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Cuomo announces low-cost hydropower to help WNY companies create more than 80 new jobs

by jmaloni

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Fri, Aug 1st 2014 07:00 pm

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has announced the New York Power Authority board of trustees approved new allocations of low-cost hydropower to three firms in Western New York. The governor also announced Western New York Power Proceeds Awards for two other firms in the region. Together, the hydropower allocations and funding awards support the creation of more than 80 jobs and more than $50 million in capital investments.

"Access to clean, low-cost hydropower continues to be an important asset for Western New York, and today we are tapping into that potential to grow the regional economy and create jobs for New Yorkers," Cuomo said. "These allocations are a tremendous form of support for businesses that are looking to expand or relocate from out-of-state. I am proud that we are helping these companies thrive in Western New York, and I look forward to their continued success in the region."

The NYPA trustees approved hydropower allocations to three Erie County firms: 3M Co. in Tonawanda, Innomotive Solutions Group in Lancaster, and Royal Plastix USA in Buffalo. In addition, the trustees approved funding under the Western New York Power Proceeds initiative to Praxair, in Tonawanda, and the Niagara Falls International Airport Stakeholders Group.

Royal Plastix USA is a subsidiary of Royal Sponge Manufacturing, which operates a plastic injection molding business in Canada. The firm will receive a 600-kilowatts allocation to facilitate the construction of new manufacturing operations in a currently vacant facility in Buffalo, creating 55 new jobs and capital investments of more than $3.7 million.

Innomotive Solutions Group designs, manufacturers and paints roll-up, shutter-style doors for fire apparatus, emergency vehicles and other specialty vehicles. The firm is looking to renovate a facility in Lancaster so that it can expand from Canada. The 100 kW-allocation will help facilitate the $5.5 million expansion that will support the creation of 21 jobs, which were announced earlier this year in a previous round of NYPA funding from the power proceeds program. 

3M Co., a manufacturer of more than 55,000 products, including adhesives, abrasives, electronic materials, car-care products, household cleaning products, and optical films, will receive 150 kW of hydropower in exchange for a commitment to create six new jobs as part of a nearly $2 million expansion project at its Tonawanda facility. Construction is scheduled to begin later this summer.

NYPA Chairman John R. Koelmel said, "As a lifelong resident of Western New York, I cannot overstate how much it pleases me to see these impactful hydropower allocations and funding awards. These awards represent opportunities that enable local businesses to expedite their expansion plans, creating new jobs and solidifying their presence in the region."

Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO, said, "Providing competitively priced hydropower to enterprises in Western New York is an impactful economic development tool. And the funding awards are another means beyond NYPA's low-cost power to assist firms in the region, spurring business expansion in Western New York."

Low-cost Niagara hydropower is currently priced at more than 50 percent less than wholesale market electricity in the Buffalo-Niagara region. It is linked to tens of thousands of existing jobs.

In addition to new permanent jobs, the capital investments by the companies receiving the latest power awards are expected to support dozens of construction jobs.

The NYPA trustees approved a $500,000 proceeds award to Praxair for its Tonawanda expansion project. Western New York Proceeds awards, for economic development in the region, are made possible from net earnings obtained from the market sale of unutilized Niagara hydropower and stem from legislation signed into law in 2012 by Cuomo. Recommended awards are made by the Western New York power proceeds allocation board.

The Praxair facility, with a workforce of more than 1,300, is responsible for the company's global plant engineering, research and development, North American operations communications and global plant monitoring. The nearly $39 million upgrade will enable Praxair to pursue technological advancement and increase its workforce by 22 jobs.

Empire State Development, the state's economic development agency, will provide up to $8 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits and a $2 million capital grant, both of which are tied directly to the company's job creation and investment commitments.

ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, "ESD has partnered with Praxair to offer an incentive package that will help it expand and modernize its technical, research and development functions in New York state. Praxair's expansion ensures a long-term commitment to the region and to the more than a thousand employees in the Western New York community who work at the facility."

NFIA Stakeholders Group, the other proceeds awardee approved on Tuesday, is a not-for-profit enterprise consisting of area government entities and businesses that share an interest in the expansion of air services in Niagara Falls, as well as the long-term economic success of the region.

With the help of the NYPA Proceeds Award, NFIA will perform a study of the existing fiber-optic infrastructure that feeds into the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, the Niagara Falls International Airport, the former Army Reserve Center site, the Niagara Airport Commercial Park, the Wheatfield Business Park and the Calspan site in Buffalo.

The $125,000 award will provide one-half of the financing needed to successfully perform the study.

Including the latest awards, 24 enterprises have received funding for a total of more than $14 million since the initial round in 2013. Through the end of June, NYPA has made deposits of nearly $38 million into the Western New York Economic Development Fund.

Congressman Brian Higgins said, "Proximity to low-cost hydropower gives Western New York a competitive edge, providing local businesses with more room for growth and economic returns for the greater community. With the allocation of power and power proceeds, we take what is naturally ours and reinvest it in projects that benefit the people of Western New York."

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