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Finger Lakes-Rochester area to get $86.5 million in state economic development aid

Office of NY Governor Cuomo

The Rochester-Finger Lakes area will be receiving $86.5 million dollars in state aid for a variety of economic development projects.

The official announcement in this annual competition, the 8th time the money has been distributed this way, was done Tuesday in Albany, with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and New York State Economic Development Commissioner Howard Zemsky  announcing the awards.

More than $763 million in economic and community development funding was awarded through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. The awards were started by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2011 as a way to jumpstart the state’s economy.

The money won by the Finger Lakes region made the region one of five so-called top performers, meaning they got more state aid than the other five regions around the state. It was more than the $64 million the Finger Lakes got last year.  The $86.5 million will be distributed across 141 projects;

Anne Kress, the President of Monroe Community College, is one of the co-chairs of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. She says that council tries to recommend projects that hit a variety of economic sectors.

“You’ll see certainly investments in workforce, in manufacturing, in health care, but you’ll also see investments in quality of life; that’s one of the things that makes the Finger Lakes so powerful; you’ll see investments in agriculture which has been a real growth business not just in Monroe County but in all of the counties in our region."

Credit Office of NY Governor Cuomo
Members of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council

The money will be distributed to projects across the 9 county region, including funds for a makeover of the former Kodak Hawkeye Plant, money for expansion at the Strong Museum, equipment for the Cornell Agri-Tech facility in Geneva, and a food processing facility in Wayne County. (You can see the complete list of awardees here.)

Bob Duffy, the President and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, co-chairs the Regional Council with Kress.  He realizes some people have criticized the way the state money is doled out, but he says this money is crucial for the growth of some projects.

“I’d like people to think about if we didn’t have those dollars, I could point to a myriad of projects spanning 8 years that either came to fruition or in progress, or having an impact in terms of growing jobs and growing the economic vitality here,” Duffy told WXXI News.

Matt Hurlbutt is the President and CEO of the business group Greater Rochester Enterprise. He says with the Finger Lakes tabbed as a ‘top performer,’ this year, it will help bring additional help to certain expansion projects.

“It does provide more funding for projects than if we weren’t a top performer may have not been funded, so it helps move things along a little quicker and certainly if you look throughout the region it’s impactful in communities that really needed the funds to help things move forward,” Hurlbutt said.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.