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Collaboration pays off; Wide range of incentives persuades Pyrotek to build battery plant here

It took a costly series of incentives, but Pyrotek's new lithium battery component plant in Niagara County and the company's 50 new jobs are good for the region.

The best way to improve the area's industrial base isn't to go around the country trying to poach business from another region. We should be helping companies that are already here to expand.

Pyrotek fits the bill.

Based in Spokane, Wash., the company could have located its lithium battery component plant just about anywhere, as it has 61 locations in 31 countries and a global work force of approximately 2,100.

But the company decided on a multimillion-dollar expansion that will more than double its Cory Road site in Sanborn and add 50 employees to produce materials for lithium-ion batteries, which power electric vehicles. The new plant, coupled with the expected increase in demand for alternative-fuel vehicles, will put this area at the forefront of the growing electric-hybrid vehicle industry.

That possibility was recognized by stakeholders at every level, with U.S. Department of Energy officials saying the new plant will play a key role in reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil and reduce auto emissions.

The Department of Energy awarded Pyrotek an $11 million grant in April 2010 to make the battery materials, and matched it dollar-for-dollar to pay for the construction of a building in which to do the work.

New York State added funding from the Empire State Development Corp. and the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal. The New York Power Authority agreed to an allocation of low-cost hydropower.

In addition, the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency offered property tax abatements and sales tax exemptions. Pyrotek received a grant from National Grid and training support from the Workforce Investment Board in Niagara and Erie counties.

Allan G. Roy, president and CEO of the privately owned company, praised the collaboration of the many levels of government. Further, he said that their support "was a factor in relocating here."

So far, the company has hired 35 of the expected 50 new employees. The 50 new hires will give the company about 90 workers, but Roy said he hopes to add more jobs down the road.

New jobs, expansion of an existing company and an industry for the future. It's what happens when government agencies work together.

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