Who Wants to Be a Billionaire? New York Regions Compete for Big Bucks

Who Wants to Be a Billionaire? New York Regions Compete for Big Bucks

November 29, 2011 at 4:00 am

Gov. Andrew Cuomo created 10 regional councils in New York State to oversee major development projects in their region. The regions are now competing for $1 billion in state economic development funds. MetroFocus/Kevon Greene

The race is on for $1 billion in state funding and New York State’s 10 regions pitched everything from increasing scallop harvesting and building breweries to creating a centralized electronic system for storing medical records in their quest for the money.

Presentations for this radical experiment in allocating the New York State economic development funds began on Nov. 28 in Albany.

Historically, Albany has doled out billions of dollars worth of state economic development funds on a project-by-project basis, often with wasted investments and weak results in terms of actual job creation. As a result, Gov. Andrew Cuomo created 10 regional councils — each composed of local leaders in business, politics and planning — to plan and oversee the major development projects in their region. To make the new platform even more efficient, Cuomo added a competitive twist last July, called the Consolidated Funding Application.

The Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y., is a creator of both suds and jobs. The Mohawk Valley Regional Council included plans to expand the brewery's facilities as part of its Consolidated Funding Application. Flickr/Nedral

Under Cuomo’s guidelines, thousands of eligible applicants from across the state submitted project proposals to one of the 10 regional councils. The councils reviewed the submissions and then put their favorites into their region’s application for the funds. The regional councils’ final applications were completed and made available online on or before Nov. 14. On Nov. 28, council members began a three-day series of presentations in Albany, where they pitched their proposals to the public.

An independent board, appointed by Cuomo, will review the applications and then allocate $200 million to the regional councils of their choice; the chosen councils can then decide which projects they want to fund. The board will award an additional $800 million to specific projects. The funds will be allocated by the end of the year, and each regional council will be required to track and report the success of those funds over the next year.

Here are the highlights of what each of the 10 regional councils would do if they were awarded the funds:

Women shop for produce at Hunts Point market in the South Bronx. The New York City Regional Council proposed a massive redevelopment of the market in its application. Flickr/tvancourt

New York City

  • Redevelop Hunts Point market in the South Bronx, which provides produce for thousands of local groceries and markets.
  • Expand the New York Container Terminal on Staten Island by 38 acres, which would accommodate a wider variety of ships.
  • Build a new green manufacturing center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
  • Build a 3.8 million-square-foot convention center in Queens.

Long Island

  • Create new energy research and manufacturing facilities in a collaborative effort between Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory.
  • Transform the remains of one of the world’s largest psychiatric hospitals, Pilgrim Psychiatric Center, into a self-sufficient suburban city.
  • Increase the production of scallops.
  • Create “Accelerate Long Island,” a region-wide initiative designed to connect scientists with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
  • Develop a tunnel under the Long Island Sound.


Capitol Correspondent Susan Arbetter reports from Albany, where the ten regional economic councils made their final pitches.


  • Build a life sciences “incubator” that would offer cheap laboratory space to science start-ups.
  • Develop a regional public cloud computing center to create new cloud and analytics technology.
  • Rebuild the Tappan Zee Bridge.
  • Build new housing near transportation to New York City in order to retain a younger population.

Southern Tier

  • Start a program to educate building owners and developers about energy efficiency.
  • Create a centralized electronic system for storing all medical records.
  • Expand the connections between major highways.
  • Invest in wind and solar energy research.
  • Create a new venture capital fund to help restore rural farmlands.

Western New York

  • Create the Urban Automotive Center for Excellence, a new training facility for auto-body repair and mechanics.
  • Build the Niagara Experience Center, an interactive museum to inform visitors about the history of Niagara.
  • Build a new facility for prototyping medical devices at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Finger Lakes

  • Build a Finger Lakes Museum to promote the region’s history.
  • Build new laboratories for the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
  • Expand three bio-fuel facilities to the Seneca Green Energy Park.
  • Form the Finger Lakes Health Collaborative, a network which will work together on new public health initiatives.

The Syracuse Inner Harbor in Syracuse, NY. The Central New York Regional Council hopes to redevelop the harbor for new retail and restaurants. Flickr/Dougtone

Central New York

  • Redevelop the Syracuse Inner Harbor.
  • Build out new space at the Syracuse Center of Excellence for research and development of new energy technology.
  • Demolish 14 acres of vacant public housing in Onondaga County for future redevelopment.
  • Expand space and equipment at the milk processing plant in Cayuga County.
  • Build three new venues for the Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival.

Mohawk Valley

  • Expand the Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y.
  • Create a disaster relief fund for small businesses in Schoharie County that were ravaged by Tropical Storm Irene.
  • Develop a new computer chip research center at the SUNY Institute of Technology.
  • Make extensive improvements to the aging sewer and water distribution system in the City of Amsterdam.

Capital District

  • Create a $100 million small business loan program.
  • Create an early college high school focused on clean energy technologies.
  • Restore 10 percent of underutilized waterfront property.
  • Create an online program to train people to work in the semiconductor industry.

North Country

  • Increase rental housing for returning veterans in the Fort Drum area.
  • Broaden export agreements with Ontario and Quebec by building on trade policy, staffing and infrastructure.
  • Build a new natural gas pipeline to connect the northern and southern parts of the region.
  • Create and market a brand for the entire region.
Mutual of America PSEG


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