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Company that transports disabled gets loan that will allow expansion

Two Western New York companies benefited from the Empire State Development Corp.'s actions this week, one with a grant and other with a large demolition contract in Rochester.

Snyder Transportation has been granted a $500,000 loan from ESDC to expand First Call Transportation, a Buffalo company it acquired last fall that provides transportation for the physically and mentally challenged.

The loan, which is contingent on a state budget being passed, would allow Snyder Transportation, an affiliate of Snyder Corp., to maintain fixed-route and on-demand transportation services for more than 1,000 clients in the Buffalo area.

The acquisition of First Call expands Snyder Corp.'s growing transportation services business, which includes the We Care bus service for the elderly and the disabled, as well as its Center for Transportation Excellence on East Amherst Street.

"It certainly fits in keeping with what we're doing with First Call," said Sandra Schoellkopf, Snyder's vice president of business development.

Snyder Transportation is investing $2 million in the deal. Snyder plans to expand First Call's fleet of 74 vans and wheelchair-accessible vehicles used to take clients to work, medical appointments, school and other venues.

"You need to have enough vehicles to adequately serve your clientele," Schoellkopf said. "We're just making sure that we have enough vehicles so we can service some of these bigger pieces of business we're pursuing."

The acquisition is expected to retain First Call's 80 jobs and create 15 new jobs, the state agency said. Empire State Development approved the loan at a meeting in Rochester on Tuesday.

At the same meeting, the Buffalo demolition firm Ontario Specialty Contracting won a $9.6 million state contract to do demolition work on a major redevelopment project in downtown Rochester.

Ontario Specialty Contracting beat out 10 other bidders for the demolition project, which could begin as early as next month, provided the state passes a budget that includes funding for the work.

The contract involves the demolition of several buildings and skyway bridges at the site of the Midtown Plaza in downtown Rochester. The state has committed to spending up to $55 million to do demolition and site preparation work on the site. The state already has spent $39 million of those funds, mostly for asbestos removal work.

The site covers 8.6 acres and involves 1.5 million square feet of real estate, spread between six buildings, including the Midtown Mall and Midtown Tower.

The site is being razed to make way for a project totaling $90 million that will include the new headquarters of Perinton telecommunications company Paetec Holding Corp. and the Rochester Broadway Theater League's performing arts center.

e-mail: drobinson@buffnews.com

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