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Empire State Development approves $17 million-plus to fund projects generating economic opportunity across New York

by jmaloni

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Tue, Mar 24th 2015 03:20 pm

The Empire State Development board of directors recently approved more than $17 million in funding for 17 projects that are spurring economic growth and opportunity throughout New York. These targeted investments are leveraging over $195 million in private and other public funding to support local businesses, workforce development, downtown revitalization and projects that are building a strong foundation for future economic growth and job creation.

The projects approved by the board will directly create 387 new jobs and retain 485 existing New York jobs.

"These investments demonstrate how ESD's efforts to support important projects and initiatives are creating jobs, improving quality of life and boosting local economies statewide," said acting Empire State Development president, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky. "By fostering local business development, strategic industry growth and downtown revitalization, these projects are strengthening economies and communities from the North Country to Western New York.

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

•Unifrax Headquarters - (Western New York Region - Erie County) - $700,000

Unifrax I LLC, a manufacturer of heat-resistant ceramic fiber products, will use a grant of up to $700,000 for a portion of the costs associated with relocating its corporate headquarters and research and development operations to a new, leased facility, as well as the costs of acquisition of new machinery and equipment.

Unifrax, headquartered in Tonawanda, has 26 manufacturing facilities in New York, Indiana, France, India, Germany, Australia, Brazil and the United Kingdom, and regional sales offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia, South Africa and Latin America. The company employs more than 2,400 people worldwide, and primarily serves manufacturers in the automotive and industrial markets.

The Tonawanda facility manufactures support mat systems used in emission control devices installed in passenger cars, highway trucks and off-road vehicles sold worldwide. In July 2011, Unifrax advised ESD its corporate headquarters had outgrown its Niagara Falls facility and it was considering relocating to either Southbend, Indiana, near an existing manufacturing facility, or within the Western New York region.

Indiana provided significant incentives in attempts to persuade Unifrax to relocate, but the company chose to accept ESD's offer and relocate its headquarters and R&D to a newly leased facility in close proximity to its existing Tonawanda manufacturing facility. Without ESD's assistance, the company's headquarters would have relocated out of New York, and 96 jobs would have been lost.

This project is consistent with the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council's plan, as it expands manufacturing and creates jobs. As a result of the project, Unifrax planned to retain 93 full-time permanent positions and three full-time contract positions, and create 10 new full-time permanent positions and five full-time contract positions.

The company exceeded it job commitment and is currently employing 113 full-time permanent employees.

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