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Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Legislators say final state budget will include $33 million for development of STAMP project

post by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, STAMP

UPDATED 6:56 p.m. to add comments from Steve Hyde.

State lawmakers are expected to vote on a state budget Monday that will include $33 million in funding for the WNY STAMP project in the Town of Alabama. STAMP stands for Science and Technology Advanced Marketing Park.

The funds will help GCEDC complete land acquisition and make the proposed high-tech manufacturing park "shovel ready lite."

Actual shovel-in-the-ground type of work will no likely begin before the first tenant is secured, said GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde.

"The big thing is the funding being approved, committed and appropriated," Hyde said.

Once at least one company makes a commitment to STAMP, Hyde said, that's when you'll see work begin on infrastructure -- water lines, roads, power lines, gas lines and telecom.

The proposed 1,300-acre high-tech business park could transform the WNY economy, which is why a broad coalition of "partners" (other IDAs, local governments, community colleges and elected officials) came together to advocate for the funding, Hyde said.

"It was a pretty cool undertaking," Hyde said.

The funding is a big win for all of WNY, said Assemblyman Steve Hawley and State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer, who have both been working to help secure the funding.

"This is huge," Ranzenhofer said. This is the biggest site in North America. This is where people will want to come. This is going to be big for Genesee County and Erie County and Niagara County and all the counties of Western New York. It's going to create thousands of of advanced and technical kinds of jobs."

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morrelle held a press conference in Irondequoit this afternoon to announce the funding.

Hawley said he was assured on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that the money would be in the final budget proposal, which the Legislature is expected to vote on Monday.

He said dozens and dozens of people, from local elected officials up to staff in the governor's office, worked together to help make the funding possible.

"I can only say this has been a true team effort," Hawley said. "We've been working together for the regional economic renaissance of Western New York. This project when it comes to fruition could create 10,000 jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Spreading the tax burden lessens the tax burden on us all."

There's still lots of engineer work and planning to take place for STAMP, Hyde said. There's also land acquisition deals yet to complete. The funding will help move the project along in those areas as well.

Hyde said earlier this month that STAMP is generating real interest among site selectors and Ranzenhofer and Hawley said they've heard from Hyde that there are some strong potential projects in the pipeline. Securing this funding will only help matters.

"Steve Hyde has indicated there are businesses ready to sign on the dotted line," Hawley said. "There are a number that are really close and extremely interested."

Ranzenhofer said the funding is perhaps the last carrot Hyde needs to draw some businesses into the park.

"I would expect once people see the money is in the budget he's going have some great success in closing some of these deals," Ranzenhofer said.

Hyde reiterated this afternoon that there are some solid businesses taking a good hard look at STAMP and this funding will certainly go a long way toward getting final commitments.

"Some (of the potential deals) are getting pretty deep and there's more in the sales funnel," Hyde said. "I'm very excited. What this does is allow us to show a company that the funding is there to finish the infrastructure and gives us the the ability to try hard and close these deals."

Hyde praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for backing STAMP.

"This is fulfilling his plan to drive high tech and revitalize Upstate New York," Hyde said. "The governor's office has been incredibly supportive and I'm immensely grateful that they would work with us on this."

UPDATE 7:07 p.m.: Statement from Steve Hyde just issued by GCEDC, after the jump:

Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 9:00 am

STAMP project generating some interest among high-tech manufacturers, Hyde tells legislators

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, STAMP

There's plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future of the WNY STAMP project in Alabama, Steve Hyde told members of the County Legislature during the Ways and Means Committee meeting Tuesday.

While Genesee County Economic Development Center must still secure a total of $33 million in financing to make the proposed high-tech manufacturing park "shovel-ready lite," there is plenty of buzz about the project among site selectors.

STAMP will be one of only a couple of locations in the nation, if not in the world, that could provide a major manufacturer with both 500 acres of property and up to 500 megawatts of electricity, Hyde said.

One of the nation's leading site selectors was at a conference in Denver recently and told Hyde there may be a very big project in the pipeline and STAMP is in the running.

