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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 www.shovelready.com.

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.

January 27, 2012 - 1:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

The next phase in seeking approval for a 1,200-acre high-tech industrial complex in the Town of Alabama is to sell it to the town board.

And by sell, we mean, offer incentives attractive enough to please residents and for the board to approve a change in zoning for the land that Genesee Economic Devlopment Center officials hope to turn into a lucrative and bustling complex employing 9,300 people.

Mark Masse, VP of operations for GCEDC, said negotiations are starting on the incentive package with the town and they will include financial assistance with the needs of the town to accommodate the project as well as possible cash grants for a "community chest" (money that can be spent on whatever the town board decides to spend it on).

Information on the final Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement for the project known as STAMP (Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park) was presented Thursday night to about 100 area residents at the Alabama Fire Hall.

With the GEIS done, the town board will be given an opportunity wthin the next month or so to either green light the project or not.

Prior to the vote, GCEDC officials will try to come up with a package of incentives that might help sway town residents and the board to support the project.

Once the incentives are hammered out, there will be a public meeting where the package will be presented and the public will be given a chance to comment on the proposal.

Attorney Adam S. Walters (top inset photo), representing GCEDC, said if the town board doesn't approve the zoning change for STAMP, the project is dead.

One audience member pressed Walters on whether GCEDC or anybody else could sue the town if it doesn't change the zoning to GCEDC's liking. Walters said he knew of no legal grounds to support such a suit and the town's attorney, Mark Boylan, nodded in agreement.

The time is ripe, according to Masse for the town to approve the project. He indicated there is a company that is looking to build a million-square-foot high-tech manufacturing facility. The company will be ready to start its site selection process in 2014.

Asked if it was a foreign company, Masse said, "It's American."

No company, especially one looking at building a million-square-foot facility, will even consider a site that doesn't already have zoning approval, Masse said, since such approvals take so long to get. 

Earlier, town Planning Board Member Lorna Klotzbach (inset photo below) expressed concern that, the way the plan is written out, the entire 1,200 acres could just fill up with a lot of small companies.

"If this site is allowed to be gobbled up by a database company here, a retail store there, a warehouse over here -- what's the chance that a big anchor company is going to want to come in if all of these other uses take up all the space?" Klotzbach asked.

Walters said that, as a practical matter, that isn't going to happen.

The big anchor tenant is needed first so the infrastructure can be built to support all of the smaller tenants that will help fill out the park and provide support services to the large tenants.

"The concept is to form the park around high tech manufacturing," Walters said. "That's the goal of this project and to do it in a way that makes sense. What keeps a Tim Horton's or a couple of warehouses from coming in first is the dollars necessary for the infrastructure. The smaller projects can't afford it.

"The plan calls for a million-square-feet high-tech manufacturer in phase one," Walters added. "If you don't have that, you don't have the money to put in the infrastructure to make any of the other stuff happen."

Until then, Masse and Walters explained, the arable land within the park's proposed footprint will still be farmed and the people living in houses will still live in their houses.

In fact, soon-to-be-former Village of Oakfield resident Joseph Bradt (bottom inset photo) expressed a unique concern about what will happen to residents living within the STAMP area.

Bradt said he recently bought a home in Alabama in order to move his family out of the village.

Pointing at the site plan on the projector screen, Bradt said, "My house is off the map and I haven’t even moved in yet."

Masse said that until a portion of the park is needed for a new tenant, no offers to buy out residential homes will be made, and when they are made, the offers will be at fair market value or or just above assessed value.

Ask if eminent domain would be used to remove people from their homes if they didn't want to sell, Masse said, "no."

"If you don't want to sell you're property, we'll figure out how design around it or if we can move the project to another part of the park," Masse said.

As for Brandt, Masse said it could be up to 20 years before it's time to try and buy him out of his house.

The final GEIS addresses at least some of the concerns raised by residents over the past couple of years.

Regarding the John White Wildlife Management Area, that's been completely removed from the site plan and won't be developed.

Regarding lost agricultural land, the crop land that will displaced represents only .65 percent of the 148,584 acres of farmland in Genesee County and only .23 percent of the total prime farmland.

There are also at least 17 possible farm-protection strategies for the town board to consider to protect the remaining farmland. Some of them, according to Walters, are very expensive. Some, such as rezoning, cost nothing.

