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Finger Lakes brings home $60M
by Sean Carroll
Rochester, N.Y. -- The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council was awarded $59.8 million for job creating projects on Wednesday.
The competitive process to award economic development funds is now in its third year. It pits ten regional councils from around New York State against each other.
The Finger Lakes Region's 2013 award was among the smallest given out; the Mid-Hudson region received $59.6 million and NYC received $57 million.
In 2012 the Finger Lakes Region was the top award winner with $96 million. The year prior about $69 million was awarded. In three years this region's been awarded approximately $225 million through this process. Click here to see all of the awards.
Noticeably absent from this year's awards were "big name projects" that have dominated local discussions throughout this process. Eastman Business Park remains the region's #1 priority but received no specific funds. The Midtown Project was also not listed as it had been in the past.
Replacing some of those projects were a variety of smaller investments ranging from more than $200,000 for The Little Theatre in Rochester to $1.5 million for the ongoing redevelopment of Canandaigua Lake.
"Because there is certain infrastructure improvements that kind of have to be made for the development to really come in and bring private dollars I think the million-five that is given to that project will leverage itself probably fifty to a hundred-to-one," said Mark Peterson, a council member and President of Greater Rochester Enterprise.
"We've created in this process of far 10,000 private sector jobs, that is more private sector jobs created in this region than any Upstate region," added Peterson. "So we are on track to create 50,000 new jobs over the next five years."
Some critics may wonder if the amount of this year's award to the Finger Lakes Region was impacted by politics. New York Lt. Governor Bob Duffy chairs all ten councils statewide. Earlier this year Rochester's former mayor admits pursuing interest in the job of Rochester Business Alliance President and CEO. Many key members of the Finger Lakes Regional Council are also driving forces with the RBA.
"I'm sure people are going to draw conclusions I would hope that politics weren't at play in this," said current RBA President Sandy Parker who has agreed to stay on in that role for a portion of 2014.
Duffy later reaffirmed his commitment to remain with the Governor.
"Let it end, let's move forward," Parker said of speculation that surrounded her job and the Lt. Governor for months. "That is one of the reasons that I made the conscious decision to stay on I think its important that RBA move on and does its business and let's try to end this sometime in 2014 because I am still planning on retiring sometime this year."