on hand Wednesday for the grand opening.
“This represents a clear indication that Lackawanna is strategically situated to attract business operations that rely upon multimodal transportation systems,” Szymanski said. “Once site-selection professionals understand what the City of Lackawanna has to offer, there will be a true renaissance of the former steel property.”