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Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Submits One-Year Progress Report

FLREDC Endorses 12 Priority Projects for 2012 Regional Council Competition
(September 17, 2012)

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Submits One-Year Progress Report

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council submitted its one-year progress report to the State on September 14, 2012, which provides detail on the Council's achievements in implementing its five year strategic plan. The report includes a description of how the Council established a framework to advance the plan, revisions to some of its strategies, an implementation agenda and a tracking of the advancement of priority job-creating projects awarded in 2011. Additionally, the FLREDC provided the State with its list of the 12 priority projects the Council has endorsed for the second round of the CFA competition.

The progress report can be found at: http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/content/finger-lakes.

"On behalf the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, we want to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Governor Robert Duffy for their vision and leadership and the opportunity to develop this plan for regional economic growth," said the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council co-chairs, University of Rochester President Joel Seligman and Wegmans Food Markets CEO Danny Wegman. "This report, along with the strategic plan created last year, provides our region with a strong blueprint for continued growth, addresses critical barriers to progress, and advances key projects across the region's nine counties. We believe that - with the continued support of New York State - the region can accelerate its transformation to a diverse and knowledge-based economy, continue to outperform much of the nation and the State in job growth, and create 50,000 net new jobs over the next five years."

The Finger Lakes region's 2011 strategic plan, "Accelerating Our Transformation," leverages the region's strategic advantages in academic research, workforce talent and high quality of life to position the area as a national leader and innovator in a diverse array of next generation technologies. The plan focuses on strategies that optimize business creation, retention and expansion; strengthens academic and industry partnerships; aligns workforce development efforts with the needs of key industry sectors; and invests in community and industrial development and infrastructure.

In December 2011, the Finger Lakes region was awarded $68.8 million based on the plan, which included funding for over 90 projects around the region and seven of the region's top ten priority projects. State support for these seven transformational priority projects has leveraged millions in private investments over the past year that has already begun to deliver on job creation goals in key strategic industries such as alternative energy, health care planning and research, tourism, and small business expansion.

In 2012, through work on the plan by the Regional Council members, extensive public outreach across the region and the coordination of work groups, the Council has connected the overall vision, sector strategies and performance measures from the 2011 plan into a seamless plan that makes it easy to understand its priorities, act upon them and regularly evaluate them.

The Council is also recommending that the state continue to invest in several key multi-year projects indentified in its 2011 strategic plan, with the maintenance of Eastman Business Park its continued top priority. The Council identified new priority projects to help maximize its growth potential and successfully implement its strategic plan for the region. The plan's priority projects were chosen, in part, because they leverage significant private investment, focus on job creation, and address critical economic development needs throughout the nine-county region.

The following 12 projects were endorsed by the Council and submitted to the State as regional priorities for the second round of the Regional Council initiative's competitive grant funding process:

