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March 11, 2011 - 6:15pm

Brace for a high-tech future, community leaders hear at GCEDC meeting

posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC.

The day is coming, according to Mark Peterson, president and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise, when the I-90 corridor from Buffalo to Albany will rival any high-tech corridor in the world.

Peterson made his bold prediction at the Genesee County Economic Development Center's annual luncheon at Genesee Community College.

More than 100 people attended the 90-minute event that featured presentations by GCEDC executives and elected officials -- both predicting a bright future for economic development in Genesee County and complaining about New York's hostile environment to business.

Peterson said high tech will be drawn to Western New York through the cooperative efforts of the industrial development agencies in Genesee, Orleans, Niagara and Monroe counties.

GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde (pictured above) echoed Peterson in his closing remarks.

"We will help bring back manufacturing to Western New York and we will do it with high tech, green tech and advanced manufacturing," Hyde said.

With five shovel-ready projects, Genesee County is poised to employee 3,000 more people, Hyde said.

"That's more than double the existing manufacturing work force in Genesee County," Hyde said.

He added that once the Alabama STAMP project is completed and completely built out, Genesee County will employ 9,300 more people.

"But it's not just about jobs," Hyde said. "It's about building a tax base."

Hyde said that process is already benefiting Genesee County.

"We have 114 active projects," Hyde said. "That's up 65 percent from 2005. Those projects collectively pay out $4.5 million annually into the tax jurisdictions of Genesee County, towns, schools and the city."

