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Two California Firms Poised To Be First Tenants At Buffalo, New York High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub

Area Development Online News Desk (01/27/2014)
A Memorandum of Understanding agreement has been reached between New York State and the City of Buffalo for the purchase of 88 acres of city-owned property, which serve as site of the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend. The project has already attracted to high-tech firms from California: Soraa and Silevo.

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office, the State will build a state-of-the-art anchor hub facility for high-tech and green energy businesses at the site. Governor Cuomo said the State will invest $225 million from the Buffalo Billion, attracting two California-based high-tech energy companies, Soraa and Silevo, which will collectively invest $1.5 billion into the project. Both firms will establish their major operations in Buffalo, creating 850 permanent jobs and attracting additional manufacturing companies to the site. RiverBend is the site of a former Republic Steel manufacturing facility.

Soraa is a California-based manufacturer of green LED lighting with the highest efficiency on the market. The company will relocate its corporate R&D and manufacturing operations to RiverBend, investing $750 million and creating 375 jobs.

Silevo is a California-based company that develops and manufactures silicon solar cells and modules, with an already established manufacturing plant in China. Phase 1 of Silevo’s project, with a $750 million investment which will create at least 475 jobs, involves a 200 megawatt production facility establishing its sole North American manufacturing operations at RiverBend.

The MOU establishes the terms of the sale of the property from the City of Buffalo via the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation to the Fort Schuyler Management Corporation, a not-for-profit entity created by the State to manage property transactions on behalf of the SUNY Research Foundation.

“This agreement marks swift progress by the State in acquiring the RiverBend property and carrying out the exciting redevelopment of the former steel manufacturing site into a state-of-the-art clean energy innovation hub,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are now poised to bring about one of the most dramatic developments in Buffalo’s history. With cutting edge technology, hundreds of good-paying jobs, and the attraction of dynamic 21st Century high-tech companies, RiverBend will further strengthen the city’s and region’s continuing economic revival.”

The MOU includes an agreed to sale price of $2.5 million; a partnership with the city to develop a Community Development Agreement that includes where appropriate MWBE participation consistent with established state practices; and permitting the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper organization access to the property for a continuing federally-funded shoreline restoration project along the Buffalo River, which flows through the development site.

New York State will invest $225 million in Empire State Development capital to establish infrastructure at the site including water, sewer, utility and roads; construct a state-owned 275,000 square feet facility that will house Soraa and Silevo as the first two tenants; and purchase and own equipment. Neither company is receiving direct funding from the State’s investment.

Additional facilities will be built over time to accommodate new manufacturing companies operating in the field of biotech, high tech and green energy. The facilities and equipment will be owned by the State University of New York Research Foundation. Area colleges and universities, including SUNY Buffalo, will also benefit from the partnership and contribute to the project’s future growth.

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