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Land sale clears way for RiverBend project

WBFO File Photo

A vast tract of land which was once the home of 19th Century industry in iron and steel manufacturing is closer to becoming home for a vast 21st Century manufacturing complex.

The Buffalo Urban Development Corporation on Tuesday approved transferring 88 acres of land which once housed the old Republic Steel plant to a branch of state government.

The site in the RiverBend neighborhood will house the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub. It will be the home for two California companies making LED lighting and solar panels.

Together, Silevo and Soraa will spend  $1.5 billion building the plants and creating 850 jobs.

"What a difference a few years makes," said Howard Zemsky, co-chair of the Regional Economic Development Council.

"I don't think there are any doubters left on the direct transformation of Buffalo, you know, what's happening, not just here in Larkinville but all around the city and, you know, the governor's commitment to the Western New York region. So many of these initiatives are taking hold, you know, and we just keep making progress, one step at a time and it's exciting."

Zemsky's Larkinville isn't far from the RiverBend site and is another example of development taking place and not just being talked about. He says local parents who once urged their children to create their futures somewhere else are now urging them to come back because there is a future here.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.