TM Montante Forges Innovative Pact with China-Based Solar Products Consortium

Riverview Commerce Park poised to become state’s first “solar-ready” industrial park and base for solar product commerce
January 18, 2010

Tonawanda – TM Montante Development LLC has signed a memorandum of understanding with Shanghai New Energy Industry Association to establish a ‘solar farm’ at the River Road industrial park.

Under the MOU, Riverview will serve as platform for TM Montante and Shanghai New Energy to jointly establish centralized purchasing, warehousing and selling of solar panel components. Shanghai New Energy, a consortium of some 300 Chinese solar industry companies, would launch new U.S. and Canadian business relationships from the Tonawanda location.

Thomas M. Montante, president of TM Montante Development LLC, said Riverview’s solar focus will have strong appeal for future tenants in the renewable fuels field, and companies with like-minded environmental goals.

“Our mission is to create an attractive environment, both financially and aesthetically, to all of the employers that are housed under our roofs. Energy and the environment are at the forefront of the battle for attracting and retaining business through the country. As such, we want to integrate solar into our core business,” Montante said.

Montante and his development team worked extensively over the past year to develop a greater understanding of the solar industry and its history, technology, key players, government incentives, growth patterns and new opportunities. A key part of the effort was meetings, in China and in New York City, with Shanghai New Energy representatives, including Shanghai Executive Vice Chairwoman Madam Yue Mi.

“We are honored to enter into an agreement with one of the world’s largest and most knowledgeable solar products groups,” Montante said. “We believe this China-based investment will help grow our local economy, create jobs and make Buffalo Niagara and New York State prominent players in both the generation of solar power and the manufacture and distribution of solar hardware.”

Madam Mi, who led a contingent of Shanghai executives who traveled to Buffalo Niagara for a formal signing of the memorandum, said she looks forward to bringing her group’s technologies to new U.S. and Canadian markets.

“We are very pleased to find a location that offers such great potential for cross-border distribution of our products. We see a bright future working with the Montantes and being part of their solar expansion,” Mi said.

The 180-acre site will be re-branded as Riverview Solar Technology Park Commerce Park, and will feature on-site solar generation. Long-term plans call for installation of solar farm with the capacity to generate 150 kilowatts of power for use by tenants, and possibly nearby businesses. Common areas of two tenant buildings will be powered by solar panels by this summer.

“Riverview will serve as a demonstration of our traditional and solar development competencies and serve as a springboard to future projects,” Montante said. “We will be in an ideal position to actively participate in regional, state and federal renewable energy initiatives.”

TM Montante has an application pending with the New York Power Authority to be part of its new effort to develop 100 Megawatts of solar power across the state. It also plans to submit proposals to several other emerging renewable energy programs.

“We’re in the best location possible at the right time,” Montante said. “We intend to be a leader in solar development.”

Riverview will also benefit from enhanced access to its site and land beyond through the planned Riverwalk East Park Connector, a new road and bridge corridor which will link Riverview with the nearby North Youngmann Commerce Center. The Empire State Development Corporation just awarded the project a $1 million grant to support the road work and associated utility work.

“I am elated to be able to help lay the groundwork for solar energy business to be brought into our backyard. The TM Montante/Shanghai New Energy partnership is exactly what’s needed to fuel economic development growth and green jobs creation in our area. I truly hope that by this time next year, we’ll be standing outside for a groundbreaking event, celebrating a partnership between these two entities,” said Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D, C, I – Kenmore, chair of the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry.

Opened in 2006, the Riverview industrial park is currently home to five companies, employing 160 staffers. The count includes 80 newly-created jobs.

Riverview was developed with ‘green’ perspective, with a commitment from TM Montante to cluster all construction at the site to maintain an abundant amount of open space. The planned ‘solar farm’ will be built with that same goal in mind.

“It will be aesthetically pleasing. When its up and running it will be a passive, open green field with panels standing in it, nothing intrusive or overwhelming,” Montante said.

TM Montante is rooted in eight decades of business experience in Western New York and beyond. The family-owned company, led by Thomas Montante, has a history that includes operation of the Broad Elm Auto Centers chain, Unibrand Tire and Product Co. and Uniland Development Company. In addition to the Riverview site, the family-owned company controls several multi-tenant commercial complexes in Kenmore and Cheektowaga.

Established in 1998, Shanghai New Energy is a non-profit organization under the leadership of the Shanghai Energy Commission. It has more than 300 member companies from the renewable energy sector which includes equipment manufacturers, design institutions, investment groups, and power grid corporations. The Chinese consortium has also established a U.S. division, New Energy Industry Association of Asia & Pacific, in San Jose, CA.