"He said they have a really monster project developing, that New York will certainly be on the radar, but they said that STAMP is the one site, and maybe the only site in New York, that could probably accomodate it," Hyde said. "We're excited. We hope that comes through, but it's still very, very early at this juncture."

Hyde also said the governor's office is working on landing a project that would be "about the size of Muller" -- the yogurt plant in the Genesee Valley Ag Park -- for STAMP, but that New York is among four states competing for the project.

"It's competitive, but we're in the hunt," Hyde said.

STAMP is Hyde's big dream -- with the potential for hundreds of millions in local investment and 10,000 jobs. He called it "a game changer for our community."

He made his remarks during GCEDC's annual review for the Ways and Means Committee.  GCEDC will hold it's annual meeting at noon Friday at the college.

GCEDC operates on a $1.3 million annual budget, with $597,975 coming from fees paid by businesses that receive GCEDC benefits, $480,000 from the Local Development Corporation (a nonprofit operated by GCEDC that also receives fees for projects) and $215,014 from county taxpayers.

That $215,000 in county funding is perpetually controversial, but Hyde said it's essential to keeping GCEDC operating.

"That county contribution is only about 17 percent of our budget, but it gives about 8.5 professionals work that we hope you think is of value," Hyde said. "It's very important."

In 2013, GCEDC closed 28 projects that resulted in 270 pledged jobs, $29.9 million in capital investments and $1.7 million in grants for business and infrastructure improvements.

The biggest win for GCEDC over the past two years has been the ag park, which has seen the creation of two Greek yogurt plants -- Alpina and Muller.

Alpina pledged 50 new jobs and has already created 47, plus 33 full-time temp jobs that fluctuate based on production needs (and sometimes turn into new full-time, permanent jobs).

PepsiCo. / Muller pledged 186 new jobs in the first three years and 145 have been created so far.

Nearly 50 percent of the new hires at the two plants were Genesee County residents, Hyde said.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 11:36 am

Schumer pitches STAMP to semiconductor industry executives

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, business, Charles Schumer, STAMP

Press release:

Today, in a letter to the Board of Directors of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), U.S. Senator Charles Schumer pitched Upstate New York as the international center for the growing semiconductor- and chip-fabrication industry. Schumer touted several Upstate locales and specifically pointed to the newest potential mega-site (1,250 acres) for chip fab, the Genesee County Science, Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP).

Schumer highlighted the development of Upstate New York’s nanotech sites, underlining the many advantages offered by the Luther Forest Tech Campus, the Marcy Nanotech campus, and now the Genesee County STAMP site. Schumer, who recently hosted the SIA at a Capitol Hill briefing with newly elected senators, urged the 18 semiconductor industry CEOs who comprise the SIA Board to consider Upstate New York sites, including STAMP, when establishing their next semiconductor manufacturing and research facility, citing advantages like access to affordable power, and world-class research universities and proximity to a large qualified workforce.

“The STAMP site will join existing hubs like the Luther Forest Tech Campus and Marcy Nanotech campus, and will become the second semiconductor mega-site in New York State, bolstering the state’s reputation as the preeminent destination for high-tech semiconductor research, design, and development,” Schumer said.

His letter to industry leaders was released in advance of the 2013 Annual Semiconductor Industry Association Dinner, to be held on November 7th in San Jose, California, when representatives from STAMP will make a presentation to the Board of Directors to outline the advantages of the site. Representatives of other New York centers, including Marcy and Luther Forest will also be present.

Schumer continued, “Thanks to decades of joint public-private investments in infrastructure and education, and a talented workforce, Upstate New York is the number-one place to establish semiconductor manufacturing in the nation. The promise of the Genesee County STAMP site only adds to New York’s reputation as fertile ground for high-tech and, specifically, semiconductor manufacturing. Simply put: the high-tech manufacturing sector has the potential to remake Western New York and the entire Upstate economy, delivering a new generation of middle-class jobs. It has already begun in the Capitol District, is spreading to Utica, and is poised to take-off in Western New York, too.

