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October 8, 2015 - 12:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, STAMP, GCEDC, business.

Video produced by Greater Rochester Enterprise covering yesterday's announcement at GCC.

October 8, 2015 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, GCEDC, STAMP, Alabama, business, GCC.


Frank van Mierlo is clearly a man who believes he has a role to play in changing the world.

The phrase "change the world" did, in fact, pass over the lips of the solar energy entrepreneur once today while he addressed a room full of local and state dignitaries in Stuart Steiner Theater at Genesee Community College. Van Mierlo was there, joined by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to unveil ambitious plans for a $700 million investment by his company to build a silicon wafer factory on 105 acres of Genesee County land that could employ 1,000 people as soon as 2017.

Even the name of his company, 1366 Technologies, is a homage to van Mierlo's far-reaching global ambitions. Sunlight falls on the planet at the rate of 1,366 Watts per square meter, hence 1366. The number is significant because at that rate, the sun sends us 130,000 terawatts of energy each year. We only need a fraction of that, 17 TW, to power civilization.

"We need to rapidly deploy solar," van Mierlo said in an interview after the announcement. "We need to grow this industry at 30 percent a year. If we do that and we keep growing at 30 percent a year, by 2030, we will produce enough solar energy to power the planet."

And at a price cheaper than coal.

The solar energy market has been growing by 30 percent a year for 30 years, with rapidly improving technology, and like the power of compound interest, the rate of advancement is seemingly -- seemingly -- accelerating.

The technology that powers 1366 was incubated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and van Mierlo describes it as a game changer. The company's process cuts silicon waste, reduces the expense of production by 50 percent and takes a third less energy to produce a wafer than current manufacturing techniques.

Ely Sachs, a former MIT professor, is a partner in 1366 and the engineer behind the process 1366 uses to create its wafers. Rather than make clumps of silicon that are carved and cut into wafers, as is common in manufacturing solar wafers now, the 1366 process is more like making sheets of glass, poured directly from molten silicon.

The goal of 1366, van Mierlo said, is to make solar more affordable than coal.

"When solar was first introduced in 1970s, the cost was $7 per kilowatt hour," van Mierlo said. "A kilowatt hour, a little bit of a wonky term, but if you take an old-fashioned 100-watt lightbulb, you leave it on for 10 hours, that's a kilowatt hour. At the time, $7 per kilowatt hour, was extremely expensive. Now, 40 years later, unsubsidized, the cost on a good installation, in a sunny area, the cost is down to 7 cents per kilowatt hour.

Coal is currently about 3.2 cents per kilowatt hour.

The word unsubsidized is important. Solar may be one of the most heavily subsidized industries in America right now.

While states, including New York, offer tax credits for consumers and businesses to install solar panels, the federal government offers a 30-percent tax credit, but that's a tax credit set to expire next year and there is opposition in Washington to extending it. There is some concern that the solar industry has already grown "too big to fail" and ending the tax credit will cost more than 100,000 jobs nationally.

The political winds of the issue leave van Mierlo undaunted. Solar is simply an imperative society must pursue if we're going to change the world.

"A 30-percent growth rate only works when it's a team effort, so it's absolutely essential that everybody pitches in," van Mierlo said. "People like us have to pitch in. We have to come with the technology and the innovation. We have to deliver the cost reductions and we absolutely need broad support to keep growing fast enough. In the end, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you believe in it, you support it, the cost will come down and it will bring economic prosperity. If you say it's never going to work and you walk away from it, well, then it will become impossible to make progress and that also becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy."

Cuomo has bet big on solar, backing a $1 billion investment known as NY-Sun and WNY is now poised to become a hub of solar energy production. Earlier this year, Solar City began construction on a 1.2-million-square-foot solar panel factory in Buffalo with the promise of creating 1,400 jobs. A major investor in Solar City is Elon Musk, the entrepreneur who helped launch PayPal and used the fortune that company brought him to launch Space X and Tesla Motors. Officials with Solar City said just a week ago that the panels it will produce in Buffalo will be the world's most efficient, using its own proprietary technology.

Musk is well known in tech circles for dreaming of saving the world through technology. Like Musk, van Mierlo is leveraging prior business success to help fund his own plant-saving ambitions. Prior to cofounding 1366, he owned a robotics company, again based on technology developed at MIT, that he eventually sold.

"It's true that I have some economic freedom, and working on something that matters, that's just a fun thing to do," van Mierlo said. "Given a choice, you outta do something that is worthwhile. Energy is an interesting problem and one that needs solving and I think we're going to play a big part in the solution."

The new 1366 plant will take up only about 8 percent of the 12,500-acre WNY Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park -- STAMP -- in Alabama, a project Genesee County Economic Development Center CEO Steve Hyde has been working on for more than a decade. Nearly every speaker today, including Cuomo, Empire State Development CEO Howard Zemsky, Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle praised Hyde's vision and tenacity in creating and sticking with STAMP, even as doubters and naysayers predicted it would never work.

"This is a game changer," Cuomo said. "A hundred-and-thirty-thousand-square-foot building. At the end of the day, as many as 1,000 jobs. Quality jobs. High-tech jobs. Well paying jobs feeding off an educated workforce being nurtured by some of the great educational institutions in this state. That is the future.

"And the way it happened is the way it should happen," he added. "The IDA worked with the county. The county worked with the region. Two regions collaborated. Western New York and the Finger Lakes, not competing, but actually collaborating and getting a world-class entrepreneur with a phenomenal product that not only can create jobs and make money but can also make this world a better world."

Van Mierlo said when the 1366 plant is fully operational, it will churn out enough wafers each year to generate three gigawatts of power. A nuclear power plant, by comparison, might generate a single gigawatt of power each year.

Increased production and distribution will help bring the cost of solar energy down, which is what van Mierlo said he is really after.

