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Press Release

Friday, May 31, 2019 - 2:02pm
See site map and project rendering for Cataract Commons here USA Niagara Development Corporation (USAN) today celebrated the groundbreaking for Cataract Commons, a public square or “commons” space located on Old Falls Street in downtown Niagara Falls. The project will transform an empty parcel into a more usable and inviting outdoor facility that will have permanent structural seating and shade, as well as flexibility for hosting various events.  The roughly $1 million project, funded through Buffalo Billion II, is expected to be complete in May 2020.   “We at USA Niagara are extremely excited to bring Cataract Commons to fruition in Downtown Niagara Falls,” said USAN President Anthony Vilardo.  “With the restoration of Old Falls Street, this space has quickly become an important part of our civic fabric.  The improvements being made to this public square will provide a much-needed enhanced public amenity to residents and visitors alike.  This project pays homage to the history of downtown and is one that the Niagara Falls community will be proud of.” This project, designed by award-winning landscape architecture firm Trowbridge Wolf Michaels, is located at the southeast corner of Rainbow Boulevard and Old Falls Street. At approximately 10,000 square feet, it sits within the former footprint of the Wintergarden.  Although relatively small and currently unimproved, it has provided a place for residents and tourists to stop and take a break with their families.  The site has also been used to stage several Old Falls Street events, including Flicks at the Falls and Oktoberfest.  The games and activities on site, such as the larger-than-life board games and public chalk board will be temporarily relocated along Old Falls Street. A site map and project rendering are available here.  The transformation of Cataract Commons includes earthwork; the installation of metal shade structures, planters, fabricated wood and metal marquee signage; concrete flatwork; constructing a concrete amphitheater; landscaping, seating and lighting. One block away on Old Falls Street, local artist Casey Milbrand, known for his “Greetings from Buffalo” mural on Ellicott Street in Buffalo and “Lookin Good” mural on Hertel in North Buffalo, has started a mural project on the former Wintergarden walkway, known by locals for its red and black checkered wall.  The beautification project, funded by USAN and expected to be completed by the end of June, will play on the theme of Niagara Falls as America’s “honeymoon capital.”  Visitors will be encouraged to take their pictures with the mural and share via social media.   City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, “Today’s groundbreaking marks an important first step in activating a critical piece of public space along Old Falls Street - one of the most high-traffic areas in our city’s downtown corridor. Thanks to our partners at USA Niagara, Cataract Commons promises to be a family-friendly community space for the many exciting events we proudly play host to all year long.” These two projects further New York State’s commitments in Niagara Falls as it works to realize the city’s true potential as a world-class tourism destination. Other projects supported by the State include $70 million in recent renovations to Niagara Falls State Park; more than $73 million dedicated to the removal of underused expressway segments; multiple completed, in-progress and planned hotel projects; the acquisition of several key underutilized properties near Niagara Falls State Park for mixed-use development; and $172 million in public and private development in downtown Niagara Falls completed under Governor Cuomo with an additional $264 million in projects underway and proposed. Senator Robert Ortt said, "The Cataract Commons project will help continue Niagara Falls' revitalization. Importantly, the project will provide a true benefit to residents and visitors alike - improving the quality of life and the tourist experience" Assemblymen Angelo Morinello said, “This project is an example of cooperation between the Governor’s office and USA Niagara as they work to focus on smaller projects that come to fruition for the benefit of both residents and visitors.” About USA Niagara Development Corporation USAN, a subsidiary of Empire State Development Corporation, is solely dedicated to the support and promotion of economic development initiatives in Niagara Falls by leveraging private investment and encouraging growth and renewal of the tourism industry in the City of Niagara Falls.  For more information, visit here.     Contact: Pamm Lent | [email protected] | (716) 846-8309 | (800) 260-7313 Laura Magee | [email protected] | (716) 846-8239 | (800) 260-7313
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Press Release

Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 12:55pm
Investment Complements “Finger Lakes Forward” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy Empire State Development (ESD) today announced its support for an ongoing expansion project at the headquarters of Monro, Inc. (Monro) in Rochester, Monroe County. ESD will provide up to $300,000 through the Excelsior Jobs Tax Credit Program in exchange for the creation of up to 26 jobs at the expanded location on Holleder Parkway; 260 jobs are being retained. Already underway, the company plans to complete Phase 1 of the project later this summer. Monroe County and Greater Rochester Enterprise are also assisting with the company’s expansion Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Monro, Inc.’s decision to expand its Finger Lakes headquarters reflects the work we are doing to help established, successful companies grow and create jobs in this region and around New York State." The project will be completed in two separate and distinct phases.  Phase I is primarily the construction of approximately 13,000 square-feet on two floors at the Holleder Parkway location.  This construction will allow for the addition of 12 new offices and nearly 80 workstations.  Phase II will include the renovation of existing space to allow for the addition of ten conference rooms and other enhancements aimed at attracting and retaining its highly skilled workforce. Brian D’Ambrosia, Monro’s Executive Vice Prsident and Chief Financial Officer, said, “As we continue to expand our footprint to include operations in 30 states, we are pleased to also expand our Store Support Center, with economic support from Monroe County and ESD.”  Monro has been a pioneer in the auto service industry since Charles J. “Chuck” August opened his first muffler shop in Rochester in 1957. Monro owns and operates more than 1,200 auto service and tire centers, as well as commercial auto service and wholesale tire businesses, making it one of the largest such chains in the United States. In New York State, Monro operates 151 retail stores and employs approximately 760 workers at these locations.  State Senator Joseph Robach said, “Monro has been a staple in Rochester since 1957 and will stay that way for years to come thanks to this public-private partnership. All jobs are critically important to our economy and local workforce, so the fact that Monro is creating 26 new jobs and retaining an additional 260 is certainly cause for celebration. Thanks to all parties involved for making this a reality and keeping Monro, Inc. at Holleder Parkway.” State Assembly Member Jamie Romeo said, " I am proud that Monro, Inc. continues to grow and expand their headquarters here in Rochester.  I look forward to their continued growth and success as one of Rochester's own. As a small business first opening their doors in Rochester in 1957, Monro, Inc. has increased its number of locations to over 1,200.  This the type of hometown business we want to support and root for. A strong locally- based small business that benefits the community and company through innovation and investment, we are proud of Monro, Inc.'s long history, and future endeavors." Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren said, “I want to congratulate and thank Monro, Inc. for choosing to expand its headquarters right here in Rochester, continuing to provide jobs for our residents. As always, I am grateful to Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development for their work to retain and create jobs in Rochester through Finger Lakes Forward. Together, we are advancing our mission of creating more jobs, safer, more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for Rochester’s citizens.” County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said, "Monroe County is thrilled to support Monro, Inc. as they double down on investing in our community. We have worked with them from the very beginning of this major expansion and we look forward to their continued growth and job creation in the days to come." Matt Hurlbutt, president and CEO, Greater Rochester Enterprise said, “With offices throughout the country, we’re delighted that Monro, Inc.  chose to further invest in their headquarter location here in Rochester, NY. GRE connected the Monro, Inc. senior leadership team to economic development partners who delivered resources to help accelerate the company’s business expansion plans.” For more information about Monro, Inc., click here. Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward  Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $6.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture‎ and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in. Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here. ​     Contact: Shari Voorhees-Vincent | [email protected] | (585) 399-7055 Press Office | [email protected] | (800) 260-7313
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Blog Post

