Yahoo! breaks ground on $150 million expansion in Lockport, NY

by Lorrie Abounader, Business Development Manager

On October 18, internet giant Yahoo! broke ground on the expansion of their Lockport, NY data center.  Their current facility that opened in 2010 is roughly the same size as the deck of the aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan.  The expansion will add another 150,000 square feet and use 7.2 megawatts of power, enough to power half a million homes.  Typically a data center that size IMG_20131018_112125004_HDRwould use more power and water to run and cool the server rooms but Yahoo! chose the Western New York region for it’s cool climate, allowing the ambient air to circulate through and cool the computer equipment.  This is an enormous cost savings for the data center.  Operating costs are dramatically reduced on top of the low-cost power awarded through the New York Power Authority.

The groundbreaking was well attended by elected officials, economic development representatives and local businesses as Yahoo! has been a great neighbor to the business community.  Local business may experience an uptick in activity as the expansion will provide at least 115 more jobs in the future through the establishment of Yahoo!’s customer care contact center on the IMG_20131018_114701343_HDRcampus.  Yahoo! refers to the department that resolves customer issues their “center of excellence” as these employees are the first line to giving Yahoo! users a great customer experience.   Due to the fact that Yahoo! is extremely happy with the quality of the talent recruited, company execs consider their Lockport facility the one they could replicate into all their data centers worldwide.

Click here to learn more about the previous Yahoo! Data Center expansion in 2010 and here to view a video about their expansion.

Click here to read about Data Center opportunities in Buffalo Niagara.

Start With A Business Plan

Lorrie Abounader, business development manager, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

Canisius College Women’s Business Center

Many people dream of starting their own business.  Whether they want to be their own boss, supplement current income, or turn a hobby into a career, over 600,000 Americans start a new business every year.  So how does one start a business?  How can one reduce the risks or avoid the pitfalls that cause businesses to fail?  There is not foolproof method but a strong, healthy business starts with a strong business plan.

A business plan is your roadmap for success.  It outlines the route an entrepreneur intends to take to reach, maintain and grow their business.  Not only does a business plan act as the guidebook for the business owner but also expresses the goals that the owner has for their company.  It tells the story that you have envisioned for your future business and provides the storyboard in which an outsider can follow the intended progress you have imagined.  Very few of us have the eloquence to translate verbally our ideas and a plan is a consistent message that can be easily shared and viewed.  This can be especially important in earning the support of banks and investors for raising capital.

There are several resources to use online that provide templates for a business plan, but just as two entrepreneurs are never alike, so are their businesses.  The elements of a business plan are fairly consistent but what you do with your business is unique to what your goals are for it.  It is important to customize the plan according to your ultimate ambitions, your commitment to working on the business and your creativity to shape the business.  To avoid a cookie-cutter business plan, work with the professionals at your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC).  Hosted by local colleges and universities, a SBDC is a one-stop source for professional guidance on writing, researching and constructive feedback on your plan.  In the Buffalo Niagara region, we have three excellent SBDCs at Buffalo State College, Niagara County Community College and Genesee Community College.  At Canisius College, women entrepreneurs can use the resources of the Women’s Business Center.

Remember that your business plan is a living document – it changes as the business changes.  What you planned for the business in year one will differ after the business has matured.  Update the plan every 3-5 years with the assistance of the SBDC.  They are not just for start-ups but for any business needing guidance.

Starting a new business can be daunting but an entrepreneur knows that the risk of starting a new business is often outweighed by the rewards.  Having your guidebook in-hand and up-to-date is important to the success of your business.

To learn more about starting a business and to find additional resources, please visit:

Small Business Administration www.sba.gov

Small Business Development Centers www.asbdc-us.org

Canisius Women’s Business Center www.canisius.edu/wbc/

New York Consolidated Funding Application – Round Two!

