Plug Power breaks ground on $290 million facility in Genesee County

Plug Power Inc., the Albany area manufacturer of clean energy processes, broke ground on Wednesday on its $290 million green hydrogen fuel production facility at the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Genesee County.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, middle, with local and state leaders breaking ground on Plug Power Inc.’s $290 million facility at STAMP. (provided)

Gov. Kathy Hochul joined other dignitaries at the town of Alabama megasite today.

“This groundbreaking is incredibly significant for the economies of the Finger Lakes and Western New York, providing new jobs and establishing the region as a prime destination for large manufacturers moving forward,” Hochul said. “Plug Power’s new facility will be the largest plant in North America producing green hydrogen, advancing our ambitious green energy goals as we work toward a cleaner future.”

Plug Power is the first tenant at the manufacturing park and also will fund the construction of a 450-megawatt electricity substation that will support its hydrogen projection facility and future growth opportunities at STAMP. As North America’s largest green hydrogen production facility, the plant will produce 45 metric tons of green liquid hydrogen daily servicing the Northeast region.

When fully built, the facility will offer the company’s transportation fuel customers pricing competitive to diesel, leading the way to decarbonizing freight transportation and logistics supporting New York’s path to achieving carbon-neutrality by 2050. Additionally, the company has committed to creating up to 68 new jobs.

“Plug Power is proud to be the leaders building the green hydrogen economy, creating jobs right here in our home state of New York,” Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh said. “By 2025, our cross-continental green hydrogen network aims to supply 500 tons per day, and 1,000 tons per day globally by 2028. We thank our elected officials and partners for their leadership.”

The siting of the manufacturing park, and Plug Power’s decision to locate there, was driven primarily by access to low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority’s Niagara Power Project less than 30 miles away. The Power Authority is supporting the Plug Power project with the following incentives:

• A 10-megawatt allocation of low-cost hydropower from the Niagara Power Project.
• $1.5 million from the Western New York Power Proceeds program.
• 143 MW of High-Load Factor power that NYPA will procure for Plug Power on the energy market, drastically lowering electric bills through a reduction in electricity delivery charges.

Empire State Development also is supporting the project with up to $2 million in Excelsior Tax Credits in exchange for job creation commitments. Genesee County will provide assistance for the transformative project. Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. also assisted Plug Power with the project.

“Bringing Plug Power to STAMP demonstrates that our 1,250-acre campus can be a destination for advanced large-scale manufacturing companies such as semi-conductor and renewables manufacturing facilities with continued infrastructure investment from New York State,” said Steve Hyde, Genesee County Economic Development Center president and CEO. “We are confident that Gov. Hochul recognizes the importance of this investment approach in her efforts. Her vision for a sustainable green energy economy for upstate to provide family-sustaining jobs is key to revitalizing our communities now and in the future.”

The Plug Power expansion is part of a focused strategy to construct up to seven hydrogen production facilities across North America by 2022. In January, Plug Power announced that it would be establishing a $125 million Innovation Center in Henrietta, creating 377 new jobs. That facility will manufacture hydrogen fuel cell stacks for its ProGen hydrogen fuel cell engines used to power a variety of electric vehicles, including material handling equipment, on-road commercial fleet vehicles, and drones.

The company also operates a facility in Rochester’s Eastman Business Park and maintains its headquarters in the Capital Region.

“We have worked very hard to bring forward a site suitable for a project of this scale and we look forward to achieving the important steps to develop and advance this project in our community,” said Alabama Town Supervisor Robert Crossen. “This milestone advances the development of the STAMP site, and thanks to Plug Power, Gov. Hochul and Genesee County for making this plan come to fruition. Our town is proud to have worked with our partners to make this project a success and we look forward to more activity at STAMP.”

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Morelle introduces legislation to help manufacturers

Congressman Joe Morelle on Friday introduced legislation to protect investments in America’s manufacturing sector. The Permanently Preserving America’s Investment in Manufacturing Act makes a technical change to the U.S. Tax Code allowing businesses to continue deducting interest expense.

