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LOCKPORT – The top executives of Bison Bag Co., a packaging company, briefed the Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency Thursday on plans for a $2 million plant expansion.

The IDA board approved the sale of 1.5 acres of land in the town industrial park to Bison Bag for $30,000. IDA Administrative Director David R. Kinyon said the company is seeking a 15-year tax abatement on the expansion, but the board has yet to schedule a public hearing on the request.

The company plans to add 50,000 square feet to its current 55,000-square-foot plant in the town’s industrial park. The company already owns a 1.5-acre vacant lot next to the plant, so the new land purchase, immediately west of the first lot, gives Bison Bag three acres to work with.

“We want to continue to grow the business,” President Scott Zgoda said.

CEO James Streicher Jr. said the company currently employs nearly 70 people and plans to add about 10 more jobs with the planned expansion.

Zgoda said the company anticipates starting the project by the end of this year.

The company was founded in 1968 in the Town of Tonawanda and moved to the Lockport industrial park in March 1998. Streicher and Zgoda took over as the top management team in 2000.

Streicher said 20 percent of Bison Bag’s business is producing packages for Rich Products. Rich used to account for a much higher percentage, but Streicher said, “Our strategy was to diversify, so if, God forbid, Rich left, it wouldn’t affect us.”

He added, “We do a lot of frozen food packaging for Wegmans’ private label. We have an easy-opening thing we developed for them.”

Bison Bag’s packages are shipped all over the U.S. and to European and South Korean customers, too.

Zgoda said, “You really have to understand packaging to appreciate it, because to most people, packaging is garbage.”

He said in most instances, the package accounts for very little of the retail price. “In a big bag of chips, we sell it for 10 cents a bag,” he said.

In other matters, the IDA board hired the Wendel engineering firm for $12,600 to design a new drainage pond for the eastern edge of the industrial park.

The board also is considering a street lighting project for the industrial park, although IDA attorney Daniel E. Seaman said it would require Town Board action to create a special taxing district.

IDA member Duncan N. Carlson said lighting is much needed. “As big as that industrial park has become,” he said, “that’s a big security issue. Yahoo has people there [in its data center] 24-7.”

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com