ALBANY - Long Island secured $98.3 million in state aid on Thursday for building projects and company expansions, one of the largest awards among New York’s 10 regions.
For the fourth year out of five, the Island came out a big winner in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s annual competition for capital grants and state tax credits aimed at creating jobs. He appointed Regional Economic Development Councils in 2011 to vie with one another for the aid.
While all regions receive funding, big winners receive the most. This year, they were the Island, Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton, Utica/Mohawk Valley and Albany.
The 2015 allocation for Nassau and Suffolk counties will be divided among 121 projects, including $3 million for road work to help transform the Nassau Hub into a center for entertainment and biotechnology, $1.8 million for an expansion of Brookhaven National Laboratory, and $1.5 million for more lab equipment and parking at Winthrop University Hospital’s new research center in Mineola.
“This funding goes toward projects — many of them in technology — that will create well-paying jobs, prepare people for careers in technology and cause these people to stay on Long Island,” said Stuart Rabinowitz, co-vice chairman of the local council and Hofstra University president.
Kevin Law, council co-vice chairman and president of the Long Island Association business group, called the state money “a catalyst” to boost local facilities, such as Islip MacArthur Airport, which received $3 million for a customs inspection station so international flights can land there.
There also was $2.3 million for a vaccine development center at Farmingdale State College that is centered on Codagenix Inc., a flu vaccine developer born at Stony Brook University.
Farmingdale State president W. Hubert Keen said faculty, scientists and students are working to create “immunity in biological systems and this funding will assist us enormously in advancing this research.”
The awards were announced in a theater near the State Capitol. Much of the 80-minute ceremony was devoted to areas north of New York City because of Cuomo’s 2015 Upstate Revitalization Initiative. That separate competition, which critics have labeled a “hunger games” of economic development, saw Syracuse, Rochester and Binghamton each win $500 million over five years.
The councils distributed nearly $3 billion between 2011 and last year to more than 3,100 projects; on Long Island, $326.2 million went to 347 projects.
Earlier this month, an independent fiscal watchdog, the Citizens Budget Commission, criticized the councils for doing a poor job of accounting for how the state help is being used. The Manhattan-based commission said it found “a weak link between performance and funding, and high costs per job created or retained.”
Jason Conwall, a spokesman for Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, defended the councils, saying they had “brought unprecedented transparency and accountability to an economic development process that previously lacked both.”