The Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council finalized its bid for $500 million in stimulus money Thursday as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Upstate Revitalization Initiative.
BINGHAMTON | Let the Hunger Games begin.
The Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council finalized its bid for $500 million in stimulus money Thursday as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative.
The competition has been dubbed “Cuomo’s Hunger Games” by the Albany press corps - a reference to the popular movie in which youths from poverty-stricken regions of a post-apocalyptic world fight to the death to win food and money for their people.
Each year for the past four years, Cuomo has pooled all the state’s economic development funding and made about $750 million in grants and tax incentives available.
The governor divided the state into 10 regions, each represented by a council of government, business and education leaders. Each year, developers apply for funding for their projects; the councils prioritize the projects and pitch them to a state review panel.
This year, however, a lot more money is at stake.
The state set aside $1.5 billion from a financial settlement and will dole it out specifically to boost the upstate New York economy. Seven upstate regions are eligible, with three winning regions getting $500 million over five years, or $100 million per year.
The regional councils were asked to create a long-term strategy for job creation and growth, with the best plans getting the stimulus money.
So, at an awards ceremony in late November or early December in Albany, Cuomo will announce the distribution of both the annual pool of $750 million plus the winners of the $1.5 billion stimulus.
According to Cuomo’s office, the three upstate regions that get the stimulus will get $100 million for the first year of the stimulus plus $30 million from the $750 million pool of annual funding, for a total of $130 million to spend on various projects in 2016.
Three other regions deemed top performers in the annual funding competition will wind up with about $105 million, and the remaining four regions will wind up with about $90 million.
In a meeting Thursday at Binghamton University, the Southern Tier Council approved its long-range strategy, which was developed this summer and focuses on investing in four key areas: Advanced manufacturing; agriculture and food production; a high-tech incubator and health sciences hub in the Binghamton area; and using the Southern Tier’s assets such as tourism and higher education to attract talented professionals and entrepreneurs and build the economy.
“It’s been an extremely thorough process and it has involved a lot of people, a lot of input,” said Tom Tranter, president of Corning Enterprises and co-chair of the Southern Tier Council. “We’ve think we’ve come up with a good plan that hopefully will be successful.”
Tranter and co-chair Harvey Stenger, president of Binghamton University, will travel to Albany on Oct. 20 to present the plan to state officials.
There were 193 projects that submitted funding applications to the Southern Tier Council this summer, Tranter said. How the region fares in the competition will determine funding levels for the projects.
The council recently identified 33 of the 193 projects as priorities for funding.
Local priority projects include Corning Community College’s proposed nursing facility at the old hospital site on Denison Parkway; the revitalization of the Hammondsport waterfront; upgrades to the Finger Lakes Boating Museum; an expansion at DeMet’s Candy in Big Flats; and a plan to revitalize a corridor of downtown Elmira between Elmira College and First Arena.
The full list of projects that submitted applications for funding - including details about the projects and how much funding each one is seeking - hasn’t been released by Southern Tier Council yet.