Lorrie Abounader
Business Development Manager
A second round of funding has opened up through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process.  This is a process where an organization can apply for multiple programs from various New York state agencies through one application. 
The deadline to complete the CFA is July 16, 2012 with supporting documentation due July 23, 2012 through online submission. A variety of programs are available through the CFA process.  To start the process, visit:  http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/
$750 million in program funding is available in this CFA round for private businesses, not-for-profits and communities.  For a full description of the programs and to evaluate if they are applicable to your organization, please review:
Highlights of key programs categorized by state agency and their funding amounts geared towards direct business assistance are as follows:

Empire State Development
• Up to $ 150 million for Regional Council Capital Fund
• Up to $ 70 million for Excelsior Jobs Tax Credits
• Up to $ 20 million for Empire State Economic Development Fund
• Up to $ 4 million for Urban and Community Development Program
• Up to $ 3 million for Regional Tourism Marketing Grant Initiative (I LOVE NEW YORK Fund)
• Up to $ 350 million for government tax-exempt bonds for private projects with a public
purpose
• Up to $ 1 million for Environmental Investment Fund
Department of Labor
• Up to $ 5 million for Workforce Investment Act-related training and workforce development
activities.
Agriculture and Markets
• Up to $ 3 million for Agriculture Development Program
Environmental Facilities Corporation
• $ TBD million Green Innovation Grant Program
Department of Environmental Conservation
• Up to $ 2 million for Clean Water State Revolving Fund Engineering Planning Grant Program
Energy Research and Development Authority
• Up to $ 50 million Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Projects and Programs
• Up to $12 million for Regional Economic Development and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program
New York Power Authority
ReCharge New York-low cost power
A few eligibility requirements to keep in mind – the state will not fund your entire need but will limit the award to 20% of your project costs and require the business to have 10% equity in it as well.  Also keep in mind that funding is offered as an inducement to start the project but funds are generally disbursed until after the expense is incurred.  All applications are reviewed by the Western New York Regional Council for compatibility with our strategic plan.
Following the first round of CFA applications, the state has incorporated feedback which will allow the funding process in this round to be more efficient.
If you require assistance, BNE Business Development staff can guide you in the right direction:
·         Alan Rosenhoch, arosenhoch@buffaloniagara.org 716.541.1724
·         Carolyn Powell, cpowell@buffaloniagara.org 716.541.1740
·         Lorrie Abounader, laboundader@buffaloniagara.org 716.541.1744
·         Tony Kurdziel, tkurdziel@buffaloniagara.org; 716.541.1780

Resources for Small Business Startups

Small businesses employ about half of the workers in the U.S. and accounted for 65 percent (9.8 million) of the 15 million net new jobs created between 1993 and 2009.

There are over 450,000 small businesses in New York State, 55,000 of which are located in the Western New York/Finger Lakes regions.  Small businesses are major economic drivers within 14 counties of Western New York and employ in excess of 450,000 people.
Credit conditions for small business are improving, making it a little easier to get started. In 2010, Commercial banks began to ease the tight lending conditions on small businesses that began a few years back.  Credit has also continued to flow, as loans under $1 million totaled $695 billion in FY 2009.  Venture capital investment which had been on the decline increased in mid-2010 as well.  Further, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a variety of loan programs to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
In addition towww.sba.gov, theUS Small Business Association Website, following are links to a few great resources for entrepreneurs looking to get started:
Technical Assistance:
·       U.S. Business Advisor, http://www.business.gov/
·    Sample Business Plans (no endorsement), http://www.bplans.com/
·       Angel Capital Foundation, http://www.angelcapitaleducation.org/
·       Manufacturing Extension Partnership, http://www.mep.nist.gov/
Finance:
·       Grant Opportunities, http://www.grants.gov/
·        Foundation Center, http://www.fdncenter.org/
·        Community Development Financial Institutions, http://www.cdfi.org/
·        Council of Development Finance Agencies, http://www.cdfa.net/
·        Export-Import Bank of the United States, http://www.exim.gov/
·        U.S. Department of Energy Inventions and Innovations, www.1.eere.energy.gov/industry
·        Peer Lending (no endorsement), http://www.peerlendingnetwork.com/
·        Factoring (no endorsement), www.factorhelp.com/associations.php
Foundations & Organizations:
·        Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, http://www.kauffman.org/
·        Edward Lowe Foundation, http://www.edwardlowe.org/
·        National Federation of Independent Business Owners, http://www.nfib.com/
·        National Business Incubation Association, http://www.nbia.org/
·        Angel Capital Association, http://www.angelcaptialassociation.org/
·        Association for Enterprise Opportunity, http://www.microenterpriseworks.org/
More local information is available at www.buffaloniagara.org/Doing_Business/StartingOut .
Buffalo Business Online also notes some great resources for local entrepreneurs and highlights useful tools for businesses just getting started.
I also encourage you to check out the upcoming 2012 Venture Forum May 16-17, 2012. To register, go to http://www.brightbuffaloniagara.com/
Lorrie Abounader
Buffalo Niagara Enterprise
Business Development Manager