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 1:57pm
At its core, the New York State budget is a spending plan that outlines the state’s fiscal and policy priorities. The recently passed FY 2019-20 budget delivers smart investments in economic development central to the continued growth of New York’s economy: revitalizing city centers, training our workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow, incentivizing business growth and investing in innovation.  At a time when New York has a record-high workforce of more than 8 million and record-low unemployment, here are 10 key ways the budget builds on the Empire State’s progress: Continuing fiscal responsibility: The budget holds state spending growth to 2 percent—and makes the 2 percent cap on property taxes permanent, adding to roughly $25 billion in taxpayer savings since 2012. Phasing in Middle-Class Tax Cuts: In addition, the enacted budget phases in further middle-class tax cuts, leading to the lowest middle-class tax rates in more than 70 years. Creating a Database of Economic Incentives: The budget answers the call to share a New York State story of growth and opportunity more widely by providing funding to help create a searchable online database of Empire State Development’s economic development projects from across the state. The database builds upon ESD’s existing online library of public data and reports, by capturing project-level information in one user-friendly resource. Counting all New Yorkers: Supporting an accurate 2020 Census is critical to New Yorkers receiving the representation and federal funding they deserve. That’s why the budget authorizes up to $20 million to fund a Complete Count Commission that will help to ensure that all New Yorkers are counted. Building economies from the ground up: The budget continues to support our game-changing strategy of community-based economic development, dedicating $750 million to the ninth round of the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC). Since the councils launched in 2011, the REDCs have awarded over $6.1 billion to more than 7,300 regionally-significant projects, translating into nearly 230,000 new or retained jobs from Brooklyn to Buffalo.   Revitalizing downtowns: In partnership with the REDCs and the Department of State, and Homes and Community Renewal, the budget provides $100 million to support the fourth round of New York’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), which will breathe new life into city centers across the state. Investing in infrastructure: Infrastructure connects local businesses to the global market, links New Yorkers with jobs, and unites communities – that’s why the budget invests in modernizing and improving infrastructure across New York. Building on Governor Cuomo’s major successes with an additional $150 billion over the next five years, New York is rebuilding transportation systems, supporting a sustainable energy future and driving economic development. Developing New York’s workforce: Investing in workforce development means building talent pipelines that support new industries like clean energy and health tech while improving New Yorkers’ economic security. The budget includes $175 million in funding from many state agencies to create a new Workforce Development Initiative overseen by a new Office of Workforce Development. Projects will be reviewed by each REDC to ensure that projects will boost regional efforts to meet both short-term and long-term workforce needs. We’re also giving more industries more options for training workers, by expanding the Employee Training Incentive Program (ETIP), including allowing employers with dedicated training programs to use in-house experts to deliver that approved training – and extending ETIP tax credits to internships in more high-tech industries. Extending film and TV productions’ impact: New York’s film and television industry energizes the state’s economy, hiring tens of thousands of New Yorkers and generating billions in spending. The New York State Film Tax Credit Program, launched in 2004, has incentivized thousands of productions and continues to be the principal factor cited by projects deciding to film and produce in New York. This budget extends that program, and its significant impact, through 2024. Building the innovation economy: The budget continues funding for the NYSUNY 2020 and NYCUNY 2020 Challenge Grant programs, providing funding for plans that use technology to improve academic success, leverage public-private partnerships and connect students to jobs. In addition, the budget increases funding for the Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) centers like the Centers of Excellence and Centers for Advanced Technology that promote academic and industry collaborations to commercialize research and find new applications for technology.   
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Blog Post

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 1:45pm
Summer is one of the most beautiful times of year to visit New York State. From swimming at Long Island beaches and camping in the Adirondacks to touring Finger Lakes wineries and soaking up the mist and views at Niagara Falls, there are endless opportunities to enjoy all the outdoor attractions New York has to offer. This year, New York State has a whole new roster of exciting experiences to offer visitors, including historic anniversaries, festivals, arts and cultural events. Executive Director of Tourism Ross Levi gave us the inside scoop: Q: What’s special about 2019 in terms of tourism in New York State? A:  This year, we’re commemorating the 50-year anniversaries of two pivotal events in the history of New York and the world: the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and the Stonewall uprising of 1969. During Woodstock’s anniversary week in mid-August, music fans can attend the screening of the Oscar-winning documentary about the festival on the field where it took place in 1969. The Aug. 15 screening is hosted by Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, where "A Season of Song & Celebration" from Aug. 15 - 18 will also feature performances from legendary musicians including Ringo Starr, Arlo Guthrie, Santana, the Doobie Brothers and John Fogerty. New York State is also hosting WorldPride 2019 this summer -- the first time the international event will be held in the United States -- in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City, which is widely seen as the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. New York City is the epicenter for WorldPride, with official activities in June from the opening and closing ceremonies, to a human rights conference, outdoor Family Movie Night and the epic Pride March. However, from Long Island to Buffalo, WorldPride 2019 is truly a statewide celebration. The Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown is hosting an exhibit through Sept. 2 about celebrity LGBTQ photographer Herb Ritts, featuring his iconic photos of artists including Elton John, Cher and Madonna. In the Capital Region, the "Sing Out! New York" music festival includes free outdoor concerts by the Albany Symphony playing newly commissioned works by LGBTQ composers from June 2-9. Across Long Island, visitors can celebrate Pride on the Beach from June 12-29 with events like a market fair on the boardwalk and a Pride Pet Parade. At the Chautauqua Institution, Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, will lead discussions about the building of America’s LGBTQ community with activist Judy Shepard on July 2. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will perform at Pride at the Falls at Niagara Falls on July 5, complete with fireworks and a rainbow-lit Falls. In Jamestown, LGBTQ comedian Matteo Lane is performing two shows on July 6 at the National Comedy Center. The "New Glass Now" exhibit at the Corning Museum of Glass features works by LGBTQ artists and Queer Tours daily from June 20-July 6.
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Blog Post

