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The Times
  • Regional economic plan aims to get share of $150 million

  • The dream: to get $25 million in state funding to improve infrastructure and create jobs.

    That’s the hope of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council and the blueprint for the plan it submitted last week to try to get a piece of $150 million in the state’s second year of economic competition.

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  • The dream: to get $25 million in state funding to improve infrastructure and create jobs.
    That’s the hope of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council and the blueprint for the plan it submitted last week to try to get a piece of $150 million in the state’s second year of economic competition.
    While last year’s projects created more than 700 jobs, the council’s expectations this year are much higher.
    The council’s plan is centered around five strategies — grow, build, create, forge and revive. That resulted in 32 priority projects for the region.
    The list includes:
    •Sewer work in Utica.
    •A new streetscape for the city.
    •Putting the entire National Baseball Hall of Fame online.
    •A biomass project in Old Forge.
    •More development at Griffiss International Airport.
    This year’s plan is better because the council had more time to prepare and did more community outreach, said council Co-Chairman Lawrence Gilroy III.
    “We saw some very good projects that may have not been on anyone’s radar,” he said.
    Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo created the 10 regional economic councils and revamped the application for funding from state agencies. The councils were charged with coming up with a vision and plan for their regions.
    In this year’s competition, councils are competing for $150 million in state funding and $70 million in Excelsior tax credits. They also are charged with identifying projects in their region that should receive normal funding through state agencies such as the office of Housing and Community Renewal or the Department of Transportation.
    The Mohawk Valley council is hoping this second round will bring more jobs and more money to the area.
    In order to do that, the council — which represents Oneida, Herkimer, Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie and Otsego counties — formed liaison committees in each county.
    “Their input gave context to some of the pivotal projects,” Gilroy said.
    Last year, the council placed eighth out of the state’s 10 councils in terms of funding. The region was awarded $60 million for 59 projects, including 10 of its 21 priority projects.
    That put it in a second tier for this year’s competition. The bottom six councils are competing for three awards of up to $25 million each while the top four councils are competing for two awards of up to $25 million each.
    Any of the five regions that do not get one of the top awards will be splitting the remaining $25 million. There also is the $542 million from state agencies as well.
    According to a report by the council, last year’s projects created 727 jobs. A fully funded plan this year could create more than 1,100 jobs and retain more than 3,000 more.
    Page 2 of 2 - The next step is evaluating the region’s plan.
    Jason Comwall, senior press officer for Empire State Development, said each plan will be evaluated by a team of experts from various state agencies.
    “There will be a regional assessment tour,” he said. “They’ll visit each council, examine their projects and provide feedback.”
    There is no set date for the evaluations or the final announcement but the decisions should come by late fall.
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