Panel urges New York Power Authority to help Ford plant, others - The Buffalo News

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Panel urges New York Power Authority to help Ford plant, others

Ford Motor Co. is in line to receive $1 million in funding through the New York Power Authority for the automaker’s $101 million project to upgrade its Hamburg stamping plant so it can make metal parts for the Ford Edge and F-150 pickup truck beginning in the 2015 model year.

The Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board recommended Monday that the Power Authority approve the funding, using money from the sale of unallocated hydropower from the Niagara Power Project. Funds from those sales have been set aside for economic development projects in Western New York.

As part of the upgrade at the stamping plant, Ford is expected to hire 100 new workers, with an average salary of $80,000 a year, the company said in its application to the power proceeds board. Ford currently has 680 employees at the stamping plant.

Ford said it will use the funding to help pay for a project that will upgrade tooling, add new lines and allow it to provide stampings for the new model of the Edge that will hit the market in the 2015 model year and the F-150.

The Ford project was the largest of seven proposals that the allocation board recommended receive a total of $2.1 million funding from the Power Authority.

The fund from the sale of unallocated hydropower has raised $26.2 million for economic development projects in the region since the program began in 2010. However, allocation of the money did not begin until this May. The Power Authority and the allocation board have approved, or recommended, nearly $15 million in funding through its first four rounds of allocations.

The board recommended that the Power Authority provide $250,000 in funding for Lineagen Inc., a Utah company that provides genetic testing services for people with autism spectrum disorders and other types of developmental delays. The company plans to open an office on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus as part of a $5 million project that will employ eight people, with an average salary of $125,000 a year. The company had requested $1 million in funding.

Niagara University was recommended for $250,000 in funding for a $415,152 project to establish a Niagara Global Tourism Institute as part of an effort to make the region’s tourist sites more competitive. The university had sought $286,200 in funding.

“It will support collaboration within our tourism industry,” said board member Brenda Williams McDuffie.

The board also recommended that Visit Buffalo Niagara receive $250,000 in funding for a marketing initiative, in conjunction with the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp., aimed at convincing Canadian shoppers that there is more to do in the Buffalo Niagara region than to visit a mall. The $500,000 project will target consumers in Ontario through advertising, travel trade shows, media events and tours.

Washington Mills Electro Minerals Corp. was recommended for up to $140,000 in funding for an $840,000 project to upgrade an existing high-temperature arc furnace at its Niagara Falls plant. The project will allow the Niagara Falls plant to make fused mineral products that currently are produced at a sister plant in Canada, said Richard Ball, a project manager for Empire State Development. The project is expected to create two new jobs at the facility, which employs 105 people.

CNC Technical Solutions, a Medina industrial control systems reclamation business, was recommended for $75,000 in funding for a $338,850 project that will allow it to acquire and renovate an abandoned building next to its current site. The company, which had sought $250,000 in funding, currently has two employees and is expected to create three more, with an average salary of $25,000 a year.

The board also recommended that Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation receive $150,000 in funding for its $477,000 project to create an electronic database at the visitors center now under construction at the Buffalo cemetery. The database is expected to give visitors access to historic data contained in the cemetery, which will help them trace their genealogy in Western New York back to 1849, when the cemetery opened.


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