  • Efforts to preserve and strengthen Eastman Business Park remain the region's top priority. The Park is one of the nation's premier industrial development sites and possesses a unique set of assets that make it highly attractive to high tech and manufacturing companies. The Council will continue to work with New York State to resolve issues related to its redevelopment and help the Park meet its goal of creating 1,500 jobs over the next five years.
  • The Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation - a partnership between the University of Rochester and IBM - will make the region a leading center for high performance computing, strengthen R&D, and accelerate growth in the region's life sciences sector. The project will create an estimated 900 jobs over the next five years.
  • The Golisano Institute for Sustainability will make RIT an international leader in programs that embody the principles of sustainability in product development. The Institute will catalyze the creation and expansion of related firms in the region that could produce thousands of additional jobs over the next five years.
  • The Pathstone Finger Lakes Enterprise Fund will provide essential credit to microenterprise and small businesses, particularly in underserved rural and urban communities, accelerating economic growth and community development. The fund will create and retain an estimated 300 jobs over the next five years.
  • The adaptive reuse of the Midtown Tower into mixed commercial, office, and residential space is one of the cornerstones of the City of Rochester's Midtown Redevelopment project which will revitalize the city center. The project will help create 86 permanent jobs and 200 construction jobs.
  • The College Town project is a comprehensive plan to redevelop 16 acres in the City of Rochester into a vibrant neighborhood consisting of mixed-use development that will serve as a gateway to the City and the University of Rochester. The project is the culmination of years of community planning and is expected to create 900 construction jobs and 320 permanent jobs.
  • The Multiple Pathways to Middle Skills Jobs project represents an innovative approach to workforce development. The project will work in close coordination with a network of private, not-for-profit, and public sector organizations to provide hands-on training to K-12 students and displaced workers. By year five, the project will provide training in healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and skilled trades to an estimated 5,200 individuals per year.
  • The Finger Lakes Business Accelerator Cooperative will create an interconnected network of business support services and incubation facilities that spans all nine counties of the region. The initiative will support the creation and growth of early-stage companies, creating more than 1,000 jobs over the next five years.
  • The Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park project will position the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions as a hub for the state's next generation of advanced nano-scale manufacturing companies. The project will create an estimated 1,400 construction and 1,500 direct jobs by year five, with potentially thousands more once the site is fully developed.
  • The Seneca AgBio Green Energy Park will create a cluster of companies that convert agricultural byproducts and waste into biofuels and biomaterials and accelerate the redevelopment of the former Army depot in Seneca County. The project will create 60 new jobs in this rural community.
  • The Finger Lakes Clinical Quality Improvement Initiative will build upon the region's history of collaboration to reduce healthcare costs and improve quality by creating an innovative electronic tool that helps healthcare providers identify best practices and eliminate variations in care that inflate costs.
  • The Finger Lakes Small Business Expansion Fund will enable expansion and sales growth in seven food processing, optics/photonics/imaging, advanced manufacturing, and energy companies located across the region. The following companies will collectively create or retain 306 jobs: Once Again Nut Butter (Livingston County), CNG One Source (Genesee County), Val Tech Holdings (Monroe County), Toptica Photonics (Ontario County), OptiPro Systems (Wayne County), Drasgow Inc (Wyoming County), Quorum Group (Orleans County).

Governor Cuomo created Regional Councils and the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) to fundamentally change New York's operating model for economic development and job creation. The Regional Councils have transformed the way the State invests in economic development, shifting from a top-down approach to a community-based, performance-driven model which empowers individual regions to develop, invest in, and advance regional solutions and job-creating projects to spur economic growth.

Last year, $785 million was awarded for job-creating economic and community development projects consistent with each region's strategic plans. To build on the success of the first round, a second round of up to $762 million in State resources was launched in 2012. Funding for the second round includes $220 million in competitive grant funding ($150 million in capital and $70 million in tax credits) to implement regional strategic plans and continue to advance priority job-creating projects, and up to $542 million from State agency programs through the CFA to support regionally-significant economic development projects.

Five awards of $25 million will be made, and the competition will have two parts:

  • First, the four regions with the 2011 Best Plans will compete for two awards of up to $25 million each in capital funds. Awards will be made based on the progress the Regional Councils have made implementing their strategies and evolution of their strategic plans
  • Second, the remaining six regions will compete for three awards of up to $25 million each in capital funds. Awards will be made based on the regions' revised and updated strategic plans and progress made implementing their strategies

The balance of the $25 million in capital will be available for priority projects in the remaining five regions. In addition, each region will also be eligible for up to $10 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow business in the region.

Following the submission of each region's one-year progress reports, beginning in mid-September, the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team will visit each of the 10 regions, to hear oral presentations and participate in a tour of the Councils' implementation activity and priority projects. These tours will make New York's economic development process more transparent, open and publicly-accessible. Funding awards for the second round of the CFA process are expected to be announced this fall.

As part of "The New New York Works for Business" campaign, the State has launched a new website - www.thenewNY.com - which provides quick access to information for all areas of business assistance available from New York State. From starting a business, to accessing tax credits and funding incentives, to international trade, to regional assistance, this is a one-stop shop for all businesses to successfully thrive in New York.

To learn more about each Regional Council and their economic development plans, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.

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