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Public hearing scheduled on tax incentives for proposed Genesee County solar plant

BATAVIA – Bolstered by a study that estimates a $1.4 billion economic impact to the region over the next decade, directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center on Thursday scheduled a public hearing to consider $34.7 million in tax incentives for a solar wafer manufacturing firm planning to build its first production plant in the Town of Alabama.

1366 Technologies Inc., of Bedford, Mass., is seeking abatements in connection with its $700 million investment at the Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park, a shovel-ready nanotechnologies site developed by the center.

The center has calculated that 1366 Technologies would be eligible for $13.26 million in sales tax breaks, $2.16 million in mortgage tax breaks and $19.28 million in property tax breaks.

Craig A. Yunker, a center director, said that the incentives pale in comparison to the projected impact to those working for 1366 Technologies and to the public when considering payment-in-lieu-of-taxes and sales tax revenue.

“When out in the community, I often find detractors (to these incentives),” Yunker said. “But if this comes to pass, and we get this type of return on public investment, then we ought to be doing more of this.”

Company officials said they expect to create 1,000 full-time jobs and approximately 5,000 construction and secondary jobs over a 10-year period.

“We plan to proceed in phases, with 150 jobs for the initial 250 megawatt facility,” said Brian Eller, CEO of 1366 Technologies. “We plan to add a gigawatt every year (to the plant) which adds about 150 jobs each time.”

A date for the public hearing has yet to be determined.

The board also upped the amount of tax incentives for Manning Squires Hennig, a general contractor located on Seven Springs Road, after learning that the cost of the company’s warehouse/office expansion project increased from $1.3 million to $2.2 million.

In other action, the board:

• Authorized the purchase of land and development of infrastructure for the Le Roy Food and Technology Park following last week’s announcement that the center was awarded $420,000 through the fifth round of the state’s Regional Economic Development Council competition.

• Approved 2 percent across-the-board increases to salaried and hourly employees at the center. Base salaries for the leadership team are as follows: Steven G. Hyde, president and chief executive officer, $217,282; Christopher J. Suozzi, vice president of business development, $96,517; Mark Masse, senior vice president of operations, $84,897; Lezlie Farrell, chief financial officer, $68,580; Rachael J. Tabelski, director of marketing & communications, $48,771; Penny Kennett, office manager, $39,222; Elizabeth Richardson, staff accountant, $30,775.