Brandon Burger
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I don't live in Genesee County to be closer to high-tech manufacturing.
Howard B. Owens
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More than 12,000 jobs would be great for the local economy, and great for business. But it sure would change the community. I have visions of Orange County, California -- massive, cookie-cutter suburbia homes, strip malls, outlet centers, traffic jams ...
bud prevost
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You have nothing to worry about, Howard. This regional idea would be fine if the regions themselves were vibrant and growing. Buffalo and Rochester are both decaying physically and spiritually. The cities both are shadows of their former selves. What makes anyone think that in between the two cities, everything will be peaches and cream. I wish I was wrong, but I know I'm not. As I was listening yesterday, I thought to myself, "if we lowered taxes, and regulated for safety, not revenue, couldn't we just eliminate this middle man(GCEDC)and wouldn't that help grow the business environment in WNY?". I want to see growth, I just wish there was a way to do it without this agency.
Bea McManis
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I have to agree with Bud. Everyone would like to see manufacturing come back to this area. Is the high tech industry the answer? I'm not ready to jump up and down and celebrate it as the solution. It would be nice to get straight answers from the GCEDC. How many of these manufacturing jobs are assembly line work? What would those jobs pay? How many of these jobs are supervisory? How many are middle management? What qualifications are needed to take one of the jobs? Assembly line work doesn't need a degree. Will the opportunity to work in the companies' R&D be available here? Or, will the protected, secure technology stay in their other facilities? How much of the assembly work will be automated? Will this ever be another Bakersfield, San Jose, Campbell,Cupertino,Los Altos,Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Mountain View, Morgan Hill, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Saratoga or Sunnyvale. While GCC may offer some courses to support the possibility of high tech manufacturing, that same industry relies on a large number of colleges and universities well equipped to churn out the personnel they: San José State University Stanford University Santa Clara University John F. Kennedy University Campbell Campus University of California, Berkeley Extension University of California, Santa Cruz Extension Hult International Business School Carnegie Mellon University Golden Gate University Silicon Valley Campus Silicon Valley University University of Phoenix San Jose Campus University of San Francisco South Bay Campus University of Silicon Valley Law School San Jose City College Menlo College Evergreen Valley College Foothill College De Anza College Mission College West Valley College National Hispanic University Ohlone College Cogswell Polytechnical College The Art Institute of California – Sunnyvale Silicon Valley has the highest concentration of high-tech workers of any metropolitan area, with 285.9 out of every 1,000 private-sector workers. Silicon Valley has the highest average high-tech salary at $144,800. The region is the biggest high-tech manufacturing center in the United States. The unemployment rate of the region was 9.4% in January 2009, up from 7.8% in the previous month. Even they are seeing an employment downturn. If they can't keep everyone employed, what makes the GCEDC think it can compete? Thousands of high technology companies are headquartered in Silicon Valley; among those, the following are in the Fortune 1000: Adobe Systems Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Apple Inc. eBay Facebook Google Hewlett-Packard Intel Intuit Nvidia Oracle VMware Yahoo!Adobe Systems Advanced Micro Devices Agilent Technologies Apple Inc. Applied Materials Cisco Systems eBay Facebook Google Hewlett-Packard Intel Intuit Intuitive Surgical Juniper Networks KLA Tencor LSI Logic Maxim Integrated Products National Semiconductor NetApp Nvidia Oracle Corporation SanDisk Sanmina-SCI Symantec Yahoo! Additional notable companies headquartered (or with a significant presence) in Silicon Valley include: 3Com (acquired by HP) Actel Actuate Corporation Adaptec Aeria Games and Entertainment Altera Amazon.com's A9.com Amazon.com's Lab126.com Amdahl Ampex Antibody Solutions Aricent Asus Atari Atmel Broadcom Brocade Communications Systems BEA Systems (acquired by Oracle Corporation) Business Objects (acquired by SAP) Cypress Semiconductor Electronic Arts EMC Corporation (headquartered in Hopkinton, Massachusetts) Fairchild Semiconductor Force10 Foundry Networks Fujitsu (headquartered in Tokyo, Japan) Hitachi Data Systems Hitachi Global Storage Technologies IBM Almaden Research Center IDEO Logitech LynuxWorks Maxtor (acquired by Seagate) McAfee Memorex (acquired by Imation and moved to Cerritos, California) Micron Technology (headquartered in Boise, Idaho) Microsoft (headquartered in Redmond, Washington) Mozilla Foundation Nokia (headquartered in Espoo, Finland) Netflix Netscape (acquired by AOL) NeXT Computer, Inc. (acquired by Apple) Ning NXP Semiconductors Olivetti (headquartered in Ivrea, Italy) Opera Software (headquartered in Oslo, Norway) OPPO Palm, Inc. (acquired by HP) PalmSource, Inc. (acquired by ACCESS) PayPal (now part of eBay) Philips Lumileds Lighting Company PlayPhone Qualcomm, Inc. Rambus Riverbed Technology ROBLOX RSA (acquired by EMC) Redback Networks (acquired by Ericsson) SAP AG (headquartered in Walldorf, Germany) Siemens (headquartered in Berlin and Munich, Germany) Silicon Graphics Silicon Image Solectron (acquired by Flextronics) Sony Sony Ericsson SRI International Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle Corporation) SunPower Tesla Motors TWiT Tellme Networks (acquired by Microsoft) TiVo VA Software (Slashdot) WebEx (acquired by Cisco Systems) Western Digital VeriSign Veritas Software (acquired by Symantec) VMware Xilinx YouTube (acquired by Google) Zoran Corporation Silicon Valley is also home to the high-tech superstore retail chain Fry's Electronics. Notable government facilities Moffett Federal Airfield NASA Ames Research Center Onizuka Air Force Station Oh, forgot to add that the government (the same one that you all don't want in your lives, contributes to the economy by handing out thousands of contracts for R&D and manufacturing). Would this boom happen here? I doubt that any of these companies would want nothing more than a call center or assembly work done away from their headquarters.
