State leaders handed out more than $700 million in economic development funds Wednesday. In its second year, Governor Andrew Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Initiative strives to drive economic growth and create jobs.
After a disappointing outcome last year, the Rochester and Finger Lakes Region is now on top.
Last year, our region was left wanting more, awarded just under $69 million. This year, out of all ten regions, the Finger Lakes received the most funding: $96.2 million for 76 projects.
"And the winner is... the Finger Lakes!"
Round Two of Governor Cuomo's redevelopment initiative proved a success for the Rochester/Finger Lakes region.
"One plan, doesn’t say Democrat, doesn't say Republican, and I think it's terrific," said Danny Wegman, Wegmans CEO.
"It was hard to watch Buffalo and Syracuse receive the big awards last year and Rochester was not in that mix. I think there's a perception that Rochester doesn't need it as much as other regions, but let's face, it all regions need help to grow economies, improve infrastructure and create jobs,” said Maggie Brooks, Monroe County Executive.
The initiative divided the state into ten regional councils. Each year, the councils compete for funding and awards are performance-based.
"We are learning to think as a region, not as individual communities. It's a different approach but we find we have many similarities that we didn't notice before,” said Wegman.
The Finger Lakes Council strives to connect young people with specific industries.
"As a state, we need to do more to align the skill sets of folks coming through K12 and colleges to the needs of industry. The governor did mention Monroe Community College as one of the models in the state," said Anne Kress, MCC president.
Central New York came in second, awarded $93.8 million. Western New York, including Buffalo, received $52.8 million as compared to last year’s 100 million.
The council received the funding for being recognized as "Best Plan Awardee"
under the leadership of University of Rochester President Dr. Joel Seligman
and Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman.
YNN Rochester: Rochester & Finger Lakes Awarded Most Development Dollars of Any Region
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Mayor Richards said this funding will help the College Town and Midtown Tower project move forward in 2013.
"This is what we were looking for, this is the little hole we had in our bucket here, and now that we've got that we're very confident the project is going to go ahead and we're real pleased about that," said Mayor Tom Richards.