"When solar is 2 cents a kilowatt hour, we can pay for installations that are less than ideal, can pay for energy storage and you will end up with a clean solution that is actually affordable," van Mierlo said. "I'm a firm believer that it's actually possible here to have a solution that helps the economy, but it's not going to come easy.

"The important thing now: Manage the energy supply so that it doesn't threaten life on the planet and that we end up with a solution that doesn't compromise our economy either. We absolutely need investment. We need support. But we also need to bring the cost down so it helps the economy and not just a continuous investment plan."

With the first project scheduled to break ground in the spring, the state will now release some $33 million in grant money pledged to create the infrastructure -- roads, sewers, utilities -- necessary for STAMP to attract manufacturing businesses. While 1366 will benefit indirectly from this investment, the direct subsidies 1366 will receive are those frequently approved by the GCEDC board, from a reduction in taxes on the increased assessment of the property (and the increased assessment will be substantial in this case), to mortgage tax relief to sales tax abatement on materials. The total package will be worth $97 million over 10 years.

Those incentives certainly played a role in 1366's decision to come to Genesee County, van Mierlo said, but he was also attracted by the workforce the area's universities can provide, the central location between Rochester and Buffalo and, most importantly, the inexpensive, clean energy provided by Niagara Falls.

"Hydropower is a real attraction and will be one that is a real advantage to us," van Mierlo said. "It cuts the cost of making the wafer by a factor of three and it's clean. The use of hydropower means there is no C02 at all. Steve Hyde calls it 'clean to green,' and that's a phrase that has really come to life."

Now that 1366 is coming to STAMP and boosters have a real project to talk about with site selectors and potential tenants, it's going to get easier to attract the next business into the park, both Hyde and Mark Peterson, CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise said.

Those who make decisions about where to construct high-tech facilities are going to become believers in STAMP now, Peterson said.

"People are going to say, 'wow, holy cow, this is real,' " Peterson said. "This a mega site, 1,250 acres. You don't have very many of those with power and water to them in the world, so we're on the world stage right now and this is only going to make us more competitive. Genesee County is right in the middle of Buffalo and Rochester. This is going to be the place to be."

Peterson said computer models run by GRE indicate the 1366 plant, with an economic multiplier effect, will generate more than $4.3 billion in spending regionally over the next five years.

Like the governor, Hyde called the 1366 announcement a "game changer."

"This is a new day," Hyde said. "We have technology companies to the left in Buffalo, to the right in Rochester, and now they're right here right now. Where else would you rather be today? We have opportunities through investments and technology and terrific companies like 1366 Technologies that are going to be here for years and create thousands of high-paying jobs for our kids."


Gov. Andrew Cuomo.


Steve Hyde flanked by Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the Gensee County Legislature, and Mark Peterson, CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise.


Members of Genesee County SCOPE were set up on East Saile Drive, across the road from the County Airport, prior to the governor's arrival in Batavia, to protest the SAFE Act. There were also picketers on Bank Street Road, on R. Stephen Hawley Drive and just outside the GCC entrance.

October 7, 2015 - 5:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.


Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366 Technologies, a Boston-based, MIT-bred solar energy company, presents Gov. Andrew Cuomo with a commemorative silicon wafer during today's announcement of a $700 million investment by the company in a new production plant in Genesee County.

This is the first major project to sign on with WNY Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Alabama. The CEO said his company intends to break ground on construction in the spring and be fully operational by 2017. The facility will manufacture silicon wafers for solar panels and could employ as many as 1,000 people in what Cuomo described as good, high-paying jobs.

While STAMP has benefited from state and federal grants to build infrastructure to support the kind of manufacturing facilities officials hope to attract, the only subsidies going directly to this project are standard tax breaks on the increased assessed value and sales tax abatements. The total incentive package is $97 million spread out over 10 years.

We'll have an in-depth story on today's announcement tonight or first thing in the morning.

October 6, 2015 - 7:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, GCEDC.

Sources tell us Gov. Andrew Cuomo is coming to GCC tomorrow to announce a major investment in the WNY STAMP project in Alabama, but nobody has been willing to confirm anything on the record. The governor's office and Empire State Development have even declined to confirm the governor will be in town.

Tonight, the D&C reports that the CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise is planning on attending the announcement tomorrow and said this is "the largest project in our organization's history."

The name of the company coming to STAMP has not yet been disclosed, nor the segment of tech industry it represents.

The most recent schedule for Gov. Cuomo for tomorrow does not include a visit to Batavia, but it's not unusual for the governor's office send out multiple updates over a 24-hour period.

UPDATE Oct. 7, 11:34 a.m.: The governor is expected at Genesee Community College's Stuart Steiner Forum at 2:15 p.m. today. He will announce that a solar company based in Bedford, Mass., (a suburb of Boston) plans to create between 700 to 1,000 jobs over a five-year span at the planned Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Alabama. Here's a link to the Democrat & Chronicle story:

March 5, 2015 - 5:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, STAMP.

From The Batavian's news partner, WBTA:

An announcement of a company to occupy Genesee County’s long anticipated STAMP project in the Town of Alabama could be just weeks away.

The Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park has been in the works for years and holds the prospect of hundreds, if not thousands, of high-paying jobs.

Steve Hyde is the president of the county’s Economic Development Center:

“We are weeks away on the final decision on the one we have been working on, less than weeks away. This has been over 12 months we have been working the sales process on this one project. It has been long with multiple versions and very competitive. We have competed against 54 different sites and eight states.”

Hyde issued his annual report to the county legislature’s Ways and Means Committee last night.

The committee went on record opposing a change in state industrial development regulations that would transfer final decisions on state tax breaks from local IDAs to Albany.

If you've downloaded the Reacht App for your smart phone, at some point within the next day, we'll ask you this poll question: Do you think a manufacturing company will commit to STAMP within the next few weeks? To download the app, click here.

December 21, 2014 - 9:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, National Grid, STAMP.

