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ADVANCED REFRACTORY GETS VENTURE CAPITAL

Local growth companies are often singing the blues over a lack of venture capital, but one growing manufacturer found sweet music through a venture capital firm in Nashville.

Advanced Refractory Technologies Inc. on Hertel Avenue received a $3 million investment from Petra Capital of Nashville during the second quarter. The Advanced Refractory deal was the second largest venture capital investment in upstate New York during the quarter, according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Xynetix Design Systems Inc., a software design firm in Fishers, N.Y., bagged the largest investment with $4.2 million from a combination of investors.

Advanced Refractory used the Petra Capital investment, along with financing from Fleet Bank, to close the $8 million acquisition of Tech-Ceram Corp., a Massachusetts manufacturer of ceramic components for the telecommunications industry.

Buffalo-based Advanced Refractory, a ceramics and specialty coatings manufacturer, is in the midst of a growth spurt. The company received $15 million in contracts from the U.S. Army and North American Industrial Based Organizations earlier this year and recently completed an expansion of its North Buffalo plant.

The company added more than 30 jobs this year, bringing total local employment to about 145, and plans to continue expanding its local payroll. Company officials said they are trying to attract additional venture capital funding before the end of the year.

Total venture capital funding in upstate New York dropped from $27 million during the first quarter to slightly more than $9 million during the second quarter, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers survey. But the $36 million total during the first half of 1998 is a 61 percent increase over the $22.5 million invested during the same period last year.

PricewaterhouseCoopers partner and regional survey director Bernie O'Hare said the upswing in investment could attract the attention of other investors.

"There's tough competition across the country for venture capital dollars. However, investment activity continues to demonstrate to more venture capitalists the number of high potential companies here," O'Hare said.

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