ALBANY -- Long Island on Wednesday was awarded $83 million in state aid to support building projects and company expansions, the largest amount going to any of New York's 10 regions.
For the second time in three years, the Island was a big winner in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's competition for state business aid. Regional economic development councils appointed by him vie with each other to secure capital grants and tax credits for projects aimed at creating jobs.
This year's allocation for Nassau and Suffolk counties will be divided among 98 projects, including a new building on the Stony Brook University campus that's tied to Cuomo's tax-free zones for companies, a drug development center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and expansion by cleaning-supplies maker U.S. Nonwovens Corp. Each will receive $2 million.
The largest allocation, in dollar terms, is $3.6 million for an automated warehouse by C&S Wholesale Grocers. Records show 400 people would work there.
The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council was elated by Cuomo's announcement, made during a ceremony emceed by Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo and held in a theater near the Capitol.
"What a wonderful Christmas present for Long Island," said Kevin Law, council co-vice chairman and president of the Long Island Association business group. "We deserve this, and we will use the money to continue to implement our plan for creating jobs."
Since Cuomo launched the business aid competition in 2011, the local council has secured $244.3 million; it also was a top winner in 2011. Of New York's 10 regions, Long Island, Syracuse and Binghamton have garnered top prizes twice, while the Adirondacks has won all three years. New York City has always been a runner-up.
This year, $716 million was distributed statewide; $750 million was up for grabs.
Stuart Rabinowitz, local council co-vice chairman and Hofstra University president, called the Island's strong finish a "booster shot" for restoring residents' faith in the council. Some were bitterly disappointed when Nassau-Suffolk was a runner-up in 2012.
Among the smaller allocations was $500,000 for Nassau County to study the feasibility of parking garages at the Hub, adjacent to the Coliseum, which would free up acres of asphalt for development.
Union-backed critics of government tax breaks for companies questioned their effectiveness. "We need to look [at] . . . whether these subsidized corporations are creating the good jobs New Yorkers deserve, and whether our communities are getting a good return on our investment," said Tomás Garduño of ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York.
Kenneth Adams, Cuomo's economic development czar, responded that the state doesn't provide help until a building project has been completed and the promised jobs created.
Asked by Newsday how Long Island outperformed the other regions, Adams said this year's judges were impressed by proposals to prepare students and unemployed residents of Wyandanch for jobs. The initiatives expand on the Wyandanch Rising blight removal project, which has received state aid in the past.
"The assessment team," he said, "found that plan to be very compelling, one of the best in the state."
Long Island on Wednesday won $83 million for 98 building projects, business expansions and educational initiatives. The projects receiving the most are:
$3.6M: C&S Wholesale Grocers warehouse in Suffolk County
$2.5M: Road connecting Glen Cove's downtown and waterfront
$2M: Drug development center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
$2M: Stony Brook University building tied to state's tax-free zones for businesses
$2M: Expansion by cleaning supplies manufacturer U.S. Nonwovens Corp.
$1.5M: The Meadows at Yaphank housing and commercial development
$1.5M: Matching grants for small technology companies
$1.5M: Rapid bus project in Suffolk County
$1.35M: Long Island Compost Corp. expansion
$1.34M: Calverton sewer plant upgrade
-- James T. Madore
Sources: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office, Long Island Regional Economic Development Council