Press release:

National Grid’s latest grant of $500,000 in the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) site in the Town of Alabama in Genesee County has now reached the $1.5 million threshold. Since 2007, National Grid has provided STAMP with various economic development grants to the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), which is developing the site and marketing it to corporate site selectors as well as nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing companies throughout the United States and the world.

“We are extremely excited to have such strong support from National Gird to help us bring the next generation of advanced manufacturing to Western New York,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “STAMP has received significant support from business, education and economic development groups and organizations from Buffalo and Rochester, so it is truly a collaborative effort to bring this transformative economic development project to our region.”

STAMP is a 1,250-acre site and is aligned to attract the next generation of nanotechnology companies, including semiconductor chip fabs, flat panel displays, solar, bio-manufacturing, and advanced manufacturing companies to New York State. Most recently, STAMP was appropriated $33 million in the 2014-15 state budget to bring the site to a shovel-ready status. This funding will be used for pre-construction engineering, sewer and water lines and other utility hook-ups and other infrastructure enhancements.

“We have seen a number of major gains in the bringing new and advanced technologies to the region, and we’re confident that STAMP will continue the significant economic development momentum in the region in the science, technology and advanced manufacturing areas,” said Dennis Elsenbeck, regional executive for National Grid in Western New York.“

“The GCEDC has an excellent track record in economic development, as evidenced most recently by the construction of the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, which led to the construction to two major yogurt manufacturing facilities,” said Arthur W. Hamlin, director, economic development and corporate citizenship at National Grid. “We are optimistic that the same ‘build it and they will come’ approach used at the agri-business park will also reap significant economic development and job outcomes at the STAMP site.”

STAMP is located in the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) low-cost hydropower zone. The site is within a 60-minute commute of 2.1 million residents from the Rochester and Buffalo metro regions as well as six university centers with more than 17,000 enrolled engineering students. According to GCEDC officials, STAMP has the potential to generate $30-$50 billion in investment and employ up to 10,000 workers on-site. The supply chain impact could add another 50,000 jobs.

The grants to the GCEDC are from a number of National Grid programs, including the Strategic Economic Development Program designed to increase effective marketing and sales initiatives aimed at “strategic targets.” This program provides expertise and incremental resources to leverage more and better macro-level business attraction research, marketing and sales efforts. Other grants have helped support hard infrastructure improvements to the site. Information about National Grid’s suite of economic programs is available at

March 29, 2014 - 5:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, STAMP.

UPDATED 6:56 p.m. to add comments from Steve Hyde.

State lawmakers are expected to vote on a state budget Monday that will include $33 million in funding for the WNY STAMP project in the Town of Alabama. STAMP stands for Science and Technology Advanced Marketing Park.

The funds will help GCEDC complete land acquisition and make the proposed high-tech manufacturing park "shovel ready lite."

Actual shovel-in-the-ground type of work will no likely begin before the first tenant is secured, said GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde.

"The big thing is the funding being approved, committed and appropriated," Hyde said.

Once at least one company makes a commitment to STAMP, Hyde said, that's when you'll see work begin on infrastructure -- water lines, roads, power lines, gas lines and telecom.

The proposed 1,300-acre high-tech business park could transform the WNY economy, which is why a broad coalition of "partners" (other IDAs, local governments, community colleges and elected officials) came together to advocate for the funding, Hyde said.

"It was a pretty cool undertaking," Hyde said.

The funding is a big win for all of WNY, said Assemblyman Steve Hawley and State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer, who have both been working to help secure the funding.

"This is huge," Ranzenhofer said. This is the biggest site in North America. This is where people will want to come. This is going to be big for Genesee County and Erie County and Niagara County and all the counties of Western New York. It's going to create thousands of of advanced and technical kinds of jobs."

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morrelle held a press conference in Irondequoit this afternoon to announce the funding.

Hawley said he was assured on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that the money would be in the final budget proposal, which the Legislature is expected to vote on Monday.

He said dozens and dozens of people, from local elected officials up to staff in the governor's office, worked together to help make the funding possible.

"I can only say this has been a true team effort," Hawley said. "We've been working together for the regional economic renaissance of Western New York. This project when it comes to fruition could create 10,000 jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Spreading the tax burden lessens the tax burden on us all."

There's still lots of engineer work and planning to take place for STAMP, Hyde said. There's also land acquisition deals yet to complete. The funding will help move the project along in those areas as well.

Hyde said earlier this month that STAMP is generating real interest among site selectors and Ranzenhofer and Hawley said they've heard from Hyde that there are some strong potential projects in the pipeline. Securing this funding will only help matters.

"Steve Hyde has indicated there are businesses ready to sign on the dotted line," Hawley said. "There are a number that are really close and extremely interested."

Ranzenhofer said the funding is perhaps the last carrot Hyde needs to draw some businesses into the park.

"I would expect once people see the money is in the budget he's going have some great success in closing some of these deals," Ranzenhofer said.

Hyde reiterated this afternoon that there are some solid businesses taking a good hard look at STAMP and this funding will certainly go a long way toward getting final commitments.

"Some (of the potential deals) are getting pretty deep and there's more in the sales funnel," Hyde said. "I'm very excited. What this does is allow us to show a company that the funding is there to finish the infrastructure and gives us the the ability to try hard and close these deals."

Hyde praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for backing STAMP.

"This is fulfilling his plan to drive high tech and revitalize Upstate New York," Hyde said. "The governor's office has been incredibly supportive and I'm immensely grateful that they would work with us on this."

UPDATE 7:07 p.m.: Statement from Steve Hyde just issued by GCEDC, after the jump:

March 6, 2014 - 9:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, STAMP.

There's plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future of the WNY STAMP project in Alabama, Steve Hyde told members of the County Legislature during the Ways and Means Committee meeting Tuesday.

While Genesee County Economic Development Center must still secure a total of $33 million in financing to make the proposed high-tech manufacturing park "shovel-ready lite," there is plenty of buzz about the project among site selectors.

