Major jobs boost for Buffalo

It was nearly two years ago when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his intention to invest $1 billion to revitalize the Buffalo area economy. Not much of that money has been earmarked so far, but that will change Thursday morning when the governor is scheduled to come to town to announce what is shaping up as the state’s largest investment ever in the local economy.

Sources tell Investigative Post this deal has been months in the making and far surpasses the first Billion To Buffalo deal involving drug research, development and manufacturing at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. That project, scheduled to open for business next year, involves a $50 million state investment and the creation of some 250 jobs.

Cuomo is scheduled to announce that two California-based companies will set up shop on 90 acres of restored brownfields at Riverbend, the site of the former Republic Steel plant in South Buffalo. Sources describe these companies as clean energy firms that will be engaged in research, development and advanced manufacturing.

Construction to build offices and manufacturing facilities would begin this coming year, with the two companies opening for business in 2015. The state last month issued a request for proposals seeking a developer for the project. Six firms responded, including LPCiminelli and Uniland Development.

The two companies are projected to hire about 850 employees during their first phase of operation and about another 1,000 in a second phase. Jobs in this sector tend to be good paying, although no figures have been released on the wages and benefits of the jobs proposed for Buffalo.

Sources told Investigative Post that state will invest $225 million to bring the companies here. That would make it one of the largest, if not the largest, investment the state has made to promote economic development in Western New York.

Rather than providing the companies direct subsidies, as has been the norm in the past, all of the state funds will be invested to build and equip facilities the state will own and lease to the firms.

The plan is to use these two companies as anchor tenants that will, in turn, attract other companies in the same line of work. The idea is to build a critical mass. This is the model the state has used to develop a nanotech sector in the Albany area.

Investigative Post is teaming with WGRZ to provide in-depth coverage of the governor’s announcement, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Watch Ch. 2’s evening newscasts for all the details.