"Upstate New York’s proximity to transportation and energy networks, its access to the creativity and large workforces of major metropolitan cities, and its world-class technology and engineering universities are exactly what the semiconductor industry needs to ensure national and global success – and I made that known to the CEOs of the leading companies.”

In his letter, Schumer highlighted the unique advantages various Upstate New York State sites, including Genesee County’s STAMP site, provide to the semiconductor industry. The industry has benefited from the State’s advanced transportation networks, industrial infrastructure, and utilities at its other leading semiconductor sites. Schumer explained that the STAMP site would continue with this trend, offering close access to Interstate-90, high-capacity electric transmission lines, a large-scale high-pressure gas line, and the New York Power Authority’s hydropower low-cost electricity zone.

These assets ensure that the semiconductor factory would receive robust utility capacity, redundancy, and reliability at competitive prices, in some cases at a 75-80 percent market discount. The STAMP site is also situated between the Rochester and Buffalo metropolitan areas, which contain international airports, active customs stations, and a 2.1 million workforce population.

Last year, Schumer successfully advocated on behalf of STAMP by calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide necessary wetlands permit assurances so that STAMP’s developers could advance the site’s development and begin marketing the site to prospective tenants. Schumer has also taken a lead advocacy role for the semiconductor industry in the 113th Congress, which has led to the passage of major immigration reform legislation and a long-term reauthorization of the federal helium reserve, a critical lifeline for semiconductor manufacturers.

The growth of the semiconductor industry in Upstate New York has also been encouraged by the region’s strong research and educational base. The State is home to some of the world’s leading technology and engineering universities, including the University of Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University at Buffalo, the University of Rochester, and Cornell University — all of which are spearheading efforts in research, commercialization, workforce development, and collaboration in the high-tech and semiconductor fields.

Schumer called on the SIA companies to consider the advantages offered by the New York’s high-tech resources, and mega-sites like STAMP primed for development, when choosing the location of their next chip fab. Schumer noted that the long-term development of the STAMP site would bring long-lasting, stable jobs to New York and make the region a hub of high-tech manufacturing.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 7:40 pm

GCEDC staff in San Francisco promoting STAMP

post by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, STAMP

This week, staff members of the Genesee County Economic Development Center are at SEMICON West, the largest trade show globally for the semiconductor industry, held at the Mascone Center in San Francisco.

The staff is there to promote WNY STAMP, the high-tech/nano-tech industrial park in the Town of Alabama that GCEDC hopes will some day be home to at least one large technology company employing thousands of people.

Joining the GCEDC staff are representatives from Greater Rochester Enterprise, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the University at Buffalo.

The photo is from GCEDC's Facebook page. At left is Chris Suozzi and second from left is  Rachael Tabelski. IDs are not provided on the other people in the picture.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 8:44 pm

The future of a Wegmans in Batavia hinges on the success of STAMP in Alabama

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Alabama, business, STAMP, Wegmans

It's one of the most frequently asked questions from readers of The Batavian: Why is there no Wegmans in Batavia?

Danny Wegman, the company's CEO was at Genesee Community College today and he answered that question for us:

"If we get the STAMP project in, we would probably be very happy to move here," Wegman said.

STAMP is the propposed high-tech manufacturing facility Genesee County Economic Development Center is trying to bring to the Town of Alabama. It could eventually mean as many as 10,000 new jobs.

Though Wegman was too diplomatic to say it, clearly, his view is the current economy in Genesee County couldn't sustain a grocery operation the size and scope of Wegmans.

STAMP is a project of personal interest to Wegman because he's chairman of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, one of 14 regional councils statewide assisting local IDAs in economic development.

Wegman is admittedly excited by the possibility of STAMP and believes it is something that could actually come together as an economic growth engine for the entire region.

"The high-tech arena is always exciting," Wegman said. "You always hear about it in California. Wouldn't it be nice if it was right here in our own backyard?"

We also asked Wegman about the GCEDC's $1.8 million in tax subsidies for COR Development and Wegman said he was unfamiliar with the project.