Howard B. Owens
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Bud, it's worth noting, every state, as far as I know, uses some form of tax abatement to try and lure businesses. For example, here is what I found on Enterprise Zones in California: • Firms can earn $37,440 or more in state tax credits for each qualified employee hired. • Corporations can earn sales tax credits on purchases of $20 million per year of qualified machinery and machinery parts. • Up-front expensing of certain depreciable property. • Lenders to Zone businesses may receive a net interest deduction. • Unused tax credits can be applied to future tax years, stretching out the benefit of the initial investment. • Enterprise Zone companies can earn preference points on state contracts. • Up to 100% Net Operating Loss (NOL) carry-forward. NOL may be carried forward 15 years. (source: http://www.caez.org/News--Media/Press-Releases/index.html) While not endorsing the idea of these kinds of programs, or even conceding that they work, what happens if these sorts of programs are not available in New York? That said, I'm not convinced trying to lure existing businesses with tax incentives is a winning strategy. I'll have to see it to believe it. Even in California, the biggest business successes haven't come from government programs, enterprise zones or tax breaks. They've come from entrepreneurs and private capital. And to Bea's point, they've largely centered around universities that produce entrepreneurs and visionaries. My continual question remains: Given what we have, from business climate to weather climate, how do we foster more home-grown entrepreneurs? I've said it before, no amount of government help nor government road blocks are really going to hold back an entrepreneur with a vision. How do we as a community foster an environment where people with a business vision start the next P.W. Minor, Chapin, Kutter's, Liberty Pumps, Jell-O, Wiard Plow, etc. in Genesee County?
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Silicon Valley didn't form around the Universities and Businesses that were already there. The Universities and Businesses formed around an idea. That idea was the biggest invention of the 20th century--the silicon chip. Entrepreneurs and investors flocked to the site of the invention and to California's tax friendly and business friendly environment (AT THAT TIME). Silicon Valley has been shedding jobs recently because Californians thought it was a good idea to tax the crap out of everything and catch up to the Yankees back East. Now they're all moving to Idaho and Montana, and the mentality of "government providing everything and not realizing that someone has to pay for it" will ruin those areas as well. This country saw it's greatest economic growth before the invention of Big Government in the 1960's. Specific areas of the country (Silicon Valley, The Research Triangle, Austin, etc...) have also seen tremendous growth since then--but it has only been under a small government, business friendly environment. Nothing big will ever happen in NY (without phenomenal tax breaks and giveaways) until NY gets out of its own way--PERIOD.
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The OTHER factor to keep in mind is that OTHER regions are also working hard to attract high tech industries- say, for example West Virginia and North Carolina. On a recent road trip to NC, I saw whole corridors of new development dedicated to 'technology parks.' These developments were not just business parks- they were surrounded by new housing, shopping centers and recreation opportunities. A far cry from the area set aside for the STAMP project. ...Not to disparage the communities of Alabama and Basom, but they are not presently in a position to compete in terms of condos, golf courses and shopping centers. One could argue that these amenities might follow, but the companies shopping for suitable locations, making comparison choices are probably taking stock in the here and now. If one looks no further than the tech parks attached to the RIT facility, note the huge development that went hand-in-hand with that local real estate. The Jefferson Rd./John St./Bailey Rd. area has been razed and rebuilt with condos, restaurants, a night club and a Barnes and Noble in the course of a couple years. ...This atop the cultural/educational/recreational/economic/domestic opportunities pre-existing. This is Field of Dreams stuff. ...Not talking about attracting dead ball-players. It requires some wide-vision planning to attract NOT just business, but people who want to be part of a community associated with those businesses. Comparing Silicon Valley to Alabama, New York without looking beyond AMD's parking lot is restricted vision. The GCEDC is apparently deluded if they think dropping a building on an available lot surrounded by land which could never be developed (wildlife preserves) is going to sound appealing to anyone except bird watchers. Do they anticipate nesting boxes for employee housing?
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Also, we can't keep planning as if it were 1960. We are leaving the post-oil embargo era and entering the post-oil era. Any community design that does not include localized work/play/purchasing opportunities or provide for public transportation is obsolete before it gets off the ground.
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Good points CM. STAMP will be the new neighbor of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation and the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. All the techies descending on Alabama will have much more to enjoy than hip housing, golf courses, restaurants and entertainment. They can get a real taste of rural. Instead, they can look forward to low cost cigarette's and a place to go watch our seasonal bird migration. And more scary, do we really want those amenities to follow....there? I don't live on the west side of the county, but it wouldn't be my choice to see suburban sprawl in Alabama. Those are the two reason's why I disagree with the placement of STAMP in the first place. The refuge is a fragile ecosystem that should be protected from possible environmental consequences as well as the reservation. And who wants to see chain restaurants and cookie cutter condo's pop up there? All I can envision is Edward Scisorrhand style cul de sac neighborhood's in the quiet, peaceful serenity of rural Alabama and Basom. Just doesn't fit. Wouldn't the Town or City of Batavia been a more suitable location? There are gyms, restaurants and entertainment already in place. Say the STAMP project is a success and does attract some high tech businesses and we see those good paying jobs come. I see those employees deciding on Amherst to buy homes and set up roots, not Alabama. Maybe I'm wrong.
