Awards from hydropower earnings will fund Launch NY’s largest and most ambitious business plan competition in the country
Albany, NY (May 13, 2013)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board (WNYPPAB) voted to recommend more than $6 million in funding to three Western New York enterprises. The WNYPPAB recommendations build on the momentum and capitalize on the strategies laid out in the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council strategic plan and the Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan. The plans identify entrepreneurship as a strategy that will create sustainable economic and inclusive job growth for Western New York. The recommendations will now go before the New York Power Authority (NYPA) Board of Trustees for consideration at its May 21 meeting.
The three companies, to which the five-member proceeds allocation board recommended awards, are Launch NY, a nonprofit venture development organization in Buffalo; Coolture, a manufacturer of medical cooling apparel, also in Buffalo; and Diversified Manufacturing, a fabrication, machining and assembly shop in Lockport.
“The first funding award recommendations by the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board initiates the process for grant awards to job-creating businesses from the proceeds of unused Niagara hydropower,” Governor Cuomo said. “I am pleased that these recommendations align with the important work that the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council has already done and that they serve to enhance the culture of entrepreneurship and support local manufacturing businesses in Western New York.”
These awards would be the first round of funding from legislation signed into law last year by Governor Cuomo to apply the monies from the sale of unused hydropower generated by the Niagara Power Plant into an established Western New York Economic Development Fund. In the past year as a result of this legislation, this fund has already accrued more than $23 million. These earnings are designated to spur capital investments and job growth.
Launch NY is a non-profit organization with a mission of fostering economic development in Upstate New York through guidance, mentoring and investing in emerging companies to help entrepreneurs build successful organizations and create new jobs. It would receive more than $5.4 million for seed capital to assist innovative startup companies to transform technologies and ideas into commercial successes, spurring the development of many new businesses. Launch NY plans to use the proceeds award to fund the nation’s largest and most ambitious business plan competition. The competition will accelerate the region as a leading location to start and grow business, with prize awards totaling $5 million. The competition will attract innovators and scientists to bring forward new, commercially viable ideas in the Greater Buffalo Niagara region; encourage local entrepreneurs (including students) to start new businesses; bring venture capital to the region by making it easier for firms to engage in Buffalo Niagara (due to higher volume, condensed timeframe and the right incentives); and raise the profile of entrepreneurship in Buffalo Niagara, and the national profile of the region in the business community. Most of the funds allocated will go directly to support growth of early stage companies, potentially leading to thousands of new jobs. Launch will provide follow-on incubation and mentorship to the business plan winners, with the goal of enhancing their opportunity. This project was recommended for funding because of the significant impact it can have on initiating a more entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Western New York region by providing capital and management talent to new technology-based companies enhancing their ability to successfully start and grow in the region.
“Launch NY’s Business Plan Competition is precisely what the region needs to start supporting new startups, attracting young, talented people back to the area and to stay and commercialize new technologies, many which are created on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus but then fail due to lack of funding and mentorship,” said WNYPPAB Chairman Anthony J. Colucci III. “Through the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board, Governor Cuomo and the state legislature have provided the necessary framework for this endeavor to take shape.”
“The Western New York Regional Economic Development and Buffalo Billion plans are focused on a strategic, collaborative, creative and forward-thinking approach to economic development,” said Buffalo Urban League President & CEO Brenda W. McDuffie, who also serves as a board member on the WNYPPAB and the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council (WNYREDC). “As such, it is essential that the WNYPPAB advance the same priorities for sustainable economic development in our region. Launch NY, Coolture and Diversified Manufacturing align with the region’s strategy and focus on growing the economy through enhanced startups and creating a better ecosystem for entrepreneurs.”
The other two enterprises recommended for the first Western New York proceeds awards—Coolture and Diversified Manufacturing—would receive a total of up to $800,000 to support approximately 150 jobs and capital expansion plans for their manufacturing operations.
Coolture, a developer of cooling apparel designed to improve human performance during exercise or whenever heat becomes a challenge, will invest $3.1 million to ramp up production capability and growth, retaining five jobs and creating 32 new jobs. This project aligns with statutory criteria as the project supports job retention and growth, capital investment and WNYREDC’s priority on developing manufacturing, innovation and smart growth.
Diversified Manufacturing, a fabrication, machining and assembly shop, will consolidate its facilities in order to remain viable. This project retains 145 jobs, and aligns with statutory criteria as it supports job retention, capital investment and the WNYREDC priority on growing manufacturing.
Senator George Maziarz, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, said, “The Power Proceeds Allocation Board, created by legislation that I sponsored and advocated for, was enacted to ensure that energy proceeds created in Western New York stay right here in our backyard and benefit our economy. The first round of awards is just the start of creating and retaining jobs throughout WNY with this program. I am extremely pleased that a company within the 62nd District, Diversified Manufacturing, was one of the companies selected to receive funding—monies that will help retain 145 jobs in Lockport. This Board will continue to support businesses throughout WNY and I look forward to the economic growth that these awards will bring to our area.”
Assemblyman Dennis H. Gabryszak said, “Today, the WNYPPAB revealed their decisions for the allocation of $6 million in funding awards. As the sponsor of the legislation, I am thrilled to see that the recommendations made by the allocation board satisfy the various intentions and goals of the bill and that the provisions are being executed so effectively. The first award, Launch NY, will aid small businesses by providing seed capital for startup assistance and development. Launch NY will enable new companies in Western New York to become competitive players in the global market. The other two awards focus on job creation, retention, and growth; a business fundamental that Western New York companies so critically need.”
The WNYPPAB recommended the awards on the basis of its review of 18 applications for power proceeds funding. The applications were vetted in accordance with requirements established by last year’s legislation, which cites that eligible applicants are within a 30-mile radius of the Niagara power plant and that the proposed initiatives support the growth of businesses and lead to the creation or protection of jobs. The proceeds board also considered the extent to which the awards would be consistent with the strategies and priorities of the area New York regional economic development councils.
Contracts with awardees will include provisions for periodic audits to ensure that the funds are utilized for the stated economic development purposes.
The power proceeds board is comprised of the following members, appointed by Governor Cuomo: Chairman Colucci, managing attorney of the law firm of Colucci & Gallaher, in Buffalo; Deanna Alterio Brennan, president of the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce; Brenda Williams McDuffie, president of the Buffalo Urban League; Dennis W. Elsenbeck, regional executive, National Grid Western Division; and Henry F. Wojtaszek, an attorney with the law firm of Harris Beach, in Buffalo.