STAMP will be one of only a couple of locations in the nation, if not in the world, that could provide a major manufacturer with both 500 acres of property and up to 500 megawatts of electricity, Hyde said.

One of the nation's leading site selectors was at a conference in Denver recently and told Hyde there may be a very big project in the pipeline and STAMP is in the running.

"He said they have a really monster project developing, that New York will certainly be on the radar, but they said that STAMP is the one site, and maybe the only site in New York, that could probably accomodate it," Hyde said. "We're excited. We hope that comes through, but it's still very, very early at this juncture."

Hyde also said the governor's office is working on landing a project that would be "about the size of Muller" -- the yogurt plant in the Genesee Valley Ag Park -- for STAMP, but that New York is among four states competing for the project.

"It's competitive, but we're in the hunt," Hyde said.

STAMP is Hyde's big dream -- with the potential for hundreds of millions in local investment and 10,000 jobs. He called it "a game changer for our community."

He made his remarks during GCEDC's annual review for the Ways and Means Committee.  GCEDC will hold it's annual meeting at noon Friday at the college.

GCEDC operates on a $1.3 million annual budget, with $597,975 coming from fees paid by businesses that receive GCEDC benefits, $480,000 from the Local Development Corporation (a nonprofit operated by GCEDC that also receives fees for projects) and $215,014 from county taxpayers.

That $215,000 in county funding is perpetually controversial, but Hyde said it's essential to keeping GCEDC operating.

"That county contribution is only about 17 percent of our budget, but it gives about 8.5 professionals work that we hope you think is of value," Hyde said. "It's very important."

In 2013, GCEDC closed 28 projects that resulted in 270 pledged jobs, $29.9 million in capital investments and $1.7 million in grants for business and infrastructure improvements.

The biggest win for GCEDC over the past two years has been the ag park, which has seen the creation of two Greek yogurt plants -- Alpina and Muller.

Alpina pledged 50 new jobs and has already created 47, plus 33 full-time temp jobs that fluctuate based on production needs (and sometimes turn into new full-time, permanent jobs).

PepsiCo. / Muller pledged 186 new jobs in the first three years and 145 have been created so far.

Nearly 50 percent of the new hires at the two plants were Genesee County residents, Hyde said.

November 6, 2013 - 11:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Alabama, Charles Schumer, STAMP.

Press release:

Today, in a letter to the Board of Directors of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), U.S. Senator Charles Schumer pitched Upstate New York as the international center for the growing semiconductor- and chip-fabrication industry. Schumer touted several Upstate locales and specifically pointed to the newest potential mega-site (1,250 acres) for chip fab, the Genesee County Science, Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP).

Schumer highlighted the development of Upstate New York’s nanotech sites, underlining the many advantages offered by the Luther Forest Tech Campus, the Marcy Nanotech campus, and now the Genesee County STAMP site. Schumer, who recently hosted the SIA at a Capitol Hill briefing with newly elected senators, urged the 18 semiconductor industry CEOs who comprise the SIA Board to consider Upstate New York sites, including STAMP, when establishing their next semiconductor manufacturing and research facility, citing advantages like access to affordable power, and world-class research universities and proximity to a large qualified workforce.

“The STAMP site will join existing hubs like the Luther Forest Tech Campus and Marcy Nanotech campus, and will become the second semiconductor mega-site in New York State, bolstering the state’s reputation as the preeminent destination for high-tech semiconductor research, design, and development,” Schumer said.

His letter to industry leaders was released in advance of the 2013 Annual Semiconductor Industry Association Dinner, to be held on November 7th in San Jose, California, when representatives from STAMP will make a presentation to the Board of Directors to outline the advantages of the site. Representatives of other New York centers, including Marcy and Luther Forest will also be present.

Schumer continued, “Thanks to decades of joint public-private investments in infrastructure and education, and a talented workforce, Upstate New York is the number-one place to establish semiconductor manufacturing in the nation. The promise of the Genesee County STAMP site only adds to New York’s reputation as fertile ground for high-tech and, specifically, semiconductor manufacturing. Simply put: the high-tech manufacturing sector has the potential to remake Western New York and the entire Upstate economy, delivering a new generation of middle-class jobs. It has already begun in the Capitol District, is spreading to Utica, and is poised to take-off in Western New York, too.

"Upstate New York’s proximity to transportation and energy networks, its access to the creativity and large workforces of major metropolitan cities, and its world-class technology and engineering universities are exactly what the semiconductor industry needs to ensure national and global success – and I made that known to the CEOs of the leading companies.”

In his letter, Schumer highlighted the unique advantages various Upstate New York State sites, including Genesee County’s STAMP site, provide to the semiconductor industry. The industry has benefited from the State’s advanced transportation networks, industrial infrastructure, and utilities at its other leading semiconductor sites. Schumer explained that the STAMP site would continue with this trend, offering close access to Interstate-90, high-capacity electric transmission lines, a large-scale high-pressure gas line, and the New York Power Authority’s hydropower low-cost electricity zone.

These assets ensure that the semiconductor factory would receive robust utility capacity, redundancy, and reliability at competitive prices, in some cases at a 75-80 percent market discount. The STAMP site is also situated between the Rochester and Buffalo metropolitan areas, which contain international airports, active customs stations, and a 2.1 million workforce population.

Last year, Schumer successfully advocated on behalf of STAMP by calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide necessary wetlands permit assurances so that STAMP’s developers could advance the site’s development and begin marketing the site to prospective tenants. Schumer has also taken a lead advocacy role for the semiconductor industry in the 113th Congress, which has led to the passage of major immigration reform legislation and a long-term reauthorization of the federal helium reserve, a critical lifeline for semiconductor manufacturers.

The growth of the semiconductor industry in Upstate New York has also been encouraged by the region’s strong research and educational base. The State is home to some of the world’s leading technology and engineering universities, including the University of Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University at Buffalo, the University of Rochester, and Cornell University — all of which are spearheading efforts in research, commercialization, workforce development, and collaboration in the high-tech and semiconductor fields.