As a general rule, however, he said he opposes tax breaks for retail projects.

"I have to say I'm not real keen on that, since we’re a local business and we wouldn’t want somebody coming in and getting a real tax break..." Wegman said. "I think that’s divvying up a pot that’s already there. If the retailer helps grow jobs in some way that actually makes something, maybe, but most retailers don’t make things. That’s my view on it."

Asked if Wegmans would accept tax breaks to open a store in Genesee County, Wegman said, "I can’t say someone else shouldn’t and that we would. I don’t think that’s right, although we do make a lot of the food we sell, that's why I was giving you that exception."

YNN's Rose Eiklor pointed out to Wegman that there is a Facebook group called "Bring Wegmans to Genesee County." Wegman had never heard of it, but said he would take a look.

Monday, April 8, 2013 at 11:19 am

STAMP not currently in the running for mysterious 'Project Azalea'

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, business, Project Azalea, STAMP

The tech press is abuzz with speculation about "Project Azalea," a  multibillion-dollar computer chip factory that could be built somewhere in the U.S. with state economic directors in New York, Oregon, Washington and Texas trying to find the right package of incentives to woo the company behind the project.

It's all just rumor and speculation, but the company supposedly behind "Project Azalea" is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., a major supplier to Apple Computers.

But here's the headline for Genesee County: Don't count on "Project Azalea" coming to the STAMP project in Alabama.

Mark Masse, senior vice president of operations for Genesee County Economic Development Center said the local IDA hasn't been given any indication from the Empire State Development that STAMP is on the short list of possible locations for "Project Azalea."

STAMP simply isn't ready yet for consideration by the mysterious company behind the project. The planned high-tech park must first become "shovel ready light" so a developer could start digging as soon as the ink dried on any contract for the project.

Business reporter Adam Sichko lists two New York locations as possible sites for the 1,000-plus jobs the project is expected to create: the Marcy NanoCenter, a 430-acre site on the Utica campus of SUNYIT and Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta.

While Texas does pop up as a possible location, The Oregonian says there are three main contenders, with New York still on the list.

The Oregonian also reports that New York is ready to spend tens of millions of dollars to lure the company to Upstate.

Hat tip to reader Joanne Rock for suggesting we look at Project Azalea.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm

GCEDC approves financing for land purchases to create STAMP in Alabama

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, business, GCEDC, STAMP

With zoning changes approved in the Town of Alabama, the Genesee County Economic Development Center will now move forward with real estate purchases in order to create the footprint for the STAMP project.

The board today authorized the agency to move forward with a $2.1 million expenditure to acquire the land necessary for the 1,340-acre technology zone.

GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde said today, after the board's approval of the transactions, that he anticipates bringing in three chip fabrication companies of the size now in Saratoga, which will mean a $15 billion to $25 billion investment by those companies in Genesee County and some 9,000 jobs.

The board authorized a loan from the LDC (a non-profit agency operated by the GCEDC) to GCEDC for $500,000. GCEDC will then receive either a gap loan from a bank to repay the LDC, or pay it off when it receives grant money from the state for the STAMP project.

The project is receiving more than $2 million from Empire State Development.

The first purchases -- many of which have already been negotiated -- could happen in a matter of weeks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 12:11 am

Proposed technology park gets final STAMP of approval from Town of Alabama

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, business, GCEDC, STAMP

Five years of planning, public meetings, studies, environmental reviews and dozens of written reports came down to one vote Monday night in the Town of Alabama, and by unanimous decision, the town's planning board said yes to a proposed industrial technology park.

The 5-0 vote to change the zoning for 1,340 acres within the town's borders clears the way for the Genesee County Economic Development Center to aggressively market the technology zone and begin the process making STAMP the kind of "shovel ready" property that GCEDC officials say is necessary to attract big business.

Before the vote, Mark Masse, VP operations for GCEDC, said it had been hard work to get the development to the point of the pivotal vote, "but now we leave it in your hands."

"The town has been involved from the beginning in hiring consultants and getting a lot of work done looking at the project," Masse said. "We're excited to be at his point."

