Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Awarded $52.8 Million for 58 Projects
As part of Round II of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council (WNYREDC) was awarded $52.8 million for 58 projects on Wednesday in Albany. The priority capital projects awarded funding include projects that support the region’s 2011 strategic plan, “A Strategy for Prosperity,” and that focus on strategies that promote smart growth, workforce development and entrepreneurship. In total, $738 million was awarded throughout the state through Round Two of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.
“This is very good news for Western New York and a testament to the steady progress we are making in building a thriving knowledge-based economy in our region,” said Satish K. Tripathi, President of the University at Buffalo and Regional Council Co-chair. “Throughout this collaborative process, we’ve forged a bold vision for what our region can become, and we are actively realizing that vision by building on our defining strengths and cultivating their full potential. Together, we are creating an environment that will sustain the growth and enrichment of our region’s people, communities, and institutions—now and for generations to come. This additional funding recognizes the great strides we’ve already made in a short time and builds a solid framework for our continued progress. 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.”
“Governor Cuomo has demonstrated a long-term commitment to Western New York between the Buffalo Billion and two rounds of funding through the Regional Council initiative and we couldn’t be more pleased,” said Howard A. Zemsky, Managing Partner at Larkin Development Group and Regional Council Co-chair. “For the first time, we are putting the power of State Government behind the innovation of our people and aligning state resources with local planning and priorities to rebuild our economy and advance our region’s long-term economic development strategies. There continues to be new energy and enthusiasm in our communities as we implement our regional strategies.”
Last year, Governor Cuomo created Regional Councils and the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) 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 primary focus of the Regional Council initiative was to successfully implement and operationalize their 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, bi-national logistics, energy, health & 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 II include those in the key strategies:
- $450, 000 for the Downtown Niagara Falls Stabilization Project (NYMS), which aims to revitalize the downtown mixed-use commercial district and adjacent residential neighborhood, to attract young adults, by offering to assist with the re-payment of student loans. The City of Niagara Falls estimates 20 young professionals will move into the targeted Third Street Commercial District or Park Place Historic District locations by the beginning of 2013.
- $600,000 for the Finishing Trades Institute of Western & Central New York (FIT) to expand its existing buildings training space to support the growing demands for skilled contractors.
- $150,000 for Center SPACE Buffalo to operate a multi-tenant office facility for nonprofits, for-profits, social entrepreneurs and unincorporated community groups. CenterSpace will provide back office services and general office management and administration.
In addition, the Western Region Corporation Community Revitalization Program was also awarded more than $2 million to create and administer a community revitalization revolving loan/grant fund that will be available in the five Western New York counties. This program will result in community revitalization in specific neighborhoods and downtown business districts in a number of communities in Western New York with a focus on Main Street projects in the southern tier.
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. The region was awarded $100.3 million towards 96 projects in December 2011 based on the plan and as part of Round I funding. Currently, 96 percent of those projects are moving forward. As part of the second round of the Regional Council process, Governor Cuomo, Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy and a Strategic Implementation Assessment Team (SIAT) composed of state agency commissioners with Brookings Institution and senior staff, traveled to every region of the state to learn about progress on Round I projects that received state funding, as well as assess projects included in the region’s 2012 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 on December 4, 2012.
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/2012REDCbooklet.pdf.