On wetlands mitigation, the footprint of the building space was reconfigured to protect more of the wetlands within the park. One of the early plans would have destroyed 69 of 106 acres of wetlands within the park area. The new plan protects all but 10 acres of the land.

The acres protected will be enhanced and restored.

"Many of those wetlands are not in great shape today, and without this project, they would be subject to further degradation," said Roger Person, the consultant heading up the environmental review process.

The report also deals with impacts on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation and traffic flow.

Officials are working with representatives of Tonawanda to minimize impacts and while traffic will increase in areas, some of the proposed improvements to roadways and intersections will bring relief to some traffic flow problems already present in Alabama, Person said.

When a member of the public expressed concern that if the zoning change were approved, what would stop developers from doing something different than what residents are being told now would happen?

Walters explained that the way the process works, the final GEIS acts as a box.  The box contains everything that is currently permissible within the STAMP project area.

"If a proposal comes along that doesn’t fit inside that box, it requires a supplemental analysis and perhaps a supplemental environmental impact study," Walters said. "Everything has to fit within the box."

May 13, 2011 - 4:05pm
posted by Brittany Baker in GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

Comments will continue to be accepted until June 23 on the Western New York Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park -- known as the STAMP project.

At the request of the Alabama Town Board, the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) has extended the deadline for residents to submit comments on the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement, or DGEIS.

Anyone wanting to weigh in on the Final Generic Impact Statement and what it should address or include can write to: Mark Masse, senior vice president of operations at GCEDC, 99 MedTech Drive, Suite 106, Batavia.

Last night, residents attended a public hearing at the town hall to voice their concerns, such as increased traffic, possible discharges into water during manufacturing processes and how Alabama would benefit by allowing the park to locate within its jurisdiction.

“The purpose of the meeting [last night] was to solicit comments and feedback from the public on the DGEIS which has been released for public review. The GCEDC believes that objectives of the meeting were met,” Masse said in a statement.

The site consists of about 1,300 acres along Route 77.

“The purpose of the project is to develop a high technology manufacturing center with a focus on renewable energy and to provide economic development opportunities within the region,” according to the draft plan.

While the first phase of construction could begin within the next few years, the park may not be fully developed for another 10 to 25 years.

The document says, “The DGEIS analyzes several alternatives for the STAMP site. The Preferred Alternative includes 6.1-million square feet of development, including, among other things, technology manufacturing facilities; flex space and support facilities, office space, retail support uses, a new multi-use Town Hall building site, and a network of open space and trails that meander throughout the property.”

In regard to bringing water to the proposed park, the DGEIS explains that a “phased approach” would be necessary.

“Water resources and large diameter water mains are very limited in the vicinity of the project area. This results in a challenging and complex situation to providing an adequate water supply to the STAMP site.”

Many sources were considered and studied because such a high-volume of water demand calls for more than one supplier, according to the document. A summary of the alternatives considered can be found here.

The DGEIS also includes -- in the Economic Impact Analysis -- projected decreases in property tax rates as follows:

The Town of Alabama could realize a decrease in the tax rate per $1,000 in value from $1.11 to 11 cents.

Genesee County could realize a decrease in the tax rate per $1,000 in value from $9.82 to $7.97.

Oakfield-Alabama School District could realize a decrease in the tax rate per $1,000 in value from $23.73 to $16.94.

GCEDC officials made clear in a statement that all comments received would be compiled into the Final Generic Impact Statement which, when finished, will be made available to the public at the Alabama Town Hall, GCEDC offices and online.

April 25, 2011 - 4:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

Press Release from GCEDC:

On April 14, during a board meeting of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) a resolution to approve the Draft Generic Impact Statement (DGEIS) for the Western New York Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park was approved. The DGEIS has been completed and accepted by the GCEDC as Lead Agency for the proposed action.

On February 10, reports to the public of the preliminary findings of the DGEIS were presented at a public information meeting at the Town of Alabama Fire Hall.

The completed DGEIS, which was approved by the GCEDC board, includes an economic impact study, environmental studies, master plan update, traffic impact study, utility plan summary, proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment and farmland protection plan. The contents of the completed DGEIS have not changed significantly from what was presented in February.

The proposed action being examined by the DGEIS is the construction and operation of approximately 6.1 million square feet of advanced technology manufacturing and ancillary facilities, along with on-site utility improvements, on 1,337.20 acres of land in the Town of Alabama.

