The Capital Region and the Mohawk Valley were not among the top award winners at the annual Regional Economic Development Council awards, but both took home about $100 million.
The Capital Region was awarded $98.1 million and the Mohawk Valley given $100.3 million in state funding to support proposed economic development projects in the two regions.
The REDC awards, in its fifth year, distribute about $750 million in aid among the state’s 10 regions. New this year was the Upstate Revitalization Initiative awards, which offered three of the seven upstate regions $500 million each over five years.
Regional Economic Development Council awards announced today:
Central New York: $500 million
Finger Lakes: $500 million
Southern Tier: $500 million
Mohawk Valley: $100.3 million
Long Island: $98.3 million
Capital Region: $98.1 million
Mid-Hudson: $90.4 million
North Country: $85.1 million
New York City: $84.1 million
Western New York: $83.9 million
The Southern Tier, Finger Lakes and Central New York regions won the $500 million prize as part of the URI awards. Long Island received $98.3 million, Mid-Hudson got $90.4 million, the North Country was awarded $85.1 million, New York City was given $84.1 million and Western New York got $83.9 million.
“I am going to propose in the budget next year for those regions that are not successful in the URI grant that we allocate an additional $50 million to those four regions,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during the REDC awards at the Hart Theatre in Albany on Thursday.
Capital Region council co-chairmen James Barba, CEO of Albany Medical Center, and Robert Jones, president of the University at Albany, said although the region did not receive $500 million for its URI plan, the strategy won’t be abandoned.
“Now the challenge is going to be to take the funds we were awarded this year, including the extra $50 million, and decide how we are going to use that as a down payment on our plan,” Barba said after the awards. “Then in years ahead, we will take the plan itself and its projects and turn them into appropriate CFAs so we can get the plans funded.”
The region’s plan for the URI awards centered around five “clusters” of high-tech, urban revitalization, entrepreneurship, transport and logistics, and higher education.
In the Capital Region, it appears a sizeable portion of the $98.1 million in funding was earmarked for projects proposed in Albany and Rensselaer. Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said the city and the county did not pitch any large-scale projects this year.
“It’s somewhat a cyclical nature of the development,” he said. “We have been very successful in the recent past with Mohawk Harbor, the casino, State Street development, and those projects are underway. We will have others in the next round in the next year.”
A total of $5 million was awarded for the proposed Tower on the Hudson building in downtown Albany, which would include a Homewood Suites by Hilton, apartments, and commercial and retail space.
Also, $4 million was awarded for the construction of a heavy lift cargo operations building at the Port of Albany and $2 million for the construction of a new commercial rail line at the Coeymans Industrial Park.
“The Port of Albany project will help us provide dependable, safe and secure opportunities for moving our next-generation of steam turbines and generators, which we anticipate will be larger and heavier than ever before,” said GE spokesperson Chris Horne.
Here are some of the other local projects receiving state funding as part of the REDC awards:
Universal Preservation Hall — $800,000
Universal Preservation Hall, a non-profit community arts organization in Saratoga Springs, received an $800,000 grant in partnership with Proctors to rehabilitate the historic property as a performance venue.
Orchard Park — $354,735
The city of Schenectady received a total of $354,735 for the renovation of Orchard Park in Mont Pleasant. The $1.28 million project will redesign the park and create improved entrances.
As part of the project, the city plans to demolish seven properties around the park: two on Second Avenue, one on Third Avenue and four on Crane Street.
Proctors — $330,000
Proctors was awarded $330,000 to establish a $2 million Arts Lab in partnership with Schenectady County Community College on the third floor of the theater.
The 12,000-square-foot space would include a 90-seat theater, classrooms and media lab, according to Proctors’ CEO Philip Morris.
“We identified the vacant space on the third floor as the perfect place for training and innovation in the different disciplines of theater,” Morris said. “We’re almost there with funding. This helps a lot. I’m pretty confident we’ll have it open by the fall of 2017.”
Mohonasen Central School District — $300,000
A $300,000 grant was given to support the ongoing construction of Mohonasen Central School District’s new Center for Advanced Technology, a 53,000-square-foot building on the district campus in Rotterdam.
Housing programs in electrical technology, nanotechnology, media, gaming, health professions and more, the new technology center is a partnership between Mohonasen schools, Schenectady County Community College and Capital Region BOCES.
Proctors — $153,000
Proctors was awarded a total of $153,000 for an American Acoustic Television Series, a partnership between Proctors and Barrelhouse Pictures, a New York City-based production company.
The funding will go toward constructing a set at Proctors and purchasing production equipment. Morris said acoustic shows would be produced this summer “that would celebrate the community.”
Museum of Innovation and Science — $100,000
In partnership with Proctors and the Galesi Group, the Museum of Innovation and Science received $100,000 for a New York Arboretum at the Mohawk Harbor site off Erie Boulevard in Schenectady.
MiSci and Proctors applied for a total of $240,000 in state funding for the tree museum on the old Alco site, which is being developed by the Galesi Group with housing, hotels, office and retail, a harbor and one of the state’s first commercial casinos.
The $1.2 million arboretum would include as many as 450 trees of a wide variety of species on the 60-acre brownfield property. The project is expected to attract 20,000 additional visitors and 6,000 students.
Saratoga Rowing Association — $35,000
The Saratoga Rowing Association got $35,000 in funding to upgrade facilities at Saratoga Lake for annual boat regattas in the spring and fall.
The money will support improvements to bleachers, large screens and a pavilion. It will also fund the use of drones and a shuttle service aimed at drawing regatta visitors to downtown Saratoga Springs.
Schenectady County — $15,000
Schenectady County received $15,000 for a bike feasibility study for the construction of a new portion of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail along the Mohawk River.
The goal is to have a continuous trail between the Western Gateway Bridge and Freemans Bridge, said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority.
The trail will pass under a CSX bridge to connect Front Street Park and Riverside Park with a trail segment. The trail will also run through the Mohawk Harbor site off Erie Boulevard.
“This matches Metroplex’s $15,000 grant to do the engineering to fill the gap and have a trail from bridge to bridge,” Gillen said. “The study is to come up with plans so we can build the trail and fill in those gaps. It will be very cool to walk and bike the whole waterfront there.”
Two regional projects that received funding include $1.5 million for an affordable housing partnership with Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady and $700,000 for the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region.
Get a full list of projects being funded as part of the REDC awards in the Capital Region and the other nine regions in the state.