Empire VFX & Daemen College to Bring VFX Hub to Buffalo
“Daemen College and its International Center for Excellence in Animation have been working for more than a year with Empire State Development and Marcelo Gandola to forge this impressive partnership of higher education with the visual effects industry,” said Daemen President Gary A. Olson. “Thanks to the vision of Governor Cuomo and his Empire State Development team in Buffalo and New York City, Daemen and its private sector partners are well on their way to creating new high-paying employment opportunities right here in Western New York, for those young people who wish to enter the growing animation sector of the national economy.”
The Buffalo Billion incentive funding will be utilized to provide space build-out; special computer and high-speed internet networks; supercomputer connections; and other power systems specific to the new company’s requirements in setting up a state-of-the-art post-production/animation platform at the Tri-Main Center. The funding will also allow Daemen College to establish the technology infrastructure required for its Visual Effects Certificate student training.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said, “SUNY's community colleges will provide the vital workforce training that is needed to meet the goals of Governor Cuomo's Buffalo Billion Initiative and create the industry hubs Western New York needs. Partnering New York's colleges and universities with the business community, including through internships and experiential education, is the best way to support new economic activity and provide the best opportunities for our students.”
Through Empire Visual Effects partnership with Daemen College and a network of community colleges, such as Erie Community College and Niagara County Community College, across the state, it will secure a steady stream of qualified students ready to meet the challenges of the modern day visual effects industry. Daemen College will develop a world-class visual effects training facility, which will have all the software, hardware, computers and pipeline infrastructure needed to train the workforce and interface with industry. The college has also developed and is growing a 16-week visual effects training program that will train more than 60 students per year. These students will be ready to go directly into jobs at Empire Visual Effects and other post production facilities around the state.
The goals of Empire Visual Effects are also in line with Governor Cuomo’s economic reforms to workforce training for job openings. New York’s workforce training is from a different era and a generic job training program does not fit today's economy. The 2013-2014 enacted budget capitalizes on the opportunity of an estimated 210,000 unfilled jobs in the state by including $5 million for the Next Generation Job Linkage Program that works with employers to identify the job, define the skill and provide the training for it.
Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and President of the University at Buffalo Satish K. Tripathi said, “Pairing the strengths of a higher education system and an innovative new company in an exciting field that Governor Cuomo supports is a win-win for Western New York. There are very few states that offer a postproduction work credit and New York being one of them will drive business to this new studio. I applaud the Governor for making smart investments that attract businesses, create jobs and generate economic activity.”
Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and Larkin Development Group Managing Partner Howard A. Zemsky said, “Empire Visual Effects builds upon the strategies for prosperity laid out by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and the Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan, including innovation, workforce development, smart growth and job opportunities for young adults. The success of Governor Cuomo’s expanded post production program helped bring this project to fruition and will allow it to succeed.”