“Across the nation, our manufacturing economy has experienced challenges due to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Now is the time to uplift these businesses, which is why I’m taking action to prevent a tax hike that would further harm this critical industry,” Morelle (D-Irondequoit) said. “My legislation would permanently preserve the current tax formula, allowing for a greater investment in manufacturing firms across the country and strengthening the backbone of our economy.”

Typically, interest on business expenses is tax-deductible but has a cap. At the end of 2021, the formula for calculating the deduction will become more restrictive. Known as the Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization standard (EBITDA), depreciation and amortization will be removed from the calculation, limiting the ability to deduct interest expenses. The change would have a disproportionate impact on the manufacturing sector, Morelle contends, as manufacturing firms often are required to take out loans to finance large capital investments in their facilities and equipment.

“Preserving the deductibility of interest expense is critical to manufacturers’ ability to invest for the future,” said Chris Netram, vice president of tax and domestic economic policy for the National Association of Manufacturers. “The NAM applauds Reps. Morelle and Smith for working to maintain the EBITDA standard and prevent harmful new interest limitations from taking effect at year’s end. Protecting EBITDA means that the women and men who make things in America will have the financial flexibility to expand their facilities, finance equipment and machinery purchases, and continue leading the economic recovery.”

The legislation has not been assigned a number yet, but the wording mirrors that of a bill introduced by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) on April 12 this year. Morelle’s bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Nebraska).

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RIT’s CIMS awarded $1.1 million from CARES Act

Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies (CIMS) has been awarded $1.1 million in federal funding as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

The funds specifically are designed to support industries that are suffering from the pandemic and will uplift the Rochester region’s manufacturing economy, with a goal of retaining and creating hundreds of jobs over the next decade.

“When my colleagues and I passed the CARES Act last year, we made an investment in supporting our local economies and uplifting businesses impacted by the pandemic so they can bounce back stronger than ever. That’s exactly what this funding will do,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Morelle (D-Irondequoit). “The Rochester region — and RIT in particular — is a national leader in advanced manufacturing, and this funding will help create much-needed jobs and ensure we remain competitive in the global market. I look forward to my continued work with Majority Leader (Charles) Schumer and Sen. (Kirsten) Gillibrand to provide our community with the tools and resources to revitalize our economy, support our families and put this crisis behind us.”

The $1.1 million Economic Development Agency investment supports CIMS at the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at RIT with the implementation of its Industry 4.0 Transition Program. The program is designed to help the Finger Lakes and Central New York regions in their recovery from the impacts of the pandemic through technical assistance provided to affected businesses. Once completed, the project will advance economic resiliency, create new job opportunities and attract private investment in designated Opportunity Zones, officials said.

“A strong, globally competitive manufacturing sector will ensure communities in the Finger Lakes and Central regions of New York state are economically viable,” said Nabil Nasr, director and associate provost of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability. “Adaptability, agility, connectivity and supply chain resilience is the new hallmark of a sustainable, competitive company. This program gives manufacturers the right knowledge and advanced tools to be more competitive, thus increasing business and in turn expanding their workforce needs.”

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Annual Innovation Summit to include Fuzehub Commercialization Competition

The New York State Innovation Summit will return this fall, featuring FuzeHub’s annual Commercialization Competition.

The annual showcase and celebration of technology will take place Nov. 8 and 9 at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, Oneida County. The summit brings together some of the state’s brightest minds, most promising technology and manufacturing companies and most resourceful innovation support services.

The summit will feature a series of speakers, breakout sessions and pitches and is organized by Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) and FuzeHub, the statewide center for the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The 2019 summit was held in Rochester.

Plug Power President and CEO Andrew Marsh is slated to speak this year, as is Cree President and CEO Gregg Lowe, Velan Studios President Guha Balan and Verizon 5G Labs Senior Manager Joshua Ness. Plug Power has a significant presence in the Rochester area.

