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Cruelty-free leather maker awarded low-cost power to expand on LI

Modern Meadow CEO and co-founder Andras Forgacs at

Modern Meadow CEO and co-founder Andras Forgacs at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016 conference in Brooklyn on May 11, 2016. The state has offered Forgacs' Brooklyn-based biotech startup low-cost power in hopes of persuading the company to expand in Farmingdale. Credit: Getty Images for TechCrunch / Noam Galai

A Brooklyn biotechnology startup that makes organic leather without killing animals has been awarded low-cost electricity by New York State in hopes of persuading the company to expand in Farmingdale rather than New Jersey, officials said.

Modern Meadow Inc. is among 11 businesses with Long Island projects to receive discounted electricity from the state Power Authority in its latest allocations under the ReCharge NY program.

Together, the companies said they would hire 407 people, retain 778 workers and spend $78.4 million on equipment and other improvements to their operations, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced last week.

The power recipients, as a group, would use 5,124 kilowatts. Their contracts will last seven years. A thousand kilowatts can power 800 to 1,000 homes.

Modern Meadow received 1,050 kilowatts for a proposed factory and research laboratory at the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park on the campus of Farmingdale State College.

Earlier this month, the company won $1 million from Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, toward the local facility.

In return for the aid, Modern Meadow would move 40 jobs from Brooklyn to Suffolk County, add 160 more and invest $25 million in equipment and other improvements. The company also would remain in the Start-Up NY tax-free zones program, where participants don’t pay state and local taxes for as long as 10 years.

Modern Meadow is also weighing whether to expand in New Jersey instead.

“We’re impressed with what we have seen at Farmingdale State College,” CEO Andras Forgacs said in June at a meeting in Melville. “But this is not in the bag yet. We are looking at New Jersey.”

He didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Among the recent winners of low-cost power, Modern Meadow would invest the most money and do the most hiring.

The largest power allocation — 2,310 kilowatts — will go to WHTB Glass of Beijing. In return, the architectural glass fabricator will open its first U.S. facility in Shirley, and has promised to hire 143 people.

The $19 million project also has sought tax breaks from the Brookhaven Town Industrial Development Agency.

The most jobs tied to a power allocation — 235 — are at Check-Mate International Products Inc., which received 180 kilowatts for its West Babylon plant.

The manufacturer of high-precision tools has 200 workers and plans to hire 35 more as it spends $2.3 million on equipment and other improvements.

Power Authority CEO Gil C. Quiniones said the cheap electricity “has had a tremendous impact on the state’s economy, both in keeping companies here and drawing companies in from other states.”

More than 150 businesses and nonprofits in Nassau and Suffolk counties benefit from ReCharge NY, established five years ago by Cuomo and the State Legislature. About 60,000 local jobs are tied to power allocations, officials said.The program aims to encourage businesses to stay and expand in the state.

“Utility costs are one of the largest expenses for many businesses and the ReCharge NY program is often the main reason they choose to stay in New York,” said Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association business group.

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