BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A late move by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Wednesday, very possibly saved hundreds of new jobs in Western New York, projected for Athenex, Inc.
There were reports company executives, whose U.S headquarters is housed at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, were frustrated with the state’s slow pace setting up the company’s expansion in Buffalo and Dunkirk, and Athenex officials were considering other sites outside of New York.
Gov. Cuomo led a contingent of elected officials, and Athenex executives to Dunkirk, last February, to announce Athenex’s expansion plans, creating 1,400 new good paying jobs–900 of them in Dunkirk–and investing $225 million in new facilities.
The governor built excitement in Dunkirk and Chautauqua County, at the time, when plans for Athenex’s $200 million state-of-the-art production facility in Dunkirk were announced, “It is a game changer for Dunkirk.”
Willie Rosas, Dunkirk’s mayor, said the Athenex expansion has built excitement in the lakeshore city, “For Dunkirk, this is a game changer. This is a big boost to our economy and it is the best news that I have heard for our city in my entire life.”
So far, the work in Buffalo is going okay, but folks are a little on edge in Dunkirk. The only visible changes at the site of Athenex’s production facility on Route 5 in Dunkirk since February–the snow has melted. Behind the scenes, Athenex now has the deed to the property, and site plans are underway on paper.
Ground was supposed to be broken on the Dunkirk project back in April.
Athenex officials would not comment for our story, but those involved in the Athenex expansion project have suggested SUNY Polytechnic Institute, which is the project manager, may be where things got bottlenecked.
Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan said he has been assured by state officials the project will proceed to its completion.
“As the Governor’s signature project, he pretty much stands behind what he says when he goes to get it done, and so we certainly thank him for that, and I am confident the project will move forward.”
Late Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Cuomo made a big change designed to ensure the Athenex stays in Western New York, by replacing SUNY Polytechnic Institute as project manager.
A spokesperson for the Empire State Development Corp., said in an email, “The State remains strongly committed to ensuring both Athenex projects come to fruition in Western New York,” and announced ESD itself would be the new project manager, “Empire State Development will now take on the State’s lead role in overseeing the projects and we are optimistic that they will successfully move forward in an efficient and timely manner.”
Officials acknowledged even if the change takes place immediately, the Athenex expansion will be hard pressed to catch up with its self-imposed timetable, but it should keep the project on track.