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CM...You took the words right out of my mouth!!... ..........WNY STAMP: GCEDC's Field of Dreams IF YOU BUILD IT....THEY WILL COME. "IT" being a shovel-ready site in the Town of Alabama. "THEY" being an as yet, non-existent, wafer fab company and "YOU" being the taxpayer footing the bill. The Genesee County Economic Development Agency has cast itself in the lead role, billing the project as an economic blockbuster the likes of which this community has never seen before with promises of mega private capital investment, job creation and municipal tax revenue. The only problem, is that there is not a single semicon company that has announced any plans to build in WNY. It is all based on speculation contained in a NYS funded feasibility study. Because of this, 18 or so IDA's across WNY are all preparing shovel-ready advanced manufacturing parks in their communities...that's a lot of tax exempt property and grant money going down the drain. Don't get me wrong, the "if you build it, they will come" philosophy is a typical entrepreneur's dream. The big difference is that private small business people take real financial risks and invest a lot of sweat equity to bring their dreams to fruition. The GCEDC, on the other hand, acts like they are playing with monopoly money and only sweat on the golf course. I would love for the GCEDC to put on their website, 2 live counters (like the one for our national debt), one counter would track how much tax revenue is being lost either by idle land in their tax exempt portfolio or through tax abatements/exemptions and the other counter would track how many real, not committed, jobs are created. It's the only way to measure if other solutions would give us more bang for the buck. Do we really want to put all of our economic development eggs into one basket? The GCEDC's basket? Wouldn't our local economy be more stable based on many small businesses rooted in the community rather than a few large ones? Especially in the semiconductor industry where technology is advancing so quickly that products become obsolete virtually overnight. I've read that the product production life span at wafer fab plants is about 5 years....then layoffs begin (IBM in E. Fishkill), then consolidation, then relocation, and finally the plant closings (Fairchild Semiconductor at Mountaintop,PA). Fortunately, Luzerne County, where Mountaintop is located, had the foresight to support small business as their economic backbone - 70% of their workforce is employed by businesses with less than 10 employees - so the devastation was minimized. If you want to get an idea what life would be like IF a semicon plant did decide to locate in Alabama, read the postings on the Luther Forest message board. Global Foundries is expected to finish construction and begin production there this Spring, and a lot of the folks are not happy and feel they were lied to. http://lutherforest.com/eve/forums/a/frm/f/9396064534
Howard B. Owens
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Amused ... on their Twitter and Facebook accounts, the GCEDC has linked to the Daily's two most recent stories about the GCEDC, but not to The Batavian's ...
Howard B. Owens
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BTW, you can follow GCEDC on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/GCEDC and on Twitter, here: http://twitter.com/#!/geneseeedc
Brandon Burger
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Aside from the debate over whether or not the GCEDC is useful or not, there is another question that looms: What do we want Genesee County (or Orleans or Wyoming) to be? Do we want to be the new Silicon Valley? Do we want to maintain our rural, largely agricultural existence? Do we want to be the exurban extension of Monroe and Erie counties? Maybe we should answer to that before we embark upon any big projects, one way or another.
George Richardson
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I think GCC does an excellent job of educating students for employment, where it exists. Unfortunately, that means a serious brain drain to Genesee County unless things change dramatically. Your loss is still an overall gain to the USA, I believe that without doubt. Get it together Batavia, you can do it. I know you can, many of you already have. "Keep on Truckin'" and "Onward though the Fog."
C. M. Barons
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The AMD (Global Foundries) project in Saratoga Springs hedged $1,000,000 per job of tax deferrals and grants- all going to a corporation NOW owned by Abu Dhabi. The Arab emirate is best-known for being one of the richest in the middle-east, funding terrorist groups and laundering money for the Russian mafia. This is what your tax dollars are doing for you.
Mark Potwora
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The best thing we can all do is go to this site http://www.facebook.com/GCEDC and post what we feel about the lies that they have been telling us..Post often..
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JoAnne, the counter idea is a fantastic one. I frankly think that it's incumbent on the GCEDC to provide **SOME** documentation of all the job creation claims. The fact that that doesn't exist, especially in light of all the recent publicity regarding salaries, etc. at GCEDC, I think speaks volumes about the validity of those claims.