“This year’s lineup not only illustrates the strength of New York state’s innovation economy, but also represents some of its key sectors: clean technology, semiconductors, digital gaming and information technology,” said NYSTAR Senior Vice President Matt Watson in a statement. “And with a $1 billion chip fabrication plant rising near Utica, the Mohawk Valley is the perfect location to showcase — and accelerate — our state’s technological prowess. Many attendees and exhibitors, including companies represented by our keynoters, have received support from NYSTAR’s extensive network. The summit brings them together to spur even more growth, which in turn creates jobs and strengthens New York’s economic future.”

FuzeHub’s annual Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund Commercialization Competition will be held during this year’s summit. Now in its fifth year, the Commercialization Competition awards significant funding to companies from across New York. Finalists pitch their innovations in front of a live audience and a panel of industry experts selects the winners based on the commercialization potential of their technologies.

At last year’s Commercialization Competition, FuzeHub and NYSTAR awarded a total of $300,000 to six companies.

“At the heart of each Innovation Summit has been the potential for commercialization of cutting-edge technology developed and manufactured in New York state,” said FuzeHub Executive Director Elena Garuc. “That’s what makes our Commercialization Competition a natural fit; I expect the bar to be higher than ever before. As in the past, startups and manufacturers will also have access to resources from NYSTAR and NY MEP to help them get to the next level.”

Breakout sessions will include information on Economic Development in New York, National Trends and Disruptive technologies.

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State’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership helped with 6,600 jobs in 2020

New York’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a statewide network of 11 organizations that provide growth and innovation services to small and mid-sized manufacturers, helped create or retain more than 6,600 jobs last year and generated $994 million in financial impacts, NY MEP said this week.

“As New York’s manufacturers confronted uncertainty, adversity and disruption amid the pandemic, the NY MEP network stepped up in a big way. Each of the centers was tireless in its work to help manufacturers overcome challenges, pivot to new products, adopt new technologies and scale innovative ideas,” said Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation Senior Vice President Matt Watson. “By deploying NYSTAR funding, providing direct assistance and helping companies navigate NYSTAR’s robust network of over 70 innovation assets, the NY MEP centers delivered a massive economic impact in 2020, measuring at nearly $1 billion and over 6,600 jobs.”

In the Finger Lakes Region, NextCorps serves as the regional NY MEP Center. The 11 centers statewide are among more than 70 NYSTAR-backed centers statewide that are actively working to generate technology-driven economic growth, officials noted. The network provides entrepreneurs, researchers and business leaders with access to the support, assistance and resources they need to solve challenges, develop and scale new technologies, start companies and grow existing businesses.

NYSTAR oversees the NY MEP, which brings together 10 regional centers and one statewide center, FuzeHub. In New York state, manufacturers employ more than 419,000 people, which represents a payroll of roughly $38 billion. The industry produces an economic output of $84.4 billion, officials noted.

“As our state’s recovery gains momentum, the NY MEP will remain focused on helping manufacturers address emerging challenges, accelerate growth and create jobs,” Watson said.

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Parker Hannifin reports record Q3 results

Parker Hannifin Corp. on Thursday reported record third-quarter income, beating Street estimates.

For the quarter ended March 31, the Cleveland-based manufacturer reported revenue of $3.75 billion, up from $3.7 billion in the same quarter last year. Net income for the quarter was $471.7 million, compared with $367.4 million in the third quarter last year. On a per-share basis, adjusted diluted earnings were $4.11, up from $3.39 in the year-ago quarter.

Parker Hannifin, a global leader in motion and control technologies, has three facilities in the Rochester area, including two in Wayne County — its Engineered Polymer Systems and its Aerospace Group — and its Chomerics Division in Fairport.

“In the third quarter, we delivered all-time quarterly records for net income, EPS and segment operating margins,” said Chairman and CEO Tom Williams in a statement. “We also generated record year-to-date cash from operations and continued to accelerate the paydown of available debt, putting us in a very strong financial position.

