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New hydropower allocation will spur $130 million in capital investments in Western New York, create 101 jobs

by jmaloni


Thu, Dec 18th 2014 03:45 pm

NYPA trustees approve $6 million award for next 43North competition

The New York Power Authority board of trustees approved an allocation of low-cost hydropower Tuesday to attract a new manufacturer to Western New York. WhiteRock Pigments is planning capital investments of $130 million for its construction of a facility in Tonawanda, which will lead to the creation of 101 permanent jobs.

The allotment of 2-1/2 megawatts from the Niagara Power Project to WhiteRock Pigments will support the company's construction of a pigment-production plant at a 50-acre brownfield site. (One MW is enough electricity to meet the needs of 800 to 1,000 typical homes.).

In a separate action, the trustees approved $6 million in funding for a planned business competition next year by 43North under the "Buffalo Billion" initiative, a comprehensive package of incentives spearheaded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for growing businesses and jobs in Buffalo and Western New York.

The funding approved by the NYPA board is made possible by the Western New York Power Proceeds Act, signed into law in 2012 by the governor for applying net earnings from the market sale of unutilized hydropower from the Niagara plant in support of the expansion of businesses in the Buffalo-Niagara region.

"There is no greater evidence of the tremendous strides that we're making to boost the Buffalo-Niagara region economy than the 43North business plan competition," said John R. Koelmel, NYPA chairman and a resident of Erie County.

"This year's $5 million in awards to 11 highly innovative startup businesses underscored the efforts under Gov. Cuomo for growing and diversifying the area economy and establishing the right conditions for big ideas to take off. Now we're adding a new round of Power Authority funding for a second 43North contest to catalyze the growth of other businesses, just as we continue to do with our hydropower allocations."

"Our collaboration with the private sector to spur job creation in Western New York is the centerpiece of the latest measures by the Power Authority trustees," said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. "These actions provide another example of the state's multifaceted effort to turn around Western New York's economy and prepare it for the challenges of this new era."

The hydropower allocation to WhiteRock Pigments is drawn from a block of power known as "replacement power," one of two large amounts of Niagara power reserved for businesses in the Buffalo-Niagara region.

WhiteRock Pigments' new manufacturing facility will produce titanium dioxide pigment. This is a product that provides whiteness and opacity for products such as paints, plastics, paper, food, medicine and toothpaste.

In addition to the allotment of low-cost hydropower, Empire State Development has approved $2 million in Excelsior Tax Credits for WhiteRock's construction of the pigment plant in Tonawanda.

"WhiteRock Pigments' new plant will be a major boon to the Tonawanda area, with a fresh infusion of new jobs and capital," said ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams. "We're happy to be partnering with the Power Authority to welcome this new manufacturing facility in Western New York."

"We are grateful for the support extended to us by New York state to bring about the construction of our new manufacturing facility in Tonawanda," said Robert L. Meyer, CEO, WhiteRock Pigments. "Gov. Cuomo's administration recognizes the narrow competitive cost margins that businesses must consider in making their strategic decisions, and this is reflected by the low-cost hydropower allotment and other assistance (New York) is providing."

"This reinvestment of clean power and power proceeds right here in Western New York supports local jobs and helps to move the region from old and industrial, through the reuse of brownfields, to new and innovative, with the advancement of the next breakthrough business," Congressman Brian Higgins said.

Beyond the latest power allotment, Western New York also will benefit from the NYPA trustees' approval of the $6 million in additional proceeds funding for 43 North. The action by the trustees followed a Dec. 3 recommendation by the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation board.

Just over a month after 43North's successful business competition, additional funding was approved for a second contest by 43North, which is named for Buffalo's latitude. As with this year's competition, next year's winning businesses will be offered incubator space and support services for at least a year.

Including the latest awards, 28 enterprises have received power proceeds funding for a total of more than $21 million since the initial round in 2013. Through the end of November, NYPA has made deposits of more than $38 million into the Western New York Economic Development Fund, established following the proceeds legislation.

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