In the first round of awards in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's regional economic development competition, Long Island won big last year: $101.6 million. Winning is great, but it also puts the burden of proof on the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council to show that last year's aspirations are becoming this year's realities. Its 222-page submission last week goes a long way in that direction.
The document includes data to prove that the region is making progress on last year's winning projects. And it has gone a step further with new ones, including a request for $2 million in state funds for infrastructure to get something going at the Nassau Hub, which did not make it into the council's proposals in 2011.
The inclusion of the Hub this time is something of an act of faith, because Nassau County still does not have a definite plan for the 77 acres now occupied by the Nassau Coliseum and vast sea of asphalt. But the council wanted to make a statement that something must happen in this space, and that it has the potential to transform the region. Getting that funding is vital, but so is coming up with a real plan.
The council's wish list is in competition with other regions of the state for millions in state funding. It's crucial to the region's economy that the Island rack up another win this year. We need it to start some momentum for the Nassau Hub and keep it going for projects that are farther along, such as transit-oriented development that would create real, vibrant downtowns at the Ronkonkoma and Wyandanch railroad stations. The council also is seeking further funding for revitalizing Hempstead Village and for smart-grid work by Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory to create 21st-century energy transmission.
For the 16 second-round priority projects, the council is seeking $30 million in state funds, to attract $1 billion in private investment.
Cuomo reveals the winners soon. We hope our region is one. It would mean more pressure to show results, but it's pressure we need and can handle.