WNY Regional Council Gives Progress Report to Cuomo

1:14 PM, May 16, 2013   |    comments
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By Joseph Spector

Albany Bureau Chief

ALBANY The state's 10 regional economic development councils Wednesday will provide an update on their progress and provide details about their funding targets for next year.

The regional councils, set up in 2011 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will each give a presentation to the governor at the Capitol starting at noon.

In its third year, the councils will again be competing in December for a pot of more than $700 million in tax breaks and grants for hometown projects. Last year, $738 million was doled out to 725 projects across the state.

As last year, the total awards will include $150 million in grants and $70 million in tax credits approved specifically for the competitive-grant program; the rest comes through pots of development funds that already existed.

The Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson and Southern Tier had the best strategic plans at the awards ceremony last year. The Finger Lakes received the most funding of the 10 regions at $96.2 million last year.

The Mid-Hudson, which stretches from Sullivan and Dutchess counties south to Westchester County, received $92.8 million. The Southern Tier - covering the Binghamton, Ithaca and Elmira regions - received a total of $91.1 million, up from a statewide low of $49.4 million in 2011.

WNY Regional Council Co-Chair Howard Zemsky and council member Brenda McDuffie were in Albany representing WNY.

Zemsky told Cuomo and the assessment team, "Welcome to the new Buffalo and WNY."  Zemsky says Buffalo's waterfront is "alive and vital now" and pointed to the residential growth in downtown Buffalo.

Ninety-three percent of the WNY Regional Council's projects are underway an on-time according to Zemsky.

The WNY Regional Council says along with the Empire State Development, WNY has brought in 2,000 new jobs and retained 5,000.

McDuffie says WNY will need more skilled workers as older workers get set to retire.

Zemsky says the council continues to work on boosting tourism in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, the medical corridor and advanced manufacturing.

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