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Empire State Development Awards Nearly $200 Billion To Spark Economic Growth In Western New York

Nearly $200 million in Buffalo Billion initiative funding has been approved by Empire State Development’s Board of Directors for three projects that is expected to create more than 1,300 jobs and spur further investment and economic growth across Western New York.

“These projects are another example of how our Buffalo Billion strategy is invigorating the economy of Western New York – by building on the region’s strengths, attracting private investment and creating sustainable, good paying jobs,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The Board approved funding for the following Buffalo Billion Initiatives:

The Buffalo High-Tech Innovation & Commercialization Hub at RiverBend, a $1.7 billion public and private-sector partnership that will convert a vacant former brownfield manufacturing site into a state-of-the-art hub campus for high-tech and green energy manufacturing businesses, will receive a grant of up to $107 million to be used as reimbursement for real estate acquisition, site and infrastructure development, and construction costs. This is part of a larger commitment of $225 million by the State for the project.

RiverBend, which will be strategically located in a newly-developed “smart growth” urban commerce park with multi-modal transportation opportunities, will serve as a building block of continued growth in advanced manufacturing, which is a primary focus of the WNY REDC. It is expected that once fully constructed, RiverBend will house multiple clean energy related companies.

The $107 million award will reimburse Fort Schuyler Management Company for the real estate acquisition of approximately 88- acres of previously contaminated industrial property owned by the City of Buffalo, site and infrastructure improvements including remediation and preparation, installation of utilities, construction of roads, parking, drainage, site lighting, landscaping, and pedestrian trails; followed by the construction of an approximate 280,000-square-foot, tenant-ready, LEED-certified facility.

In March 2014, ESD approved $118 million of funding for design and planning costs, and machinery and equipment. The $107 million requested for this project brings the combined investment to $225 million.

While Soraa and Silevo are now the anchor tenants, establishing operations in the initial 280,000-square-foot facility, it is expected that RiverBend will consist of at least six new structures which will be constructed over time to accommodate approximately 1,200 new manufacturing jobs in the field of biotech, high tech and green energy. The initial phase of the project is projected to create 850 new jobs, and establish Buffalo as a nexus for advanced research and manufacturing for clean energy technologies and attract businesses from around the world, the Governor’s Office said. The RiverBend project will promote smart growth by transforming a vacant manufacturing site in a distressed area that was previously owned by Republic Steel into a vibrant hub of technology. Additionally, the project will spur adjacent private-sector investment for consumables, amenities, and services, increase demand for housing, and attract and retain people to the WNY Region by providing highly-skilled and unskilled employment options.

Another $55 million was approved for the Fort Schuyler Management Corporation Buffalo Information Technologies Innovation and Commercialization Hub.

The Buffalo Information Technologies Innovation and Commercialization Hub, a public private –sector partnership to establish a high-end software development center in downtown Buffalo, with IBM as the anchor, will use a grant of up to $55 million for real estate acquisition, renovation, and the acquisition and installation of new equipment and software.

The project involves the purchase and build-out of approximately 100,000 square feet in the existing Key Center; and installation of proprietary software and IT equipment including specialized high-speed servers and super computers. FSMC will own the real estate and equipment, which will initially be used by IBM to create cutting-edge software for the energy, health and defense industries. The highly-specialized IT equipment will be offered for use to other technology, genomics and molecular research and unspecified defense sector companies with a cost recovery fee. The project is expected to create 500 jobs.

In addition $35.3 million was awarded to EWI/Advanced Manufacturing Institute. EWI, operator of a new state-of-the-art center aimed at spurring transformative growth in the high-tech advanced manufacturing sector by providing applied engineering services, is being awarded two grants. EWI will use the first grant of up to $30 million for the cost of furniture, fixtures, machinery and equipment. The Advanced Manufacturing Institute will assist local manufacturers with the development, commercialization and implementation of leading edge manufacturing technologies and solve manufacturing production issues allowing for improved operational efficiencies.

SUNY RF will purchase and own the manufacturing machinery and equipment. SUNY RF and EWI will enter into a five year, renewable, Equipment Use Agreement, which will provide EWI full usage of the furniture, fixtures, machinery and equipment for the operation of the Advanced Manufacturing Institute, allowing EWI to provide applied R&D services in the areas of flexible automation, advanced materials and testing, additive manufacturing, and advanced fabrication.

The second grant to EWI of up to $5.3 million is to be used for operating activities including personnel, marketing, permanent location base/operating costs, and finalizing and maintaining partnership agreements necessary to operate a sustainable Advanced Manufacturing Institute.


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