New York: Where Steel Turns Into Sugar

The historic Bethlehem Steel mill in Lackawanna, built in the 19th Century, will be converted into a $19-million sugar refinery by a Miami-based sugar cane producer.

By the BF Staff
From the March/April 2021 Issue

Earlier this year, Empire State Development (ESD) and New York Power Authority (NYPA) announced that Miami-based sugar cane refiner Sucro Sourcing had begun interior demolition and refurbishment for its sugar refinery at the former Bethlehem Steel Site in Lackawanna.

Sucro Sourcing will invest $19 million to transform three abandoned buildings at the site into newly refurbished facilities, including a sugar refinery and warehouses. The project will result in the creation of 55 new full-time jobs over the next three to five years.

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Historic Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna, NY.

“Like many, my family started in the shadow of the Bethlehem Steel Plant, where my father and grandfather worked and pursued the American dream,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The start of interior demolition and refurbishment at the Bethlehem Steel site by Sucro Sourcing brings hope of a rebirth for a community that has been knocked down, but is making a comeback. New York State continues to reverse the decades-long industrial decline in upstate communities by investing in creating good-paying jobs, reimagining unutilized industrial space and spurring economic investment.”

“Sucro Sourcing is very excited to expand its business in Western New York, and provide unique, innovative and low-cost sugar supply opportunities to the many food and beverage customers in the Great Lakes area,” said Jonathan Taylor, Founder and CEO of Sucro Sourcing.  “Sucro has grown through entrepreneurial creativity and the support of its customers, and we see the current energy, support and leadership being demonstrated in Western New York as key to the project’s success.”

Founded in 2014, Sucro Sourcing provides pure refined cane sugar for its many industrial customers. The company’s current operation in Lackawanna not only serves the food industry in upstate New York but also supplies several leading global multinational food companies, thanks to the recent addition of a liquid sugar processing facility.

Sucro’s new facilities will be located on a 12.04-acre site at the Lackawanna Business Park, which will undergo environmental remediation under New York State Department of Environmental Conservation oversight through the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program.  The expansion project is one of several new developments happening at the Bethlehem site, including Time Release Sciences’ relocation project and a proposed new warehouse/manufacturing building to meet the growing regional demand for more industrial space.

The Sucro project will be completed in phases. When fully operational in 2024, it is expected to produce up to 300,000 metric tons of refined sugar annually. The project includes Improvements to land and buildings for storage, logistical operations and sugar refining operations. An additional building will be constructed for storage of raw sugar.

“New York State’s investment in innovative companies like Sucro Sourcing continues to grow our regional economies,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler. “This sugar refinery is just one example of how the former Bethlehem Steel site is being reimagined for businesses looking to expand and create long-term jobs and opportunity.”


Companies looking for affordable, shovel-ready sites in any configuration need look no further than Fulton County’s Tryon Technology Park.

The former juvenile detention center, where a young Mike Tyson learned to box, has been transformed into a ready-to-go, reasonably priced, quiet and sized-to-suit place for businesses to thrive, with plenty of room for expansion.

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Aerial view of Tryon Technology Park in Fulton County, NY. (Photo: Fulton County IDA)

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo decided to close a host of juvenile facilities across the state in 2011—including the Tryon Residential Center—it turned out to be a bounty for Fulton County. The county’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) made a successful pitch to the Governor to repurpose the over-500-acre property and in partnership with Fulton County, upgraded the site’s infrastructure and readied it for occupancy.

Aided by a $2 million Regional Economic Development Council grant from New York State, the IDA and county completed the construction of a new access road that turns into a primary loop within the center of the park, reconfigured the sewer system and constructed a 300,000-gallon elevated water tower and water pumping station. One recent project was the repair and upgrade of the electrical system to provide three-phase power and multiple points of connection.

The IDA also removed a series of derelict buildings that were constructed in 1966 when the state opened the campus and created a separate sewer district for the area. The result of these improvements is over 240 acres of shovel-ready sites and two sound structures, one a former maintenance building and the other once housed the facility’s automotive classes; both are waiting for companies to set up shop. “We’ve made the necessary repairs to keep everything working well,” said David D’Amore, the IDA’s board president.

The most striking aspect of Tryon Technology Park is the flexibility that it has to offer incoming businesses. The IDA is open to entertaining offers on various-sized parcels of land as well as bids on any of the buildings that remain, such as the former administration, maintenance and tech class buildings. “We’re largely looking at this mostly as empty land,” D’Amore said. “We are willing to reconfigure the lot size as needed, and we’re more than willing to adjust appropriately, based on the needs of the companies that are coming in,” he said, noting that the land is listed at $27,500 per acre. “The cost of land is advantageous.”

Vireo Health, Inc., utilized existing buildings to start its facilities at Tryon in 2015 and then expanded with new construction, as they found Tryon to be a desirable place for growth for several reasons. “Specifically, where the park is located, it provides manufacturing companies with access to affordable space, to state-of-the-art infrastructure and most importantly, access to the talent that comes from both Fulton County and the adjacent region,” said Ari Hoffnung, the company’s chief strategy officer and the CEO of Vireo Health of New York. “Being in Fulton County where the land is affordable and where the infrastructure—water, power and broadband is available—that is something that was very attractive to us,” he said.