“Our results reflect sustainable performance improvements across our business. These include strengthening our portfolio through the effective integration and accelerated synergies from our acquisitions,” he added. “Broad-based execution of the Win Strategy continues to drive improved profitability and cash flow. Order rates increased by 6 percent in the third quarter, reinforcing our view that demand is at a positive inflection point.”

During the third quarter, the company made debt repayments of $426 million, bringing the cumulative debt reduction to roughly $3.2 billion over the last 17 months. Also during the quarter, the company made share repurchases of $50 million under its 10b5-1 share repurchase program. Last week the company said it would increase its quarterly cash dividend by 17 percent.

Third-quarter sales for the company’s Aerospace Systems Segment decreased 20 percent to $598.9 million, and operating income was $102.3 million, compared with $127.4 million in the same period a year ago.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, the company has increased guidance for earnings per share to the range of $12.96 to $13.26, or $14.65 to $14.95 on an adjusted basis.

“Our increased guidance reflects strong year-to-date performance and a positive outlook for macroeconomic conditions as we enter the fourth quarter of this fiscal year,” Williams said. “My thanks to our global team as they continue to execute the Win Strategy and progress towards achieving our long-term financial targets, positioning us among the top-quartile of our peer group of diversified industrial companies.”

Shares of company stock (NYSE: PH) were down more than 2 percent to $312.29 in morning trading Thursday.

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Ultralife reports decline in Q1 income

Ultralife Corp. on Thursday reported a first-quarter drop in income, falling short of Street expectations.

For the quarter ended March 31, the Newark power and communication systems company reported revenues of $25.97 million, compared with $25.8 million in the first quarter last year. Net income was $700,000, or 4 cents per diluted share, compared with net income of $1.1 million, or 7 cents per diluted share for the first quarter of 2020. Adjusted EPS was 5 cents on a diluted basis for the first quarter of 2021, compared with 8 cents for the 2020 period.

Analysts had expected non-GAAP earnings of 5 cents and GAAP earnings of 6 cents on revenues of $26.7 million.

Battery & Energy Products revenues increased 6.5 percent to $22.1 million, compared with $20.8 million last year, as a 32.2 percent increase in medical device battery sales and a 30.3 percent increase in government/defense sales were partially offset by a 30 percent decline in oil and gas market sales, officials said in a statement Thursday.

Michael D. Popielec
Michael D. Popielec

“Profitability for the quarter reflected our continuing start-up costs to transition several new products to high volume manufacturing and investments in engineering and sales resources for new product development and market launches to support organic growth initiatives,” Ultralife President and CEO Michael Popielec said in a statement. “As we continue to work on completing new products and identify new targets in emerging markets, we are steadily expanding our long-term opportunities to scale the business and realize the operating leverage inherent in our profitable business model.”

Operating income was $1 million, compared with $1.5 million last year, and operating margin was 3.7 percent, compared with 5.7 percent in the year-ago quarter. The net adverse impact of COVID-19 on operating income for the 2021 first quarter was roughly $900,000.

During the first quarter of 2021, Ultralife’s cash-on-hand increased by 28 percent to $13.7 million and debt was reduced by 27 percent to $1.1 million, officials noted.

Shares of company stock (Nasdaq: ULBI) opened Thursday at $8.15 and were down slightly to $7.95 in early trading.

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Report: Manufacturing on the rise across New York


Manufacturing in New York state grew at a steady pace in March, a monthly report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows.

The headline general business conditions index climbed five points to 17.4, its highest level since last summer. New orders increased modestly, while shipments were up substantially. Delivery times continued to lengthen, according to the March Empire State Manufacturing Survey, and inventories were somewhat higher.

The index for number of employees was little changed at 9.4, indicating ongoing modest gains in employment, but the index for future employment rose to its highest level in more than 10 years, suggesting that firms widely expect to increase employment in the months ahead.

The prices paid index rose seven points to 64.4, reaching its highest level in a decade, pointing to sharp input price increases. The prices received index was flat from last month’s two-year high, pointing to ongoing selling price increases.

