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Buffalo’s RiverBend to be site of two new clean-energy research companies

WBFO News photo by Chris Caya

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a $225 million state investment to create a new campus center of clean-energy on a former brownfield site in Buffalo.The RiverBend project will create 850 new jobs at the former Republic Steel and Donner Hanna Coke site in south Buffalo along the city’s waterfront as part of the governor's 'Buffalo Billion' promise.

New York State will build a state-of-the-art anchor hub facility for high tech and green energy businesses at RiverBend in the City of Buffalo. Two California-based companies at the forefront of the clean energy revolution, Soraa and Silevo, will collectively invest $1.5 billion into the project and relocate major parts of their operations to the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend from California, creating 850 permanent jobs and at least 500 construction jobs and attracting additional manufacturing companies to the site.

"That is just the beginning because this is going to blossom into an industry for the future," Cuomo said, speaking at the downtown Adam's Mark hotel. "The availability of low-cost power built Buffalo once and it's going to build Buffalo again for a new generation."

Soraa manufactures LED lighting and Silevo produces solar panels. They are expected to be up and running in 18 months.

RiverBend, formerly Republic Steel, is a 90-acre site that is ready for development. It is being touted by as the "single greatest investment of the governor’s Buffalo Billion."

Credit Chris Caya/WBFO News
Dignitaries packed the Adam's Mark hotel for the major economic announcement.

“Under the largest investment in our Buffalo Billion initiative, we are building a state-of-the-art campus to house high-tech and advanced manufacturing companies that will create hundreds of jobs and leverage over a billion dollars in private investment for Western New York,” Governor Cuomo said.

“Today, two of the world’s most renowned high-tech companies are choosing Buffalo to call home – an affirmation that Buffalo is on the move. This project marks a giant step forward in our Buffalo Billion strategy, transforming a once vacant property into a development ready site that will create good-paying permanent jobs, make Buffalo an international hub for innovation, and attract more businesses from around the world.”                

Dr. Alain E. Kaloyeros, Senior Vice President and CEO of the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering said, “With this announcement, Governor Andrew Cuomo has made it clear once again that New York State sets the gold standard for the innovation-driven economic development model of the 21st century. The launch of the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend, fueled by the attraction of Silevo and Soraa and the promise of additional corporate partners in the future, further builds the Governor’s high-tech Erie Canal and positions Western New York as a nexus for advanced research and manufacturing for clean energy technologies.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Buffalo Niagara Partnership president and CEO Dottie Gallagher-Cohen all attended Thursday's announcement.

“I am proud of the strategic plan my administration put in place when we purchased 185-acres of brownfield land for development in 2008. With more than $2.2 billion in economic activity underway in Buffalo, jobs and private investment continue to bring new opportunities to city residents. Today’s news about the Buffalo High Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend adds to the positive momentum. I thank Governor Cuomo as well as Soraa and Silevo for creating this 21th century high tech hub," said Mayor Brown.

"While we have known it for some time, the world is catching on to the idea that Erie County and all of Western New York are at the forefront of big, positive economic development. With the state’s $225 million investment into RiverBend making it ready for development and these two dynamic advanced manufacturing nanotech companies set to call Buffalo home, we are truly at the start of a new economic turnaround. Buffalo’s past glory was based on its technological innovation and with today’s announcement, as well as the promise of more high tech companies to come, innovation is once again leading the way for our entire community’s rebirth," noted Poloncarz.

“This idea of manufacturing with atoms is difficult to comprehend but you need to be able to think small to understand how big the benefits to our workforce and economy will be. RiverBend will fuel Buffalo’s future with high-tech companies and the jobs they provide. This is Governor Cuomo’s vision for the Buffalo Billion Initiative coming to life," said Gallagher-Cohen.