Schumer called on the SIA companies to consider the advantages offered by the New York’s high-tech resources, and mega-sites like STAMP primed for development, when choosing the location of their next chip fab. Schumer noted that the long-term development of the STAMP site would bring long-lasting, stable jobs to New York and make the region a hub of high-tech manufacturing.

July 9, 2013 - 8:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, STAMP.

This week, staff members of the Genesee County Economic Development Center are at SEMICON West, the largest trade show globally for the semiconductor industry, held at the Mascone Center in San Francisco.

The staff is there to promote WNY STAMP, the high-tech/nano-tech industrial park in the Town of Alabama that GCEDC hopes will some day be home to at least one large technology company employing thousands of people.

Joining the GCEDC staff are representatives from Greater Rochester Enterprise, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the University at Buffalo.

The photo is from GCEDC's Facebook page. At left is Chris Suozzi and second from left is  Rachael Tabelski. IDs are not provided on the other people in the picture.

May 30, 2013 - 9:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Wegmans, Alabama, STAMP.

It's one of the most frequently asked questions from readers of The Batavian: Why is there no Wegmans in Batavia?

Danny Wegman, the company's CEO was at Genesee Community College today and he answered that question for us:

"If we get the STAMP project in, we would probably be very happy to move here," Wegman said.

STAMP is the propposed high-tech manufacturing facility Genesee County Economic Development Center is trying to bring to the Town of Alabama. It could eventually mean as many as 10,000 new jobs.

Though Wegman was too diplomatic to say it, clearly, his view is the current economy in Genesee County couldn't sustain a grocery operation the size and scope of Wegmans.

STAMP is a project of personal interest to Wegman because he's chairman of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, one of 14 regional councils statewide assisting local IDAs in economic development.

Wegman is admittedly excited by the possibility of STAMP and believes it is something that could actually come together as an economic growth engine for the entire region.

"The high-tech arena is always exciting," Wegman said. "You always hear about it in California. Wouldn't it be nice if it was right here in our own backyard?"

We also asked Wegman about the GCEDC's $1.8 million in tax subsidies for COR Development and Wegman said he was unfamiliar with the project.

As a general rule, however, he said he opposes tax breaks for retail projects.

"I have to say I'm not real keen on that, since we’re a local business and we wouldn’t want somebody coming in and getting a real tax break..." Wegman said. "I think that’s divvying up a pot that’s already there. If the retailer helps grow jobs in some way that actually makes something, maybe, but most retailers don’t make things. That’s my view on it."

Asked if Wegmans would accept tax breaks to open a store in Genesee County, Wegman said, "I can’t say someone else shouldn’t and that we would. I don’t think that’s right, although we do make a lot of the food we sell, that's why I was giving you that exception."

YNN's Rose Eiklor pointed out to Wegman that there is a Facebook group called "Bring Wegmans to Genesee County." Wegman had never heard of it, but said he would take a look.

April 8, 2013 - 12:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Alabama, STAMP, Project Azalea.

The tech press is abuzz with speculation about "Project Azalea," a  multibillion-dollar computer chip factory that could be built somewhere in the U.S. with state economic directors in New York, Oregon, Washington and Texas trying to find the right package of incentives to woo the company behind the project.

It's all just rumor and speculation, but the company supposedly behind "Project Azalea" is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., a major supplier to Apple Computers.

But here's the headline for Genesee County: Don't count on "Project Azalea" coming to the STAMP project in Alabama.

Mark Masse, senior vice president of operations for Genesee County Economic Development Center said the local IDA hasn't been given any indication from the Empire State Development that STAMP is on the short list of possible locations for "Project Azalea."

STAMP simply isn't ready yet for consideration by the mysterious company behind the project. The planned high-tech park must first become "shovel ready light" so a developer could start digging as soon as the ink dried on any contract for the project.

Business reporter Adam Sichko lists two New York locations as possible sites for the 1,000-plus jobs the project is expected to create: the Marcy NanoCenter, a 430-acre site on the Utica campus of SUNYIT and Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta.

While Texas does pop up as a possible location, The Oregonian says there are three main contenders, with New York still on the list.

The Oregonian also reports that New York is ready to spend tens of millions of dollars to lure the company to Upstate.

Hat tip to reader Joanne Rock for suggesting we look at Project Azalea.

December 20, 2012 - 5:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

With zoning changes approved in the Town of Alabama, the Genesee County Economic Development Center will now move forward with real estate purchases in order to create the footprint for the STAMP project.

The board today authorized the agency to move forward with a $2.1 million expenditure to acquire the land necessary for the 1,340-acre technology zone.

GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde said today, after the board's approval of the transactions, that he anticipates bringing in three chip fabrication companies of the size now in Saratoga, which will mean a $15 billion to $25 billion investment by those companies in Genesee County and some 9,000 jobs.

The board authorized a loan from the LDC (a non-profit agency operated by the GCEDC) to GCEDC for $500,000. GCEDC will then receive either a gap loan from a bank to repay the LDC, or pay it off when it receives grant money from the state for the STAMP project.

The project is receiving more than $2 million from Empire State Development.

The first purchases -- many of which have already been negotiated -- could happen in a matter of weeks.

December 11, 2012 - 12:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

Five years of planning, public meetings, studies, environmental reviews and dozens of written reports came down to one vote Monday night in the Town of Alabama, and by unanimous decision, the town's planning board said yes to a proposed industrial technology park.

The 5-0 vote to change the zoning for 1,340 acres within the town's borders clears the way for the Genesee County Economic Development Center to aggressively market the technology zone and begin the process making STAMP the kind of "shovel ready" property that GCEDC officials say is necessary to attract big business.

Before the vote, Mark Masse, VP operations for GCEDC, said it had been hard work to get the development to the point of the pivotal vote, "but now we leave it in your hands."