The WNY STAMP site is located along New York State highways 77 and 63, approximately 5 miles north of the I-90 New York State Thruway. The proposed action will involve rezoning the property pursuant to the Town of Alabama Zoning Laws. 

According to the DGEIS the buildable area of the WNY STAMP project is 46 percent of the entire site. The remainder of the land would remain as open space. The intent of the master plan design is to blend the manufacturing park into the existing fabric of the community.

The Hamlet of Alabama is separated from the STAMP site by a subtle ridgeline and gracious landscape setbacks from existing uses. As part of the open space system, only 9.5 acres of wetlands would be impacted by the current design, and the site will retain its rural nature.

The park will be built to high-tech industry standards, in line with employee expectations, and will respect its surrounding context and environment. 

The WNY STAMP site has seen several interested companies who were looking for locations on the East Coast and close to Canada. The companies were excited about the site, but it was not “shovel-ready” enough for their purposes.

“Planning, preparing and developing a shovel-ready site designed for appropriate industries, and having local community approval will help to secure companies at the WNY STAMP site,” stated Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC.

"Developing the necessary infrastructure to attract investment from outside the region is one of the most important roles that the GCEDC takes on for our county. A site zoned for a particular purpose, where a company can begin building quickly, at the speed of business, is the best way to bring jobs to our community.”

A public hearing is scheduled for May 12 at the Town of Alabama Fire Hall. The hearing will begin at 7 p.m., and residents are welcome to attend and comment on the DGEIS. Postcards will be sent to the residents of the Town of Alabama next week as a reminder of the meeting. 

Copies of the DGEIS are available at <http://www.gcedc.com>, in print at the GCEDC offices, located at 99 MedTech Drive in Batavia, and at the Town of Alabama office.

February 12, 2011 - 7:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

More than 200 concerned residents -- not all from Alabama -- turned out Thursday night for a more than two-hour presentation on a proposed high-tech manufacturing park.

The park, known as WNY STAMP (WNY Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park) may be the Genesee County Economic Development Center's most ambitious project yet.

And while the handful of residents who spoke may have asked skeptical and probing questions, nobody at this meeting really spoke out against the proposal.

The 15-year-build-out plan calls for the creating of more than 9,000 new, permanent jobs in 6.1 million square feet of manufacturing space. There will also be 180,000 square feet of retail space and a new town hall and museum in the southeast corner.

GCEDC officials pitched the project as one that would create good-paying, 21st Century jobs (average annual wage, $58,000), reduce the brain-drain of youths leaving WNY, provide new revenue for community services, enhance the local infrastructure and potentially reduce property taxes.

Of course, these jobs and all of this new revenue in the community is only created if businesses decide to build new high-tech manufacturing plants -- such as flat screen monitors, computer chips and solar cells -- in STAMP.

Some residents wanted to know why GCEDC thinks -- especially with the seemingly slow adoption of Buffalo East by new companies coming to town -- that any manufacturers will set up shop in STAMP.

Mark Masse, project manager for GCEDC, explained that in the past couple of years, GCEDC has fielded a few inquiries about appropriate locations from the types of businesses that use STAMP, but because STAMP hadn't even completed the earliest of approval processes yet, the companies had to look else where.

"What they're interested in is 'speed to market,'"said Roger Pearson, lead consultant on the project.

He said they need to know that they can get their new plant open in 12 to 18 months, and right now, if a business committed to the park, it would take much longer than that before they could open.

That speed to market was a concern of John Hatch, too. He's a UB student from Amherst and he wants to work in the kinds of industries STAMP will hopefully attract.

"I'd like to see this happen so I can stay in the area," he said.

Macomber Road resident Mark Williams wanted to know if GCEDC had a guarantee from the New York Power Authority for the cheap hydro power these companies will want for their operations.

Masse said, "There's no guarantees in life. ...But, "if we had a significant client come in, the New York Power Authority is will to work with us to ensure power."

Others wanted to know who was going to pay for the infrastructure development that needs to take place to attract these businesses.

Pearson explained that a project like this is really "shovel ready lite." The goal is to get all of the permits and environmental review processes completed, decreasing the amount of time it takes to build a new manufacturing facility. Much of the infrastructure, he said, wouldn't be built until it was needed and those costs would be covered by developers.

Pearson warned that the project plan presented Thursday is still evolving and some aspects may change as it goes through the planning and permitting process, and some of the changes will be based on feedback from the community.

A draft environmental review is expected to be completed by the end of March, with the final review completed by the middle of July.

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