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Over $2B in Investments Announced at NY’s Regional Economic Development Awards

December 17, 2015

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $2.25 billion in economic and community development awards as part of the fifth installment of the state’s Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) Initiative. Of this total, $1.5 billion over the next five years will go to the three regions (Central New York, Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier) that were selected as the winners of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. While the proposals receiving awards vary greatly across region, several TBED-related initiatives are seeded through the governor’s funding.

The REDC initiative is a key component of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approach to economic development. In 2011, Cuomo established 10 Regional Councils, comprised of public-private partnerships of local stakeholders, to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth.  This year, the 10 Regional Councils again competed for up to $750 million in state economic development resources as part of Round V of the REDC competition.  The governor also established the Upstate Revitalization Initiative (UR), which awards a total of $1.5 billion to three regions over the next five years. The three regions selected as winners of the URI were Central New York (Syracuse), Finger Lakes (Rochester), and the Southern Tier.

Overall, grants awarded as part of REDC Round V and the URI competition focused largely on: strategic planning; main street and façade improvements; green infrastructure projects; strategies for renewable energy adoption; food systems; tourism; and, workforce development programs. Furthermore, analysis of the full list of 2015 REDC awards finds that several of the largest grants were for TBED initiatives, mostly funded through Empire State Development.

The Finger Lakes region, anchored by Rochester, received $120.1 million for 134 projects and was named an Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) best plan awardee for its new strategic plan, United for Success: Finger Lakes Forward. The plan has four overarching objectives: grow jobs, increase regional wealth, drive private investment, and, reduce poverty. The plan also consists of three industry clusters: optics, photonics, and imaging; agriculture and food production; and, next generation manufacturing and technology. Examples of TBED projects receiving funding in the Finger Lakes region include:

  • $2 million to NY BEST to renovate existing facilities in the Eastman Business Park, purchase equipment to perform safety testing and battery certification, and equipment for flat pack battery prototyping at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT);
  • $1 million to construct a state-of-the art facility to house the Goergen Institute for Data Science and the newly designated NYS Center of Excellence in Data Science;
  • $160,000 for New York Photonics to purchase equipment usable by its members, as well as other companies and institutions;
  • $125,000 to the Keuka College Center for Business Analytics and Health Information to optimize business creation, retention, and expansion by providing analytic services to businesses in the startup, expansion, and growth phases;
  • $100,000 to purchase 3-D inkjet printing equipment for the new Additive Manufacturing and Multi-Functional Printing Center at RIT; and,
  • Various levels of funding for business parks, including the Genesee Industrial Agriculture Park, the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, the Leroy Food and Technology Park, and, the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park. 

The Southern Tier region, home to university cities such as Ithaca and Binghamton, received $117 for 100 projects by the REDC, in addition to winning $500 million over five years for its Southern Tier Upstate Revitalization Initiative Plan. The four pillars of the plan are to: build the Greater Binghamton innovation ecosystem; invest in the advanced manufacturing industry; transform the food and agriculture industry; and, promote the Southern Tier’s innovative culture. Notable TBED projects receiving funding in the Southern Tier region include:

  • $2 million to SUNY Binghamton to establish a new Pharmacy School as an anchor for its Health Sciences and Technology Innovation Park;
  • $125,000 for IncubatorWorks, a dynamic regional incubator system with a new vision encompassing advanced materials and manufacturing across three facilities; and,
  • $125,000 for Rev: Ithaca to expand its incubation services, enabling Ithaca and the Southern Tier to establish leadership in physical products entrepreneurship.

Central New York, anchored by Syracuse, was awarded $122.4 million across 93 projects, as well as an URI award for its plan, CNY Rising: From the Ground Up. The plan focuses on five key points: becoming a global center for unmanned systems and cross-connected platforms; utilizing the region’s natural assets to meet demand for food and food safety; building on its status as a global manufacturing and logistics hub; developing resources for veterans; and, a consensus commission on government modernization. Although less TBED oriented than other regions, the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency received $900,000 to renovate a former downtown grocery store into a world-class mixed-use START-UP NY eligible incubator. Several manufacturing firms also received subsidies to purchase equipment to grow their operations.

The Mohawk Valley received $100.3 million across 92 projects, the most of any non-URI winner. Noteworthy TBED proposals included in the Mohawk Valley award include:

  • $6.1 million for the Innovation Network for Technology Convergence Facility and Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Center, a 100,000 square-foot multi-story nano-cyber Innovation Accelerator Center (IAC) constructed on an eigh-acre greenfield parcel adjacent to SUNY Poly in Marcy. The IAC will focus on nano-tool development and will host the Advanced Manufacturing Performance Center, which will train new workers from low-income and refugee populations in the Mohawk valley region. A Workforce Innovation Center (WIC) will also be developed focused on education and training in advanced manufacturing, semiconductor, and power electronics industries; and,
  • $1.8 million for Mohawk Valley Community College to create the Mohawk Valley Advanced Manufacturing Institute on the Utica campus, adding a fully-functional cleanroom for nanotechnology and a lab for mechatronics.