"The town has been involved from the beginning in hiring consultants and getting a lot of work done looking at the project," Masse said. "We're excited to be at his point."

For the board, the decision came down to three key points: infrastructure for public water, support from the majority of town residents, and jobs.

Trustee Janet Sage noted the expense the towns of Bethany and Batavia are facing to bring public water to their residents, but under the agreement with GCEDC, the infrastructure for water will be created for 70 percent of the town residents at a reduced cost to ratepayers.

The total capital cost of the water project is $5.2 million.

An estimated $1.9 million in grants will reduce the cost of bringing public water to Alabama rate payers from $882 annually to $512 per year.

"We will be saving residents a lot of money over the long run," Sage said. "It would be a long time if ever before Alabama gets water if this doesn't pass."

Sage also noted that in a survey of residents, among those who responded, nearly 70 percent said they supported STAMP.

It was that support for the project that board members should note, said Alabama resident Sam Ferris.

"You should put your personal issues aside and vote the way the town wants," Ferris said. "We voted into into office to vote for our rights.  If you can’t put your own personal thoughts aside, you should reconsider running when it's your turn to run again."

Other speakers echoed Ferris call for a vote in line with the majority support for STAMP, and Donald Sage spoke about how important the jobs are to the future of Alabama.

"I've lived here all my life and I've never been able to make a living here," Sage said. "I worked construction in Rochester to make a living for my family."

GCEDC estimates that at full build-out -- which may take as long as 25 years -- that STAMP could employ 9,300 people.

Sage went on to talk about the importance of family staying together and said he probably won't be around by the time the real benefits STAMP kick in, but his grandchildren will benefit.

"You should not have to worry about going to Dallas, Texas, or Raleigh, North Carolina, to get to spend time with your family," Sage said.

There were no speakers at Monday's meeting who opposed STAMP.

When Supervisor Dan Mangino announced the resolution passed 5-0, most of the 20 residents in attendance applauded.

In related action, the board set a public hearing for Jan. 14 to consider a 12-month moratorium on all commercial construction in the town that is outside of the STAMP district.

The moratorium would give the town time to developed new zoning laws in anticipation of STAMP-related growth, preventing unwanted commercial construction and destruction of farmland.

December 4, 2012 - 12:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

Press release:

The Town of Alabama today released results of a survey presented to residents of the town to gauge their support for the proposed Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP). It is a 1,200-acre site in the Town of Alabama which is currently under development by the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC).

The survey found that more than two out of every three residents in the Town of Alabama who responded to the survey are in favor of the STAMP project (68 percent), while 62 percent of residents feel that the proposed $10.2 million Incentive Zoning Agreement between the town and the GCEDC is “sufficient” for the STAMP project to continue.

The town negotiated for additional amenities including expanding the new water district to include more households. With this change, 433 households will now receive water through the project. The town also negotiated additional revenue to be used for capital projects in future years.

“Given the size and scope of the STAMP project, feedback from the residents in the Town of Alabama is critically important as the board approaches a decision,” said Alabama Town Supervisor Daniel Mangino.

Both the Genesee County and Town of Alabama planning boards have recommended the rezoning of the site. Final approval of the rezoning rests with the Town of Alabama.

Conducted by Goldhaber Research Associates, LLC (GRA) on behalf of the Town of Alabama, the survey was mailed to 1,500 Town of Alabama residents from Oct. 12-14. A one-page flier with information about STAMP as well as a copy of the Incentive Zoning Agreement were included in the mailing. The survey generated 707 total respondents, including 53 that arrived after the Nov. 2 deadline.

To maintain confidentiality, names of the respondents were not associated with the responses in the data files, and the information about who completed the survey or who responded in a particular way to the survey was not shared.

October 12, 2012 - 2:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

For Holly Nelson, the proposed 1,200-acre technology business park in the Town of Alabama is both something to dread and something that seems like a good opportunity.

She's not alone in her conflicted feelings. Nearly a dozen people spoke at a public hearing Thursday night in the town's fire hall and expressed both a wish that Alabama remain a small, rural community, and that it embrace jobs and growth.

"I moved back here so I could be in the country," Nelson said during a short statement where she fought back tears. "If we had known what would happen, that this would be proposed, when we started building our home, we never would have built it. My whole family is here and loves Alabama. I don't want to lose that, but I do want my kids to be able to stay here and have a place to work. I'm so torn."

After speaking another minute or so, she said, "I'm scared," and seemingly unable to hold back the tears any longer, she walked away from the mic.

The purpose of Thursday's meeting was to give interested members of the public -- especially Alabama residents -- a chance to raise any issues with a proposed compensation package from the Genesee County Economic Development Center and the necessary changes in zoning for the site.

In all, the total estimated benefit to the town is $8.5 million, including $5.2 million for a new public water system. The town will also receive a commission on the sale of the land in park -- to be known as the Science, Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) -- as manufacturers are signed to build facilities on the property.

The first speaker was an organized labor representative who encouraged Alabama residents to support STAMP because both in the construction and in the new factories, it could bring good-paying jobs to the region.

He was followed by Alabama resident Doug Crosen who encouraged the town board to not be swayed by outside voices.

"There's going to be huge pressure from the outside both for and against it, but the decision better be about our town," Crosen said.

Among Crosen's concerns is whether the money for public water will cover hook-ups for residents, and whether residents will have the option to say on well water.

Anita Goras said she had split feelings about the project.

"This is going to be in my back yard and that's where my cows are right now," Goras said. "I am open. I know I'm not going to live forever and I would like to see my grandchildren be able to come back here and work."

Kevin Sheehan, deputy mayor for Albion, told the board that if Alabama didn't want STAMP, Orleans County will take it. He encouraged the board to approve the project for the sake of all of Western New York.

Bruce Pritchett -- who grew up in Alabama, still lives on Maple Road, and teaches in Albion -- said he understands the desire to keep Alabama a small farming community, but young people, he said, need jobs, they need a reason to say in Genesee County.