For the board, the decision came down to three key points: infrastructure for public water, support from the majority of town residents, and jobs.

Trustee Janet Sage noted the expense the towns of Bethany and Batavia are facing to bring public water to their residents, but under the agreement with GCEDC, the infrastructure for water will be created for 70 percent of the town residents at a reduced cost to ratepayers.

The total capital cost of the water project is $5.2 million.

An estimated $1.9 million in grants will reduce the cost of bringing public water to Alabama rate payers from $882 annually to $512 per year.

"We will be saving residents a lot of money over the long run," Sage said. "It would be a long time if ever before Alabama gets water if this doesn't pass."

Sage also noted that in a survey of residents, among those who responded, nearly 70 percent said they supported STAMP.

It was that support for the project that board members should note, said Alabama resident Sam Ferris.

"You should put your personal issues aside and vote the way the town wants," Ferris said. "We voted into into office to vote for our rights.  If you can’t put your own personal thoughts aside, you should reconsider running when it's your turn to run again."

Other speakers echoed Ferris call for a vote in line with the majority support for STAMP, and Donald Sage spoke about how important the jobs are to the future of Alabama.

"I've lived here all my life and I've never been able to make a living here," Sage said. "I worked construction in Rochester to make a living for my family."

GCEDC estimates that at full build-out -- which may take as long as 25 years -- that STAMP could employ 9,300 people.

Sage went on to talk about the importance of family staying together and said he probably won't be around by the time the real benefits STAMP kick in, but his grandchildren will benefit.

"You should not have to worry about going to Dallas, Texas, or Raleigh, North Carolina, to get to spend time with your family," Sage said.

There were no speakers at Monday's meeting who opposed STAMP.

When Supervisor Dan Mangino announced the resolution passed 5-0, most of the 20 residents in attendance applauded.

In related action, the board set a public hearing for Jan. 14 to consider a 12-month moratorium on all commercial construction in the town that is outside of the STAMP district.

The moratorium would give the town time to developed new zoning laws in anticipation of STAMP-related growth, preventing unwanted commercial construction and destruction of farmland.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Town's survey of Alabama residents finds support for STAMP

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, business, GCEDC, STAMP

Press release:

The Town of Alabama today released results of a survey presented to residents of the town to gauge their support for the proposed Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP). It is a 1,200-acre site in the Town of Alabama which is currently under development by the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC).

The survey found that more than two out of every three residents in the Town of Alabama who responded to the survey are in favor of the STAMP project (68 percent), while 62 percent of residents feel that the proposed $10.2 million Incentive Zoning Agreement between the town and the GCEDC is “sufficient” for the STAMP project to continue.

The town negotiated for additional amenities including expanding the new water district to include more households. With this change, 433 households will now receive water through the project. The town also negotiated additional revenue to be used for capital projects in future years.

“Given the size and scope of the STAMP project, feedback from the residents in the Town of Alabama is critically important as the board approaches a decision,” said Alabama Town Supervisor Daniel Mangino.

Both the Genesee County and Town of Alabama planning boards have recommended the rezoning of the site. Final approval of the rezoning rests with the Town of Alabama.

Conducted by Goldhaber Research Associates, LLC (GRA) on behalf of the Town of Alabama, the survey was mailed to 1,500 Town of Alabama residents from Oct. 12-14. A one-page flier with information about STAMP as well as a copy of the Incentive Zoning Agreement were included in the mailing. The survey generated 707 total respondents, including 53 that arrived after the Nov. 2 deadline.

To maintain confidentiality, names of the respondents were not associated with the responses in the data files, and the information about who completed the survey or who responded in a particular way to the survey was not shared.

Friday, October 12, 2012 at 1:00 am

Speakers in Alabama express hope and fear over proposed 1,200 acre technology park

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, business, GCEDC, STAMP

For Holly Nelson, the proposed 1,200-acre technology business park in the Town of Alabama is both something to dread and something that seems like a good opportunity.