The Capital Region, focused around Albany, received $98.1 million for 114 projects. Of all the URI proposals, perhaps none received more attention than Capital 20.20: Advancing the Region through Focused Investment. In April 2015, the capital Region Economic Development Council spent more than $2 million to hire McKinsey and Co, the same consultancy the Western New York regional council previously used to win $1 billion in state money. Notable TBED proposals occurring in the Capital Region include:

  • $2.25 million to the NY Capital Region Research Alliance to develop a $12.5 million capital investment program across the Alliance’s partnering institutions to attract increased federal and industry funding, create and retain jobs, and spur economic growth. The program will leverage the collective intellectual capital and research infrastructure across the partnering research institutions and support a collaborative approach to furthering research in the Capital region;
  • $125,000 for The Albany Medical Campus (AMC) Biomedical Acceleration and Commercialization Center (BACC) in downtown Albany, providing a commercialization conduit for entrepreneurs, faculty, physicians, and other medical professionals with ideas for improving patient quality of care and programs and supports for early stage companies focused on biomedical device innovation; and,
  • $100,000 to renovate an underused building in downtown Troy to create the Troy Innovation Garage, an incubator space designed for creative startup ventures.

Examples of TBED proposals included in the Mid-Hudson Region’s $90.4 million award across 109 projects include:

  • $1.5 million to Marist College to transform a vacant building in Poughkeepsie into a dedicated space for advanced technology business development, commercialization, and skill and technology transfer. Funding also goes towards the development of 25,000 square feet of office space for technology-based small manufacturing businesses, with high speed connection to Manhattan and an interoperability data center to promote community economic development by leveraging advanced technology to provide the local economy with much needed purpose built space and function not normally available to small manufacturing businesses.
  • $25,000 for the Poughkeepsie Innovation District Plan, the City of Poughkeepsie will investigate the feasibility of converting its underutilized surface parking lots in the central business district into a new hub for business innovation, education, and commerce.

Two of the state’s regions, New York City and Long Island, were ineligible for the URI because they are located downstate. No region had a more TBED heavy emphasis than Long Island, who received $98.3 million for 121 projects. Examples include:

  • $1.8 million grant to Brookhaven Science Associates for the creation of a public-private research campus and regional hub for scientific innovation, economic development and STEM education;
  • $700,000 to Hofstra University to renovate their School of Business and establish the Center for Entrepreneurship Incubator, participating in STARTUP NY;
  • $500,000 to Stony Brook University to expand the Cyclotron and Radiochemistry Laboratory to support clinical research and drug discovery; an, $500,00 to renovate laboratory space and add a Cryo Electron microscope to speed drug discovery and develop advanced therapeutics;
  • $400,000 to Stony Brook University to create a shared wet lab space for new biotechnology startups at the Long Island High Tech Incubator;
  • $400,000 to Stony Brook University to establish an additives and 3D printing research center focused on manufacturer assistance; 
  • $400,000 to the New York Institute of Technology to partner with Nassau county in establishing a STARTUP NY Cyber Security Research and Development incubator in Port Washington;
  • $300,000 to Molloy College to design and renovate a space at Baldwin Elementary School, creating the Collaboratorium – a joint project that will encourage advancement in digital media and chart a path for students from high school to college to job market; and,
  • $125,000 for Launchpad Long Island to establish services for entrepreneurs, working with highly-skilled mentors to provide one-on-one advising.

Although its size and economic clout is far greater than those upstate, the New York City region still received $84.1 million for 92 projects through the REDC Round V awards, with prominent TBED proposals such as:

  • $2 million to New York Biolabs to create co-working spaces for life sciences startups, providing top of the line research equipment and support to new companies;
  • $1.5 million for Harlem Biospace to develop a new wet lab space and host startup companies that have obtained their first round of funding; $125k for the Mount Sinai Med-Tech incubator, providing comprehensive support for companies to develop solutions and businesses in the Medical Technology area to turn scientific discoveries in NYC into commercial solutions;
  • $1 million to NYU to create a Tech Hub in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, supporting veterans who are seeking to re-enter the workforce or start their own companies, and to provide them with an entrepreneurial network; and,
  • $750,000 to the New York City Economic Development Corporation for the Smart Cities Innovation Center, providing facilities and services that are designing and building products.

Western New York was also ineligible for the URI because of the Buffalo Billion initiative in last year’s budget. The region received $83.9 million across 125 projects in REDC Round V, with noteworthy TBED initiatives including:

  • $1.5 million grant to support a collaboration among Alfred State College SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) and Applied Biorefinery Sciences, LLC, to develop a multi-functional shared facility that enables private firms to scale the production of biorenewable materials and sustainable energy from lab-bench using a Hot Water Extraction Process developed at SUNY ESF;
  • $750,000 for the New York Business Development Center Excelsior Growth Fund, creating a revolving loan fund that will provide financing to businesses that cannot access capital through traditional financing, thereby reducing or eliminating significant obstacles to growth and job creation;
  • $125,000 for the Fredonia Technology Incubator to establish services and programming for business startups and entrepreneurs in the region, provide greater access to underserved populations, and offer programs for veterans, young entrepreneurs, and arts and technology startups; and,
  • $98,750 to the City of Buffalo Board of Education to train 25 unemployed workers in advanced welding. Similarly, the Research Foundation for SUNY at Buffalo will receive $100,000 to train 50 unemployed workers as manufacturing production technicians, including safety, quality practices and measurement, manufacturing processes and production, and maintenance awareness.

The North Country Region, comprising some of the state’s most rural areas, received $85.1 million for 82 projects and had proposals largely focused on Main Street or downtown streetscape improvements, infrastructure projects, or tourism (e.g. trails, museums, parks, or skiing).



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