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Western New York Regional Economic Development Council awarded $60.8 million for 81 projects

by jmaloni

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Mon, Dec 16th 2013 09:05 am

Projects that will move forward as a result of the Regional Council round III initiative include supercomputer expansion at UB and revitalization of a Lockport shopping center

As part of round III of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Regional Council initiative, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council was awarded $60.8 million for 81 projects last week in Albany. The priority capital projects awarded funding include projects that support the region's 2011 strategic plan, "A Strategy for Prosperity." These projects focus on strategies that promote smart growth, workforce development and entrepreneurship. In total, $715.9 million was awarded throughout the state through round III of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.

"The support of these priority projects allows us to build on the work that has already begun as we continue to focus on Western New York's strengths," said Satish K. Tripathi, president of the University at Buffalo and Regional Council co-chair. "The medical campus, advanced manufacturing projects such as RiverBend, improvements at our No. 1 tourist attraction of Niagara Falls, are all proof that a coordinated and collaborative plan will have positive results for the economy of Western New York. Together, we are transforming the region by encouraging the type of development that results in jobs and industries that contribute to an economically vibrant community - now and for generations to come. This additional funding recognizes the great strides we've already made in a short time. We're deeply grateful for this vote of support and confidence and very appreciative of the governor's leadership and investment in our regional prosperity."

"Gov. Cuomo has demonstrated a long-term commitment to Western New York between the Buffalo Billion and three rounds of funding through the Regional Council initiative, and we are seeing the results of that support all around us," said Howard A. Zemsky, managing partner at Larkin Development Group and Regional Council co-chair. "The medical campus is expanding with UB's new medical school, the RiverBend campus will make WNY an international hub for advanced manufacturing, and the waterfront is being rejuvenated by major public and private investment. All of these projects, in concert, create a synergy that would not be possible without a relentless adherence to a strategic plan that targets the life sciences, advanced manufacturing and tourism sectors. Today's awards will help us build on our core strengths, resulting in the types of industry and jobs that will provide WNY with a solid economic future."

Cuomo created Regional Councils and the Consolidated Funding Application to transform New York's operating model for economic development from a top-down approach to a community-based model, which empowers individual regions to develop and advance regionally targeted strategic plans and job-creating projects. This year, the Regional Council's initiative was a continued focus on the successful implementation and operation of strategic plans to make each region's vision for economic growth a reality.

The Western New York region's 2011 strategic plan, "A Strategy for Prosperity," leverages the region's strategic advantages in key industry sectors, including advanced manufacturing; agriculture; binational logistics; energy, health and life sciences; higher education; professional services; and tourism. The plan focuses on strategies that promote smart growth, are oriented to young adults, build upon regional strengths, have a regional impact, and improve the region's image.

The Western New York projects awarded funding in round III includes those in the key strategies:

Entrepreneurship

$1,000,000 to the University at Buffalo to expand its high-performance computing and data analytics center located at the Buffalo Niagara campus to provide regional industry and organizations with on-demand, immediate access to advanced computing and storage infrastructure.

Smart Growth

$449,620 for the City of Dunkirk to reconstruct the Lakefront Boulevard Seawall and redevelop the boulevard and waterfront into an accessible tourist destination.

$65,000 to the McNallie Building Rehabilitation (Cattaraugus County) to redevelop buildings in the already established NY Main Street target zone in downtown Randolph. The project will maximize financial return by creating rentable living space for persons with low-to-moderate incomes and leveraging property owner's matching funds.

Workforce Development

$500,000 to Alfred State College to create a highly energy-efficient facility to train students in state-of-the-art sustainable manufacturing techniques.

Tourism

•$1,000,000 to the Town of Lockport to revitalize a long-vacant commercial shopping center into a new mixed use development, including a planned two-pad hockey arena with retail support services.

Hot Spot Award

Western New York has also been awarded an "Innovation Hot Spot" award through a new facet of Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Council initiative. The "Innovation Hot Spots" competition is designed to make New York a leader in growing new technology-based companies by attracting venture capital and industry-sponsored research spending. The hot spots will foster innovation by offering startups valuable business support services to help commercialize academic research and promote further collaboration between business and academia.

The five winning hot spots will receive up to $250,000 annually in financial support from the state to expand their direct assistance to young firms, including legal, technical and business support services.

"For far too long, innovative and transformative new ideas have been developed in New York, only to be exported and commercialized in other states," said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams. "Under Gov. Cuomo's leadership, we are working harder than ever to foster start-ups that can turn concepts into products and move them to market, and the 'Innovation Hot Spots' program will do just this - grow new businesses, create jobs for New York state, and keep us at the forefront of the 21st century global economy."

Each winning hot spot plan:

•Demonstrated a connection with a higher education institution and has the ability to transition technology from lab to marketplace;

•Demonstrated a link to regional sources of innovation and expertise;

•Provided industry-accepted best practice services; and

•Agreed to maintain and operate the program for three years and generate a 2:1 match to the state grant for support services.

Western New York 'Innovation Hot Spot'

A consortium of regional business development organizations leveraging University at Buffalo's award-winning technology Incubator to enhance, improve and increase the business climate in Western New York. The Western New York "Innovation Hotspot" will directly impact 20 regional colleges/universities, allowing their students enhanced access to entrepreneurship opportunities. The Western New York hot spot will tie together the diversity in the region with a proven metrics-driven process to ensure students and entrepreneurs have the best opportunity for success in starting new businesses.

The Regional Council initiative empowers community, business and academic leaders, as well as members of the public in each region of the state, to develop strategic plans specifically tailored to their region's unique strengths and resources in order create jobs and support economic growth. In the first two rounds of the Regional Council initiative, Western New York was awarded $153 million in state support for some 156 projects across the region. Of those projects, more than 92 percent are now underway as a result of funding they received. As part of the third round of the Regional Council process, Cuomo, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy and a strategic implementation assessment team composed of state agency commissioners with Brookings Institution and senior staff, traveled to every region of the state to learn about progress on round II projects that received state funding, as well as assess projects included in the region's 2013 application. The Western New York presentation to the SIAT on its achievements and endorsed priority projects for the second round of the Regional Council competition was held October 15.

To learn more about the WNYREDC, visit http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/content/western-new-york.

The full list of 2012 Regional Economic Development Council awards can be found at: http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/assets/documents/2013REDCBooklet.pdf.

Empire State Development is New York's chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the state and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils, and the marketing of "I Love NY," the state's iconic tourism brand.

For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.nyworks.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

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