Sustainable Buildings in Buffalo Niagara

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) 2008 Annual Energy Outlook, buildings in the U.S. consume 40% of all energy, 72% of all electricity generated and account for 38% of all CO2 emissions.  The CO2 output from buildings is more than the transportation sector.  The interest in sustainable buildings and “green” design has grown out of the demand from businesses, communities and individuals to find efficiencies in energy, water and materials use and to improve the quality of our workplaces, schools and homes.  A look into sustainable buildings will be offered through the Business of Energy Series, sponsored by Directed Energy, a NYSERDA funded program at UB, UB School of Architecture & Planning and Buffalo Niagara Enterprise.
The conference is an all day event at the Buffalo Niagara Marriott on November 17, 2011 from 8:30am to 4:30 pm.  The agenda includes case studies of unique and noteworthy sustainable buildings, highlighting the Bank of America Building in New York, the first LEED Platinum skyscraper in the world; Stratus Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, the first LEED certified vineyard in the world; and the Ecology & Environment Building in Lancaster, a LEED Platinum building built before the LEED system was created.
To learn more about the Business of Energy Series and register for this event, please visit the Directed Energy website here .  Registration for the Sustainable Buildings Conference includes a pre-conference reception the night before at the Darwin Martin House at 6:00pm. 
To learn more about LEED certification and the positive impacts sustainable buildings have in our communities and on our environment, please visit the U.S. Green Building Council’s website .
Lorrie Abounader, Business Development Manager

BNE Connects with Industry at WindPower 2011

WINDPOWER is the annual exhibition and conference on wind energy hosted by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).  The world’s largest wind tradeshow was held in Anaheim, CA from May 22-25.  After 36 years, the show has grown from a handful of industry specialists to a total of nearly 1,200 exhibitors and 20,000 attendees.

The U.S. wind industry has added over 35% of all new generating capacity since 2007, second only to natural gas, and more than nuclear and coal combined.  Today, there is over 41,000 MW of installed U.S. wind power capacity, representing more than 20% of the world’s installed wind power.

Today, the U.S. wind industry represents not only a large market for wind power capacity installations, but also a growing market for American manufacturing.  Over 400 manufacturing facilities across the U.S. make components for wind turbines, and dedicated wind facilities that manufacture major components such as towers, blades and assembled nacelles can be found in every region.

The Buffalo Niagara region is uniquely positioned for the manufacturing, assembly and distribution of wind turbine components. Our region is in close proximity to emerging North American markets, has a robust logistics and supply chain network and has an experienced and highly skilled workforce.

This year’s WINDPOWER marks BNE’s third visit to the show and another great opportunity to network with industry professionals and learn more about this growing renewable energy sector.

-Lorrie Abounader, Business Development Manager
Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

Green, Clean Hydropower puts Yahoo! on Top

It’s no secret that data centers are energy hogs and there is growing concern regarding their environmental impact. Companies choosing to reduce their carbon footprint and use renewable energy sources are getting praise from environmental advocates – and realizing a significant cost savings.
A recent report by Greenpeace, “How Dirty Is Your Datacenter” gave Yahoo! high marks for locating their data center facilities in sites where they can access renewable electricity such as hydropower.  Read a recap of the study on Forbes: “Apple Data Centers Use Least Clean Energy, Yahoo! Most”.

Yahoo!, opened its state-of-the-art, $150 million data center in Lockport, NY last September and has started work on Phase II.  Key factors Yahoo! used to evaluate their site location included the region’s physical characteristics, such as abundant fresh water resources, climate advantages and green, clean hydropower.  In 2009, Yahoo! had committed to moving away from a carbon neutral policy and the western New York location supported their commitment to reduce their operational footprint through clean energy as well as energy efficiency improvements. Yahoo! has boasted their Lockport location as a multi-million dollar cost savings due to the ambient air cooling and hydropower allocations.
The Buffalo Niagara region has potential data center locations available similar to the site chosen by Yahoo!. The high-tech friendly sites include more than 4,600 acres, all situated in close proximity to power transmission and within approximately 25 minutes of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
Business Development Manager
Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

Federal Programs in our ED Toolkit

Every year around the time the cherry blossoms start to bloom around the Potomac Basin, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) brings together federal policy makers and government leaders with economic development practitioners to collaborate on the goal of strengthening the nation’s economy.  This year’s IEDC Federal Forum was held in Alexandria, VA from March 20-22.  Below are highlights from the forum.

