ALBANY, NY (WAMC) – Awards were announced Tuesday in Albany for the eighth round of Regional Economic Development Council funding.
The Regional Economic Development Council system is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to increase state investment and economic development. The councils are public-private partnerships comprised of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, government, and non-governmental organizations.
According to the governor’s office, since the REDC’s inception, more than $6.1 billion has been awarded to some 7,300 projects around the state.
“If you think back to 2011, it’s hard to believe how different our economy is, and how sad it was back then,” said Empire State Development President Howard Zemsky. “And it was sad too that so many of us got accustomed to this seemingly perpetual, almost inevitable situation of decline, particularly if you live anywhere in upstate New York.”
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul hosted the event.
“Those of us from upstate New York know what neglect feels like. It’s something we’ve experienced our entire lives as children growing up in hard-hit areas where manufacturing was once a place where middle class families could prosper and immigrants like my grandparents could come from Ireland and work in a steel plant,” Hochul said. “That era was wiped out and we never had a plan B, we didn’t know what the next steps would be for much of our upstate economy.”
Tuesday’s award ceremony employed a series of videos touting previous REDC-supported projects in each region.
Upstate New York fared wiell in Round VIII, with $763 million in economic and community development funding being awarded to 10 competing regions.
Leading the way was central New York, granted $88.2 million. Central New York REDC Co-Chairs Dr. Danielle Laraque-Arena, who recently stepped down as president of SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Randy Wolken, President & CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, welcomed the announcement.
“$88.2 million, nothing to laugh about and really reflects the work we’ve been doing at the local level to match academia with industry,” said Laraque-Arena.
Wolken added “What’s great, its high-tech investment as well as community investments. We’re seeing a significant job growth, return on investments almost 13 to 1, which is a great investment by New York state.”
The Mid-Hudson received $87.1 million, Finger Lakes $86.5 million, Mohawk Valley $85.4 million.
“Upstate did very well this year. There’ so much more going on in our region and in our state than people really give credit for,” said Justin Swanger is president of Fulton-Montgomery Community College and co-chairs the Mohawk Valley REDC.
The Capital Region received $67 million, the North Country $64.8 million. Republican state Senator Betty Little’s district straddles both:
“These programs and this whole idea of having regional allocations and local people contributing to the needs of what the allocations are has really resulted in a better geographic distribution of state money,” Little said.
Capital Region Democratic Assemblyman John McDonald: “Each region, since this program was incepted eight years ago, each region has won over $500 million, which is a significant amount of money. And here in the Capital Region we’re starting to see how the fruits of that labor come to bear. I don’t get caught up about ‘who got 85 million, who got 67 million.’ At the end of the day the Capital Region has done well in the past. $67 million will go a long way towards building a greater future here in the Capital Region.”
The Southern Tier received $65.4 million; Western New York $66 million, Long Island $68.3 million, and New York City $84.4 million.