The index for future shipments increased to 46.5 in March. The index for future inventories rose to a multi-year high, and both the future prices paid and prices received indexes continued their upward trend. The index for future employment rose to its highest level in more than a decade, suggesting that firms widely expect to increase employment in the months ahead. The capital expenditures index came in at 26.8, while the technology spending index was 20.1.

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Statewide Manufacturing Extension Partnerships launch $1 million grant programs

Four centers within the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) network have launched competitive grant programs that will help manufacturers solve challenges created by COVID-19.

Rochester area MEP NextCorps is working closely with the Manufacturing & Technology Enterprise Center (MTEC) to administer the Next Generation Grant Program, which focuses on helping manufacturers optimize operations for the post-pandemic era.

Combined, the four programs will award nearly $1 million to manufacturing and technology companies statewide. In addition to the MTEC-led program, New York City MEP, ITAC, will award $250,000 through the Personal Protective Equipment Fund; the Capital Region’s MEP, CEG, will award $200,000 through the Supply Chain Grant Program; and FuzeHub, the statewide MEP, will award $170,000 through the Manufacturing Reimagined Fund.

The MTEC-led program will award $350,000 in total through grants of up to $10,000 per recipient. The funds will enable manufacturers to ensure they are operating safely, effectively and efficiently in a virtual business environment.

“Some companies need help adjusting to this new way of doing business. Our goal is to get them up to speed and connect them with services they need,” said Alexis Wilson, MTEC project manager, virtual assessments & assistance.

The NY MEP is a network of 11 organizations that provide growth and innovation services to small and mid-sized manufacturers statewide to help them create and retain jobs, increase profits and save time and money. The MEPs are supported through a combination of federal and state funding.

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Jrlon acquires South Carolina manufacturer

Wayne County’s Jrlon Inc. has extended its footprint with the acquisition of South Carolina manufacturer Metalworx Inc. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Metalworx is a high-performance contract manufacturer that specializes in precision machining and complete metal fabrication. The acquisition will add AS9100 certification, ITAR registration and ISO-13485 compliance to Jrlon’s portfolio, officials said Wednesday.

Based in Palmyra, Jrlon is a privately-held custom manufacturer of specialty metal and high-performance plastic and rubber products. The company is a global leader in the molding, machining and industrial coating of fluoropolymers, and offers injection molding, compression molding, CNC machining and more.

Brandon Redmond
Brandon Redmond

“Metalworx is a great fit into our family of businesses. Everything from the culture and people-over-profits mentality, to the diversity of products and services, makes it a perfect fit. We share a great deal of commonalities as organizations that should blend together very well,” said Jrlon Co-owner and COO Brandon Redmond. “They bring additional certifications that we did not have and have well-established relationships with a customer base that we were very interested in penetrating. We see this as an incredible opportunity to cross-sell and utilize each other’s capabilities. We are all about adding as much value to our customers as possible. It’s simple, Metalworx makes us a more valuable manufacturing partner to our customers.”

Metalworx has nearly 50 staffers and is a world-class manufacturer of low to high volume, highly engineered and precision manufactured components, assemblies and products. The company serves a range of markets including aerospace, transportation, medical device, the Department of Defense, forestry and other industrial and technology-based industries.

“Metalworx is in great hands with Jrlon Inc. and the two brothers, Brandon and Chad Redmond, who carry on a legacy with their family business. I am extremely confident the company cultures will allow for a seamless transition of ownership for all the employees, and our customers will appreciate the added capabilities that Jrlon will bring to their organizations,” said Metalworx outgoing President and CEO Michael Sawer. “Brandon and I had good rapport from our first meeting and I quickly realized Jrlon would be a great fit for the Metalworx family.”

Metalworx will continue to operate out of its two Summerville, S.C. locations.

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Manufacturing improves in December

Operating conditions in the manufacturing sector improved significantly in December, a monthly report from IHS Markit shows.

The IHS Markit U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index recorded the sharpest upturn since September 2014. The seasonally adjusted PMI was 57.1 in December, up from 56.7 in November.


