Town of Lancaster, New York
“A great place to live”
Business View Magazine interviews representatives from the Town of Lancaster, New York for our focus on Economic Development in U.S. Communities
When it comes to attracting new business, the Town of Lancaster, New York is going global. The Erie County town of almost 45,000 has been attracting a number of globally-based businesses who are finding Lancaster as the ideal location to ‘set up shop’.
Town Supervisor and LIDA Chair Ronald Ruffino, Sr. offers a personal touch. “First and foremost, I like meeting with people and sitting with them and hearing their ideas,” Ruffino explains. “I make sure they understand that I’m the type of person that wants Lancaster to be known as business-friendly. I’ve taken that approach from day one and it seems to be working pretty well; we’ve drawn in some nice projects. I’m hoping that I’m leaving positive thoughts with people when I’m done having these meetings with them.”
Committed to being accessible, Ruffino will take those meetings at any time, ensuring that new and potential businesses know the town is always there for them. “When they reach out to us and that call comes in, I make sure I’m available,” he says. “Whatever time it is, whether it’s a weekend or not. Honestly, I look at businesses like they are partners in our community.”
According to Paul Leone, Consultant for the Lancaster Industrial Development Agency (LIDA), “We have Robert James Sales, which just put up another 100,000 square-foot warehouse in the Town of Lancaster. They are already located in seven different areas within the United States and they opted to build this new warehouse in the Town of Lancaster. Another building was just put up by a foreign-owned company called PCB Piezotronics Inc. You can see that our draw is not just local, it’s worldwide businesses that we are dealing with.”
In addition, global technology manufacturing business Derrick Corporation is currently in the process of building a 271,000-square-foot warehouse in the town. “They were talking about going to Texas, then I met with them and they’ve turned around and now they are doing it here in Lancaster,” says Ruffino. He attributes Lancaster’s appeal to the wide range of services and resources available, as well as the way the town approaches each new potential business.
“The reason that we are so user-friendly in this town right now is the fact that we have all the infrastructure that’s necessary for a lot of major growth to come into Erie County,” Leone reports. “A lot of the other towns and villages may not have sewers, they might not have this, they might not have that. Lancaster has all the infrastructure necessary for all the different projects that we are talking about. What we do is we look at every single plot of land and everything that is necessary to make this happen and make Lancaster grow, not only so much for the residential part, but for the manufacturing, the warehousing, and so on.”
Lancaster’s desire to attract all this new business is primarily about benefitting the community. Ruffino adds, “These companies are not just investing in the community, but they are investing in our children and every other sector. When they come in here they are going to pay a tax rate, yet they are going to hardly use any of our services. They’re not using our schools, they’re not using our youth bureau, or seniors’ centers, things of that nature. At times, by chance, they may need our police and fire, but for the most part, they’re investing into our community. And I feel that it’s important to have that strong mix of residential and commercial development to really keep the burden off residential taxpayers.”
The Town of Lancaster has a lot to offer in the way of amenities and attractions that benefit the community. For example, they have famous restaurants like Russel’s Steakhouse inside Salvatore’s Grand Hotel, and a newly-approved $925,000 brewery on 2.3 acres of land on Genesee Street called Brazen Brewery. There are historical attractions like Hull House, one of the oldest houses in the area, and the Little Red Schoolhouse, which serves as a learning tool for the community. There’s also the Lancaster Heritage Trail, a paved biking and walking trail that spans four scenic miles. “You’re going to see a little bit of everything here,” Ruffino says. “There’s a lot of things going on, a lot of amenities, great parks and recreation. We have a lot to offer.”
The town will soon have another feature to add to its long list of attractions. They have recently completed work on a $2.1 million, 26,000 square-foot facility built on five acres of land on Lancaster Parkway. The company is Premier Dog Sports & Event Center and it will be the only dog training facility in the state. “We were the first ones to land this type of operation in New York State,” Ruffino says. “Everything else is in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Canada, and so on.”
Having a facility of this caliber will be a huge draw for Lancaster, and make it a go-to destination. “When they came in front of the LIDA board, numerous people came and supported them from all over,” Ruffino says. “These people are going to come into this facility and train dogs for shows. Not only that, but they are going to host shows here, too. So you’re going to have people coming from not just Lancaster, but Ohio, Pennsylvania, Syracuse, Rochester, and maybe even as far as California. You’re definitely going to get Canada here. There were representatives from Canada who were really excited about this facility.”
With all that international attention comes a boost to the whole Lancaster economy. Ruffino notes, “When people come here to visit this facility, they’re not coming for a day or two. They’re coming for a week. Or if they are coming for a show, they are coming for at least a weekend. So those folks are going to be lodging in our hotels, getting gas in our gas stations. They are going to be frequenting our restaurants. This is another economy booster.”
When Lancaster’s administration isn’t focused on attracting new business, they are busy working on making the town a little more green. Solar project developer AC Power has recently been greenlit to build a 9.5 megawatt solar farm next to Lancaster Speedway on Gunnville Road. “It was an old landfill, which has no use,” says Ruffino. “So, here you’re taking unusable land that has been sitting there for years and years and you’re repurposing it for a wonderful use of creating solar energy. Our residents will get the first crack on signing up for reduced rates of energy for solar credits. It’s dual purpose for sure… a win-win situation. The state has approved us using the land for this type of purpose. And on top of it, our residents will be first in line to be able to benefit from this facility.”
The town is also part of another solar program through Solar Simplified, where town residents and businesses can sign up to receive solar credits from a solar farm in upstate New York to offset their energy bills. “Some small businesses and roughly 700 residents, all from Lancaster signed up. We basically filled it at 100 percent and created a waiting list within a period of a little over a month,” Ruffino reports.
Whether its attracting new business, working hard to benefit existing businesses and residents, or moving to make life a little more environmentally friendly, the Town of Lancaster is constantly evolving to become the best it can be. As Ruffino so succinctly sums it up: “It’s just a great place to live.”
AT A GLANCE
Town of Lancaster, New York
What: A business-friendly, growing community of 45,000
Where: Located in Erie County, New York