December 5, 2013
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Riverbend Purchase Agreement

Governor Cuomo Announces Riverbend Purchase Agreement

Land purchase agreement reached for development of Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend

$225 million State investment leverages $1.5 billion in private investments and creates 850 permanent jobs and at least 500 construction jobs

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that a Purchase Agreement has been reached between the State and the City of Buffalo for the purchase of 88 acres of city-owned property, which will host the development of the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend. The State will build a state-of-the-art anchor hub facility for high-tech and green energy businesses at the site. Governor Cuomo had announced earlier that the State will invest $225 million from the Buffalo Billion, attracting two California-based progressive, high-tech energy companies, Soraa and Silevo, that will collectively invest $1.5 billion into the project and establish their major operations in Buffalo, creating 850 permanent jobs and at least 500 construction jobs and attracting additional manufacturing companies to the site. RiverBend is the site of a former Republic Steel manufacturing facility.

The Purchase Agreement followed the confirmation of an MOU on January 27th, which established the terms of sale for the property from the City of Buffalo via the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation to the Fort Schuyler Management Corporation, a not-for-profit entity created by the State to manage property transactions on behalf of the SUNY Research Foundation.

For decades Buffalo did not receive the support it deserved from Albany, but today is a new day and the progress we have made in the past few years is undeniable, Governor Cuomo said. The RiverBend project is one of the most dramatic economic development undertakings in Western New Yorks history, and today marks a critical milestone for this initiative. Not only is this innovative project attracting unprecedented private sector investments and hundreds of jobs, it is also a project that will tie the high-tech and clean energy industries to Western New York for years to come. The best days lie ahead for Buffalo, and I am honored to be able to play a small role in the regions future.

This latest development brings us yet another step closer to bringing the $1.7 billion RiverBend project to our downtowns burgeoning waterfront, providing more business and job opportunities to city residents, said City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. Were pleased that the state embraced the various community benefits that the city requested to be included in this land purchase agreement, including the hiring goals of city residents and the employment of women and minorities. With more than $4.3 billion in economic activity underway in Buffalo, jobs and private investment continue to bring new opportunities to city residents. I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued focus on Buffalos economic growth, as well as Soraa and Silevo for investing in this 21th century high tech hub at RiverBend.

The Purchase Agreement formalizes:

  • An agreed upon sale price of $2.5 million that was set in the earlier MOU;
  • An agreement to comply with applicable New York State requirements regarding minority workforce, woman workforce, and minority business enterprise and women business enterprise utilization goals in connection with the project. Those requirements include an overall goal of 20 percent participation for MWBEs, a minority workforce goal of 25 percent and a woman workforce goal of five percent for all construction personnel working on the project;
  • A commitment to work with appropriate local education organizations in Buffalo to establish local workforce and training programs to increase opportunities for City of Buffalo residents, especially women and minorities; and
  • A permit for the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper organization to access the property for a continuing federally-funded shoreline restoration project along the Buffalo River, which flows through the development site.

Soraa is a California-based manufacturer of green LED lighting with the highest efficiency on the market. The company will relocate its corporate R&D and manufacturing operations to RiverBend, investing $750 million and creating 375 jobs.

Silevo is a California-based company that develops and manufactures silicon solar cells and modules, with an already established manufacturing plant in China. Phase 1 of Silevos project, with a $750 million investment which will create at least 475 jobs, involves a 200 megawatt production facility establishing its sole North American manufacturing operations at RiverBend.

New York State will invest $225 million in Empire State Development (ESD) capital to establish infrastructure at the site including water, sewer, utility and roads; construct a state-owned 275,000 square foot facility that will house Soraa and Silevo as the first two tenants; and purchase and own equipment. Neither company is receiving direct funding from the States investment. Additional facilities will be built over time to accommodate new manufacturing companies operating in the fields of biotech, high tech and green energy. The facilities and equipment will be owned by the SUNY Research Foundation. Area colleges and universities, including SUNY Buffalo, will also benefit from the partnership and contribute to the projects future growth.