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Long Island Contractors' Association

Newsday

Long Island wins $101M in NY eco dev funding

by LIBN Staff
Published: December 8, 2011

Photo credit: LIBN
Long Island was named one of the four "Best Plan Awardees" by New York state, receiving $101.6 million in state funding. "Long Island hit the jackpot today," said Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, who co-chaired the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council along with Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz. "I had no idea it was going to be this exciting to win funding. This is just such terrific news for us as region, and for so many of the businesses that are going to be helped with this money."

Law said the $101.6 million would be comprised of $40 million for the implementation of the regional council's strategic plan and $61.6 million for individual projects submitted through the state's new consolidated funding application. Of the $40 million, $25 million will be cash dedicated to the transformative projects listed in the strategic plan, while $15 million will go toward businesses looking to expand as Excelsior tax credits.

The other regions receiving best plan status were Western New York, which received $100.3 million; Central New York, which received $103.7 million; and the North Country, which received $103.2 million.

Funding for other regions in the state were as follows:
  • The Southern Tier - $49.4 million
  • The Finger Lakes - $68.8 million
  • Mohawk Valley - $60.2 million
  • The Capital Region - $62.7 million
  • The Mid-Hudson Region - $67 million
  • New York City - 66.2 million
Overall, 720 projects received a total of $785.5 million from the state.

"This has worked extraordinarily well," Cuomo said just before announcing the awards. "Every plan was really a great piece of work. Our judges were truly stymied and had such a tough decision to make."

But they ultimately decided in favor of Long Island, after Law and Rabinowitz presented the Long Island strategic plan last month before the five-member committee charged with selecting the winning plans.

"We addressed the appropriate agendas," Rabinowitz said. "We had a mixed strategy with a full court press. I think everything we did was interconnected and that's why we succeeded."

The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council was comprised of a total of 39 local business, government and education officials. With the funding awards out of the way, the council plans to get back to work Jan. 10 to determine how best to move forward with the implementation part of its five-year strategic plan.

Cuomo also announced the state would hold another competition next year in the same spirit as this one, with another $1 billion at stake.

Rabinowitz said the council would be ready for next year's round of funding as well. Projects that weren't far enough along to be included for funding in this year's plan, like a new Nassau Coliseum and the redevelopment of Belmont, would hopefully be able to receive funding through next year's competition, Rabinowitz said. Perhaps least surprised by today's announcement was Long Island Federation President John Durso, who served on the 39-member regional council. When Cuomo was on Long Island during the summer to announce the competitive format for the state funding, Durso stood up and told the governor that the money was going to be coming to Long Island.

"We are absolutely thrilled [with today's outcome]," Durso said. "We knew Long Island had a lot to offer and it's great to know the governor and the rest of the state is aware of that too. This is going to put a lot of our folks [in the labor unions] back to work."

As for next year's competition, Durso wasn't ready to make any predictions, but did say the council would continue its winning ways.

Developments included in the list of transformative projects, that were vying for a slice of the $200 million of the state's nearly $1 billion in economic development funds, included the Wyandanch Rising project in Babylon, the Hempstead Village Renaissance project, the Ronkonkoma Hub redevelopment, the Heartland Town Square project, the creation of an EPCAL AgriPark in Calverton and a large-scale bay scallop restoration project.

Des Ryan, executive director of the Association for a Better Long Island and another council member, said the $101.6 million is a major first step for the region.

"We were the only downstate region to be considered best in show," he said. "It's a significant award and a substantial amount of money."

According to the Long Island Contractors Association, Wyandanch Rising will receive $6 million to support connecting the project area to the Route 110 Corridor; redevelopment in the Village of Hempstead will receive $5 million for the replacement of aged sewer pipes; the Ronkonkoma-MacArthur Transit Hub project will receive $4 million to construct a new sewage treatment plant; and Heartland Town Square in Islip will receive $2.5 million for significant infrastructure and sewerage components.

"Long Island has been experiencing a prolonged drought in funding and our entire industry and region has suffered for it," LICA Chairman James Pratt said. "We now have a funding infusion that has the potential to make a difference for our regional economy and our industry's work force." On Wednesday, a Brookhaven design committee recommended that TRITEC Real Estate Co. be named master developer for the Ronkonkoma Hub project.

David Wolkoff, the developer of the proposed Heartland Town Square, said he was ecstatic over the news of the state's award.

"It's nice to see that the state is recognizing Long Island," said Wolkoff. "Hopefully, some of that money will trickle down to the project and help us move forward.

Wolkoff is hoping that the state's money and recognition will be a catalyst to jumpstart the plan to build more than 9,000 apartments in a massive mixed-use plan for 460 acres of the former Pilgrim State Psychiatric Hospital.

Other transformative proposals included in the plan include a major expansion of Hauppauge-based Amneal Pharmaceuticals, matching venture capital seed funding already secured through the Accelerate Long Island initiative for commercializing local research, establishing a collaboration between Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory to set up a national center for energy research, development and manufacturing, creating a downtown transit hub in Hicksville with affordable housing, offices, labs, recreation and commercialization services under one roof for fledgling high-tech ventures, building a new cancer drug therapies testing lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a public-private partnership between Hofstra University and Stony Brook University to boost the number of engineering graduates - dubbed EngINE - and establishing a network of local agencies, higher education and research institutions, businesses and other not-for-profits that would increase the number of students interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related industries.

In total, the council was seeking $38.5 million from New York state this year for all 13 transformative projects.

A full breakdown of projects being funded by the state is below. If it does not appear, click here.



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