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Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Presents Progress Update to Strategic Implementation Assessment Team

Council Presents Progress, Achievements and Endorsed Priority Projects for the Third Round of the Regional Council Competition
(November 18, 2013)

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Presents Progress Update to Strategic Implementation Assessment Team

The Strategic Implementation Assessment Team (SIAT), including Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales; Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox; Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito; President and CEO of the Environmental Facilities Corp. Matthew J. Driscoll; Commissioner and President of the Civil Service Commission Jerry Boone; Chair of the Tourism Advisory Council Cristyne Nicholas; and President and CEO of the New York Power Authority Gil Quinones today continued visits to see first-hand the progress of the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) in the Finger Lakes region. This visit continues the SIAT team’s review of the all ten Councils’ strategic economic development plans, progress reports and job-creating projects.

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) today provided a formal presentation to SIAT outlining its progress, achievements and endorsed priority projects for the third round of the Regional Council competition at the RIT Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction, and Creativity (MAGIC). The Council’s progress report and full list of endorsed priority projects for 2013 can be found at http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/content/finger-lakes.

“The success of some fourteen hundred projects across the State clearly demonstrates that the Governor’s Regional Council initiative is working and delivering on its intentions,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council allows those who know this region best, including its unique assets and challenges, to weigh in on what matters most locally and back projects that will have a real impact and best spur the regional economy.”

“The Finger Lakes region’s transformation is well under way thanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership and the work of our regional council,” said Joel Seligman, President of the University of Rochester and Regional Council Co-chair. “Today we recommended to the state assessment team that the state continue to invest in several key multi-year projects with the maintenance and expansion of Eastman Business Park our top regional priority, as well as invest in new projects that assist us in meeting our goal of creating 50,000 jobs over the next five years.”

“The progress that we’re seeing in the Finger Lakes is substantial and I’m pleased to showcase it to the state’s Strategic Investment Assessment Team,” said Danny Wegman, Wegmans Food Markets CEO and Regional Council Co-chair. “The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council’s work – spearheaded by more than 300 dedicated volunteer workgroup members – and the priority projects that we’ve identified will enhance workforce development, advance redevelopment efforts in urban and rural communities, enable farms and food processors to expand to meet a growing demand for their products, strengthen academic and industry partnerships and accelerate the creation and revitalization of key industrial sites. I applaud Governor Cuomo and his administration for leading the Regional Council initiative.”

The State team toured and heard presentations at the following FLREDC project sites:

Eastman Business Park
Efforts to preserve and strengthen Eastman Business Park remain the top priority of the FLREDC. Eastman Business Park is working with several private sector partners and has identified three technology clusters (energy storage, biomaterials advanced manufacturing and functional films and printing) that will enable it to attract new companies and propel future growth at the site. The tour began with an update on the significant progress that has occurred at EBP in the past year, including an agreement between NYS and Kodak on a $49 trust fund for future environmental liabilities, sale of the utility operation to Recycled Energy Development (RED), the emergence of Kodak from bankruptcy, and a host of new tenants that now employ more than 4,200 non-Kodak workers at the park.

Monroe Community College’s Applied Technology Center
MCC’s Applied Technology Center is a state-of-the-art facility for technical education and industry-based training. It offers practical, hands-on training leading to a certificate or associate degree in: heating, ventilation and air conditioning; precision tooling and machining. Tour participants heard from faculty, students and local business owners involved in the Precision Tooling & Machining program that is the region’s priority for the Governor’s new Opportunity Agenda and also the Solar Thermal Resource Center, which was funded in part recently by NYS Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Rochester Institute of Technology’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability
The Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS) at RIT will make Rochester an international leader in programs that embody the principles of sustainability in product development. GIS was awarded $5 million in 2012 to support equipment acquisition for labs and test beds. A new facility that will serve as GIS’s home opened in the spring of 2012 on RIT’s campus.

The State Team also drove by the following sites:

El Camino Neighborhood
The El Camino neighborhood consists of approximately 35 blocks within northeast Rochester with a population of 5,652. A distressed community in need of transformation, El Camino faces a number of challenges: chronic urban poverty; a transitory population subjected to substandard housing; a significant and impactful lack of educational attainment; and high unemployment. The Council’s Opportunity Agenda proposal for El Camino directly addresses the link between education and employment, with a fundamental belief that creating access to jobs will help rebuild and revitalize this and other urban neighborhoods.