Hoffnung also emphasizes the draw of a skilled workforce. “We have found that the greater Albany area has a tremendous amount of talent and human capital,” he said. “We’ve been able to hire scientists and are very impressed with the talents in the area.”

D’Amore points out the technology-oriented high school and college programs in the county. “We’ve got an educational system that rebuilds itself to address the needs of tech companies,” he said of the Fulton County Community College programs.

Hoffnung pointed out that local government is extremely business-friendly. “It’s not a place with a lot of red tape,” he said. “It’s a place that truly supports businesses and their desire to grow.”

Other expansion in Tryon Technology Park is the leasing of a 29-acre parcel of land to Canada-based Nexus Renewables, a renewable energy developer that plans to build a $10.5 million solar farm and storage facility.

The County completed their “Vision 2026” development strategy that includes the Tryon Primary Development Area. On part of the Tryon site, the IDA anticipates creating a residential development that would include higher-end housing as well as apartment-style living, along with some retail and office space. “We could probably fit 25 to 50 residential homes, depending on density,” D’Amore said, noting that the IDA is looking for a developer to take on the job.

With the pandemic causing some to rethink where they want to live and work, Fulton County offers a quieter, more spacious opportunity. “If you don’t want to deal with a rat race, you don’t want to deal with a 40-minute commute to work, this is the place to come,” D’Amore said. “You can work hard and play hard, because there’s ample opportunities for outdoor recreation in the county as Fulton County is bisected by the Adirondack State Park with hiking trails and the Great Sacandaga Lake,” he said. In addition, the county is only three and a half hours from New York City, Boston and Montreal. “You have the ability to get to the bigger places and still have the comforts of small-town living that are here.”


Situated in Upstate New York, Oswego County is located centrally to New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Toronto and Montreal. A great location, skilled labor and a host of transportation options place Oswego County at the top of the list for manufacturing and food processing site selectors.

Oswego County is a truly multi-modal location, with access to ground, rail, air and water transportation for the shipment of goods. The county offers convenient access to Interstates 81 and 90 which provide north/south and east/west movement through the state. The Port of Oswego is a deep-water port and the first port-of-call in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System. CSX rail service is available throughout the County, with direct access at the port, as well as several sites and industrial parks. Oswego County has a local airport and is also within minutes of Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport.

With a strong economic base in manufacturing, Oswego County is equipped with modern industrial infrastructure, including heavy power and gas. Coupled with plentiful water and wastewater options, this infrastructure provides flexibility for light- to heavy-industrial uses.

For many food production facilities water is a critical component for processing. Oswego County offers high-quality, potable water, as well as available capacity for industrial waste water treatment. Depending on your location, you could tap into nearly limitless water from Lake Ontario or access up to 10,000,000 gallons available daily from the Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA). There are also several options for water treatment, including municipal treatment and a future private treatment facility with over 5,000,000 gallons of excess capacity.

Oswego County has Greenfield sites available that are ready to build on. Within the county’s industrial parks, all sites have utilities and other necessary infrastructure in place. Select sites within the industrial parks have had comprehensive site profiles performed. These profiles expedite the selection process by eliminating much of the due diligence work for the potential purchaser and several sites are also considered “shovel ready.”

Oswego County, in its entirety, is located within Foreign Trade Zone #90 and the Lake Ontario Industrial Park is situated in the City of Oswego’s federally designated Opportunity Zone. Both could provide additional financial advantages for businesses seeking to locate there.

Oswego County also has a skilled workforce with metal manufacturing, food processing and other industrial experience, who are ready to work. The workforce is supported by over 30 institutions of higher learning within 50 miles, including SUNY Oswego and Cayuga Community College’s Fulton Campus within its borders. These educational institutions work collaboratively with economic development organizations, workforce training centers and industry to train a skilled labor pool for advanced manufacturing. Recently, these partners developed an advanced manufacturing certificate program which provides a strong base in manufacturing practices, including welding, CNC and CAD.

An affordable cost of living, rich historical roots and a plethora of outdoor activities year round, make Oswego County a great place for families. This includes nine school districts in Oswego County which provide a core K-12 curriculum. In addition, they offer specialized coursework through partnerships with CiTi BOCES and nearby colleges. Healthcare options are also robust with both urban and rural providers, plus everything in between. Your medical needs are covered without ever having to leave the county.

Oswego County has many assets that are attractive to food processing and agricultural businesses, such as access to a deep water port, a plentiful water supply and skilled labor with prior food processing experience. Effectively, the best asset of all is the collaborative nature of Oswego County agricultural producers and food processors, allowing their businesses to grow together. These exceptional benefits are why companies like K&N’s Foods USA, iFreeze and Champlain Valley Specialty have chosen to locate in Oswego County in recent years.

Oswego County also has a well-established light manufacturing cluster, specializing in metal fabrication. With nearly 40 specialized machine shops and fabricators, Oswego County offers a great opportunity to businesses that can fill a niche within this sector. The strength of this sector is due to interdependencies and collaborations between manufacturers within the cluster. Companies, such as EJ USA, Novelis and Universal Metal Works, attribute their success to the availability of a skilled and educated workforce in metal manufacturing, a robust supply chain and a well-connected multimodal logistics network within hours of every major northeast market.

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