Production grew in December, despite the rate of expansion easing slightly from November’s recent high. Companies continued to link the rise to the release of pent-up demand, but some said that a higher number of virus cases dampened output growth at the end of 2020.

The rate of expansion in new orders softened last month, as some firms reported that supplier delays and reduced capacity due to pandemic restrictions had led to order cancellations. Still, the upturn was the second-sharpest since November 2018.

“Manufacturers reported a strong end to 2020, with production and order books continuing to grow, albeit with the rates of expansion slowing as a result of rising virus case numbers and related restrictions,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit. “Producers of consumer goods reported a marked downturn in orders and production, reflecting weakened consumer expenditure amid the resurgence of COVID-19.”

New export orders rose at a marginal rate. A number of respondents reported stronger client demand despite the greater prevalence of national lockdowns in key export markets.

Driving the headline figure higher was a substantial breakdown in vendor performance, according to the report. Supply chain disruptions escalated amid supplier shortages and transportation delays stemming from a lack of available drivers and COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“Firms nevertheless remain highly positive about the outlook for the year ahead, anticipating that vaccine rollouts will help drive a further recovery in 2021, although some of November’s post-election exuberance has been tamed by the recent rise in virus case numbers, suggesting the near-term outlook will remain challenging,” Williamson said.

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Longtime manufacturing association director, NextCorps founder to retire

Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association Executive Director Kevin Kelley will retire at the end of the month after 45 years in the Rochester business community.

Kevin Kelley
Kevin Kelley

Kelley has served as RTMA’s leader since 2003, but he also is known for his role as founder and executive director of NextCorps, formerly High Tech Rochester. Kelley served the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Inc. for nearly three decades in roles that include senior vice president.

Throughout his career with the Rochester Chamber, Kelley was responsible for technology commercialization, economic development, government relations and association management with a focus on manufacturing and technology.

When he joined RTMA, the organization was known as the Rochester Tooling and Machining Association and was affiliated with the National Tooling and Machining Association, a relationship that went back some 60 years.

As the local organization was experiencing a troubling downturn, Kelley began a thorough benefit analysis of its relationship with NTMA, ultimately determining that the two organizations should cut ties. While the decision initially was met with skepticism from local members and RTMA’s board, Kelley presented a concrete plan that would lower members’ dues by 20 percent, reinvest in the local community and economy and significantly expand member benefits.

It took several years to complete, but in 2011, RTMA emerged as the Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association and embarked on a rigorous plan to formalize its key pillars of manufacturing innovation, workforce development, political advocacy, strategic growth and access to markets.

To achieve those goals, RTMA launched a series of local initiatives to support the success and growth of its members. The organization subsidized trade shows, developed programs to help members access new markets, started a placement program and invested in advertising campaigns to promote careers in manufacturing.

Since 2003 Kelley has led the organization through four strategic planning cycles, restarted the apprenticeship program, secured nearly $3 million of revenue through grants and contracts, increased the organization’s assets by more than 1,000 percent and fostered critical partnerships with Monroe Community College and Rochester Institute of Technology.

Kelley also obtained his broker’s license so that he could develop a healthcare consortium that has enabled companies to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in healthcare costs.

Throughout his tenure with RTMA, Kelley was a fierce activist for the manufacturing sector, serving on regional and national boards to promote the industry. Kelley has worked directly with elected officials on both sides of the aisle in Albany and Washington, D.C., and started a Political Action Committee to support candidates who advocate for manufacturing.

Believing that manufacturing deserves recognition for its innovation, excellence and contributions to the community, Kelley worked closely with the Rochester Business Journal to launch the region’s premier event for manufacturing, the Technology and Manufacturing Awards, which has grown each year since 2017.

“Manufacturing had been written off in pursuit of technology and the service sector. During my years with the RTMA, we have been able to serve as an important resource to manufacturers by providing them with programs and services to enhance their competitiveness, leading to greater profitability,” Kelley said of his biggest achievement with the organization.