Midtown Rising Project
This $148 million project will transform the nine-acre site of the former Midtown Plaza into a mixed-use district designed to attract a critical mass of residents, workers, retail, restaurants, and entertainment. The project—which consists of substantial public and private investment and infrastructure development—will transform Rochester’s downtown core. New York State has provided $55 million to the Midtown project for the asbestos remediation and demolition of six buildings at the site and to fund improvements to the underground parking garage, new streets, and utility infrastructure, which are ongoing. In September 2013, Windstream officially celebrated the opening of its new office facility at the former Seneca Building at the site. The Pike Company invested $19 million to redevelop the building, which will house 335 Windstream employees. Work on the Midtown Tower project, which received a $4 million award from the State through the Regional Council last year, is expected to be under way by January 2014.

University of Rochester’s College Town Development
College Town is a 16-acre, 500,000 square foot mixed-use development that will create a gateway to the City and the University of Rochester campus. It will strengthen surrounding neighborhoods, increase tax revenues and create jobs while establishing a vibrant environment that will become a regional magnet for those who live, work, shop, visit and study nearby. The project was awarded $4 million in 2012 through the Regional Council. The College Town project is expected to be completed in October 2014.

In the first two rounds of the Regional Council initiative, the Finger Lakes region was awarded $165 million in state support for 177 projects across the region. Of those projects, over 90 percent are now underway as a result of funding they were awarded.

Once completed, the projects awarded funding in the Finger Lakes region through the 2011 and 2012 REDC process will significantly boost the local economy and result in an estimated nearly 9,000 jobs supported, including jobs created and retained. The CFA awards will leverage a total of more than $911 million in public and private sector investment.

Based upon published guidelines (available in the 2013 Guidebook), SIAT will review and assess each region’s progress as it relates to their accomplishments in the following categories:

  • Keep the project pipeline flowing;
  • Select “Innovation Hot Spots” to facilitate tech transfer;
  • Develop an Opportunity Agenda to revitalize distressed communities and address barriers to entry into the workforce for people living in areas of concentrated poverty;
  • Assure the workforce is being trained for today and tomorrow;
  • Engage local government officials in reshaping the regional business climate;
  • Create interregional collaborations around shared resources and opportunities;
  • Advance regional Cleaner, Greener Communities sustainability plans; and
  • Measure performance.

The Regional Council competition awards will be made based on the progress the Councils have made in implementing their strategies and the evolution of their strategic plans.

On September 24, 2013, each Council submitted to the State its two-year progress report, which provides detail on the Council’s achievements in implementing its five year strategic plan. The FLREDC report included a description of its focus on the Opportunity Agenda Area of El Camino; continued investment in several key multi-year projects identified in its 2011 Strategic Plan, with the maintenance and expansion of Eastman Business Park the top regional priority; and goal of creating 50,000 jobs over the next five years. It also included a list of its 24 transformative priority projects for Round III.

Statewide, the first two rounds of the Regional Council initiative included $1.5 billion in investments to support more than 1,400 economic and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans that are creating or helping retain an estimated 75,000 jobs. To continue building on the success of rounds one and two, up to $760 million in state resources are available in 2013. Funding for the third round includes $220 million ($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 $540 million from state agency programs through the CFA to support regionally-significant economic development projects.

This year, all ten regions will compete against each other. The competition places emphasis on Regional Council performance and action to implement strategies.

Five regions will be identified as the “Top Performer” and will receive up to $25 million each. The remaining regions will compete for the balance of $25 million. Each region will also be eligible for up to $10 million in Excelsior Tax Credits.

Regions designated as a “top performer” will be required to demonstrate the following:

  • Continued Implementation of their individual Strategic Plans;
  • Performance in encouraging economic growth through job creation and investment; and
  • Identification of transformative projects that encourage collaboration (e.g., leveraging computing assets to establish research partnerships, utilizing equipment and co-locations to assist manufacturers, and developing shared space for food processing).
  • Governor Cuomo established the Regional Councils and 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.

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

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