Governor Cuomo Announces $5.4 Million to Fund Projects that Will Spur Economic Opportunity in Four Regions

Projects Will Create and Retain 240 Jobs in Western NY, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, Long Island.

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Albany, NY - January 16, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that $5.4 million in funding for four projects that will spur economic opportunity across Western New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and Long Island has been approved by Empire State Development’s (ESD) Board of Directors. These projects will create nearly 40 new jobs and retain more than 200 existing jobs. This funding also will leverage more than $21 million in additional investments to support business growth and lay the groundwork for future economic growth and job creation.

“With this funding, the State is investing in four projects that will spur new economic opportunities in Upstate New York and Long Island,” Governor Cuomo said. “From supporting local manufacturing industries to advancing our medical and bioengineering fields, these projects will help create and retain 240 good jobs and leverage millions of dollars in additional investments in these communities. As we work to grow New York’s economy, our initiatives like the Regional Economic Development Councils are continuing to deliver projects that will move each region of the state forward.”

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the State is making smart investments and supporting important projects in up and coming industries – from biotech and engineering to medical research, ranging from manufacturers expanding and creating jobs, to improving infrastructure and forging partnerships to help area businesses grow,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “Over the last three years, we have seen many companies grow and create new jobs in New York thanks to our support, and we anticipate a busy 2014 as more companies discover that there is no better place to do business than the Empire State.”

The Board approved the following Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) award grants:

Jacobs Institute – Priority Project (Western New York Region – Erie County) – $4,000,000
The Jacobs Institute (JI), a medical research and development center focusing on fostering innovation in patient care and economic development, will use a grant of up to $4 million for a portion of furniture, fixtures, and equipment expenditures to furnish the newly-established Centers for Innovation and Entrepreneurship – the first center for entrepreneurship in the heart of a clinical facility in the United States. A priority project of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, the project involves the acquisition and installation of specialized equipment, furniture and fixtures and working capital necessary to create a cutting-edge, state-of-the-art medical device prototype facility, the Idea to Commercialization (i2C) Center (fabrication center, machine shop, clean room) to create new devices and techniques, and a Training Center for physicians and industry. The Centers will also include a Simulation and Robotics Center for minimally-invasive vascular surgery, a Medical Education Support Center for scientific publishing and broadcasting, a Health and Wellness area, collaborative spaces, and administrative offices.

The JI will provide space to tenants who are critical to its mission including industry, clinical, and research partners, in return for expertise and/or services in the industry; and has already identified one tenant or joint-venture, Infonaut Inc., a Canadian health technology company, which is scheduled to move into the facility in the first Quarter 2014. JI also has several other companies interested in occupying the space. The Institute has hired a Director for the Centers for Innovation in Medicine and Entrepreneurship, responsible for overseeing training and prototyping, for which it charges a fee; already provided training for 160 medical professionals in 2013; and entered into a long-term training agreement with Covidien, one of the largest medical device companies in the world.

The project will create 25 new full-time permanent jobs by January 1, 2016.

Hofstra University – Priority Project (Long Island Region – Nassau County) – $1,000,000
Hofstra University, a private, nonsectarian, coeducational institution of higher learning located in Hempstead, Long Island, will use an ESD grant for a portion of the cost of facility renovations and the purchase of machinery and equipment for Hofstra University’s School of Engineering building. Long Island is in the midst of a severe shortage of trained professionals in the area of bioengineering. To address this, Hofstra committed to expanding and improving its bioengineering laboratory facilities. As a result of the Governor’s REDC initiative, Hofstra was identified by the Long Island REDC as a priority project and awarded $1 million to assist with the purchase and installation of equipment in the new bioengineering laboratory.

The project, which was completed in October 2013, included the renovation of an existing 1,355 gross-square-foot facility located on the campus and the acquisition and installation of specialized engineering machinery and equipment. The facility improvements included the installation of a new air conditioning, refrigerators, and freezers. A 3D printer, conventional microscopes and attached computers were also installed and calibrated as learning stations in the new laboratory. An internal super-clean room was built to house the incubators and protect cells from contamination. As a result of the project the new laboratory is expected to provide a higher degree of laboratory sophistication at the undergraduate level, and create opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in research experiences. Hofstra University is expecting an increase student enrollment in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and is committed to creating three new teaching related positions at the school.

The success of the project will be based on increasing the number of graduates moving on to medical schools and biomedical companies within the Long Island Region. The University has agreed to provide documentation that at least 50 percent of the increased number of Hofstra University’s School of Engineering students under the ENGine program accepted full time jobs in New York State upon graduation.

The Board approved the following Empire State Economic Development Fund grants:

ORAFOL Precision Technology Center (Finger Lakes Region – Monroe County) – $200,000
ORAFOL Precision Technology Center, Inc., a producer of specialty tooling used to manufacture microstructured optical films and plastic lenses, will use a grant of up to $200,000 to help fund a $12 million project that includes the construction of a 48,000-square-foot addition to the company’s facility to create a tooling center for North American operations.

In November 2011, new ownership at ORAFOL sought a location for its North American tooling manufacturing and considered locations in the United States or consolidating worldwide production in Germany, where the company is based. In order to reduce costs and make the project feasible in New York, the company approached ESD for financial assistance, without which the project would have been located outside New York or overseas and 29 jobs in New York State would have been eliminated. ORAFOL has constructed and equipped the addition, which houses new machinery and specialized processes to make the tooling used to manufacture specialized microstructures that have a wide variety of uses, including reflective materials, concentrator (solar) lenses used to produce electricity from sunlight, lighting diffusers, and brightness films used in computer display applications.

As a result of this project, ORAFOL will retain 60 existing jobs, including 29 that were at risk, and create seven new jobs. The company has already exceeded this number, having created nine new jobs.

Gehring Tricot – Priority Project (Mohawk Valley Region – Herkimer County) – $200,000
Gehring Tricot Corporation, a designer and manufacturer of a variety of knit and woven fabrics for diverse industries including medical, sports, safety, aerospace, apparel, and the military, will use a grant of up to $200,000 for a portion of the cost of the purchase of machinery and equipment.

In order to be more competitive in the textile market, Gehring sought to create a specialty line of fabrics that was not readily available in the market. Moreover, the company was experiencing a two-fold increase in sales. To accommodate the new effort and increased sales, Gehring planned to reinvest its equity in equipment, renovation and expansion to its existing facilities. As part of a plan to make its operations more efficient, the company sought to relocate its weaving operation from Massachusetts to New York to expand manufacturing capacity in the state and strengthen its long term presence in New York. In July 2012, Gehring applied under Round 2 of the REDC initiative to close a funding gap in their budget and was identified as a priority project by the Mohawk Valley. ESD’s grant was critical to the company’s decision to expand in New York, and without it, the project could not have taken place.

The project involves the repair and renovation of three of the Gehring’s four facilities on Hough Street, Lion Avenue, and Ransom Street. The company will repair the roof and add a new loading dock to the Hough Street facility. The Lion Avenue facility, where the company’s knitting operation takes place, will be renovated internally to accommodate new machinery and equipment, and the Ransom Street facility, which is Gehring’s main manufacturing location, will be expanded by 6,800 square-feet to add manufacturing space for incoming orders.

To date, the company has completed replacement of the roof on the Hough Street facility and purchased $600,000 of new machinery and equipment. Gehring will retain 149 jobs and create seven new jobs, two of which have already been created.

The next meeting of the ESD Board of Directors will be held in February.