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$30M ad plan to promote Sandy-hit region

Although there is still much to do cleaning

Although there is still much to do cleaning and repairing the sand at Long Beach, the sea and the sky hold a promise of summer. (April 4, 2013) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams

New York State plans to spend $30 million on advertisements encouraging tourists to visit Long Island and other regions damaged by superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene or tropical storm Lee, officials said Thursday.

The state also will focus money and attention on lifting Wyandanch residents out of poverty through education and business development programs.

The announcements came during a meeting of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, appointed nearly two years ago by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to steer state dollars to Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Council co-vice chairman Kevin Law said Albany plans to use $30 million in federal recovery funds to promote storm-ravaged communities to visitors. "Long Island will get a significant amount of that pot of money," said Law, who also heads the Long Island Association business group.

He said the allocation was part of a $60-million tourism campaign unveiled Wednesday by Cuomo at an event in the state Capitol. Much of the $30 million earmarked to increase visits to storm-damaged areas will go to "I Love NY" television commercials, according to a spokesman for Empire State Development Corp.

Tourism generates $5 billion in economic activity per year locally, and tens of thousands of jobs.

Separately Thursday, the regional council designated Wyandanch as the local participant in a new state program, Opportunity Agenda. Outlined by Cuomo in January, the initiative involves the council's helping a distressed community devise plans, and securing money for them, to eradicate poverty.

Council member Patricia Edwards, a community development official at Citigroup, said Wyandanch was an ideal first candidate because of an ongoing blight-removal project near the Long Island Rail Road station that was spearheaded by town and village leaders. Wyandanch also is close to a number of colleges.

"This is about helping people with skills training and jobs," said Edwards, who leads the local Opportunity Agenda committee.

"This is a great pilot program," said Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz, council co-vice chairman."Let's succeed in Wyandanch and move it [the program] to other communities," he said.

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