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 12:57pm
From the days of Pac-Man and Nintendo 64 to 21st century virtual and augmented reality games and special effects, digital gaming has become an $11.7 billion industry nationwide. New York State is recognized as an industry leader, fostering creative talent and innovation—and is ranked #4 in the country for jobs in digital game development.    This spring marks the 10th year that The Princeton Review reviewed and ranked undergraduate and graduate game design programs. For the fourth year in a row, five New York schools were ranked in the top undergraduate programs list: New York University (NYU), Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Marist College and Cornell University. This is also the fourth consecutive year that both NYU and RIT’s respective undergraduate and graduate programs ranked in the top 10, with NYU earning the #1 spot on the graduate programs list for the first time. RPI made the list for the 10th consecutive year. Rankings were determined based on academics, faculty, technology and career prospects, analyzing everything from course offerings and facilities to graduates’ starting salaries and professional achievements. As of this spring semester, NYU, RIT and RPI are all operating as New York State Centers of Excellence (CoE) in Digital Game Development. Since the digital gaming hubs were established in 2016, with support from Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR), they have created and retained more than 120 jobs and assisted in the development of more than 110 games. Complementing New York’s first-class digital game development academic programs, the state is also home to hundreds of game development companies, including Vicarious Visions, Velan Studios, 2nd Ave Learning, Avalanche Studios, PUBG MadGlory and Workinman Interactive. In addition to universities and businesses, events and conferences are vital to New York’s digital game development ecosystem. The Capital Region, home to RPI and a growing hub of game development, is drawing gaming-related events to the state. Hudson Valley Gamer Con, the largest collegiate e-sports event in the Northeast, showcased New York’s digital game development industry and academic strength in March when it welcomed 2,500 gamers to Albany. Last month, NYU sent representatives to Games Week Berlin where they gave talks and highlighted New York’s successes and opportunities in this $130+ billion worldwide industry. In March 2020, New York State will be the first in the nation to lead a statewide coordinated presence at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, the world’s largest professional game industry event. GDC brings together 28,000 attendees to exchange ideas and influence the future of game development through networking, lectures, panels, tutorials, roundtable discussions and an exposition of the latest game development technology. ESD will lead a contingent of schools and businesses at the conference with a goal of demonstrating all that New York has to offer aspiring game designers and developers in pursuit of a top-ranked education, existing companies looking to relocate near world-class talent and entrepreneurs looking for a home to build their new game development business. Through nation-leading educational programs, university-based Centers of Excellence, interactive networking conferences, thriving studios and more, New York State is investing in the advancement of the game development industry—not only connecting businesses and top talent, but ultimately connecting people all over the world through digital gaming. ESD is currently soliciting feedback, information and ideas to help shape New York’s GDC role in 2020 and beyond. If you’ve attended or considered attending GDC as an individual, firm, or organization, please share your experiences, goals, reasons and challenges by emailing us at [email protected]   Photo credit: A. Sue Weisler / ​RIT
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Blog Post

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 12:45pm
Netflix, the world’s leading internet entertainment service with more than 139 million paid subscribers in over 190 countries, has been a near constant presence in New York, filming everything from hit shows like Orange Is the New Black and Russian Doll to biographical films like The Irishman in our state. In fact, Netflix’s five Marvel Defenders series – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Defenders – represent the largest television production project in New York State history, engaging 500 local vendors and more than 14,000 production hires. That’s why the announcement in April that the company would significantly expand its presence in New York with a major production hub was such important news – and added validation for New York’s Film Tax Credit program. Over the next five years, Netflix will create 127 executive content, marketing and production jobs and build out six soundstages in Brooklyn. By 2024, the soundstages are expected to have the capacity to host thousands of production jobs. The project is expected to bring up to $100 million in investment to the city and support thousands of production jobs within five years. Popular Netflix series like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and films like Someone Great have added millions of dollars and thousands of hires to the New York State economy, and with this announcement, Netflix is demonstrating its commitment to New York as a premier media production center. Governor Cuomo praised the announcement, saying that New Yorkers were “proud Netflix chose New York to grow its business.” He added that the state “look[s] forward to the jobs, economic activity and world-class productions this project will bring.” Jason Hariton, Netflix’s Director of Worldwide Studio Operations & Real Estate said the decision to bring the production hub to New York was influenced by the state’s “film-friendly environment” which is “home to some of the best creative and executive talent in the world.” Since 2011, approximately 2,066 films and television series have participated in the New York State Film Tax Credit Program, bringing an estimated $25.2 billion in spending and 1.5 million hires to the Empire State.
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Blog Post

