Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state leaders on Wednesday gathered in Albany to announce an estimated $800 million in awards for the state's Regional Economic Development Councils. Western New York will receive $68.8 million for more than 100 projects.
The money announced for the Western New York REDC, which covers five counties, will support 112 ongoing projects according to the Cuomo Administration. Among them is an expansion of the University at Buffalo's High Performance Computing infrastructure. UB will receive one million dollars from Empire State Development to boost that expansion, which is estimated at $7.4 million.
Other projects receiving funds are Alfred University, which is getting one million dollars to help renovate the Southern Tier Business Center. Niagara Falls, New York will receive $1.5 million from Empire State Development for the Southend Gateway District Revitalization project, which will leverage private investments in a neighborhood located next to the city's tourism district.
New York State Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, whose district is situated in Brooklyn, was among the speakers who led the award ceremony.
"I've been impressed with how these grants can change people's lives in communities statewide," Weinstein said. "Along with the governor and New York State Legislature, New York is setting a national example for economic development and showing how smart, effective government can help fuel economic growth."
Howard Zemsky, president and CEO of Empire State Development, credited the Cuomo Administration for eliminating what he called a failed one-size-fits-all method of economic development in the state and replacing it with a system that lets regions better develop in a way that's best for them.
"Industries like clean energy, artificial intelligence, unmanned aerial systems, photonics, 3-D printing, semiconductors, life sciences, these are the 21st Century industries that are now populated across the entire state," Zemsky said.
Governor Cuomo offered lengthy remarks, most of which were critical of ongoing efforts to pass a Republica-led tax reform plan in Washington. He did, however, recall what was once considered the would-be catalyst to rebuild Buffalo's economy, the proposed waterfront Bass Pro store.
"This was the plan to turn around Buffalo for years, a Bass Pro shop," Cuomo said. "How many jobs can you create with a Bass Pro shop? Ten jobs? Fifteen jobs? How many fisherman are you going to attract to Buffalo to generate a tourism economy? But that was the plan. That was the whole plan."
That plan, of course, never materialized.
Cuomo stated that since then, New York has become more business friendly and, despite the claims of his critics, is actually spending less than years before.