New York state is processing nearly $80 million in late payments for construction of the SolarCity factory in South Buffalo, representing the work done in November and December.

The payments will flow from Empire State Development Corp. to SUNY Polytechnic Institute and its nonprofit development subsidiary, Fort Schuyler Management Corp., and then to general contractor LPCiminelli.

Crews are hard at work on the facility being built by the state of New York for… more

Ciminelli will then be able to pay subcontractors that represent the majority of the roughly 1,000 workers at the complex and sprawling construction zone. Many of the smaller subcontractors began laying off workers Friday as the wait for cash from the state squeezed their bottom lines.

Those long-running cost pressures began to creep into public view this week and unions and subcontractors described the pending layoffs to reporters, kicking off a scramble of activity at the state level to rectify a problem at a signature, state-funded Buffalo development. Sources said the problem was that the state built streamlined procurement procedures at SolarCity that resembled a private-sector job, but did not enact the same efficiency in its payment processes, which remained mired in Albany-level bureaucracy.

An Empire State Development spokesperson said the timetable for the facility has not changed, with an expected opening in the third quarter of 2017.

Dan Miner is Business First’s enterprise reporter. He also covers education and public companies.