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 12:34pm
Eight years ago, I received an unexpected invitation to co-chair the Western New York REDC under a new Governor, Andrew Cuomo. Four years later, he extended another unexpected invitation and asked me to head Empire State Development. Serving as President, CEO and Commissioner of ESD and as Governor Cuomo’s head of economic development has been the honor of a lifetime. Working with the ESD team has been the best part of my job. I’m indescribably proud of what we’ve accomplished and of my association with everyone at ESD. As reported by various news outlets earlier this month, I am planning to step back from my role as  President, CEO & Commissioner of Empire State Development. In the meantime, I will continue to serve in this capacity and will take an active role in the search for a replacement. I know that when a new President, CEO & Commissioner comes on board, we will make a smooth transition – and I expect to remain involved as Chair of the ESD Board. New York has been the beating heart of business for a very long time, and ESD is at the center of that success. Ours is often the go-to agency for so many of the Governor’s key initiatives and we have a very bright future ahead. I look forward to continuing that work. Howard Zemsky President, CEO & Commissioner Empire State Development
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Press Release

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 12:15pm
$32 Million Investment Will Match Students, Faculty, Clinicians and Researchers with Resources to Commercialize Innovations Partners Include Top Industry Leaders, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Institute, Jacobs Institute, Hauptmann-Woodward Institute and Kaleida Health Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the official launch of the University at Buffalo's Innovation Hub, a new initiative designed to help connect ideas to action and move research from the lab to the marketplace. The Innovation Hub is funded through a $32 million Empire State Development grant commitment from New York State, and supports innovation at UB and its leading research partners, including Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Jacobs Institute, Hauptmann-Woodward Medical Research Institute and Kaleida Health. "Western New York's world-class academic institutions, like the University at Buffalo, are proven catalysts in the development of dynamic life science and technology hubs across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "Through strategic investments and local partnerships, this Innovation Hub will bring together the very best and brightest in the tech industry, growing the region's innovation economy for generations to come." "From our historic grain elevators, to the invention of electric cars and air conditioning, Buffalo is well known as a robust center of innovation," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who spoke at the event. "The new University at Buffalo Innovation Hub will build upon this legacy as part of our continuing efforts to grow the tech economy and create good-paying jobs in Buffalo and across Western New York. The Innovation Hub will support emerging partnerships and foster collaboration with the brightest minds at UB and throughout the entrepreneurial community to ensure even greater success for our region." Read the complete press release here. 
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Press Release

Friday, May 24, 2019 - 11:47am
Photos of the Lakeside Complex are Available Here Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the opening of the new Lakeside Complex on Buffalo's Outer Harbor. The 20-acre site includes a new bike park, event lawn, trail for walking or cycling and beautiful landscaping to attract more visitors and residents to the city's waterfront. "This latest investment in Buffalo's waterfront adds to the year-round experience that is already attracting more than a million visitors annually to enjoy this flourishing area," Governor Cuomo said. "The new Lakeside Complex highlights Buffalo's natural beauty while expanding recreational opportunities for residents and visitors on the shores of Lake Erie." "Thanks to a continued focus on transforming Buffalo's waterfront, the Outer Harbor has become accessible to the public for the first time in generations," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Buffalo Harbor State Park, Wilkeson Point, and the new Lakeside Complex offer an amazing outdoor experience for everyone who makes their way to the shores of Buffalo. These investments are improving the quality of life and bolstering our reputation as a world-class travel destination."  Read the full press release here. 
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Report

Friday, May 24, 2019 - 7:00am
Empire State Development oversees administration of the film production and postproduction tax credits. These reports reflect program activity during the first, second, third and fourth quarters of 2018. The information presented includes projected spending, hires, and estimated credits for film and post-production projects deemed eligible to participate in the program, and, pursuant to new reporting requirements, actual spending, hires and credits issued to projects that have been completed and audited. 03/31/2018: Film Tax Credit - Quarterly Report, Calendar Year 2018: 1st Quarter 06/30/2018: Film Tax Credit - Quarterly Report, Calendar Year 2018: 2nd Quarter 09/30/2018: Film Tax Credit - Quarterly Report, Calendar Year 2018: 3rd Quarter 12/31/2018: Film Tax Credit - Quarterly Report, Calendar Year 2018: 4th Quarter
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