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LOCKPORT – Niagara County Community College has moved out of its Small Business Development Center in downtown Lockport, leaving a large vacant building in the heart of the business district.

The three-story building at Main and Pine streets, originally a Marine Midland Bank branch, was the Corporate Training Center for the NCCC program.

NCCC President James P. Klyczek said last week the college made the move to spread out the small business offerings around the county without enlarging the center’s six-person workforce.

The lease on the former bank was expiring, and the college has rented an office in the Bewley Building at Main and Market streets to carry on its Lockport activities.

“We’re just kind of moving across the street,” Klyczek said.

He said the rent at the Bewley Building is between $4,000 and $5,000 a year, a big savings over the costs of between $110,000 and $120,000 a year at the former bank.

“It’s a lot of building for what they were doing,” said R. Charles Bell, Lockport planning and development director.

Other Small Business Development Center offices will be in the college’s Building C on its main campus in Sanborn; in the Niagara USA Chamber offices in Vantage Center in Wheatfield, better known as home base for the county Industrial Development Agency; and in the NCCC Hospitality and Tourism Center, in the same building with the college’s Culinary Arts Institute in downtown Niagara Falls.

“It was really a combination of things we’ve been working on for the past couple of years, a closer connection with the Chamber and the IDA,” Klyczek said. “It’s really about improving access.”

“They’re keeping a presence in Lockport, which is hugely important for us,” Bell said.

Lynn Oswald, the center’s director, now is based at the Sanborn campus.

The former bank at 50 Main St. is owned by 37 Holdings Lockport LLC, a holding company set up by Roberts Management and Development Co. of Sherman Oaks, Calif.

That company also owns two other downtown Lockport buildings rented by the county: the Social Services Department headquarters at 20 East Ave., which was originally the Harrison Radiator Training Center, and the Golden Triangle Plaza at 111 Main St., headquarters for the motor vehicle office, the Board of Elections and other county agencies.

The county’s leases on those buildings run through 2018.

The California company bought the three buildings from Ulrich Development Co. of Lockport in 2005 for a total of $9.1 million.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com