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Governor Announces Upstate Economic Revitalization Competition

Governor Cuomo answers questions for the press following the announcement.
Veronica Volk
Governor Cuomo answers questions for the press following the announcement.

Governor Cuomo invites Upstate New York regions to compete for $1.5 billion  in grants. As part of the Economic Revitalization Competition, three winning regions will be granted $500 million each.

Cuomo says the competition is an important aspect of the project.

"If I just gave you the money, you wouldn't do all the hard things you have to do to actually get the money. And the competition amongst yourselves -- I'm telling you -- brings up the performance of everybody."

Seven regions are eligible to compete, including Mid-Hudson, Capital Region, Mohawk Valley, Central New York, North Country, Southern Tier and Finger Lakes. This competition was inspired by the Buffalo Billion, a plan proposed in 2013 that promised the city $1 billion in order to jump-start its economy.

Cuomo says regional leaders should look to Buffalo for inspiration, but each area needs to focus on its personal strengths.

"What are we selling? What can we sell? What business are we in that we can survive and thrive in?"

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This isn't the first competition-style economic development plan announced by the governor. Last year's Regional Economic Development Council Awards also encouraged regional governments to work with private industry.

As opposed to his recent property tax cut announcement which affects the whole state, Cuomo says this plan tackles Upstate economy specifically.

"Upstate New York needs more help, because Upstate New York has been abandoned by Albany for too long. And Upstate New York can not come back on its own."

The competition will be formally launched in April, with winners announced late this year.

Veronica Volk is a senior editor and producer for WXXI News.