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Regional Economic Development Councils Announces Grant Approval from ESD Board for Transformational Regional Projects

Central New York, Capital Region and Mid-Hudson projects will create much-needed jobs & spur economic growth
(July 19, 2012)

Regional Economic Development Councils Announces Grant Approval from ESD Board for Transformational Regional Projects

The Central New York, Capital Region and Mid Hudson Regional Economic Development Councils today announced that transformational projects in each region have reached a significant milestone by receiving state approval for $6,873,000 in awards from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative. The projects, New York Medical College’s iBio-NY Incubator, University at Albany’s RNA Institute and Merchant Commons, LLC, were presented to and approved by the Empire State Development Board of Directors. In total, the projects will leverage $35.8 million in additional investment and have the potential to create more than 600 direct jobs across the regions while fostering further business development and economic growth.

“Thanks to the continued progress of Governor Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative, we are seeing transformational projects like these move forward as drivers of economic growth and job creation for their respective regions,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “With almost $7 million in state funding, these projects represent another sound investment in our region’s best job-creating assets.”

Last year, a total of $785 million was awarded through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) for job creation and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans. These projects were identified as having the ability to make a regionally significant impact during last year’s Regional Council initiative due to their close alignment with the strategic plan for the region and their ability to foster significant job creation and economic growth.

New York Medical College (Westchester County) – $4,000,000

The Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council identified the biopharmaceutical and life sciences industries as a vital component to its strategic plan for economic prosperity in the region. In line with this strategy, the New York Medical College (NYMC) was awarded resources to renovate an existing biopharmaceutical research and development facility on their Campus in Valhalla, New York.

In order to make such renovations the 129,800 square foot facility and build a biopharmaceutical incubator on their campus, NYMC will undertake a project costing $14 million which will be supported by a $4 million capital grant from Empire State Development to be disbursed in the construction phase, and $3,250,000 from the New York GeNYsis Program. Incubator tenants will be sourced from universities in New York City and the Hudson Valley, the established regional biopharmaceutical workforce, and through HVEDC. The facility will house 12 incubator tenants and have space for an additional 12 non-resident companies, who will be permitted to use shared resources. The average stay of a company will be limited to approximately three years.

Many of the region’s 83 biopharmaceutical companies including Regeneron and Pfizer have pinpointed a pressing need for enhanced training of their existing workforce to remain competitive. NYMC will work with companies such as these to identify their training requirements and provide a structured continuing education program at the iBio facility. Ultimately they will create a full service, state of the art biopharmaceutical incubator and workforce training facility called iBio.

“From the start, the Mid-Hudson REDC knew that growing the biopharmaceutical and life science industries would be vital to continued economic growth and new jobs in our communities,” said Dennis Murray and Leonard S. Schleifer, MD, PhD, Co-chairs of the MHREDC. “We are very pleased with the approval from the state of the award for this regional priority and look forward to continuing to work on building and strengthening these industries in our region.”

University at Albany (Albany County ) – $2,036,000

The Capital Region and SUNY Albany in particular, has become a global leader in research and development of advanced technology. As part of the Capital Region Economic Development Council’s (CREDC) strategic plan to utilize and enhance its regional assets, the University at Albany was awarded just over $2 million to invest in its RNA Institute – Life Sciences Building on their campus in Albany, New York.

This award will be used to construct 15,000 square feet of lab space, purchase and install machinery and equipment, recruit and hire researchers to develop expertise and research capabilities in RNA science and technology, and create an environment supportive of research and technological entrepreneurship to attract intellectual capital and sustain highly skilled, long-term jobs that grow the life science cluster in the Capital Region. This project allows SUNY Albany’s RNA Institute to complete the high-end instrumentation and provide first-year working capital necessary to further biomedical research into the potential of developing RNA technologies.

RNA research is in the early stage of development with the potential for RNA related discoveries that foster new drugs, therapies and technologies. Investment in the RNA Institute will create and sustain jobs that grow the life sciences cluster in the Capital Region by developing expertise and capabilities in RNA science and technology. Ultimately by equipping the Institute with the latest instrumentation, and first year researchers, the State University at Albany will have the platform to expand its footprint in the RNA field and the potential to commercialize its findings.

Michael J. Castellana, Co-Chair of the CREDC said, “This grant will help the University at Albany, which is in the epicenter of Tech Valley, expand its research capabilities in RNA science and technology to advance new medications and treatments to improve healthcare, all the while creating important jobs for our region.”

Merchants Commons, LLC (Onondaga County) – $837,500

As a result of the Governor’s Regional Economic Development Council Initiative, the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council identified real estate development as a vital component to its strategic plan for economic prosperity in the region. In line with this strategy, Syracuse-owned real estate management company Merchants Commons, LLC was awarded a grant of up to $837,500 for help fund the costs of demolition, environmental remediation and construction/renovations of the former Snow and Merchants Bank Buildings on South Warren Street in Syracuse.

The project plans to renovate 157,000 square feet of two inter-connected buildings into 26,000 square feet of commercial space, 66 market rate residential apartments and a 65-car parking garage. The Merchants Bank building contained a large of amount of asbestos and black mold covering the ceilings and structural steel throughout most of the building. Due to these health issues, the demolition and environmental remediation costs were estimated at $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 and without the $837,500 grant awarded by the CNYRDC the project may not have been possible. Upon completion, the renovation is expected to attract new residents and approximately 65 full-time professional jobs in the Syracuse area.

“The Merchants Commons LLC project in Syracuse exemplifies the strategic and catalytic nature of the CNYREDC investments,” said Nancy Cantor and Robert Simpson, Co-chairs of the CNYREDC. “The project truly demonstrates how a modest investment can leverage additional private funds, rejuvenate the streetscape, and spark new development within Syracuse’s increasingly vibrant urban core.”

Governor Cuomo’s vision for the Regional Councils and economic development in NYS is a bottom-up, regionally-driven approach that emphasizes regional priorities. The State’s goal is to advance projects, strategies and industries identified and endorsed by each Regional Council. A project endorsement by a Regional Council sends a strong message to the State that that particular project or set of projects is in line with the Strategic Plan and presents a clear opportunity for growth and development for that region.

To learn more about each regional council and their economic development plans, visit