He noted that this year’s pandemic has underscored the need to keep manufacturing on our shores.

“During the past year, as the world scrambled to address the Coronavirus crisis, our local manufacturers responded swiftly and strategically by pivoting production to provide critical PPE supplies,” Kelley said. “These decisive moves not only kept the economic engines running in or community but also expedited the delivery of life-saving supplies across the country. We have been proud to provide support and resources to the manufacturing sector during these profound, historic times.

Bob Coyne
Bob Coyne

Kelley will be succeeded as executive director by Bob Coyne, who currently serves as director of workforce development for the RTMA. Prior to his current role, Coyne was president of the RTMA board and general manager for Acro Industries Inc. He will assume his new responsibilities on Jan. 1, 2021.

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Manufacturing sector on the rise

ihs-markitThe manufacturing sector in November recorded its steepest improvement since September 2014, a new report from IHS Markit shows.

November Purchasing Managers’ Index data signaled a notable improvement in the health of the U.S. manufacturing sector. The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit final U.S. Manufacturing PMI improved to 56.7 last month, up from 53.4 in October.

Contributing to the uptick in November was a substantial increase in output at manufacturing firms. The rise in production was the steepest in more than six years. Goods producers reported a steep increase in new orders midway through the fourth quarter, according to the report. Anecdotal evidence showed that greater sales were due to more robust demand conditions, with some firms saying that clients were less hesitant to place orders last month.

“The manufacturing recovery kicked up a gear in November, with production growth accelerating to the highest for over six years,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit. “Most encouraging was the breakdown of the rise in new orders which underpinned the expansion. Although demand for consumer goods remained somewhat subdued, mainly reflecting rising virus infections rates, demand for investment goods such as business equipment and machinery rose especially sharply.”

Supply chain disruptions led to a sharper and marked rise in input costs during November, as raw material shortages and COVID-19 restrictions pushed prices higher, according to the report. The rate of cost inflation was the fastest since October 2018.

And despite a faster upturn in new orders, manufacturers reported a softer increase in employment. The rate of job creation was only marginal overall, with some firms saying that short-term uncertainty over demand and efforts to rein in spending weighed on workforce numbers.

Expectations for future output improved to the strongest since February 2015. Hopes of a vaccine and sustained increases in client demand reportedly drove optimism.

“Confidence was boosted by encouraging vaccine news during the month, auguring well for life returning to normal at some point in the coming year, as well as hopes of increased stimulus spending and infrastructure investment following the election,” Williamson said.

The IHS Markit U.S. Manufacturing PMI is compiled from responses to questionnaires sent to purchasing managers in a panel of roughly 800 manufacturers.

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Local companies named finalists in FuzeHub commercialization competition

Two Rochester-area companies have been named finalists in the 2020 Commercialization Competition, sponsored by FuzeHub, a not-for-profit organization responsible for assisting small to medium-sized manufacturing companies in New York state.

Locally, WexEnergy LLC and Paradigm of NY LLC were chosen as finalists in the annual competition.

As part of the Jeff Lawrence Manufacturing Innovation Fund, FuzeHub will hold its fourth Commercialization Competition virtually on November 18 and 19. Fourteen entrepreneurs statewide have been selected as finalists and will pitch their ideas during the online event. A total of $300,000 will be awarded to the top presentations.

“FuzeHub is excited that we are able to host the event again this year with modifications to allow the companies to pitch remotely. This has been a successful program for the past three years and has contributed to the growth of both the innovation ecosystem and manufacturing in New York state,” said Julianne Clouthier, director of industry engagement at FuzeHub. “We hope the virtual platform will provide an opportunity for potential investors to see the caliber of companies that will present their prototype product or technology.”

The virtual two-day event will feature a panel discussion that showcases the entrepreneurial journey of three prior competition awardees, networking and an opportunity to see some of New York’s newest innovators.

Companies will demonstrate the commercialization potential of their product or technology for the opportunity to win up to $50,000. Award funds must be used to improve a working prototype that will enable the company to pursue additional investment and customers, leading to the commercialization of its product concept.

