‘Today is a game-changer’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 October 2015 at 12:00 am

Cuomo, officials say new company at STAMP will elevate region, Upstate

Photos by Tom Rivers – Gov. Andrew Cuomo takes questions from reporters after today’s annoucement about solar manufacturing company committing to STAMP site in Genesee County.

BATAVIA – The announcement today by 1366 Technologies that it will build a new high-tech manufacturing plant in the Town of Alabama, employing 600 people in phase one of what could be a $700 million build-out, is more evidence Upstate New York is poised for the future, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“Today is a game-changer,” he told more than 300 people at Genesee Community College in Batavia, when he made the announcement the first tenant committed to the STAMP site.

Upstate communities for years – decades – were too focused on the past and legacy manufacturing companies that employed locals for generations. Many of those companies left town.

“Too much discussion used to be about what we did, what we used to be,” Cuomo told a crowd in a packed Stuart Steiner Theatre. “There was very little talk about the future.”

Cuomo said transformational projects are under way across Upstate. Today’s STAMP announcement follows SolarCity’s efforts to build a solar manufacturing plant in Buffalo with 3,000 workers; an announcement in July that Rochester won a nationwide competition for a photonics hub; and General Electric’s decision to return to Utica to package silicon carbide power blocks.

Cuomo said he has been prioritizing Upstate for 4 ½ years.

“You can feel the energy change,” he said.

Gov. Cuomo holds a commemorative silicon wafer given to him by Frank van Mierlo (left), CEO of 1366 Technologies. Other officials include, from left in center: State Assemblyman Joe Morelle of Rochester (Assembly majority leader); State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer; and Howard Zemsky, president and CEO of Empire State Development.

Cuomo praised the Genesee County Economic Development Center, in particular CEO Steve Hyde, for pushing STAMP over the past 10 years, for acquiring land and building support locally, in the region and state for the project, and then bringing 1366 Technologies to the area.

“Steve Hyde has been working on this for 10 years and it came home to roost,” Cuomo said today.

Communities will need leaders with vision and tenacity as the chart the futures of cities, counties and regions. Cuomo said the state wants to be a partner in a stronger Upstate for years to come.

“The future isn’t just going to happen,” the governor said. “The future is what you make of it.”

He said many communities around the state, and outside New York are working hard to bring in businesses.

“It’s a competitive world out there,” he told more than 300 people at GCC.

The STAMP project falls between Rochester and Buffalo, and the political and economic development leaders from both communities pushed for state resources to bring infrastructure to the 1,250-acre STAMP site, just south of the Orleans County line.

The leader of the state economic development agency said Upstate has “a history of neglect” that has changed under the Cuomo administration.

“This is an opportunity for next-generation jobs for communities, for regions and for families that have been long forgotten,” said Howard Zemsky, president and CEO of Empire State Development. “The governor has put us and Upstate New York first.”

1366 Technologies expects to start construction on the 130,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the spring with the goal to be operational in 2017.

GCC hosted today’s annoucement at the Stuart Steiner Theatre.

The company plans to grow in stages from its initial $100 million investment to $700 million at full build-out. The company will serve as “an anchor tenant” for the park and its presence will raise the profile of the site, helping economic development leaders in negotiations to bring more companies to STAMP.

1366 Technologies would use 105 acres of the 1,250-acre site, leaving plenty of room for other high-tech companies.

“We could put 10-12 more in like this,” said Mark Peterson, president and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise, the economic development arm for the Rochester region.

He praised the partnership between Buffalo and Rochester in advancing the STAMP site.

“This begins to change the dynamic between the two cities to create a major metropolitan hub,” he said.

The site could potentially have 10,000 workers at STAMP, with a spinoff of another 50,000 jobs through supply contractors, transportation and other support businesses.

Steve Hyde, leader of the Genesee County EDC, sees businesses setting up in Medina and Orleans County that would work with STAMP companies.

It will be a big lift for the area, providing lots of good opportunities.

“This is really about our kids,” Hyde said. “This will create thousands of high-paying jobs for our kids.”