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Mohawk Valley council makes pitch for state funding

Mohawk Valley council makes pitch for state funding

Local officials gathered Tuesday for tours of successful job-creation sites in the eastern Mohawk Va

Local officials gathered Tuesday for tours of successful job-creation sites in the eastern Mohawk Valley before making a pitch for millions of dollars in economic development funding.

The Fage yogurt plant in Johnstown, the Johnstown Industrial Park and Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s clean room took the spotlight for a tour bus carrying the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council.

The council conducted a two-hour tour for members of the state’s Strategic Implementation Assessment Team before meeting in St. Mary’s Hospital’s Carondelet Pavilion in Amsterdam. It was the last of 10 visits by the state team to the state’s economic development regions, meetings that will lead to an announcement of major project funding later this month.

At stake is more than $750 million in tax incentives and funding to be awarded.

The six-county Mohawk Valley region, consisting of Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and Schoharie counties, has had many challenges over the years, regional co-chair Lawrence T. Gilroy III told the group.

“A number of industries have left,” he said.

But support from the state’s new economic development process, he said, has led to “tailwinds” that are pushing the region forward.

Among the numerous projects for which funding is sought, the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council is recommending $180,000 in state funding be put toward a $1.75 million effort to develop a local hub for the Corbin Hill Food Project, which is bringing local produce to New York City.

Roughly 20 producers are serving 700 shareholders, a number that could grow to 75 farms and 5,000 customers with state assistance, according to the council’s 2013 action plan. The effort could create or retain 10 jobs.

Another local project deemed a priority is a goal to turn the Amsterdam Best Value Inn into a Hampton Inn and Suites — a $5.8 million project for which $900,000 is sought.

More than 30 projects are on the regional council’s list of funding recommendations seeking a total of $25 million in aid toward about $265 million in total project costs. Gilroy told the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team the regional council isn’t looking for a handout, but rather a partnership.

“Don’t help us out to be nice, invest with us,” he said.

He adding that the past two years of work with the state resulted in creating or retaining more than 3,300 jobs on 152 different projects with $600 million in investment.

“We believe we delivered what we promised you,” Gilroy said.

Some members of the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team had kind words to offer the regional council. Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales labeled the council’s plan “terrific.”

“I do sense a new sense of confidence on your part,” he told Gilroy after the council’s presentation.

Thomas H. Mattox, commissioner of the state Department of Taxation and Finance, said he perceived a “building momentum” in the Mohawk Valley.

“It’s pretty obvious that the council has put a lot of time and effort into this,” he said.

Regional council member Michael J. Reese, CEO of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth, said he felt positive about the council’s presentation.

High-tech development taking place to the east, in Malta, and to the west, in the Utica area, he said, puts the eastern Mohawk Valley in a good position.

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