Region lobbies for state funding

AMSTERDAM – Government leaders and business representatives from the six-county Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council region – including Fulton and Montgomery counties – lobbied state officials Tuesday for a third round of funding due to be announced next week.

A daylong tour of Fulton and Montgomery counties by the State Implementation Assessment Team led by state Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales started at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. It ended with public presentations about economic development success stories using previously awarded state funding. The presentation took place at St. Mary’s Healthcare’s Carondelet Pavilion.

“We have a very diverse community, we have a very inclusive community,” said council Co-Chairman Lawrence T. Gilroy III, kicking off the public presentations.

Perales stated afterward, “Thank you for this very effective presentation. I do see a new sense of confidence. I can assure you there’s enormous activity across this state.”

“It’s pretty obvious the [Mohawk] council has put the time and effort into the work here the past three years,” said team member and state Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox.

The Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council is one of 10 councils statewide established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. That council consists of Fulton, Montgomery, Herkimer, Oneida, Otsego and Schoharie counties. The councils each year file applications for potential economic development project funding. The state is in its third round of funding, and is due to announce grants Tuesday.

State officials say in the first two rounds of the regional council initiative, the Mohawk Valley region was awarded $119.2 million for more than 150 projects across the region. Of those projects, more than 83 percent are now under way as a result of funding they have been awarded. Once completed, the projects awarded funding in the Mohawk Valley region through the 2011 and 2012 application process will provide a significant boost to the local economy and result in the creation and retention of more than 3,300 jobs. The CFA awards will leverage more than $575 million in public and private-sector investment, officials said.

The State Implementation Assessment Team toured Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s clean room in the morning.

State officials and members of the regional council were greeted in Raiders Cove at FMCC for what would be the final push to lobby for additional funding before next week’s announcement, said Empire State Development Corp. Senior Press Officer Jason Conwall.

“We have a terrific opportunity in this region for collaboration,” said FMCC President Dustin Swanger during his opening remarks.

Swanger talked about the advantage this area is going to have with the development of nano-technology industry in the surrounding area.

Gilroy explained that the nano industry, which is developing in the Mohawk Valley, will allow the region to “become the bridge that will revive the community.” He called the Mohawk Valley the “nano canal.”

At the presentation, several business and economic leaders from around the region spoke about success they have had across the Mohawk Valley.

According to a news release issued Tuesday by the Empire State Development Corp., the FMCC clean room was inspired by the developments at SUNY-CNSE, GlobalFoundries and Nano Utica, and funded by a $500,000 grant from NASA. The release noted FMCC’s “state-of-the-art” clean-room facility is strategically positioned between New York state’s nanotech hubs, and functions as a public-private training ground for students pursuing careers in nanoscale sciences, electronics and advanced manufacturing.

Local officials, including Fulton County Center for Regional Growth President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Reese, on Tuesday led the State Implementation Assessment Team on a bus tour of Fulton and Montgomery counties’ six industrial parks. The tour included the Fage USA yogurt company’s expansion at the Johnstown Industrial Park, downtown Amsterdam and the Amsterdam waterfront.

Reese said the main funding Fulton County is seeking as priority projects is for the redevelopment of the former Tryon Detention Center Campus into a technology park, and a Fage expansion.

Among the priority projects in Montgomery County are: Erie Canal RV Resort & Campground, Deer Run at River Ridge senior housing project, GIANT Solutions expansion of an Amsterdam wireless engineering firm; and Erie Canal Distillers to make distilled spirits.

The regional council initiative has included $1.5 billion in investments to support more than 1,400 economic and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans that are creating or helping retain an estimated 75,000 jobs. To continue building on the success of rounds one and two, up to $760 million in state resources are available in 2013. Funding for the third round includes $220 million ($150 million in capital and $70 million in tax credits) to implement regional strategic plans and continue to advance priority job-creating projects, and up to $540 million from state agency programs through the application process to support regionally significant economic development projects.

This year, all 10 regions are competing against each other. Five regions will receive up to $25 million each. The remaining regions will compete for the balance of $25 million. Each region also will be eligible for up to $10 million in Excelsior Tax Credits.

In the afternoon program at St. Mary’s Healthcare’s Carondelet Pavilion, success stories from counties other than Fulton and Montgomery counties were highlighted.

Reporter Levi Pascher contributed to this story.