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ESD board approves funding for projects leveraging more than $674 million in investments, creating and retaining 3,800 jobs

by jmaloni

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Tue, Nov 19th 2013 05:00 pm

Empire State Development's board of directors met and approved $40,142,296 in funding for projects that will create more than 1,430 new jobs and retain more than 2,350 jobs throughout the Empire State. This funding will leverage $674-plus million in additional investments to support business growth and lay the groundwork for future economic growth and job creation.

"From Buffalo to Utica, down through the Hudson Valley and out to the east end of Long Island, the state is supporting key economic development projects that are creating new jobs for New Yorkers and helping grow our regional and state economies," said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams. "Under Gov. Cuomo's leadership, ESD continues to be busier than ever helping existing companies expand, and attracting new businesses to the state. The funds approved by the board today are supporting key industries like the rapidly growing film and post-production industries, advanced manufacturing, and nanotechnology; as well as helping to implement regional strategies for economic growth, including boosting tourism and supporting our small business assistance centers. As we near the end of this year, we expect a strong conclusion to 2013 and anticipate an even busier 2014 as more companies learn that there is no better place to do business than the Empire State."

The board approved the following Buffalo Regional Innovation Cluster grant: 

Empire Visual Effects (Western New York Region - Erie County) - $2,500,000

Empire Visual was established in 2013 through a partnership between IBC Digital, a Buffalo production company specializing in commercials, animation and visual effects, and Sixteen19, a global production services company based in New York City specializing in digitally acquired productions. A privately owned company, Empire Visual has partnered with and is acting as a special adviser to Daemen College. Together, they are creating a world-class VFX hub to transform upstate and Western New York into a major film, animation and post-production destination for the media industry. In July, Cuomo pledged to invest $4.5 million of Buffalo Billion funds to establish the VFX hub and create Daemen College's training program and Empire Visual's VFX studios, filling the funding gap and enabling the project to go forward. Empire Visual was awarded a grant of up to $2,500,000 to be used as reimbursement for a portion of capital expenditures including furniture, fixtures, equipment, information technology infrastructure, and interior renovations. The project will create 150 new jobs in the post-production industry by Jan. 1, 2019. It is anticipated that many of Empire Visual's employees will be graduates of the Daemen College training program.

Daemen College (Western New York Region - Erie County) - $1,983,949

Daemen College in Buffalo, a private four-year college offering undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates for programs, is establishing a new post-production visual effects hub in Western New York. The college will use a grant of up to $1,983,949 for a portion of hardware, software, screening room and furnishing expenditures as Daemen upgrades its facilities to accommodate a new training program.

Due to the demand for visual effects, the post-production portion of film budgets has been increasing dramatically over the last several years. In New York state alone, the motion picture and television industry is responsible for more than 91,000 direct jobs and $8.2 billion in wages annually for production and distribution-related jobs. Over the past 18 months, Cuomo has strengthened incentives to attract postproduction film and television activity to New York, specifically with the New York State Film Production Tax Credit Program, which increases the percentage of tax credits available for projects that did not film in New York, but will now qualify for credits for post-production work done in New York

Daemen has already completed a pilot training program, with three students graduating on Oct. 15. The current semester has 15 students, with graduation scheduled for January 2014. While Daemen does not have a job commitment associated with its project, its VFX hub partner, Empire Visual, will create 150 new jobs in the post-production industry by Jan. 1, 2019. By January 2014, Empire Visual expects to be operational and employ 25 people, of which 15-18 are expected to be graduates of the training program.