She's not alone in her conflicted feelings. Nearly a dozen people spoke at a public hearing Thursday night in the town's fire hall and expressed both a wish that Alabama remain a small, rural community, and that it embrace jobs and growth.

"I moved back here so I could be in the country," Nelson said during a short statement where she fought back tears. "If we had known what would happen, that this would be proposed, when we started building our home, we never would have built it. My whole family is here and loves Alabama. I don't want to lose that, but I do want my kids to be able to stay here and have a place to work. I'm so torn."

After speaking another minute or so, she said, "I'm scared," and seemingly unable to hold back the tears any longer, she walked away from the mic.

The purpose of Thursday's meeting was to give interested members of the public -- especially Alabama residents -- a chance to raise any issues with a proposed compensation package from the Genesee County Economic Development Center and the necessary changes in zoning for the site.

In all, the total estimated benefit to the town is $8.5 million, including $5.2 million for a new public water system. The town will also receive a commission on the sale of the land in park -- to be known as the Science, Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) -- as manufacturers are signed to build facilities on the property.

The first speaker was an organized labor representative who encouraged Alabama residents to support STAMP because both in the construction and in the new factories, it could bring good-paying jobs to the region.

He was followed by Alabama resident Doug Crosen who encouraged the town board to not be swayed by outside voices.

"There's going to be huge pressure from the outside both for and against it, but the decision better be about our town," Crosen said.

Among Crosen's concerns is whether the money for public water will cover hook-ups for residents, and whether residents will have the option to say on well water.

Anita Goras said she had split feelings about the project.

"This is going to be in my back yard and that's where my cows are right now," Goras said. "I am open. I know I'm not going to live forever and I would like to see my grandchildren be able to come back here and work."

Kevin Sheehan, deputy mayor for Albion, told the board that if Alabama didn't want STAMP, Orleans County will take it. He encouraged the board to approve the project for the sake of all of Western New York.

Bruce Pritchett -- who grew up in Alabama, still lives on Maple Road, and teaches in Albion -- said he understands the desire to keep Alabama a small farming community, but young people, he said, need jobs, they need a reason to say in Genesee County.

"There are not a lot of jobs available," Pritchett said. "We send our jobs overseas. There's nothing here for people. This is a great opportunity. As a community, I hope we take advantage of this opportunity we have and make the best of it."

Tom Walsh, a Corfu resident, said he understands the resistance from some, but encouraged Alabama to move forward with the project.

"I know it scares a lot of people," Walsh said. "If it came to Corfu, I'd probably be a little scared for me at first, but I would know at least there would be some work for people."

Vance Wyder Jr., said he's a 40-year-old disabled military veteran who really only knows farming. He isn't sure he and other farming community members can really be trained for the kind of jobs STAMP will bring. He's worried about losing farming jobs, which are harder and harder to come by in Alabama, and then the new jobs not being filled by local residents. He said nobody has really assured him that local residents can and will be trained for the jobs.

"My message to the board is be cautious, be wary, make sure you are doing the right thing for our town and not for the almighty dollar, because in the end, the almighty dollar might kick us in the ass," he said.

Another speaker, a gentleman who has worked in IT for 20 years and is a resident of Alabama, said the board should be mindful of the potential for spinoff businesses from high-tech manufacturers.

He encouraged the board to ensure any businesses coming in reinvest in the local business community, such as by creating an incubator for start-up tech firms.

"We don't need some monolithic company with 1,800 jobs that never talks to the town after it's in place," he said.

Max Merten seemed the most strongly opposed to STAMP. He said he moved to Alabama 20 years ago to live in a rural community and he doesn't want it to change. He said he raised his kids to work, not push paper.

He's worried, he said, that the project is being pushed through the process too quickly.

"We don't need more jobs in a cornfield," Merten said.

Angela Kost concluded the round of speakers with the same ambiguity that set the tone for the meeting.

"I don't want to see it in my back yard, obviously," Kost said. "I don't think anybody in Alabama wants that, but it is a good opportunity."

The town board will meet within two weeks to take formal action on the proposals.

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