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In my younger years I worked in the manufacturing and R&D departments of a company that made silicon wafer growers. It is still located in Rochester http://www.kayex.com/ although the good manufacturing jobs have been outsourced. We worked with some pretty dangerous materials. We were up to our elbows in trichloroethylene http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichloroethylene and Gallium arsenide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallium_arsenide was another material I remember as particularly dangerous. Materials that would most definitely have an adverse impact on ground water. Materials that don't belong any where near a wildlife refuge and an Indian reservation. Would I want this in my back yard and even down the water table ten miles from me? Hell, no. Kayex was buried in an industrial zoned area near the Monroe County airport. No houses or farms to be found. I wonder if the people proposing this would raise their families near a complex such as this. I doubt it. Do the residents of Basom, Alabama, Indian Falls have Monroe County Water or do they have wells? The people of this area are going to have to wrestle and decide if the benefits will out weigh the negative impacts. In my neighborhood we still have an environmental disaster from a train wreck that occurred in 1970 http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/lehighvalley/ Accidents happen and the impact is long lasting. If ground water is contaminated public health is compromised and home values decrease. This is only a possible scenario if it actually comes to fruition, but I hope the local impact on the community is being studied and the people that live out there know what they might be getting into. To play devil's advocate, I do believe that we need good paying jobs and that a high tech park might provide them, but like Joanne, I worry that a lot of tax money is being used for a big "IF".
JoAnne Rock
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Mark, I was just on GCEDC's Facebook page. One minute I was reading your posts and the next minute they were gone. I wonder if they have to pay someone double time to delete on Sunday?
Chris Charvella
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That's ok JoAnne, I was born a suspicious jerk, so I took Screenshots :)
John Roach
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I read Mark's post earlier, but now see it was edited out.
kevin kretschmer
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What is there to be suspicious about? It looks to be their page so they can run it however they see fit, as is their right. Start your own; "I Hate the GCEDC" page and post to your heart's content.
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I was suspicious that they may not leave up any comments they didn't like. I turned out to be correct. It's their right to delete those comments, but i figured I'd do what I could to keep them for posterity just in case. I only managed to cap two from Mark, not sure if there were more.
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Kevin, Page is nothing more than another outlet for self gratification. (the rest edited based on Mark's later post)
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Kevin, I believe you have glossed over the center of this debate. "It looks to be their page..." If the GCEDC is a pseudo-independent agency of New York State receiving public money (regardless of total income sources), functioning at the will of Genesee County's legislature- by their approval, appointment and funding; it would seem that the GCEDC has an obligation to be publicly accountable. The public being any Genesee County resident who cares to weigh in on that agency's stewardship of the public investment. Sure they have a right to a website. Sure they have a right to determine its content. Who REALLY owns the GCDEC? Their smugness in light of public criticism is wearing very thin. Clearly they have not met the level of transparency necessary to satisfy the public. It's time for a public vetting- not another dog and pony show. Given the number of complaints registered with the AG's office- if our thumb-sucking, blanket-clinging legislators won't get to the bottom of this; Schneiderman is less likely to treat county residents' concern with patronizing pats on the head.
C. M. Barons
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http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/What-me-worry-715605.jpg An image of Leg. Bob Bausch, responding to GCEDC critics.
George Richardson
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Bea says: "another outlet for self gratification" like that's a bad thing. I say: "without self gratification I'd have no gratification at all." But, I'm graciously gratified that I do, thank you Jesus. Spring has frickin' sprung in Central, Texass. My tomatoes, peppers and potatoes are thriving and I've been pulling onions all winter long. Dirt is wonderful and my feet are rarely clean, it takes effort for a barefoot boy but that's the way I like it. Uh huh uh huh.
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Kevin - The GCEDC is funded with tax dollars. They should open themselves to transparency and accountability.
Daniel Jones
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George - You should come back and visit Batavia. We would all love to meet this site's king of dry wit.
George Richardson
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Dan, I'm afraid I might like it again. It was hard enough to leave the first time. But I like it when other people like it, no doubt about that. Many times I feel my wit is heavily influenced by my nit. Can you dig it? I didn't think so.
Bea McManis
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deleted in favor of comedy
Daniel Jones
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George - Nitwit was the user id of the other Texan/Batavian that used to post here. I wonder what happened to him?
Chris Charvella
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deleted for misunderstanding
Mark Potwora
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Chris let me clear something up...I deleted those facebook post myself...I went back and wanted to post something else and got called away right as soon as i unposted them and didn't repost anything yet..
Chris Charvella
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Fixed that Mark. I appreciate your clarification. I wouldn't want to accuse an organization of lying if it wasn't demonstrably true.

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