WexEnergy’s demonstration will focus on WindowSkin, a low-cost window retrofit that reduces operating expenses for building owners by improving the energy efficiency of aging windows. The product involves no construction, no tools and no disruption, officials explained.

Paradigm of NY’s product is the Paradigm Plasma System, which is a diesel emissions control device that eliminates up to 98 percent of the carbon soot in diesel engine exhaust. The company said truck fleets and bus fleets can reduce carbon dioxide and improve fuel mileage up to 6 percent, reduce maintenance costs up to 25 percent and increase engine uptime with the product.

“This is considered one of FuzeHub’s signature events. It brings awareness to the diversity of innovation and entrepreneurship that exists in all of our regions across New York. Each year, we continue to see new cutting-edge products and technologies,” said FuzeHub Executive Director Elena Garuc. “These awards can be an essential element to help companies achieve sales and growth.”
The event will allow individuals to network with others in the entrepreneurial and investment ecosystems and see how FuzeHub is continuing to spur technology development and commercialization across New York State. Registration and full agenda details are available at FuzeHub Commercialization Competition 2020.

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Zweigle’s completes Phase I of expansion

Zweigle’s Inc. on Friday cut the ribbon on an ongoing expansion project at the company’s Plymouth Avenue facility. This phase of the expansion included the addition of 15,000 square feet to the company’s advanced manufacturing plant.

The entire project will allow the company to meet the growing demand in markets outside of New York state for its private label and co-packing business. Zweigle’s had considered moving the operation out of state but chose to stay in the region due to state support. The company has committed to hiring up to 33 new employees; at least 12 of those positions will be reserved for workers impacted by poverty; almost 60 jobs will be retained.

“We are proud to continue our 140-year legacy in the state of New York. With assistance from Empire State Development, we have completed Phase I of our expansion project, which will allow us to provide new quality employment opportunities for residents in the city of Rochester and continue the growth we’ve experienced over the last five years,” said Zweigle’s CEO Julie Camardo. “This project would not have been possible without help from ESD, Monroe County, the city of Rochester and the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.”

“We are proud to continue our 140-year legacy in the state of New York.," said Zweigle’s CEO Julie Camardo, center. (provided)
“We are proud to continue our 140-year legacy in the state of New York.,” said Zweigle’s CEO Julie Camardo, center. (provided)

ESD provided support for the expansion project with up to $600,000 through the Excelsior Jobs Tax Credit Program in exchange for job creation commitments. The agency also will provide $250,000 through the regional Upstate Revitalization Initiative; another $150,000 will come from a Capital Grant and the New York State Job Development Authority (JDA) assisted the project with $1.86 million.

Phase one of the project included property acquisition, building demolition, renovations, new construction and the purchase of machinery and equipment. Zweigle’s plans to further invest in additional improvements to the state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the city of Rochester over the next few years.

The total project cost was placed at close to $18.8 million. The city of Rochester, Monroe County, Rochester Gas and Electric and Greater Rochester Enterprise also assisted with this project.

“Zweigle’s is a homegrown food manufacturer with deep roots in our community that has played an integral part in Rochester’s long history of innovation,” said GRE President and CEO Matt Hurlbutt. “Our region’s fully integrated supply chain and talented workforce helps Zweigle’s and more than 250 smart food and beverage manufacturers thrive in Rochester, N.Y.”

Established in Rochester in 1880, Zweigle’s is a 140-year-old, fifth-generation family-owned business whose CEO is the original founder’s great-great-granddaughter. The company’s renowned products include chicken sausage, classic sausage, deli meats, grilled chicken, meatballs and its world-famous natural casing and skinless hot dogs.

“For more than 100 years, Zweigle’s has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to the city of Rochester,” said ESD Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Eric Gertler. “The enduring growth of this family-owned business reflects our strategic investment in keeping renowned companies and their unparalleled products in New York state, where they can continue to thrive and create top-quality jobs.”

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