The board approved the following Downstate Revitalization Fund grant:

Walkway Over the Hudson (Mid-Hudson Region - Dutchess County) - $2,250,000

The board approved the following Economic Development Purposes Fund grant:

Welded Tube (Western New York Region - Erie County) - $3,000,000

Welded Tube was established in 2012 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Welded Tube of Canada Corp. to launch a U.S. operation. The parent corporation, founded in 1970 in Ontario, Canada, produces approximately 350,000 tons of tubular products annually, including American Petroleum Institute-certified oil country tubular goods from its Canadian facilities. In 2012, the parent company - which employees more than 600 people at its five North American manufacturing locations - decided that it needed to expand in order to stay competitive in their field and started scouting locations, including sites in Buffalo and Alabama and Ontario, Canada. ESD provided an incentive proposal to the a $3 million loan and $2 million in Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits, resulting in the decision to proceed with the construction of the $48 million facility in Erie County.

The project, which began in 2012, involved the acquisition of 45 acres of vacant industrial land on a portion of the former Bethlehem Steel site; construction of a 109,000-square-foot, single-story engineered steel building to house the production line; and acquisition and installation of new machinery and equipment necessary to establish a U.S. steel pipe manufacturing mill. The company is expected to produce 100,000-150,000 tons of steel pipe per shift, which will be shipped to the parent's Welland, Ontario, facility for finishing. The project was to create 25 new jobs by September, restoring manufacturing jobs to a highly distressed area. The company has already created 33 jobs and plans to create approximately 20 more jobs within the next year. Moreover, the project promotes "Smart Growth" by converting a former Brownfield site with existing infrastructure in the City of Lackawanna to a state-of-the art manufacturing facility.

The board approved the following Empire State Economic Development Fund grants:

PepsiCo Bottling Division (Mid-Hudson Region - Westchester County) - $4,000,000

Entrepreneurial Assistance Program - Statewide (Training and Technical Assistance Grants) - $1,558,347

Encouraging the formation and growth of small businesses is an important strategic goal in New York. There are currently 24 entrepreneurial assistance program centers located throughout state providing comprehensive assistance in enterprise development to owners and prospective owners of small businesses, with a particular interest in serving minority group members, women, dislocated workers and individuals with special needs. Effective EAP programs provide intensive, community-based training, technical assistance and other related services to small business owners or entrepreneurs, particularly minorities and women, to stimulate new business development and to strengthen businesses in the early stages of development. Such assistance is especially important in economically distressed areas where high levels of unemployment and declining infrastructure further limit the ability for these young businesses to develop.

The 2013-14 state budget included additional funding for EAP Centers, 21 of which are receiving approval for funding from the ESD board today. The centers will use allocated funds for expenses related to training and technical assistance; operating expenses including, but not limited to, salaries of EAP coordinators and additional support staff; promotional and marketing materials; travel; classroom materials; and supplies. EAP centers are required to provide reports relating to their specific achievements during the contract period. In addition, financial reports and documentation of expenditures will be required for disbursement of funds. ESD will verify that each center is in compliance with program regulations and guidelines and is following all existing contractual arrangements by reviewing, verifying and approving the required documentation, including financial reports and payment requests.

Since the collection of data began in 1990, the program has provided services to more than 27,608 clients who have started, retained or expanded more than 16,142 businesses, increased sales by $278.7 million, secured $137.6 million in financing and increased employment by 16,638 individuals (including the 5,307 jobs created for new business owners).

For the full list of EAP Centers, visit http://esd.ny.gov/PublicMeetings_Notices/ESD/11182013_ESDBoardMaterials2.pdf (information begins on page 505).

Metal Container (Mid-Hudson Region - Orange County) - $1,000,000

Rochester Precision Optics (Finger Lakes Region - Monroe County) - $750,000

The board approved the following JOBS Now Program grant:

Canon USA (Long Island Region - Suffolk County) - $3,500,000

The board approved the following Regional Council award grants:

Fort Schuyler Management Corporation - Marcy (Mohawk Valley Region - Oneida County) - $15,000,000

SGRID3 (Long Island Region - Suffolk County) - $2,050,000

Community Tourism Transformation Fund (North Country Region - Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and Clinton counties) - $2,000,000

Digital Film Conversion Fund (Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and Clinton counties) - $400,000

Quorum Group/Takeform (Finger Lakes Region - Orleans County) - $150,000

The next meeting of the ESD board of directors will be held in December.

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