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43North in line for $2 million in NYPA funding

The funding for next year's 43North business plan competition is falling into place.

A fund controlled by the New York Power Authority has been recommended as a source of $2 million in funding for 43North's contests in 2017 and 2018. That funding, which would amount to $1 million annually, would be in addition to the $5 million that  Empire State Development already has agreed to provide for the contest during each of the next two years.

[Gallery: 43North Business Competition Finals]

The $2 million in funding, recommended on Monday by the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board, would help cement 43North's funding for the fourth and fifth years of the contest, which provides $5 million in prize money to the start-up companies that win each year's competition.

The contest has relied heavily on funding totaling $17.4 million from the Power Authority during its first three years. That funding came from a fund that uses money raised from the sale of unallocated hydropower from the Niagara Power Project for economic development initiatives in the Buffalo Niagara region.

The 43North contest has received more than half of the $32.6 million in power proceeds money that has been distributed from the fund. But another year of providing $5 million in funding would have left the power proceeds fund with just $3.1 million in remaining money for other projects.

In the next two years, the Power Authority will play a smaller role in financing the 43North contest. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced in late October that Empire State Development would provide $5 million in funding for 43North during 2017. Christopher Schoepflin, the agency's regional director in Buffalo, said the commitment also extends to 2018. The agency's commitment amounts to about two-thirds of 43North's annual budget of $7.7 million.

In addition to funding from the Power Authority and the state, 43North organizers hope to raise about $1.7 million during each of the next two years from sponsors. The $2 million in power proceeds funding still must be approved by the Power Authority's board of trustees.

Power Proceeds board member Dennis Elsenbeck last year noted that 43North was using a “significant” portion of the money that has been set aside for economic development projects within 30 miles of the Niagara Power Project. He urged 43North's organizers to make the contest more self-sufficient. Elsenbeck did not attend Monday's meeting.

The board also recommended that Post Process Technologies, a Buffalo company that has developed a process to do finishing work on parts produced using additive manufacturing methods, receive $90,000 in funding to buy equipment for a training and benchmarking lab to show customers how its technology can speed up the finishing process for 3-D printed parts.

The $602,500 project would help Post Process Technologies show clients how its machines, detergents, abrasives and polishers can automate the finishing process for parts made with additive manufacturing techniques. That process now is sometimes done manually, and the company believes its processes could remove production bottlenecks and reduce costs.

But to convince potential customers to use Post Process Technologies' products, it needs a lab where it can demonstrate the benefits of its technology to clients, Power Authority officials said.

The company, located at 1170 Main St., also is part of the Start-Up NY program that allows new businesses to operate virtually tax-free for up to 10 years. It has 12 employees and is promising to create nine additional full-time positions, paying an average of $60,000 a year, over the next seven years.

After the recommendations that were approved on Monday, the $41.2 million fund has about $6.1 million in unallocated money that can be awarded to economic development projects.

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