Budget
The federal government has been working on a budget since reconvening in January and has been passing continuing resolutions since to avoid a shutdown of the government.  (The next continuing resolution expires April 8).  This method of operating the government through continuing resolutions makes it difficult for agencies to plan for new programs and policies.  Because funding levels remain uncertain beyond short periods of time, agencies are reluctant to commit dollars to programs and create strategic plans for the year.  That said, many programs that were created through the ARRA in 2009 will not be renewed for the FY2012 budget.  Many federal agencies will see a decrease in funding allocations.  Despite the budget cuts, the Obama administration has put a priority on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and on Education and Workforce Development.
Innovation & Entrepreneurship
The innovation agenda is focused on facilitating innovation and entrepreneurship to spur economic activity through the support of small business and the commercialization of research.  In September the president signed the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.  This new law provides small businesses and entrepreneurs with increased access to funding with the goal of creating jobs.
Education and Workforce Development
The focus is on creating an educated, skilled and dynamic workforce by improving capital access to small business and facilitating cooperation among employers and educators.  President Obama has singled out community colleges as a catalyst for this cooperation by signing the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which provides $2 billion over four years to fund the Community College and Career Training Initiative, a program designed to accelerate learning and improve knowledge and skills of the U.S. workforce.
For economic developers, federal programs are not the panacea to the recovery of the U.S. economy but can be part of the overall strategy to foster long-term success and sustainability in the county and in the region.  As part of our toolbox, here some programs available commonly utilized within the industry:
Commerce Connect
To help navigate through the 70 difference business assistance programs offered through the Dept of Commerce, a referral system has been established to streamline information and services that the dept provides.  For assistance, call 1-888-728-4190 or go to www.commerceconnect.gov
Small Business Administration (SBA)
Through the Small Business Jobs Act, the max loan size of the SBA 7(a) Loan and the SBA 504 Loan was permanently increased from $2 million to $5 million.  For manufacturers using the SBA 504, the max is $5.5 million. Under a SBA 7(a), the federal government will guarantee up to 75 percent of loan made through a commercial lender.  For a SBA 504, 40 percent of loan is guaranteed.  http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/sba-loan-programs
Invest in America
This is the primary federal mechanism to manage foreign direct investment (FDI) promotion in the U.S.    www.investinamerica.gov.
Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ)
FTZs are considered to be outside of U.S. Customs Territory for the purpose of customs duty payment. Therefore, goods entering FTZs are not subject to customs tariffs until the goods leave the zone and are formally entered into U.S. Customs Territory. Merchandise that is shipped to foreign countries from FTZs is exempt from duty payments. www.trade.gov/ftz
National Export Initiative
President Obama has set the goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years.  Through Export.gov American businesses can receive assistance in pooling resources from across different federal agencies to guide in planning their international sales strategies and succeed in today’s global marketplace.   www.export.gov
i6 Green Challenge
A competition sponsored by the EDA, EPA, NIST, NSF, USDA and USPTO, it encourages commercialization of green energy and efficiency technology. www.eda.gov/i6
USDA Rural Development
The Department of Agriculture offers loan guarantee and grant programs for a variety of industries that are located in communities with a population of 50,000 or less. www.rurdev.usda.gov
1) Business and Industry (B&I) Loan Program – A guarantee of a commercial bank loan of up to $25 million for rural businesses, including manufacturers.
2) Intermediary Relending Program – A loan to local development organizations to establish a revolving loan fund for the community.
3) Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) – A loan guarantee of up to 85 percent for  the commercial financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
A full listing of the federal agencies and the 2,000+ programs offered can be found in the Catalog for Domestic Assistance. www.cfda.gov  
- Lorrie Abounader
Business Development
Buffalo Niagara Enterprise