"There are not a lot of jobs available," Pritchett said. "We send our jobs overseas. There's nothing here for people. This is a great opportunity. As a community, I hope we take advantage of this opportunity we have and make the best of it."

Tom Walsh, a Corfu resident, said he understands the resistance from some, but encouraged Alabama to move forward with the project.

"I know it scares a lot of people," Walsh said. "If it came to Corfu, I'd probably be a little scared for me at first, but I would know at least there would be some work for people."

Vance Wyder Jr., said he's a 40-year-old disabled military veteran who really only knows farming. He isn't sure he and other farming community members can really be trained for the kind of jobs STAMP will bring. He's worried about losing farming jobs, which are harder and harder to come by in Alabama, and then the new jobs not being filled by local residents. He said nobody has really assured him that local residents can and will be trained for the jobs.

"My message to the board is be cautious, be wary, make sure you are doing the right thing for our town and not for the almighty dollar, because in the end, the almighty dollar might kick us in the ass," he said.

Another speaker, a gentleman who has worked in IT for 20 years and is a resident of Alabama, said the board should be mindful of the potential for spinoff businesses from high-tech manufacturers.

He encouraged the board to ensure any businesses coming in reinvest in the local business community, such as by creating an incubator for start-up tech firms.

"We don't need some monolithic company with 1,800 jobs that never talks to the town after it's in place," he said.

Max Merten seemed the most strongly opposed to STAMP. He said he moved to Alabama 20 years ago to live in a rural community and he doesn't want it to change. He said he raised his kids to work, not push paper.

He's worried, he said, that the project is being pushed through the process too quickly.

"We don't need more jobs in a cornfield," Merten said.

Angela Kost concluded the round of speakers with the same ambiguity that set the tone for the meeting.

"I don't want to see it in my back yard, obviously," Kost said. "I don't think anybody in Alabama wants that, but it is a good opportunity."

The town board will meet within two weeks to take formal action on the proposals.

June 7, 2012 - 5:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, Mike Ranzenhofer, STAMP.

Dignitaries from throughout the county were at the Upstate Med-Tech Center today for the official announcement of $2 million in funding for the STAMP project in Alabama.

The project, if successful, is expected to produce thousands of jobs and the round of funding will help pay for grading and infrastructure improvements for a portion of 1,300 acres targeted for development.

"The investment we’re making today will make STAMP a shovel-ready, high-tech industrial megasite," said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (top photo), who traveled to Batavia today for the announcement. "Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Capitol Region communities are already attracting high-tech companies and high-paying jobs."

STAMP is intended to attract high-tech/clean-tech and nano-enabled manufacturing and Genesee Economic Development Center CEO Steve Hyde (top inset photo) projects an eventual 10,000 jobs at the site, with support and supply chain jobs from Buffalo to Rochester adding another 20,000 positions.

STAMP is most often compared to Luther Forest in Saratoga. According to GCEDC, Luther Forest, in the past five years, has seen $1.5 billion in private investment, and more than 2,000 jobs created.

"Once we bring that site to what we call ‘shovel-ready light’ we will be ready to market the project to some of the largest semi-conductor manufacturers in the world," Hyde said.

Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer (second inset photo) thanked Skelos for helping secure the funding for STAMP and said the project has the potential to transform the region.

"This is really critical funding that will keep the project going and keep it on track," Ranzenhofer said. "We’re a step closer today than we were previously to making sure we develop scientific and technological manufacturing jobs in the future here in Genesee County. I’d rather see them developed right here between Rochester and Buffalo than in another state or another country."

Following the announcement, Skelos and Ranzenhofer met with local and regional media and discussed a variety of issues.

On Cuomo's plan to decriminalize possession of personal use marijuana, both Skelos and Ranzenhofer are adamantly opposed to the measure.

"When you talk to lot of drug counselors, they tell you marijuana leads to a lot of other kinds of addictions with heavier drugs," Skelos said. 

He added, "I don’t believe in legalizing drugs that the federal government has said are destructive to lives."

Ranzenofer said he's following the lead of GCASA in opposing decriminalizing possession.

"They felt strongly that this type of thing is a gateway drug for the very kind of people they’re trying to treat in our communities," Ranzenhofer said. "The experts in our community don’t believe that it is proper legislation and I’ll certainly defer to the experts in our community."

Even though polls show most New Yorkers support losing marijuana laws, Skelos said "the voters in my district on Long Island are not knocking down the door saying legalize marijuana."

On the ethics complaint against Sen. Ranzenhofer: Skelos said he has not received a copy of the complaint filed by Michelle McCulloch, even though it was sent to his office by registered mail. Ranzenhofer said he also has not yet seen it. 

Skelos called the firing of McCulloch, a mother of four children, a "personnel change." He said, "We all make personnel changes in our lives. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it."

Asked about his statement to a Buffalo TV station that McCulloch "knows why she was fired," even though he's said he wouldn't discuss a personnel matter, Ranzenhofer wouldn't comment further, except to say, "It wasn't for political activity."

He also said he's never directed anybody to gather signatures or petitions for Chris Collins, who is running in the NY-27 GOP primary against David Bellavia.

"People have volunteered for the past 50 years," Ranzenhofer said. "I've never directed anybody to do that."

On mandate relief for counties, particularly Medicaid: Skelos said the state simply can't afford to pick up its share of Medicaid costs.

He said NYS has already provided relief to counties, first by capping annual increases at 3 percent, then by agreeing to phase out the local mandate increase.

Counties promised each time not to ask for more help with Medicaid, Skelos said.

"They should be reminded that just a couple of years ago they said, ‘we’re fine,’ we’ll never need to come back again," Skelos said.

Skelos said reporters should ask federal elected officials why some states get 80-percent reimbursement for Medicaid while New York gets only 50 percent.

The Batavian happened to already have an interview scheduled with Rep. Kathy Hochul for this afternoon and we asked Hochul that question.

