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Development grants aid Western New York

Western New York economic development projects received a nearly $4 million boost courtesy of the Empire State Development Corp. on Wednesday.

Praxair Inc. was the big winner through a $3.5 million "City-by-City" grant to aid plans to upgrade its Jamestown Oxy-Coal Plant project. Funds will be used for the engineering and design of a 50-megawatt coal power plant using carbon dioxide capture and sequestration technology.

The grant award follows a June announcement by Gov. David A. Paterson that the state would back the advanced coal plant with a $7 million investment.

The new Jamestown coal plant would replace an aging unit that supplies electricity to the municipal utility in Jamestown. The $145 million plant would employ a clean-burning process known as circulating fluidized bed technology.

Praxair is continuing to seek federal funding through the U.S. Department of Energy to make the project a reality.

The Empire State Development board of directors, which held its monthly meeting in Buffalo, approved a total of $57 million in funding for private and public projects around the state, including Economic Development Fund aid for Buffalo-based Eastman Machine Co. and NOCO Energy Group of the Town of Tonawanda.

NOCO received a $300,000 capital grant to reimburse a portion of costs related to construction of new heater and propane devices at facilities on Grand Island and in the Town of Tonawanda. The company updated and expanded infrastructure used to heat, store and pump fuel oil and propane. The grant is tied to the hiring of 20 new full-time employees.

Eastman was approved for a $150,000 grant to aid its purchase of a new product line from Saber Industries. The acquisition is expected to create 10 new jobs.

The ESD board gave final approval to a total of six Economic Development Fund grants which will leverage some $256.7 million in private sector capital investment, while retaining or creating a total of 1,240 jobs.

Other aid approved by the ESD board included: a $160,000 Urban and Community Project Development Assistance grant to the City of Jamestown for design of a recreational trail; $70,000 in Competitive Improvement and Productivity grants to Niagara USA of Niagara Falls; and $40,000 to Polymer Conversions of Orchard Park.

The state economic development panel also signed off on $42.5 million in previously-announced state funding for Cornell University's planned Animal Health Diagnostic Center.

Marisa Lago, ESD's newly-appointed president and chief executive officer, attended the Buffalo session, which ended with a closed-door executive session that lasted more than an hour.


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