State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s summer tour of New York brought him to Cheektowaga on Wednesday afternoon for a visit with one of the region’s high-tech employers.
Heastie was invited by local Assembly Member Monica Wallace to see the results of the state’s investment in Calspan’s new crash-test facility. The $20 million lab opened in January, and evaluates the safety and durability of vehicles from around the world. Of the $20 million, close to $900,000 came from Excelsior tax credits and a grant. But it wasn’t just the impact of investment that Heastie came away with.
“To see this facility and all that they do, and all of the lives that could be saved by the work that they do here, it was a very good experience,” said Heastie.
Crash Test Operations Director Jerry Goupil led the tour along the 650-foot indoor test track, its control room, and through a lab filled with some of the world’s most technologically advanced test-dummies. He said the work being done makes a difference in a number of ways.
“One, the case of this facility of making cars safer. But two, when you think about the amazing opportunities for employment…these are high-tech types of jobs, these are really specialty jobs, these are interesting jobs that most people don’t really know exist,” said Goupil.
Heastie said he didn’t know about the facility prior to his visit, and Wallace had the same experience when it opened at the start of the year.
“I’ve lived in Western New York for decades and didn’t even know that this existed. So to find out that this amazing facility was here was really exciting to me, and I wanted to show the Speaker,” said Wallace.
“It’s a good example of how we can invest a little bit of public money to ensure that good-paying jobs stay in Western New York.”
The facility currently employs 18 staff members, and Goupil says by the end of the year, Calspan expects to increase that number to 26.
“That’s all because we have something that is so unique, that has amazing capability, that these vehicle manufacturers around the world are hearing about us, and they’re bringing all the work to us,” said Goupil.