Ten regions competed to propose the most promising and cost-effective plans. All 10 regions were awarded some share of the funds, and a second round is coming soon. Karen DeWitt has more.
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The governor says the grants are just the beginning of his overall plan to attract more jobs to New York, and change the belief that New York is not business friendly. Cuomo says the state has been suffering from a “hang over of arrogance” from its former glory days.
“Put up the sign ‘New York open for businesses,” said Cuomo. “We know what you thought about us. And it’s not true.”
Although each region got something, four of the ten regions were bigger winners than the rest. Central New York, Western New York, Long Island and the North Country each received “best plan” awards and over $100 million dollars in funding. The rest received substantial consolation prizes, with grants ranging from a low of $49.9 million for the Southern Tier to $68.8 million for the Finger Lakes region.
Rob Simpson, co chair of the Central New York Regional economic development council, says it was a “nerve wracking” wait.
“I don’t think any of us that ended up winning here had any idea what the outcome would be,” said Simpson.
Michael Castellana, co-chair of the Capital Region economic development council says he’s not disspointed to be one of the six second tier winners.
“There are no losers here,” said Castallano. “We absolutely wish that we came in on top. But we cannot complain about $62 million dollars.”
The money will go to projects for ranging from sprucing up dilapidated downtowns and waterfront and airport development to improving farmers markets and job training for health care aids and hydrofracking gas drilling jobs.
When the Regional Councils were first announced, Governor Cuomo said $1 billion dollars would be awarded. In total, $788 million dollars were given out for 720 projects, leaving just over $200 million dollars left in the fund. A spokesman for the governor denies that there were not enough projects that met the strict criteria for the awards, but says “we’re not giving away money just to give away money”.
All of the regional councils get a second chance soon to win even more funding. Cuomo and legislative leaders have agreed to begin a second round of competition for the grants early next year.