Hochul said that as a former town board member and former county clerk, she certainly understands the need for mandate relief, but the reason New York doesn't get more help from the federal government is the state has instituted a number of services and programs within Medicaid that are not required. Those additional programs drive up the costs for both the state and counties.

On another unfunded mandate issue, Skelos did agree that if proposed creation of a youth court division in NY's counties goes through, the state should pay for the additional cost. Officials estimate the new court will cost more than $1 million in Genesee County.

On efforts to increase the state's minimum wage, Skelos said he remains opposed to the idea.

"My concern is that if we raise the minimum wage with the fragile economy we have, there would actually be a loss of jobs," Skelos said. "Fifty percent of the people earning minimum wage are young people, age 16 to 24, and the last time we raised the minimum wage, 22 percent of them lost their jobs."

Professor Mike Jackson, RIT, presented officials with framed, commemorative computer chips.

June 7, 2012 - 9:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos will be in Batavia today, at the offices of Genesee County Economic Development Center, to announce approval of $2 million in funding to advance the development of the STAMP project in Alabama.

The project is a planned 1,300-acre high-tech manufacturing park and the funding will help pay for design and infrastructure work.

Joining Skelos at the press conference will be Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde.

Skelos is also expected to attend a campaign fundraiser tonight for Ranzenhofer in Erie County.

February 6, 2012 - 10:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

Press release:

Information addressing the comments of the Western New York Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (WNY STAMP) Final Generic Impact Statement (FGEIS) was discussed on January 26th at the Town of Alabama Fire Hall. Over 100 residents and interested constituents were on hand to receive an update on the progress of the WNY STAMP project.

A general overview of the project, the environmental review process, and responses to common topics from the Draft Generic Impact Statement (DGEIS) were presented by the GCEDC. Residents were given an opportunity to ask questions and provide additional feedback on the project.

On February 9, 2012 the GCEDC board, lead agency of the environmental review process, will consider a written findings statement for the WNY STAMP project. If the findings statement is approved, the environmental review process for the WNY STAMP project will be complete. At that point, the GCEDC will seek approval for the project from the Town of Alabama. The following steps will follow:

  • Negotiation and adoption by the GCEDC, and the Town of Alabama on an incentive zoning agreement that will provide relief from some of the Town’s zoning laws in exchange for amenities provided by the GCEDC to the Town.

  • Once the incentive zoning agreement is in place the Town of Alabama Planning Board and the Town of Alabama will begin consideration of the GCEDC’s application to rezone the STAMP site to a Technology Park and to amend the Town of Alabama Comprehensive Plan to address the STAMP project.

  • In conjunction with the Town’s rezoning process, the County Planning Board will hold a public meeting, review, and make recommendations to the Alabama Town Board on the rezoning application.

To further assist the Town with its decision-making process, a public opinion survey of the project will be distributed to the residents of the Town of Alabama. The survey will be conducted by a third party legal, and market research company that specializes in public opinion polling. The results of the survey will be presented to the Town for their consideration at the conclusion of the survey.

After the planning agencies return comments to the Town of Alabama, the board will hold a public hearing on the rezoning application. This public hearing will give the residents of Alabama another opportunity to comment, on the record, regarding the proposed rezoning of the WNY STAMP site.

Simultaneously, with the Town’s approval process the GCEDC, in conjunction with state and federal representatives, will continue to pursue funding sources that will be used in the event the STAMP project is approved by the Town of Alabama.

State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer and National Grid have, and continue to be of assistance to the GCEDC to obtain funding for this important project. Senator Ranzenhofer’s recognition of the regional impact of this project and his commitment to it are reflected in his recent state budget request for funding of the STAMP project.

This comprehensive environmental review process, as outlined in the State Environmental Conservation Law, is the same process that was conducted for the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in the Town of Batavia.

If, after careful review and consideration the Town of Alabama approves the GCEDC application to rezone the STAMP property, the GCEDC can begin to work with engineers to develop infrastructure plans for the site and strategically engage in a sales and marketing process to attract the first tenant to the STAMP site.

January 31, 2012 - 9:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, Mike Ranzenhofer, STAMP.

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has written to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, requesting his continued support in the form of a $9 million investment in the STAMP project for each of the next two years to bring the project to Shovel-Ready-Lite status.

“Support is now needed in the form of a funding commitment to complete the process needed to bring this site to Shovel-Ready-Lite status. Over the next several years, this is anticipated to require funding of $20 million. The 2011-12 SFY Budget has already committed $2 million to this project,” Senator Ranzenhofer said.

“A commitment for an additional $9 million per year over the next two fiscal years to assure timely Shovel-Ready-Lite status will allow immediate marketing of the STAMP site to national and international tech companies to expedite the successful build out of this project.”

The STAMP project has the potential to create up to 10,000 high-paying jobs at full development, in addition to jobs created during construction and development of the site, and up to $2.5 billion in private investment. In the letter to Governor Cuomo, Senator Ranzenhofer also noted the possible economic benefits to residents beyond the Buffalo and Rochester regions.

“This project, with its offer of advanced manufacturing, is the only one of its kind in Western New York. In fact, we believe that it is the only remaining available Mega-site in New York State. It provides the legitimate promise of a significant private investment and thousands of desperately needed high-paying jobs for the residents of the Buffalo and Rochester areas as well as all the residents of the region including Erie, Monroe, Niagara, Genesee, Orleans, Livingston and Wyoming counties.”

Senator Ranzenhofer forwarded copies of the letter to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, Genesee County Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock, Empire State Development Corporation President and CEO Kenneth Adams and Genesee County Economic Development Center President and CEO Steve Hyde.

The Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) is a 1,243 acre mega-site modeled after the Albany area’s Luther Forest development. Located in the Town of Alabama, the site is strategically ideal due to its access to three high-level electric transmission circuits, close proximity to the Empire pipeline – a 24-inch natural gas line– and only five miles distance from the New York State Thruway.





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